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Is there any reason, any religion should still exist?

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dream_weaver
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Thoughts, reason and emotions do not come from separate faculties. They all come from man's consciousness and are deeply related at their base. Things like "fear of mortality" do not just arise spontaneously. They are the result of conscious thoughts and sub-conscious conclusions. In turn, the sub-conscious conclusions are driven by conscious and sub-conscious evaluations of reality. 

 

Faced with an uncomfortable feeling, you can make an attempt to examine it and spend time consciously re-evaluating the available facts. You can also examine your feeling, identify your own implicit justifications for it, and analyze if they make sense to you. By its nature, the process may not be easy, but -- to the extent you can do this -- you end up with feelings and emotions that are more reality-based, and therefore more appropriate to a happy life. [Not more positive feelings, just more reality-based.]

 

Another way of tackling uncomfortable feelings is to deny or to repress them. Outright denial is one way, but not too effective. One other is to come up with some fiction that helps counter the conclusion that underlies the emotion. God is one such fiction. 

Edited by softwareNerd
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Strictly speaking, anything that isn't factual is fictional.  In that respect, the Bible, Qur'an, Torah and Atlas Shrugged can all be dismissed as evasions of reality unless you're going to argue that Atlas Shrugged is better fiction than the others.  In which case you're reducing the role of an Objectivist to a literary critic and there will remain plenty of others who will continue to disagree with you.

 

Perhaps the reason for religion is that it has a placebo effect on the emotions, but it certainly doesn't persist because it makes people feel worse about themselves; quite the opposite.

 

The opiate of the masses?

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Strictly speaking, anything that isn't factual is fictional.  In that respect, the Bible, Qur'an, Torah and Atlas Shrugged can all be dismissed as evasions of reality ...

The question is whether one understands fully that it is fiction. I've never come across a person who thinks Galt, or Sherlock, or Miss Marple were real people. Even though all these are examples of realistic fiction in the sense that we can come close to imagining that those people could exist (as opposed to fiction about dragons and wizards), readers understand that they're fiction. If you came across someone who actually and literally thought these characters were real, in every sense of the term, surely you would classify them as nuts.

 

The only reason people who believe in Jesus and his miracles are not automatically classified as nuts is that we understand that they've heard these things described to them as being non-fiction since a very young age, and -- unlike the Santa Claus yarn -- their parents never disabused them of this, because those parents were similarly delusional. We also understand that the story dates from over 2000 years ago, perhaps even centuries before that, so the issue is not as obvious (I know, we're making excuses for ignorance here) as something like Scientology, which grew out of more recent fiction.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Perhaps the reason for religion is that it has a placebo effect on the emotions, but it certainly doesn't persist because it makes people feel worse about themselves; quite the opposite.

 

 

The fact is that there are many people who do feel worse as a result of their childhood fears of an angry God. They are riddled with guilt for failing to live up to a morality of impossible standards. Others feel the misfortunes of life are their fault without ever understanding that life need not be endless suffering. Still others feel a compulsion to impose "God's will" on others is their life's mission, and those who receive the wrath of such delusional individuals suffer as a result of their psychosis. Or it could be that a person is simply evasive at personal problem-solving, as a result of submission to "God's will." These are just some of the worst side-effect of the God placebo.

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Strictly speaking, anything that isn't factual is fictional.  In that respect, the Bible, Qur'an, Torah and Atlas Shrugged can all be dismissed as evasions of reality unless you're going to argue that Atlas Shrugged is better fiction than the others.  In which case you're reducing the role of an Objectivist to a literary critic and there will remain plenty of others who will continue to disagree with you.

 

Atlas Shrugged is fiction that is presented as fiction.  The bible and the Qur'an are fiction that are presented as truth.  Big difference.

 

Atlas Shrugged is superior due to better character development ;)

Edited by Spiral Architect
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Perhaps the reason for religion is that it has a placebo effect on the emotions, but it certainly doesn't persist because it makes people feel worse about themselves; quite the opposite.

 

The opiate of the masses?

 

The "masses" are people who have double standards. And the sad part is most of them don't know that. They do not understand what is meant by "emotions". They don't know what they "value". Their thoughts, their emotions, their actions are not in sync. Its all haywire under their skull. And is religion the answer to their problem ? Hell No! Religion does not understand them any better either. Take up any religion; Scriptures tell you that self-sacrifice is the virtue; that desires are sin. Some very exceptional "Mother-Theresa-like-people" may attain complete self-sacrifice. But most simply don't because they just can't. Dopa-mine in your brain does not allow that. It is the most basic need of man to fulfill his desires and be happy. 

 

Honestly, how many Mother Theresas; devoutly religious people who adhere to each and every word of the divine scriptures do you know of ?

 

EDIT - And I don't think that there is much truth to the statement that the religious are immune to uncomfortable feelings or emotional vacuums any more than the atheists. 

Edited by Anuj
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The "masses" are people who have double standards. And the sad part is most of them don't know that.

 

I was perhaps wrong in my previous post. I guess they would eventually know when they do or commit that which they falsely think is a "crime". What they should know is :  "A life without contradictions exists!"

Edited by Anuj
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The question is whether one understands fully that it is fiction...

 

You would have that question even in the absence of religion.

 

...

 

The only reason people who believe in Jesus and his miracles are not automatically classified as nuts is that we understand that they've heard these things described to them as being non-fiction since a very young age, and -- unlike the Santa Claus yarn -- their parents never disabused them of this, because those parents were similarly delusional.  We also understand that the story dates from over 2000 years ago, perhaps even centuries before that, so the issue is not as obvious (I know, we're making excuses for ignorance here) as something like Scientology, which grew out of more recent fiction.

 

You're making excuses for persistent curiosity about the unknown, and your presumption that disabused parents raise disabused children, or that religious parents perpetuate religion through their children needs to be checked:  http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2905720/posts

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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You would have that question even in the absence of religion.

Greek to me.

 

You're making excuses for persistent curiosity about the unknown, and your presumption that disabused parents raise disabused children, or that religious parents perpetuate religion through their children needs to be checked:  http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2905720/posts

If it makes you happy, you can believe that too. Hey! it must be god at work; she has a magnetism that pulls those atheist kids back to her fold. Edited by softwareNerd
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Hey! it must be god at work; she has a magnetism that pulls those atheist kids back to her fold.

God's a female, William Young writes in "The Shack", and she's black. (The Landmark Forum guru used that line in the session I attended.)

 

Magnetism ties in rather nicely with a highly selective excerpt from Atlas Shrugged,  "the key to the dark, capricious mystery . . . was the secret power of pull." (pg. 553, part of the road foreman's considerations as he weighs them out against his chances against Mr. Chalmers.)

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Oh my, listen to you two.  The results are hardly a ringing endorsement for religion.  If anything they simply agree with and reinforce the observations made by softwareNerd in post #42.  How am I the only one who liked that post?

 

People need their lives to have meaning / purpose. For all their altruism and collectivism, religions retain an implicit individualism when they tell the believer to be concerned with his individual soul...

 

Atheism on its own is a simple denial; so it offers none of the above. Instead, an atheist has to be something more than an atheist. He has to choose from various (often contradictory) choices within secular humanism. I doubt these alternate philosophies can replace religion unless they do a decent job on individualism and volition...

 

If the past is evidence, religion isn't going away anytime soon. With every generation, a few more people turn agnostic or atheist, but there's no huge flow... Selfishly, I don't think one can say it would be good for religion to disappear. Since there will always be a replacement, one has to weigh religion against the alternative that will fill the vacuum.,,

 

If you suspect PEW skewed the results, please offer evidence (from a more credible source?) that backs the repeated claim religion only continues because of religious parenting.  Are there any statistics that indicate Objectivist parents fare better raising children who accept and maintain an anti-religious world view?  Please present it.  Religion simply fills a spiritual niche in human nature that atheism doesn't satisfy. That's hardly an endorsement for religion to continue to monopolize the vacuum.

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If you suspect PEW skewed the results, please offer evidence (from a more credible source?) that backs the repeated claim religion only continues because of religious parenting.  Are there any statistics that indicate Objectivist parents fare better raising children who accept and maintain an anti-religious world view?  Please present it.  Religion simply fills a spiritual niche in human nature that atheism doesn't satisfy. That's hardly an endorsement for religion to continue to monopolize the vacuum.

Just to be clear, I did not mean to imply that PEW did not skew the results. A questionnaire is just that though. The interpretation and the meaning are yours.

If it makes you happy to think that Hinduism survives so well across generations because it best fills a spiritual niche, fell free to do so.

Also, your repeated attempts to put up atheism as the alternative to religion are a strawman, because atheism is not and has never been an alternative to religion, and atheists do not present it as such.

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Hey! it must be god at work; she has a magnetism that pulls those atheist kids back to her fold.

 

God is a guy lives on his Mountain.  He only breathes life into man and gives him the strength to do something about it.  After that it is up to us and if we call on him he sends Dooms for failing to be a man.  

 

Tell me God is caring female who wants to coddle us when what we only get is the Riddle of Steel!  

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I'm more interested in the reason for the niche than which group currently has the highest retention rates.  Clearly no group has been entirely successful, so it's not too surprising that atheism has been least successful given that, as you said, atheism is a simple denial.  I only presented PEW's results to question your claim, et al, that the reason religion persists is because it's a fictional delusion passed from parent to child, which implies that non-religious households avoid that problem.

 

I think your prior claim that, "People need their lives to have meaning / purpose" is a better reason, and true. Religions attempt to monopolize the role of providing answers to questions about meaning and purpose in a spiritual context, which could not persist in any numbers if there was no niche to fill.  Removing religion creates a vacuum because people need to believe in something. therefore atheism's simple denial is a non-starter, which dismisses atheism as viable alternative.

 

Objectivism can only hope to offer a better alternative if it breaks up a religious monopoly over spiritual questions that arise as part of being human.

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God is a guy lives on his Mountain.  He only breathes life into man and gives him the strength to do something about it.  After that it is up to us and if we call on him he sends Dooms for failing to be a man.  

 

Tell me God is caring female who wants to coddle us when what we only get is the Riddle of Steel!  

 

Thankee sai!  I had to look that one up and found this cherry of fiction:

 

"Conan is nailed to a dead tree in the desert for several days until rescued. As he heals, he reflects upon the Riddle of Steel. No longer does the barbarian limit himself to direct brute assault. Using covert methods and battlefield tactics, Conan and his friends inflict great damage to their enemy. However, the cumulative result of all Conan's vengeance does not harm the overall power of Thulsa's cult. It isn't until his father's sword is broken that Conan realizes the true answer to the riddle: all the power of both steel and flesh come from one's beliefs."

http://conan.wikia.com/wiki/The_Riddle_of_Steel

 

Cool reference - me like

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[...] It isn't until his father's sword is broken that Conan realizes the true answer to the riddle: all the power of both steel and flesh come from one's beliefs."

 

Inserting a few missing wrords...  :whistle:

 

....all the power of both steel and flesh come from one's beliefs. in himself and resolute dedication to the objective."    :thumbsup:

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Devil's Advocate,

 Anuj alludes to a very important tenet of Objectivism, that is, the belief in one's self. Indeed, one must believe in something, and for most of us who've had difficulties accepting the fantasies of religion, and endured the ordinary problems of self-discovery and social propriety, we learned to believe in ourselves at an early age. You may have experienced a similar discovery, yet you choose to compartmentalize God in your psyche for reasons not fully explained.

 

 

Objectivism can only hope to offer a better alternative if it breaks up a religious monopoly over spiritual questions that arise as part of being human.

I am of the opinion that religion holds no monopoly over spiritual questions. I believe in my own spiritual form as that which is my consciousness. In is intangible, yet it exists. It exists as long as I exist. As a matter of objective reality, my mind exists, as does yours, and yet the proof of its existence is largely the fact that I apply my mind to various tasks, and accomplish that which only I could aspire to. I could argue that these writings are proof of my spirit.

 

The writings of Ayn Rand inspire, as do the long history of human achievement. Objectivism has had little or no influence on history so far. It is a philosophy too recent and too radical to have had an effect on any popular political movement. But I can always hope, and share the concept one individual at a time.

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[..] a very important tenet of Objectivism, that is, the belief in one's self. 

 

Also known as Conviction or Self-Confidence. 

 

"Self-esteem is the dual conviction that one is able to live and worthy of happiness. Its two components, self-confidence and self-respect, are objective requirements of human life and happiness. If a person does not develop self-confidence, he will not be able to live successfully, because he will have no psychological motivation to put forth the necessary effort. Why should he try if he cannot succeed? And if a person does not develop self-respect, he will not be able to achieve happiness, because he will lack the positive personal evaluation that is the essence of happiness. How can he be happy if he thinks he is no good?" -- Craig Biddle, Loving Life, Page. 69

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Devil's Advocate,

 

 Anuj alludes to a very important tenet of Objectivism, that is, the belief in one's self. Indeed, one must believe in something, and for most of us who've had difficulties accepting the fantasies of religion, and endured the ordinary problems of self-discovery and social propriety, we learned to believe in ourselves at an early age. You may have experienced a similar discovery, yet you choose to compartmentalize God in your psyche for reasons not fully explained.

...

 

I got a package deal here!  Any takers??

 

...

 

I am of the opinion that religion holds no monopoly over spiritual questions. I believe in my own spiritual form as that which is my consciousness. In is intangible, yet it exists. It exists as long as I exist. As a matter of objective reality, my mind exists, as does yours, and yet the proof of its existence is largely the fact that I apply my mind to various tasks, and accomplish that which only I could aspire to. I could argue that these writings are proof of my spirit.

...

 

Finally!  Good on you.  That's what I'm talkin' about.  Take that proof to church, or better yet, let those folks in who come aknockin' at your door.  I had a buddy who astonished me one day by not only letting in some JW's, but offered them some sweet tea, made them comfortable and then dismantled every argument they had.  LOL, they departed a bit more disallusioned than when they entered.

 

But here's the thing, you have to engage to have any effect.  Take this guy for example...

 

"... the same people who advertise lack of education as a virtue are usually the ones who believe that understanding comes, not by trying to understand something, but by some sort of direct, telepathic 'illumination' by the Holy Spirit, who just downloads into their minds God’s views of farm subsidies or fly fishing or the works of Ernest Hemingway and 'empowers' them to sound off on these and other topics.  Scripture contradicts them.  The gift of Understanding comes to our brains the same way the gift of strength comes to our muscles — by exercise.  Today, ask for understanding and then roll up your sleeves and crack the books." ~ Mark Shea, Catholic author and speaker

 

Does he strike you as someone who can't be reasoned with?  At all??  Religion is adapting to a contemporary world.  Is Objectivism stuck in the 60's?

 

...

 

The writings of Ayn Rand inspire, as do the long history of human achievement. Objectivism has had little or no influence on history so far. It is a philosophy too recent and too radical to have had an effect on any popular political movement. But I can always hope, and share the concept one individual at a time.

 

Too radical, or too standoffish?

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Too radical, or too standoffish?

DA, obviously Objectivism isn't too extreme for me, or most of the others who contribute to this forum. If it don't suit you, that's your choice.

At no point did I ever say that people of faith automatically qualify as irrational, or that they can't be reasoned with. Most religious people are quite pragmatic. Some are not.

 

There are those JWs that you mentioned. In fact, two came aknockin' at my door again, disrupting my much needed rest only yesterday. It was 18 degrees Fahrenheit, and these people deem it their duty to go door-to-door and bother a complete stranger: not exactly reasonable behavior. Normally, I would have invited them in and questioned their reasoning until they expressed doubts about their convictions, as it is one of my guilty pleasures. In a rare act of mercy, I shooed them away. I have boyhood friend who is today a Messianic-Jewish counselor, and I can barely hold a conversation with him without having to explain to him the fact that God is not guiding or misguiding, or in any way rolling the dice that set the course of my life. By some people's standard, they are not rational unless they are annoying people with their God-centered mission. After long consideration of the September 11, 2001 attacks, it occurred to me that some people of faith are not rational enough to permit others the rational beliefs that allow them the pursuit of happiness they seek. And the prosthelytizing pedestrian shares this trait with the terrorist. Because there are such people of faith, I seek to live without the conflicted ideas they attempt to foist on me. I don't care if a religionist wishes to cling to all the Gods they can count, and pray until their knees are sore. I don't know Mark Shea, and I don't know who he is referring to specifically in regard to "(those who) advertise lack of education as a virtue...", but he ain't talkin' about me. It was roughly nine years back that I decided to take up a study of philosophy, and chanced upon the name Ayn Rand several times, and after that, well, need I say more.

 

But here's the real problem, and I grant you, this ought to be covered on a separate thread: Religion is back in American politics in a way that it hasn't been since colonial times (or arguably the Progressive Era.) It works for the Democrats and it works for the Republicans. It helps them "win." It doesn't work for me, and I have to put up with it. It is the morality of Christianity being enshrined into law that bothers me, and may eventually destroy this nation build on reason. While I have no answer to people of faith, I certainly have something to say to people who believe in their own judgement, recognize the problems in our society for what they are, and put no faith in mysticism. And occasionally, I am relieved to find them. And that's when I make a new friend.

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...

 

But here's the real problem, and I grant you, this ought to be covered on a separate thread: Religion is back in American politics in a way that it hasn't been since colonial times (or arguably the Progressive Era.) It works for the Democrats and it works for the Republicans. It helps them "win." It doesn't work for me, and I have to put up with it. It is the morality of Christianity being enshrined into law that bothers me, and may eventually destroy this nation build on reason. While I have no answer to people of faith, I certainly have something to say to people who believe in their own judgement, recognize the problems in our society for what they are, and put no faith in mysticism. And occasionally, I am relieved to find them. And that's when I make a new friend.

 

We can agree that religion and politics is a dangerous mix.  Individual religious views ought to be secured as a freedom of expression with respect for property rights; not as a political agenda.

 

As to your answer to people of faith, "I believe in my own spiritual form as that which is my consciousness," will do nicely.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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We can agree that religion and politics is a dangerous mix.  Individual religious views ought to be secured as a freedom of expression with respect for property rights; not as a political agenda.

 

As to your answer to people of faith, "I believe in my own spiritual form as that which is my consciousness," will do nicely.

In the United States, freedom of expression is secured under our Constitution, as is the prevention of the federal government from establishing a church. Article Six, section 3, prohibits any religious test as a requirement to hold office. And yet, if a candidates religious qualifications are not forthcoming, the candidate is trumped by any chump with the proper backing. As far as I know, only one atheist was ever elected to the House of Representatives, and he was from California (not that that makes much difference.) Point being, my belief is that personal beliefs should be personal, and public displays of religious devotion should not be publicly funded affairs. And we definitely need to reduce the religious fervor in national politics; if that is "being stuck in the '60s," then Right On, Bro'!

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  Religion is adapting to a contemporary world.  Is Objectivism stuck in the 60's?

 

Indeed, some religions are adapting to modern times, while some are not. Many Christian churches are so liberal today you'd never know their theology had any basis on the Ten Commandments. But the traditions of self-doubt and inferiority of man in contrast to the superiority of an imaginary being remains the primary theological basis. With such a premise, it is relatively easy to convince the spiritually impoverished individual of the need to submit to this imaginary super being, and/or submit to the control of His/Her messenger.

 

As for Objectivism being stuck in any place or time, my guess is that many of the people contributing on this forum were born after Ayn Rand died in 1982. If Objectivism ever has a trial run as a philosophical mainstay in any social order, it will be executed by a generation with no recollection of the 1960s, other than as historical record.

 

We can agree that religion and politics is a dangerous mix.  Individual religious views ought to be secured as a freedom of expression with respect for property rights; not as a political agenda.

 

As to your answer to people of faith, "I believe in my own spiritual form as that which is my consciousness," will do nicely.

Clearly, we have common ground. If your greatest concern for a future with no religion is that spirituality will perish, I suggest the opposite will be; under a culture dominated by Objectivism, spirituality may become more popular than ever before, only not the sort dictated by revelation, and not the sort proscribed, restricted, or enforced by law. The human spirit is too great to be suppressed for an indefinite period.

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