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Is there any reason, any religion should still exist?

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dream_weaver
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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.

With literature like 50 Shades of Grey, and a more popular notion of domination as a group or team being placed under total control, I'd like to think of a culture as being permeated by, infused with, absorbed with, or even clamoring for, instead. And an insuperable great human spirit as expressed by indomitable figures such as Galileo & Newton in science, Spinoza, Locke & Rand in philosophy, Jefferson, Paine, & Patrick Henry as statesmen, Rockefeller, Carnegie and James Hill in industry, John Allison in banking . . . and to a mixed extent Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as modern day offshoots.

 

In the OP, from the Foundations of the Renaissance it was pointed out that it took nearly 300 years to overturn the Greek influence leading back into the dark and middle ages. Since Thomas Aquinas, it has been almost three quarters of a millennia — with the formation of the United States at half a millennia after Aristotle's rediscovery. Rands recognitions and identifications in the areas of concept formation, morality, capitalism and philosophy's 'invisible hand' on the tiller of the ship guiding the course of human history, have the gods scurrying into their smoke filled back rooms anxious to cut deals with the devil himself, should he grace them with his presence. While the gods tend to trade in horses, the devil's currency is a horse of a different stripe. Even so, the race goes to the swiftest, and the domesticated horse has a discipline inbred into it that its wild counterpart cannot hope to fathom.

 

In the race between reason and theology, reason is built into the concepts it has wrought, whilst theology continues to rest on the faith as the "evidence of things not yet seen", i.e., the evidence which has not yet, and may never ever be discovered. Heaven forbid that an error be drawn on your own and be taken as true over ten truths accepted on faith, because while the first leaves you the means to correct it, the second destroys your capacity to distinguish the one from the other.

 

I'll take the former over the latter any day of the week

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There were couple of other points that validated the need for religion to some extent :

  • DA's arguement that children would be more rebellious if it were not for religion. -- I personally think that there is some truth to the statement but only as long as religion remains unreplaced by philosophy.

I made mention of this in one of my recaps before Devil's Advocate asked:

It also appears to you [Anuj] that I argue that children would be more rebellious if it were not for religion.  

 

edit:  I really have enough trouble defending my own arguments.  Can someone please point to where this one came from??

 

>> children would be more rebellious if it were not for religion  <<

Anuj, you indicated this as the source:

There are probably a good deal more including various examples provided by communist states.  The net result is that where religion is publicly suppressed it reemerges in secret attic spaces.  In terms of validation, there's plenty evidence that children of atheists rebel against their parents' (non)beliefs too, so again I have to conclude, and I think any reasonable person would, that there remains a spiritual niche in the human equation that religion responds to.

Anuj, this indicates that DA said: children of atheists rebel against their parents' (non)beliefs too, — which is not the same as: children would be more rebellious if not for religion.

 

If anything, it's the opposite. Of all the kids, I think I was the longest holdout at my conservative childhood church, which was made up for in intensity later. Then, look at pastors' kids!

 

Having been given a religious upbringing, I can recollect the pastor's kids of my childhood church, as JASKN identifies here. My father graduated from a seminary school the year I graduated from high school. At one point, he had enrolled me into the parochial school which was part of this large church's complex (not my childhood church). That was an eye opener for me.

 

Rebellion can manifest itself in a few ways. As a young adult, the desire to be able to decide for themselves what is true can come across to a parent as rebellious. Some may rebel out of spite, while others may just rebel to see what they can get away with.

 

Religion, in this capacity, is only as effective as the attendees make it out to be.

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Anuj, this indicates that DA said: children of atheists rebel against their parents' (non)beliefs too, — which is not the same as: children would be more rebellious if not for religion.

 

I erred.  :glare:

 

Religion, in this capacity, is only as effective as the attendees make it out to be.

 

Yes, that's true. Yet, I don't think "atheism" that is divorced from rationality or morality would have done any good to the world.

 

Though not completely an atheistic movement, I was surprised to learn about Hippie culture and sexual revolution of 1960s, which tried to transcend the limitations of religion. Though they could have manifested some cultural changes but my personal evaluation of them is nothing less than that of unthinking animals. 

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Anuj's statement presents a central point in regard to Objectivism and metaphysics.

 

 

 I don't think "atheism" that is divorced from rationality or morality would have done any good to the world. 

Ayn Rand was often accused of promoting atheism, and her critics quickly linked her atheism to Nazism and/or Marxism. Ayn Rand distinguished her philosophy as one that exalted the human spirit, and its role in ethics. With Nazism and Marxism as the only known "godless" or atheist government models, anything or anyone atheist has been associated with these most infamous totalitarian systems. It continues to present a stigma for atheists in many conservative circles. Ann Colter titled her critique of America's New-Left: Godless. Metaphysics is not exactly the hottest topic to raise at a social gathering. In my experience, the mere suggestion that one holds convictions supported by facts draws the most negative criticism. People are much more comfortable with someone who simply claims to be agnostic; saying "who know?" and "there are some things man isn't supposed to know," sounds so much more "human" than someone saying, "Why should anyone believe in something that doesn't exist?" The controversy conveyed in such a rhetorical question can result in the most hostile reactions, or a sustained silence. This is the reason it is so critical to acknowledge to human mind, the potential powers it possesses, and the fact that other materialists, be they monists or Marxists, rejected the composition of reality to the inclusion of the mind as an existent. And it is the mind that embodies the spirit.

 

To revisit the exchange with Devil's Advocate, the human spirit is a force to reckoned with, whether inspired through religion or through Objectivism. I wish to thank Dream-weaver for his addendum to my earlier statement regarding a new society influenced by Objecitivism. (Agreed, "dominated" was a poor choice of words, but it was late in my day, and my thesaurus was drained.) If people were focusing on discovering the ideas of just some of the names of those mentioned, we might see this new society happen sooner.

 

... And an insuperable great human spirit as expressed by indomitable figures such as Galileo & Newton in science, Spinoza, Locke & Rand in philosophy, Jefferson, Paine, & Patrick Henry as statesmen, Rockefeller, Carnegie and James Hill in industry, John Allison in banking . . . and to a mixed extent Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as modern day offshoots.

 

And a few comments on this:

 


Though not completely an atheistic movement, I was surprised to learn about Hippie culture and sexual revolution of 1960s, which tried to transcend the limitations of religion. Though they could have manifested some cultural changes but my personal evaluation of them is nothing less than that of unthinking animals. 

The 1960s were a turbulent ten years. The cultural changes were complex, although it is true that many of the young participants were unthinking, or irrational animals. But that would be over-simplifying it. To be sure, religion in that decade was expanding, rather than contracting. I can't support this claim with exact data, but if you look at the trends: the "Hippies" might be categorized as the heirs of Dionysus, celebrating the Age of Aquarius, a rejection of modern ideals, and reverting to the Modern Primitives. Many of them embraced gods of the ancient times, or Eastern religions, via George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, and The Beatles. Some attempted to revisit Christianity in a movement known as "the Jesus People." Most of us from those times remember them as "Jesus Freaks." (My friend, the Messianic-Rabbi was very much influenced by this trend.) Most of this was merely "seeking." Certainly, people do need something to believe in, and for those of that decade, many had truly "lost their way." And still many stayed true to their conservative traditions, taking comfort from their churches and televangelists, such the Reverend Billy Graham. Was religion what they were seeking? If it makes them happy, I will defend their right to choose it, as long as it is a privately funded choice. However, I can't help noticing how conflicted people of faith can be, in spite of their convictions.

 

As for the sexual revolution, it was in part a new expansion of personal freedom, especially for women. But guys certainly benefited, too. The term, "sexual revolution" is often used by conservatives as a pejorative, but conservatives aren't very comfortable with individual freedom.

 

America at present is still feeling the effects of the 1960s; each news story of social or race-related unrest and controversy, our foreign wars, marijuana liberalization, expanded substance abuse, and the endless insistence for egalitarianism and diversity remind me that the "Culture War" rages on. It certainly isn't Objectivism that's stuck in the '60s, but I could argue that the state of our nation is. In the end, will America succumb to "That Ole Time Religion," or discover morality through reason? Or is this a false set of alternatives?

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  • 7 months later...

I prefer to think of 'ends' in terms of evolution;  so long as we remain to discuss the issue, hope remains for a better future.  To that end, my beliefs have been formed by the observations of three Thomases:
 
“It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication; after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.” ~ Thomas Paine
 
"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson

"Beware of the person of one book." ~ Thomas Aquinas
 
For those like myself who remain afflicted by a spiritual nature, there's some hope of relief in the premise of Soul Competency, as articulated by E.Y. Mullins in The Axioms of Religion (1908) ~ http://www.theopedia.com/soul-competency
 
For others who advocate Faith in Nothing, I will simply remind you that Faith it is, nonetheless.

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Faith in terms of God, is a conclusion drawn from a lack of knowledge.  Advocating for the absence of Faith is equally meaningless given that it relies on proof of a negative, i.e., that nothing like God exists.  In that respect, arguments for or against Faith necessarily rely on the creation of a straw deity.
 
That something is implies that the knowledge and ability to create it is also there to be discovered.  Faith is advocacy that you don't get something (like a universe) from nothing.  Until you can prove otherwise the issue will remain unresolved, but if you can, you will be an excellent candidate for God and have defeated your own argument.

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Faith in terms of God, is a conclusion drawn from a lack of knowledge.  Advocating for the absence of Faith is equally meaningless given that it relies on proof of a negative, i.e., that nothing like God exists.  In that respect, arguments for or against Faith necessarily rely on the creation of a straw deity.
 
That something is implies that the knowledge and ability to create it is also there to be discovered.  Faith is advocacy that you don't get something (like a universe) from nothing.  Until you can prove otherwise the issue will remain unresolved, but if you can, you will be an excellent candidate for God and have defeated your own argument.

So never mind that the concept of proof presupposes existence, identity and consciousness, the primacy of existence, that facts are not malleable, . .

How do you differentiate conclusions drawn from a lack of knowledge from say, conclusions drawn from arbitrary assertions, or from conclusions drawn from invalid premises?

How will you extradite yourself from the fallacy that what is true of the parts is not necessarily true of the whole?

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I am ever mindful of the concept of proof presupposing the existence of some thing that demonstrates a non-malleable fact. That is rather why I have faith that our physical universe didn't spontaneously appear from a non-physical source. Are you prepared to argue that reality sprang from unreality?

Otherwise the primacy of existence is simply the continuity of existence in which the reality of a Creator as a more knowledgeable and powerful version of ourselves acting as Nature's God remains a viable option.

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I am ever mindful of the concept of proof presupposing the existence of some thing that demonstrates a non-malleable fact. That is rather why I have faith that our physical universe didn't spontaneously appear from a non-physical source. Are you prepared to argue that reality sprang from unreality?

Otherwise the primacy of existence is simply the continuity of existence in which the reality of a Creator as a more knowledgeable and powerful version of ourselves acting as Nature's God remains a viable option.

To state that 'the reality of a Creator as a more knowledgeable and powerful version of ourselves acting as Nature's God remains a viable option' is to effectively claim that it is possible, which suggests you either have some (but not much) evidence which points in that direction, or you are simply making an arbitrary assertion.

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DA said:

Otherwise the primacy of existence is simply the continuity of existence in which the reality of a Creator as a more knowledgeable and powerful version of ourselves acting as Nature's God remains a viable option.

You obviously don't know what the POE means. The concept of a "creator" is antithetical to the POE. "Existence exists" is the Oist answer to "Where did existence come from?". You are trying to save the invalid concepts "god" and "creator" from Naturalism . It can't be done without asserting the arbitrary or outright contradiction and context dropping.

DA said:

 

Yes, dream_weaver, we are evidence of a potential for shaping the universe in which we live.

And what about human identity qualifies as "god" like? You first have to define this concept (the what) in order to even get to this question. So far you have attributed "creator" to this hypothetical imperceptible but you supposedly have accepted that this thing itself existed, so what exactly did this "creator" create and where is your evidence for both? Also, what does a natural universe governed by identity/causality leave for a "god" to do?

Edited by Plasmatic
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The Oist answer to, "Where did existence come from?":

"There is nothing antecedent to existence, nothing apart from it—and no alternative to it. Existence exists—and only existence exists." ~ ARL, Existence

Existence exists means a continuity of existence, the alternative to which is using nonexistence as the antecedent to existence.  A void is not apart from existence, i.e., you can't have your void and use it as an antecedent too.  And within a continuity of existence there is certainly time and space for a natural creator.

--

The Oist answer to, "What about human identity qualifies as 'god' like?":

Does the term Heroic Being ring any bells?  Man is already a creator who manipulates atoms, has been off planet and is currently considering terraforming Mars.  The rest is simply a question of scale.

 

 

 

 

 

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You asked if it is possible, and after indicating the POE isn't contradicted and delivering some evidence of potential, you're now complaining about too grand a vision?  LOL, is your vision of a Heroic Being really soooo limited?

Perhaps that's a reason why religion still exists?? :devil:

My position is that formal (revealed) religion is a bad form of politics that attempts to create an unaccountable authority; a spiritual nature doesn't require that kind of authority. Aspiring to become something greater than ourselves, whether a Heroic Being or even a Natural God, does more to remove the reason for religion than tilting at windmills and straw gods.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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I'm not complaining. I've merely pointed out the identity of the evidence you provided thus far does not substantiate the claim. 

As to a vision of a heroic being, allow me to indicate its potential scope:

"A rational process is a moral process. You may make an error at any step of it, with nothing to protect you but your own severity, or you may try to cheat, to fake the evidence and evade the effort of the quest—but if devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking. — FTNI_127

In Faith and Force, she indicated that mysticism—as a cultural power—died at the time of the Renaissance. Meanwhile the vultures and carrions continue to peck away at the carcass, while the Victor Frankensteins try to resurrect the remains.

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My claim is that Man may one day fulfill the role of a Natural God.  My evidence is that Man has demonstrated creative ability and a talent for creating new environments from existing ones.  Look around you and witness his expanding footprint.  This neither cheats nor fakes the evidence and only requires one to look forward and project the scope of Man's potential given enough time and resources to make it happen.
 
It is, of course, also possible that time and resources will not translate knowledge of how to do something into actually being able to do something on a universal scale; knowing isn't the same as doing.  However there have always been those who "knew" Man was limited to lesser abilities and were eventually proven wrong...  He couldn't go around the world, until he could... He couldn't fly, until he could... He couldn't leave the the Earth and live in space, until he did...  And all of these things seemed god like to his ancestors.
 
A rational process is a moral process that includes not dismissing a possibility simply because it doesn't suggest what you want to believe.

 

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What is the difference between dismissing a possibility because it doesn't suggest what one wants to believe, and dismissing the consideration of something as being possible due to no evidence being provided for the claim?

The process of reasoning has enabled man to sail and fly around the world, send scientific equipment out into and recently out of out solar system.  These concretes are evidence for the greatness, nobility and heroic form of devotion to thinking.

 

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The former may be the result of bias and the latter of denial.
 
The process of reasoning enabled some men to accomplish what they did in spite of no one having done it before, because they believed in themselves more than they believed in those who said it wasn't possible for lack of the kind of evidence others were willing to consider.

What leads you to dismiss the possibility that understanding how the universe works makes it impossible to have any impact on it?  Or are you stuck on the "understanding how the universe works" part??

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The former may be the result of bias and the latter of denial.
 

Yes, the former may be the result of bias, but the latter merely sets the minimum evidential requirements for regarding a claim as possible.

The process of reasoning enabled some men to accomplish what they did in spite of no one having done it before, because they believed in themselves more than they believed in those who said it wasn't possible for lack of the kind of evidence others were willing to consider.

I've no problem with this, as stated.

What leads you to dismiss the possibility that understanding how the universe works makes it impossible to have any impact on it?  Or are you stuck on the "understanding how the universe works" part??

Nature, in order to be commanded, must be obeyed. It is understanding particulars of existence that made it possible to build trains, planes, and automobiles. In these cases, the evidence surpasses the requirements for something to be regarded as merely possible. Of these things, I am certain.

Edited by dream_weaver
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To be merely possible there may be little evidence supporting a claim, but no evidence that contradicts it.  Are you aware of any evidence that contradicts my claim as being possible given our past, present and what might reasonably be expected to accomplish in our immediate future?

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Evidence from MIT and CERN of efforts by respected physicists to learn how to create a universe, as reported by the New York Times and PBS:

"PHYSICISTS often probe the workings of nature on a cosmic scale, but Prof. Alan H. Guth and his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have set themselves the ultimate research goal. They are seeking a mechanism by which humans might create a new universe from scratch."

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/04/14/science/physicist-aims-to-create-a-universe-literally.html?pagewanted=all

 

"Then the unexpected happened. As physicists were testing the repairs by zipping a few spare protons around the 17 mile loop, the CMS detector picked up something unusual. The team feverishly pored over the data, and ultimately came to an unlikely conclusion—in their tests, they had accidentally created a rainbow universe."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/physics/lhc-accidental-rainbow-universe/

 

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