What is the meaning of religion

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Alias
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Alias » October 2nd, 2017, 7:09 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
[... science and religion ...meet at the abyss...]

Yes, I appreciate the poetry of it. As I say, it reminds me very much of the music of the spheres. It's interesting how captivating that idea was. Perhaps, in science, the most famous example of a person who was captivated by it was Kepler when he tried to fit the orbits of the planets into the circles which the ancient Greeks had told him they should fit in order to harmonize.
Then you also appreciate how much effort he wasted making his models, and how much grief it caused him when the "perfect solids" failed to line up with measured planetary orbits; when the seductive idea proved false. Should we really, then, all pursue such chimerae?
In the end, Kepler, a true scientist and honest man, had to settle for untidy fact over harmonious fancy.
But at least, when we shoot off a Cassini probe, it goes where we intend to aim it.

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Count Lucanor
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Count Lucanor » October 2nd, 2017, 10:13 pm

Burning ghost wrote:Count -

You've not really elaborated, that is why I asked. All quotes should be cited correctly I believe.
I elaborated enough to give proper response to Dark Matter. The text quoted is not esoteric, but straightforward and explains itself, offering a good answer to the inquiries of the OP. Actually, I tried to use the HTML tags for the quote to appear under a Marx header, but the forum page kept sending me back an error message, so I just gave up and leave it like that. After all, it was a widely known statement on religion and this is just a debate forum, not an academic journal.
Burning ghost wrote:As for my ignorance, I am more than happy to show it and proud I can do so without feeling ashamed about it :)
Once in the water, what else but to move arms and legs...
Burning ghost wrote:I will assume you were offering a compliment for now and deem me competent.
I'm confident you'll have the chance to redeem yourself.
Burning ghost wrote:I'll ask again ... in what context are we supposed to appreciate your view of religion as institution and/or, as a human endeavor?
Your question, I'm afraid, is too broad in scope. I'm not starting a lengthy OP just to please your curiosity, and the quote I provided accurately reflects my views. You can take it as a starting point to make inquiries, and surely it's a interesting subject to immerse ourselves, but you should be flashing some good cards of your own by now to convince me this will get interesting. So, be more specific in your questions or post your own counterarguments.

Burning ghost
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Burning ghost » October 3rd, 2017, 12:19 am

FLOAT without moving just like you appear to be doing.

I think I've got the gist of your character.

bye bye
AKA badgerjelly

Steve3007
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Steve3007 » October 3rd, 2017, 2:02 am

Alias:
Then you also appreciate how much effort he [Kepler] wasted making his models, and how much grief it caused him when the "perfect solids" failed to line up with measured planetary orbits; when the seductive idea proved false. Should we really, then, all pursue such chimerae?
In the end, Kepler, a true scientist and honest man, had to settle for untidy fact over harmonious fancy.
But at least, when we shoot off a Cassini probe, it goes where we intend to aim it.
Yes indeed. It is perhaps the classic example of the triumph of pragmatism over idealism - of the idea that if we want to learn something about the world we have to actually look at it! And not necessarily expect it to conform to our pr-conceived ideas of harmony or beauty.

But I think it actually illustrates the balance that has to be struck between the two. Kepler perhaps wouldn't have been inspired to make his discoveries in the first place without the desire to uncover the beauty in the simplicity of the orbits of the heavenly bodies. The idea of beauty in simplicity seems to be largely rooted, in human history, in this contrast between the movements of heavenly bodies and the messy world on the surface of the Earth. It's interesting to wonder how the human race would have developed if our atmosphere was permanently opaque.

-- Updated Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:56 am to add the following --

Dark Matter:

On the predictive power, and beauty, of symmetry:

In many ways, it seems, symmetry is beauty. It seems to be intimately tied to our conception of what is beautiful. Because symmetry is repetition and therefore symmetry is simplicity. Since prediction is, by its nature, made possible by repetition, I guess we can then also say that symmetry is predictability. (I'm claiming an awful lot of synonyms here, aren't I? I don't mean those words mean precisely the same thing. That would never do. Just that they naturally lead to each other.)

We have to embrace our finitude and therefore moral relativism as part of our daily existence, but it is not an absolute. Relativism by itself amounts to little more than intellectual conformity and passive assent to the values of those around us. Religion is the impetus to move beyond that.
The funny thing is that some people would say the exact opposite of this. They would say that it is moral absolutism that represents passive assent. Passive, unquestioning assent to the dictates of people who claim to be the interpreters of the objective moral authority.
"Even men with steel hearts love to see a dog on the pitch."

Dark Matter
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Dark Matter » October 3rd, 2017, 4:37 am

Steve3007 wrote:
We have to embrace our finitude and therefore moral relativism as part of our daily existence, but it is not an absolute. Relativism by itself amounts to little more than intellectual conformity and passive assent to the values of those around us. Religion is the impetus to move beyond that.
The funny thing is that some people would say the exact opposite of this. They would say that it is moral absolutism that represents passive assent. Passive, unquestioning assent to the dictates of people who claim to be the interpreters of the objective moral authority.
That's true. But here we run into the issue of symmetry once again. It is not moral absolutism or relativism, but both in a dynamic interplay. It's a yin/yang sort of thing. Each is meaningless without the other.

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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Tamminen » October 3rd, 2017, 4:56 am

Atreyu:
So consciousness can grow, i.e. the Universe can become more conscious, only this growth cannot begin from absolute zero, that's all.
Perhaps the only cause and reason for the being of the universe is consciousness. Let us compare it with the being of an individual human person. When it is an embryo in the early stages of its development, it is not conscious, but then it becomes conscious. It is a spatio-temporal totality with consciousness as its essence. The universe can be seen in the same way: it was born with the big bang and evolved towards consciousness, which is its essence. This way of seeing things has a remarkable advantage: because consciousness is the precondition of all being, we do not need to seek causes for the being of the universe or the being of consciousness. The universe explains itself from within, being a self-evident causa sui. All this is based on the insight that subjectivity needs no explanation.

But consciousness, as well as the universe, begins from absolute zero. Why not?

Alias
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Alias » October 3rd, 2017, 9:46 am

Steve3007 wrote: ... The idea of beauty in simplicity seems to be largely rooted, in human history, in this contrast between the movements of heavenly bodies and the messy world on the surface of the Earth. It's interesting to wonder how the human race would have developed if our atmosphere was permanently opaque.
Didn't Douglas Adams explore that theme?

But, no, I don't really think the premise holds up. Other than sunrise and moon-phase, heavenly bodies played little part in the daily activities of early mankind. The earliest people may have looked up, but why would they see any more pattern in stars than they did in the waves of lake-water or sand dunes, the motion of ants or the veins of leaves? I believe the picturesque metaphors in the sky were placed there by civilized minds, minds that already had a body of myth and one of engineering capability. I think it was the likes of Greek and Babylonian, Inca and Hindu scholars who desired to impose geometric order, as well as their own names and faces, on the heavens.
There is plenty of beauty harmony and poetry on Earth.
Democracy in Truth! Equal votes for fact and fantasy!

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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Steve3007 » October 3rd, 2017, 9:55 am

Didn't Douglas Adams explore that theme?
Ha! Yes. He did. I'd forgotten that. I think it was the 3rd Hitchhikers book. The planet Krikket. As I recall, the inhabitants of that planet, once they broke through and saw the rest of the universe, decided to destroy it all.
"Even men with steel hearts love to see a dog on the pitch."

Alias
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Alias » October 3rd, 2017, 10:14 am

Steve3007 wrote:
Didn't Douglas Adams explore that theme?
Ha! Yes. He did. I'd forgotten that. I think it was the 3rd Hitchhikers book. The planet Krikket. As I recall, the inhabitants of that planet, once they broke through and saw the rest of the universe, decided to destroy it all.
Think it may be a religious metaphor?

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Atreyu
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Atreyu » October 3rd, 2017, 10:06 pm

Alias wrote: But, no, I don't really think the premise holds up. Other than sunrise and moon-phase, heavenly bodies played little part in the daily activities of early mankind. The earliest people may have looked up, but why would they see any more pattern in stars than they did in the waves of lake-water or sand dunes, the motion of ants or the veins of leaves? I believe the picturesque metaphors in the sky were placed there by civilized minds, minds that already had a body of myth and one of engineering capability. I think it was the likes of Greek and Babylonian, Inca and Hindu scholars who desired to impose geometric order, as well as their own names and faces, on the heavens.
There is plenty of beauty harmony and poetry on Earth.
What you fail to realize is that, in general, early Man viewed those heavenly bodies as gods, as sentient beings, and that the results of their collective activity determined, in general, what goes on on the surface of the Earth. They saw a lot more in the heavens than merely "order" and "beauty".

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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Alias » October 3rd, 2017, 10:23 pm

Atreyu wrote: What you fail to realize is that, in general, early Man viewed those heavenly bodies as gods, as sentient beings, and that the results of their collective activity determined, in general, what goes on on the surface of the Earth. They saw a lot more in the heavens than merely "order" and "beauty".
He also saw the waterfall, the clouds, eagles, turtles, wind, fire, trees, maybe rocks as sentient beings, and not all sentient beings as equally god-like in their powers, nor did he regard all the gods and spirits as anything like Big Omni, way up in His remote heaven, waiting for a chance to smite somebody for being born human, but rather more like friends he could talk to and adversaries he could trick and rivals he could get the advantage of or guards he could bribe or slightly spooky neighbours whose daughter he could marry.
And?
How does this - any or all of this - make a listener to the music of voids an acceptable authority on jurisprudence?

-- Updated October 3rd, 2017, 9:30 pm to add the following --

I also have some further observations on the civilized gods of the Greek pantheon, as they represent the transitions from Wild Man to Domesticated Man.
I don't entirely fail to realize all the things I don't get 'round to typing in these in these boxes.

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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Burning ghost » October 8th, 2017, 11:44 pm

Atreyu wrote:What you fail to realize is that, in general, early Man viewed those heavenly bodies as gods, as sentient beings, and that the results of their collective activity determined, in general, what goes on on the surface of the Earth. They saw a lot more in the heavens than merely "order" and "beauty".
What you fail to realise is that any anthropologist worth anything would throw you to the hounds for applying the term "generally" to a vast swathe of human pre-history we have very little knowledge about.

Possibly you are correct. With equal possibility you're completely wrong.

I few things we can perhaps assume are that they noticed many things around them change, but never the stars. Considering that even the length of days, the cycles of the moon, and such, displayed a degree of flux; I think it fair to ponder on the cognitive effect and understanding of such an unfaltering and constant natural phenomenon on the human mind.

First of all we'd have to assume they'd have the time and inclination to stop trying to survive and gaze skyward. Obviously this happened at some point, and perhaps prior to homosapiens?

Basically just saying better to hold to the side of caution rather than take on board common assumptions about appearances imbued with our inevitable bias of modern thought. One common feature of humans is to create stories to pass on knowledge. Often medicine men and elders possess knowledge that todays scientists would take an incredible amount of time trying to unearth on their own. It is sadly likely that a lot of the narratives passed down that contained knowledge of the physical environment are now redundant due to changes in geology and habitat. What seems to have remained is a common human psychological element more so than actual physical evidence (like with the discovery of Troy or other previously assumed "mythical" locations.)

All that said, I cannot argue that what you propose has happened at some point during the human journey. I am far from entirely convinced that was the initial way in which people viewed the heavens above though. It is impossible for us to comprehend how differently, or not, they viewed the world with our biased modern take and understanding.
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Atreyu
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Atreyu » October 10th, 2017, 2:54 pm

I think that taking a general inventory of all the anthropological evidence to date leads one to surmise that it's likely that most people in antiquity viewed the Universe generally as a collection of living things, as opposed to the modern view of viewing the Universe primarily as just a bunch of "stuff" (matter, energy, quanta, whatever).

Just look at their mythologies, their astrology, their Sun worship, etc. There's plenty of evidence that the general view was as I stated, at least among the "intelligentsia" of their time...

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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Burning ghost » October 10th, 2017, 7:33 pm

Merely opinion.
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Re: What is the meaning of religion

Post by Alias » October 10th, 2017, 11:48 pm

Atreyu wrote:I think that taking a general inventory of all the anthropological evidence to date leads one to surmise that it's likely that most people in antiquity viewed the Universe generally as a collection of living things, as opposed to the modern view of viewing the Universe primarily as just a bunch of "stuff" (matter, energy, quanta, whatever).
What period does "antiquity" include?
Just look at their mythologies, their astrology, their Sun worship, etc.
Whose? There are many mythologies, and they are not all anywhere nearly solar-centered, nor upward-looking or astrological. Many are far more nearly biological, botanical, meteorological, water-centered, etc.
There's plenty of evidence that the general view was as I stated, at least among the "intelligentsia" of their time...
Which time? Please - specifics!

If we talk about the ancient Greeks, at least during the period when they write down their mythology, we see something very interesting. All the action takes place on earth, or underground or underwater. Dead heroes get sent up to heaven, while the gods are kept nearby on a mountaintop - from where they can can, and do, periodically descend to have intercourse with or otherwise interfere with or interact with humans. And this an advanced, relatively modern civilization! The more 'primitive' animist religions were even more intimate with their supernatural entities. Even the Jews had fairly close contact with their god: Moses actually climbed the mountain and all-but-met the old man. It's not until Christianity that the god is exiled to outer space.
I think there is a good reason for that distancing.
What do you suppose that reason is?

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