Census of the Uk shows 12 point drop among Christians and 10 point boost to No religion

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Hafrael:

Anoni Mus:

Hafrael:

You define intelligence as a lack of faith in God? Seriously?

Gimme a sec to find my copy of the Pensees.

It's exactly that...

I mean, my English isn't perfect, but I think everyone should be able to understand what I said, or at least knowing what I didn't said, and defining intelligence was one of the things I didn't do.

I am left bewildered again, do you, or do you not believe that intelligence is shown by a lack of faith in God? I cannot tell if you are being sarcastic or not.

I will quote here a very very intelligent chemist who believes the exact opposite

Blase Pascal was interesting. You have to remember that he was man who had several brushes to death and was always a very ill and physically weak person. That could have affected him.

Voltaire (another prominent French writer of the Enlightenment) a generation after Pascal, rejected the notion that the wager was 'proof of God' as "indecent and childish", adding, "the interest I have to believe a thing is no proof that such a thing exists." Pascal, however, did not advance the wager as a proof, but rather as a necessary pragmatic decision, that is 'impossible to avoid'. He argued that abstaining is not an option, and 'reason is incapable of divining the truth'; thus, a decision of whether or not to believe must be made by 'considering the consequences of each possibility'.

Honestly judged however, Voltaire's critique concerns not at all the character of pascalian wager as God`s existence proof, as surmised here, but the fact that the very beliefs Pascal tries to promote are not at all believable and convincing.

His defense was that of the Christian Religion. What about the Islamic or Judaic religion? What if we gave credence to every system of belief knowing the consequences?

Frission:

Antoine Lavoisier (the man more or less created the classification system for elements).

I really liked your post, but this really stood out. Le-voozer did not create the system for classifying elements. He discovered oxygen, did a lot of cool things with heat, had a ballin' wife, but only barely contributed to the way we classify elements.

Frission:
snip

In all honesty, while I love a lot of Pascal's theology, his wager was not only boring but utter bull. If an atheist is proven right then he lived his life without the burden of religion, which if the wager is truly 50-50 then it is an equally valid choice.

Skeleon:

I'm... not sure about that. Would be ideal, but on the other hand it could also result in them isolating themselves all the more from the rest of society and radicalizing themselves. You mention the WBC; well, if the world as a whole "goes to damnation" or some sentiment like that, I wouldn't be surprised to see more WBC-like groups cropping up. Or, most probably, both radicalization and moderation would occur; for different groups of Christians.

I suppose the question of whether it would be more radicalized or moderated would most likely have to be debated, however I personally believe it would end up more moderated. I mean, part of the problem with christians doing things like criticizing the WBC is that the WBC can simply quote leviticus, and unless they're willing to go into a lengthy debate most christians would go "Well shit, they've got me there. I can't attack them without having some egg on my face as well." If society were to get to a point where saying that a thousand year old book written by various prophets told you to hate the Gays was just derided and treated as utterly and totally stupid by the majority of people, then the WBC would have a much greater problem on it's hands. The majority of society would criticize them, harshly, perhaps more harshly then we do now. It would be almost impossible for them to continue without having laws passed specifically against their protests.

I mean, let's take a look at some of the modern Pagan religions of today. In Norse Religious beliefs, it's generally accepted that "Valhalla awaits the brave" and such. If some modern Asatru (or Odinist, though Odinists seem to be linked more closely to white supremacy/germanic nationalism then anything else from what I understand) were to claim a child dying of cancer was rotting in Hel's world because he did not die in combat, not only society would be quick to shush up the "savage" because they have no relation to his beliefs, but he would probably be quickly talked down by fellow Asatru/Odinists because he's giving their already small group a bad rep.

Personally, I think humans naturally have some "spiritual" side to them, and as old religions die, new ones form... Or sometimes even older religions return. Last I recall, Wicca is perhaps one of the fastest growing religions in the U.S. (with something of around a 147% growth rate from the late 1990's to 2001, and that percentage is increasing), for all we know, you could have congress passing a bill in the future renaming Halloween as "Samhain" or something like that... And I'll admit I'd have no real problem with that, if most people in congress were Witches, I'd imagine C-Span would be a lot more fun. I wouldn't necessarily say religion or spirituality is being "replaced" by Atheism, more that people are slowly drifting away from christianity. I mean, the Romans went through such a period in time where they were almost adopting new religions left and right before settling on Christianity. I think a great deal of "Atheists" (Not people on here, mind you) are simply theists who haven't found a religion yet and just decide to call themselves "atheist" under this misbelief that "atheist" just means "not christian" (I've had a few friends claiming to be "Atheists" but also said they'll probably become Wiccans or Buddhists in the future)

Hafrael:

Frission:

Antoine Lavoisier (the man more or less created the classification system for elements).

I really liked your post, but this really stood out. Le-voozer did not create the system for classifying elements. He discovered oxygen, did a lot of cool things with heat, had a ballin' wife, but only barely contributed to the way we classify elements.

Frission:
snip

In all honesty, while I love a lot of Pascal's theology, his wager was not only boring but utter bull. If an atheist is proven right then he lived his life without the burden of religion, which if the wager is truly 50-50 then it is an equally valid choice.

Well it's Mendeleev who created the periodic table, but Lavoisier named a lot of elements. He's the reason why it's easy to remember the acronyms if you're french and it's extremely hard if you're English.

What was your favorite part about Pascal? Personally, I don't like the wager either, but he did have some interesting things to say.

Fraser Greenfield:

Considering all 3 of the bloodiest and most brutal regimes in human history was 'non-religious' I would hardly brand the State church and lords Spiritual a 'bad idea'.

Hitler was Catholic.
North Korea worships their dictator as a god.
Stalin didnt want anyone above him, and most certainly not a god.

There.

Catholic Church oversaw hundreds of smaller unification wars against heretics which varied from brutal to diplomatic takeover, but overall unjust.

Then there were a couple of crusades against heathens. But those were more for political reasons than anything. Still, the Pope started them.

Wars caused by the non-religion: ... 0?
Wars caused by religion: varied, depending on what you would consider 'caused by' And this sort of requires you to take the Pope as a religious leader over a political one in the dark ages.
Wars caused by lust for power/politics: I'd say every single one.

Witty Name Here:

I mean, let's take a look at some of the modern Pagan religions of today. In Norse Religious beliefs, it's generally accepted that "Valhalla awaits the brave" and such. If some modern Asatru (or Odinist, though Odinists seem to be linked more closely to white supremacy/germanic nationalism then anything else from what I understand) were to claim a child dying of cancer was rotting in Hel's world because he did not die in combat, not only society would be quick to shush up the "savage" because they have no relation to his beliefs, but he would probably be quickly talked down by fellow Asatru/Odinists because he's giving their already small group a bad rep.

Please don't hate me again for doing a "but it ain't, though", but... it ain't, though.
1. No, that isn't accepted. There's increasing confidence among reconstructionist heathens that the whole "you die to your patron god's hall" is ahistorical, and that Valhalla itself (and the Voluspa in general) is a late addition pretty well saturated with Christian thinking (Baldur is pretty much Norse Jesus, really). I just got done listening to a podcast earlier this week where the hosts bemoan this thinking among newbies and talk about the scholarship showing that our ancestors believed that you died to the mound, as in, you actually lived within your kinfolk's gravemound. There is no other plane of existence to ascend or descend to, there's just another experience of this world. (Talk about worldview clash, this one is *incredibly* hard to get your head around-- or, at least, it seems to be for many people, myself among them.) So there would be a lot of snorting at the "savage" on the "did not do the research" end to begin with.

2. Hela's hall isn't a bad place, in any Heathen's conception. If you're not a hard-reconstructionist, you probably think *most* people end up in Hela's hall, since most of us die of disease or old age. Hel =/= Hell. If you believe in Hela's hall at all, you'd think that kid dying of cancer will soon be with his kinfolk, and that's in no way a bad thing. I'm minded of the song you help the Seidhkona sing at a seidh rite (speaking with the ancestors): "To Hela's gate we go/our wyrd and lore to know/our kin spirits and Gods do speak/from the high seat to the oracle's words/to Hela's gate we go".

So someone saying your example would probably be thought an ill-informed idiot. I don't know if anyone would bother talking them down; unless the person was someone well-known, they're just another ranting fool and would probably be dismissed with an eyeroll.

Although... do I get any brownie points for having actually seen some form of this? When I was first looking into Heathenry I joined one of the central e-lists and there was a link to a blog post by the list moderator that basically said that our ancestors not only considered disease evil, but considered *people with diseases* evil and so health is a religious imperative and you really should eat (insert her paleo diet of choice). As a person with diseases, I was more than a little offended, and the next time I saw my local Heathen friends, asked if such ableism was considered acceptable. The reaction I got was basically "oh, HER. Yeah, she's a loon. Did you know she's banned off (mutual friend)'s land for being an asshole?" So people probably won't "talk you down" directly, but reputation is everything in both Norse lore and in modern day Asatru, and if you act enough of a douchebag, you won't have much of one and people *will* warn off newbies from associating with you.

So I guess I'm not sure how the Asatru example correlated to the moderating/radicalizing thing. If you think because Heathenry is a comparatively small movement, there's pressure to moderate, I don't think that's really true. I can think of both moderate and radical groups and several of each right off the top of my head. It reminds me of the 2nd ed. AD&D book that showed you how to create a new specialized priesthood and said "worshippers may be good, neutral, or evil. Evil adherents have their own sects and the rest don't have to associate with them". There are very few groups that I've seen anything near unanimous dismay over, and the ones there are have gone way, way far off the douchebag end (read: outright neo-Nazism or an evil jotun-worshipping BDSM cult with *massive* consent issues), it's more common that people will simply avoid associating with other heathens whom they disrespect.

Personally, I think humans naturally have some "spiritual" side to them, and as old religions die, new ones form... Or sometimes even older religions return. Last I recall, Wicca is perhaps one of the fastest growing religions in the U.S. (with something of around a 147% growth rate from the late 1990's to 2001, and that percentage is increasing)

Mostly true, though Wicca's explosive growth in the '90s has slowed, being no longer the faddish in-thing. I just hope you're not using Wicca as an example of an "even older religion", unless you consider the Victorians "old". Wicca hasn't been around all that long, and is a mish-mosh of a bunch of pre-Christian ideas plus hermetic magic plus Enlightenment ideas and Victorian notions about pre-Christian beliefs. Don't get me wrong, it's a new-ish mish-mosh that works well for a lot of people and I think some of the proper initiates have real gravitas, but it's a new religion that can't even claim to be trying to reconstruct something ancient.

(Although Paganism in general does work for "new ones form and sometimes older ones return", since even recentish eclectic ones are pulling from a *lot* of older concepts and the rise of reconstructionism has put pressure across the board to pay more attention to actual scholarship about actual history.)

Oh, btw, there actually was a Pagan candidate for Congress this last election, a Republican no less. He lost, probably more to being a Tea Partier than being a Theodish Heathen. The idea of Congress being mostly Witches cracked me up, especially if it was the Christian Day faction (look him up, seriously, he's hilarious) vs. more respectable people like, idk, Dana Corby or Katrina Messenger. I wonder if they'd stop squabbling about whether self-dedicated people count as Witches long enough to get anything done? But nobody would want to rename Halloween Samhain, Witches would just love to see Evangelical Christians stop scaring people with nonsense about how Witches worship Samhain (pronounced Sam Hayne), god of death, and sacrifice their aborted fetuses to him.

I wouldn't necessarily say religion or spirituality is being "replaced" by Atheism, more that people are slowly drifting away from christianity. I mean, the Romans went through such a period in time where they were almost adopting new religions left and right before settling on Christianity. I think a great deal of "Atheists" (Not people on here, mind you) are simply theists who haven't found a religion yet and just decide to call themselves "atheist" under this misbelief that "atheist" just means "not christian" (I've had a few friends claiming to be "Atheists" but also said they'll probably become Wiccans or Buddhists in the future)

I don't think that's true, about atheists. I don't think religion is for everyone, I don't think theism is for everyone, and I don't think there's *a* religion for everyone who is inclined toward theism, either. (I'm living proof of that last one, actually.)

I mean, you're not *wholly* wrong here, I see where you're going with this and I agree to a large extent-- we're seeing, in the West, the fall of what might just be the last great state religion. (There are some signs of it in Islamic regions too, just smaller and slower-- at least, that's what little I've seen. I'm talking out the top of my ass on this one; read a few articles, not much more.) A lot of people are aware that they're able to question the dominant religion in a way they never could before and possibly not be socially sanctioned for it; and realize that Christianity doesn't work for them but aren't really aware of how *many* options they have nor how different many of them are from the religion they grew up with; they're saying "atheist" or "agnostic" as a way of saying "I don't believe in/want to associate with THAT (point to Christianity)". Yes, I think some of these people will eventually find their way into something else, or into something of their own, some form of spiritual-but-not-religious, deism or pantheism or a very vague panentheism. Or they find themselves missing the structure of church and end up becoming UUs-- several UU friends have told me their congregations are largely atheist, with Christians in the minority. (There's a joke told by UUs that goes something like "you know you're a UU when you read the hymn, see that a line mentions Jesus, and have an internal debate with yourself on whether you're morally okay with singing it".)

But a lot of atheists *aren't* going to find their way into anything religious, nor do they feel the need to. They have different needs and different interests. Also, there are a lot of religious people who'd be a lot less miserable if they just gave in and accepted their atheism.

What's interesting to me about newer religions and religious movements is that they often don't treat atheism and skepticism the same way Christianity does. For Christians, it's an on-off switch. You either believe or you're an atheist. For Pagans, atheism is kind of a fluid spectrum that people move all around on during their life. I've had a few very active Pagans tell me that "they're pretty much atheists anyway" and other people say that they were/are more/less atheistic than at other times in their life. Pagan religions don't demand blind faith, many openly encourage people to be questioning, and you're generally not kicked out or otherwise disfellowshipped if you confess to being a skeptic, so I guess that outlook on atheism isn't surprising. It'll be interesting to see how ex-Christian atheists will regard atheists who view their atheism as less of a settled thing once religions like those become more popular and more public.

Agema:
Other way round: 12-point drop for Christians, 10-point increase for no religion.

This is not a surprise.

Christianity is in decline, but the decline happened long ago. It's appearing on statistics now for the following reason.

It has long been the case that most people say they are Christian out of nothing but social convention. Decades ago people were socially "expected" to be Christian, socially expected to go to church and so on, and so Christianity was much more tied into public life.

For decades, this relationship has been unravelling; people stopped going to church, Christianity has become less socially important, and people know less about it (never mind adhere to it). Frankly, loads of those 60% still saying they are Christian will have barely opened a Bible or know much of its contents, have only been a church for a wedding, funeral or christening. They say they are Christian because it was a social norm; their parents did, and those parents did because their parents did. They don't really think about it, and don't really believe.

The number saying they are Christian will continue to rapidly decrease as this social convention continues to fade away and all the non-believers give up the facade. Then it will settle into a much smaller decline reflecting the decline of true adherents, who I strongly believe are already a minority (I'd guess about 20-30%).

Well, that renders my contribution worthless. I was going to post exactly the same, though likely much less coherently. Well done, sir, I tip the hat which I am not wearing in your vague direction.

Witty Name Here:
You know, after thinking about this for a while, I imagine this steady decline will be good for christianity in the long run.

"Cafeteria Christians" will start leaving the church, until eventually non-believers are almost equal to believers. This will, in a sense, force those christians who remain true to the church to follow the whole "love thy neighbor" thing more closely. When it comes to religions, I always find the most pious believers are of the smallest groups. People will start noticing those few Christians a bit more "closely" then usual, and so groups like the WBC (being unable to claim being part of some kind of "religious majority") Will be much harshly criticized or otherwise ignored by the general populous.

In short: While the influence of the church may fade, it'll leave good men and women in charge of it and genuine believers practicing the faith ernestly. I suppose it's best to be in a moral minority then an apathetic or amoral majority.

Why do you assume that it will work that way, and not the reverse?

The Bible, being so open to interpretation, has no "one true path". Some interpret loving they neighbour as warning him that being gay will leave him burning in Hell forever. As the influence of religion shrinks, the most radical will be the only ones left clinging to it, and as we can see in the world today the radically religious have a tendency to be really unpleasant people.

I think the shrinking of religion is just going to make the remainder more and more extreme, moving further into socially right-wing fundamentalism. The less people agree with them, the more they're going to want to be proven right, so the louder they'll shout.

Religion's steady decline continues, and will continue, the more generally 'aware' people are of the natural world, and the less cowed they become at the smoke and mirrors and empty promises of the godly.

"Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense." ~ Chapman Cohen

itsthesheppy:
Religion's steady decline continues, and will continue, the more generally 'aware' people are of the natural world, and the less cowed they become at the smoke and mirrors and empty promises of the godly.

"Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense." ~ Chapman Cohen

I disagree, I don't think a that the decline in belief is due to the increase in understanding of Science, I know some people who don't believe but still think that evolution says that we descend directly from trees.

I think apathy has more to do with it, the reason the vast vast majority of people are religious is that they were raised as such, as more and more people grow up without a strong faith being pushed onto them, religion recedes.

william124:

itsthesheppy:
Religion's steady decline continues, and will continue, the more generally 'aware' people are of the natural world, and the less cowed they become at the smoke and mirrors and empty promises of the godly.

"Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense." ~ Chapman Cohen

I disagree, I don't think a that the decline in belief is due to the increase in understanding of Science, I know some people who don't believe but still think that evolution says that we descend directly from trees.

I think apathy has more to do with it, the reason the vast vast majority of people are religious is that they were raised as such, as more and more people grow up without a strong faith being pushed onto them, religion recedes.

Religion is borne primarily out of our fear of death. I don't think people are any less scared of dying. It's just far more likely that people are being raised in a world that is more aware of itself. The mystery of disease, catastrophe and the universe is being replaced with knowledge, and knowledge always slides into the vacancies left by magic.

Over time, religion is finding itself less and less relevant, as its paltry 'miracles' are outdone by the wonders of scientific discovery and the incredible things we can do with medicine. We're curing the blind and the deaf and the lame not by laying on hands but with rigorous medical advancement and scientific study. It's hard for the burning bush to compete.

itsthesheppy:
Religion is borne primarily out of our fear of death.

Citation needed.

Not least because it's extremely unlikely. I would be surprised, for instance, people are any less afraid of death now than they were 2000 years ago, so it makes for a poor explanation of why there has been a vast decline in religosity in the West over the last century.

Agema:

itsthesheppy:
Religion is borne primarily out of our fear of death.

Citation needed.

Not least because it's extremely unlikely. I would be surprised, for instance, people are any less afraid of death now than they were 2000 years ago, so it makes for a poor explanation of why there has been a vast decline in religosity in the West over the last century.

Citation needed?

Okay. How many religious institutions suggest that death obliterates the individual? No soul, no lingering essence, no means of continuing the self. Death is the absolute end. I think you'll find that only small, fringe religions actually suggest such a thing.

Perhaps the greatest common denominator in religious thinking is that death is not the ending of consciousness. Whether it be through life as a shade, a ghost, in heaven, in some kind of underworld, reincarnation, a joining of some super-consciousness or otherwise, almost every single religion (and certainly all the big ones) feature some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card regarding our inevitable and inescapable death.

So for my citation, I cite, oh... just about all religions. Let's pick Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. I think that covers 4.5 out of the 7 billion humans on the planet. Give or take a few million here and there.

The fact that people are no less scared of death, but are in fact coming away from religion in greater numbers, seems to correlate very well with the influence technological and scientific advancement has played in our lives. Children are being born into a world of instant communication and instant information. Charlatans and soothsayers and priests can hardly compete, can they?

We're afraid of death and always will be; we will always have religion. But it's the advancement of the sciences that is drawing people away from the witch doctors and prophets.

itsthesheppy:

Okay. How many religious institutions suggest that death obliterates the individual? No soul, no lingering essence, no means of continuing the self. Death is the absolute end. I think you'll find that only small, fringe religions actually suggest such a thing.

Okay, think on it this way.

Nearly all cars have doors. Doors are very useful to cars. But does this mean the primary reason people own cars is so they have doors to open and close?

Agema:

itsthesheppy:

Okay. How many religious institutions suggest that death obliterates the individual? No soul, no lingering essence, no means of continuing the self. Death is the absolute end. I think you'll find that only small, fringe religions actually suggest such a thing.

Okay, think on it this way.

Nearly all cars have doors. Doors are very useful to cars. But does this mean the primary reason people own cars is so they have doors to open and close?

Your analogy is complete nonsense. I'm not sure how to respond to it because your shot was so wide of the mark I feel like I should just give you a do-over.

It's like we're playing Battleship, and you called Y48. No such square exists, so I'm gonna let you take a mulligan on it.

Hafrael:
Then how do you explain the smartest people who have ever lived being religious?

That's a bizarre question since you've already disputed any definition of intelligence in this thread by asking

Hafrael:
First of all define your terms, then we can have a grander discussion about this.

Because of your refusal to acknowledge any working definition it makes the rest of that post redundant as a result:

Hafrael:
Also, do you really believe that people were more stupid 60 years ago, or 2000? I promise you, my main man St. Augustine of Hippo is smarter than you.

However were people 'more stupid 60 years ago'? Yes, there's absolutely no doubt about it, it's called the Flynn Effect & is well documented. Simply searching for either 'Flynn effect' or 'increase in IQ over time' will reveal a wealth of data.
'St. Augustine of Hippo is smarter than you.' I very much doubt it; there's no evidence whatsoever to support your assertion that that Iron Age zealot was particularly bright. Certainly if you've read him you'll have your own doubts because he was a dull crackpot.

Despite your refusal to accept IQ as a demonstration of verbo-linguistic, maths, logic & lateral thinking capacity here's an interesting thing (as posted just a few entries prior to your original one in this thread):

"[...] the higher one's intelligence or education level, the less one is likely to be religious [...]".
Paul Bell, MENSA Magazine 2002 published findings regarding 43 studies examining correlations between high IQ, good education, & little or no religious belief; all but four of the studies, conducted over nine decades, were conclusive & none contradictory. They included:

1998 survey of the US National Academy of Sciences.
1980 Wiebe and Fleck study.
Norman Poythress' 1975 SATs study.
Scientific American 1999 article with Prof. Kyung.

Agema:

itsthesheppy:
Religion is borne primarily out of our fear of death.

Citation needed.

Not least because it's extremely unlikely. I would be surprised, for instance, people are any less afraid of death now than they were 2000 years ago, so it makes for a poor explanation of why there has been a vast decline in religiosity in the West over the last century.

i think on this point its perhaps fair to say that in the last 2000 years the amount death physically present in average persons existence and therefore the amount of time consciously thinking about it has probably reduced enormously.

from 2000 years ago up until maybe a few hundred or so at most average infant, child and adult mortality rates would see people dropping (and breeding to compensate) at widespread rates and ages that in our comfortable modern lives are near completely unfathomable.

with that in mind i'd suggest its very probable they consciously thought about death more than us simply because death was a bigger part of life.

we live in a (developed part of the) world where people can reach 40+ before attending a single funeral (parents being expected to go first in a "normal" "good" life) when 40+ itself would at one time have previously been a somewhat venerable old age and some people will die themselves never having actually seen death "in the flesh" at all.

i somewhat agree with "itsthesheppy" however i'd suggest that there is probably a little more in the mix not least of which imo is "ego" and the fact that, as i remembering mentioning before in a topic or two (one of them being about the "cold war"), it's my opinion that there are clearly many different types of "fear"...conscious, unconscious, immediately pressing, latent and so forth...which the singular word (and our reactions/approach to it's use) is inadequate to cover.

religion aside imo one thing is sure: at a very base level we do indeed "fear" death and that "fear" is simplistically there to keep us as a living entity alive and as free from potentially life threatening harm as possible.

when you combine that with "consciousness", "ego" (the same "ego" that causes most average people to both offhandedly and fervently deny when challenged that they are "afraid" of anything.) and the creation of a narrative that suggests death is just a gateway to a further infinite existence...then ye i think the acceptance of the idea that people live on forever when they die (in a life better than this one if you follow rules X, Y and Z or whatever) probably helps a hell of a lot of people sleep more soundly and thus helps "put bums on pews"...

personally i don't think the universe/god gives a fuck but even i, against all my normal rational, entertain the thought that there might just be something "beyond" on occasion...the difference perhaps is that after a brief flirt i drag myself back and berate my own "ego" and wishful thinking...that and i'm not surrounded by reinforcement of said wishful thinking which might prolong it...

Agema:

itsthesheppy:

Okay. How many religious institutions suggest that death obliterates the individual? No soul, no lingering essence, no means of continuing the self. Death is the absolute end. I think you'll find that only small, fringe religions actually suggest such a thing.

Okay, think on it this way.

Nearly all cars have doors. Doors are very useful to cars. But does this mean the primary reason people own cars is so they have doors to open and close?

While not being the sole or even the main reason (which I would say is congregation ad the need to feel part of a community) for religion's existence, it is a characteristic of them. It is not always about alleviating fear but it is often about giving meaning to life by describing "the next one"

catalyst8:

Hafrael:
Then how do you explain the smartest people who have ever lived being religious?

That's a bizarre question since you've already disputed any definition of intelligence in this thread by asking

Hafrael:
First of all define your terms, then we can have a grander discussion about this.

Because of your refusal to acknowledge any working definition it makes the rest of that post redundant as a result:

You're right I didn't define my terms either. I'm sorry. I'll use the dictionary.com definition

capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc."

The problem with defining this is quantifying a capacity for learning, reasoning understanding etc. I do not believe that IQ measures this accurately. I personally know a member of Mensa, he is very very very good at taking tests, not so good at almost anything else. (Especially being humble).

Hafrael:
Also, do you really believe that people were more stupid 60 years ago, or 2000? I promise you, my main man St. Augustine of Hippo is smarter than you.

However were people 'more stupid 60 years ago'? Yes, there's absolutely no doubt about it, it's called the Flynn Effect & is well documented. Simply searching for either 'Flynn effect' or 'increase in IQ over time' will reveal a wealth of data.

IQ is not a measure of intelligence, it is just a measure of how good you are at taking a test. I've always been good at taking tests, have score extremely high on IQ tests, but really I'm not all that smart.

'St. Augustine of Hippo is smarter than you.' I very much doubt it; there's no evidence whatsoever to support your assertion that that Iron Age zealot was particularly bright. Certainly if you've read him you'll have your own doubts because he was a dull crackpot.

Now if you've read him you'd know he is not only, not a zealot, but an extremely intelligent person. His reasoning is clear and ordered and he very neatly meshes Platonist philosophy with Catholic doctrine. You may not accept his axioms, but if you let that throw you off then you will make no headway in any philosophical, or early scientific, texts. Mind, I haven't finished City of God yet as it was too much while I was still in school, so my opinion may change. But, from what I've read already I sincerely doubt that.

Frission:

What was your favorite part about Pascal? Personally, I don't like the wager either, but he did have some interesting things to say.

My favorite bits where were he reaffirmed the idea that you cannot reach God rationally, because this fit very well with my own beliefs and the scripture I'm familiar with. Plus after slogging through so many "proofs" of God this was very refreshing. Not to mention me and some classmates had some good laughs about HOW BIG HIS TUBES WERE. THEY WERE THE BIGGEST TUBES IN EUROPE.

MrCollins:

Agema:

itsthesheppy:

Okay. How many religious institutions suggest that death obliterates the individual? No soul, no lingering essence, no means of continuing the self. Death is the absolute end. I think you'll find that only small, fringe religions actually suggest such a thing.

Okay, think on it this way.

Nearly all cars have doors. Doors are very useful to cars. But does this mean the primary reason people own cars is so they have doors to open and close?

While not being the sole or even the main reason (which I would say is congregation ad the need to feel part of a community) for religion's existence, it is a characteristic of them. It is not always about alleviating fear but it is often about giving meaning to life by describing "the next one"

There are doubtless numerous contributing reasons for humanity's creation of the various religions & gods, but it's also important to trace back the existing prominent world religion in order to understand the motives for its creation. The sects of Judaism, Islam, & the Christian cult of the Abrahamic religion can be followed back to the much older Mesopotamian religions, sects & cults:

The highest orders of angels like the fire-snake seraphim & the ox-lion-human-eagle composite cherubim had temples in Babylon, while Yahweh was originally a storm god.
Many demons like Ba'al & Mammon were gods local to the area between the Tigris & Euphrates.
The origin myth of Moses being found afloat in a reed basket & adopted into a royal house is a direct copy of the origin story of Sargon of Akkad who, unlike Moses, has evidence to support his existence as a real historical figure.
The flood myth of Noah is directly taken from the epic poem Gilgamesh.
The biblical creation myth is copied from the Enuma Elish.
The list goes on & on, & all of this tens of hundreds of years before the Bible's claim that Abraham left Ur.

Looking at the Mesopotamian pantheons & records we can trace older, more basic deities responsible for natural phenomena like the sun god Utu, or the war & fertility god Ishtar/Astaroth. Further back about 8,000 to 10,000 they're more basic again, more primal as you might expect from a non-agrarian people. Travelling back to about the 30,000 year mark archaeological evidence like spear marks on cave paintings suggests ritualized hunting ceremonies, sun worship & ancestor worship, the latter two a very common occurrence found in every pre & many post-agricultural systems.

Sun worship & ancestor veneration/worship has been noted in religions on every continent known to support human societies. They're the only two infallible constants; not necessarily a fear of death as much as an aspiration to not die completely.

It's not their fault they didn't know what the sun was, but we do & we should know better than to bow before it. We understand the biochemical processes involved in the transition between living & dead organisms, & what the lightning is, so we don't need to perform magic to please invisible sky ghosts. When you get down to the nitty-gritty these religions, & logically then all those which followed them, are just the superstitions of uneducated savages trying to make themselves feel better.

CAPTCHA: this is sparta. Ha!

Hafrael:
The problem with defining this is quantifying a capacity for learning, reasoning understanding etc. I do not believe that IQ measures this accurately. I personally know a member of Mensa, he is very very very good at taking tests, not so good at almost anything else. (Especially being humble).

Hafrael:
IQ is not a measure of intelligence, it is just a measure of how good you are at taking a test [...]

I already specified "IQ as a demonstration of verbo-linguistic, maths, logic & lateral thinking capacity" in the very post you're quoting me from in your reply. As for the rest of your points re. the validity of IQ & education, etc. please see post number 20 where every single one has already been addressed.

Hafrael:
Now if you've read him you'd know he is not only, not a zealot, but an extremely intelligent person. His reasoning is clear and ordered and he very neatly meshes Platonist philosophy with Catholic doctrine. You may not accept his axioms, but if you let that throw you off then you will make no headway in any philosophical, or early scientific, texts. Mind, I haven't finished City of God yet as it was too much while I was still in school, so my opinion may change. But, from what I've read already I sincerely doubt that.

Not only is he hugely flawed (like Descartes he relies on a priori assumptions about the existence of the Abrahamic god to draw his conclusions), in a literary sense he's dull, & yes fanatical, mindlessly obeying papal orders to vandalize & destroy others' cultures. The Iron Age & mediaeval Catholics loved to pick & choose not just Plato but Aristotle too, but that doesn't make what they took or ignored necessarily valid just because of who they stole it from.

To say that 'St. Augustine of Hippo is smarter than you' to a stranger is laughably presumptuous & hugely insulting.

Hafrael:

Anoni Mus:
snip

Then how do you explain the smartest people who have ever lived being religious?

The smartest people who ever lived covers a lot of history.

Historically the ability of people to be free thinkers when it comes to religion is patchy. Just choosing the wrong religion could block you from higher education and force you to a limited selection of trades. Being an atheist could get you killed. Also there is a history of destroying and suppressing the works of really intelligent people who did not believe in gods. An example of this is Plato who hated Democritus so much that he wanted all of his works burnt.

Polarity27:

Please don't hate me again for doing a "but it ain't, though", but... it ain't, though.
1. No, that isn't accepted. There's increasing confidence among reconstructionist heathens that the whole "you die to your patron god's hall" is ahistorical, and that Valhalla itself (and the Voluspa in general) is a late addition pretty well saturated with Christian thinking (Baldur is pretty much Norse Jesus, really). I just got done listening to a podcast earlier this week where the hosts bemoan this thinking among newbies and talk about the scholarship showing that our ancestors believed that you died to the mound, as in, you actually lived within your kinfolk's gravemound. There is no other plane of existence to ascend or descend to, there's just another experience of this world. (Talk about worldview clash, this one is *incredibly* hard to get your head around-- or, at least, it seems to be for many people, myself among them.) So there would be a lot of snorting at the "savage" on the "did not do the research" end to begin with.

Eh, I was mostly just using that as an example of a not-so populous religion saying something crazy. I've heard a lot of stuff on the norse afterlife thing, with some saying that you either go to your patron God's hall, or straight to Hel, or some other kind of afterlife. I don't suppose it was the "best" example, but I just came up with it on short notice.

Polarity27:
2. Hela's hall isn't a bad place, in any Heathen's conception. If you're not a hard-reconstructionist, you probably think *most* people end up in Hela's hall, since most of us die of disease or old age. Hel =/= Hell. If you believe in Hela's hall at all, you'd think that kid dying of cancer will soon be with his kinfolk, and that's in no way a bad thing. I'm minded of the song you help the Seidhkona sing at a seidh rite (speaking with the ancestors): "To Hela's gate we go/our wyrd and lore to know/our kin spirits and Gods do speak/from the high seat to the oracle's words/to Hela's gate we go".

It was just part of the (admittedly poor) example really, mostly because I forget what the actual "Norse Hell" was, something about drowning in a river of goat piss or something like that. If I recall, Hel was just seen, at worst, as being "dull" with valhalla being a true paradise to shoot for (there was also some place specifically for people who drowned at sea, I forget what that one was called as well), it's essentially being given a choice of either staying at home or taking a vacation to Hawaii.

Polarity27:
Although... do I get any brownie points for having actually seen some form of this? When I was first looking into Heathenry I joined one of the central e-lists and there was a link to a blog post by the list moderator that basically said that our ancestors not only considered disease evil, but considered *people with diseases* evil and so health is a religious imperative and you really should eat (insert her paleo diet of choice). As a person with diseases, I was more than a little offended, and the next time I saw my local Heathen friends, asked if such ableism was considered acceptable. The reaction I got was basically "oh, HER. Yeah, she's a loon. Did you know she's banned off (mutual friend)'s land for being an asshole?" So people probably won't "talk you down" directly, but reputation is everything in both Norse lore and in modern day Asatru, and if you act enough of a douchebag, you won't have much of one and people *will* warn off newbies from associating with you.

It seems extremism and douchebaggery infests everything, sadly enough.

Polarity27:
So I guess I'm not sure how the Asatru example correlated to the moderating/radicalizing thing. If you think because Heathenry is a comparatively small movement, there's pressure to moderate, I don't think that's really true. I can think of both moderate and radical groups and several of each right off the top of my head. It reminds me of the 2nd ed. AD&D book that showed you how to create a new specialized priesthood and said "worshippers may be good, neutral, or evil. Evil adherents have their own sects and the rest don't have to associate with them". There are very few groups that I've seen anything near unanimous dismay over, and the ones there are have gone way, way far off the douchebag end (read: outright neo-Nazism or an evil jotun-worshipping BDSM cult with *massive* consent issues), it's more common that people will simply avoid associating with other heathens whom they disrespect.

Well, the Jotun worshipping BDSM thing sounds like something out of Bible black. Anyways, I'm not trying to say Radicals will be completely eliminated, just in a much smaller number. Unless, for example, radicals christians form their own little compound separate from the outside world, most organized groups like the WBC (which is already very isolated) would end up breaking up. Either because their ideology will be impossible to spread, or because their children will live in a very secular/liberal world and will recognize their parent's extremism for what it is.

Polarity27:

Mostly true, though Wicca's explosive growth in the '90s has slowed, being no longer the faddish in-thing. I just hope you're not using Wicca as an example of an "even older religion", unless you consider the Victorians "old". Wicca hasn't been around all that long, and is a mish-mosh of a bunch of pre-Christian ideas plus hermetic magic plus Enlightenment ideas and Victorian notions about pre-Christian beliefs. Don't get me wrong, it's a new-ish mish-mosh that works well for a lot of people and I think some of the proper initiates have real gravitas, but it's a new religion that can't even claim to be trying to reconstruct something ancient.

(Although Paganism in general does work for "new ones form and sometimes older ones return", since even recentish eclectic ones are pulling from a *lot* of older concepts and the rise of reconstructionism has put pressure across the board to pay more attention to actual scholarship about actual history.)

Nah, Wicca is a new religion altogether (albeit one with it's roots in a lot of older ones). While their may be attempts to make it seem older (most of those being almost conspiracy theories such as the claims that their was a large "witch cult" in western europe that people like Jean D'Arc were apart of) we can pretty safely trace it back to modern or near modern times.

Oh, btw, there actually was a Pagan candidate for Congress this last election, a Republican no less. He lost, probably more to being a Tea Partier than being a Theodish Heathen. The idea of Congress being mostly Witches cracked me up, especially if it was the Christian Day faction (look him up, seriously, he's hilarious) vs. more respectable people like, idk, Dana Corby or Katrina Messenger. I wonder if they'd stop squabbling about whether self-dedicated people count as Witches long enough to get anything done? But nobody would want to rename Halloween Samhain, Witches would just love to see Evangelical Christians stop scaring people with nonsense about how Witches worship Samhain (pronounced Sam Hayne), god of death, and sacrifice their aborted fetuses to him.

Honestly I think a downright hilarious future would be if the Republicans became "Radical Norse" (Small Government, big military. "Valhalla awaits!") and the Democrats would have to deal with a radical Christian Left demanding that wealth be redistributed from the "Evil Atheistic Businessmen" XP

I don't think that's true, about atheists. I don't think religion is for everyone, I don't think theism is for everyone, and I don't think there's *a* religion for everyone who is inclined toward theism, either. (I'm living proof of that last one, actually.)

Of course there's not a religion for everyone. Hell, I think one of the fundamental problems in both sides (theistic and atheistic) coming to terms with each other is that they honestly can't understand why the other side thinks the way they do. Some people just plain aren't religious, and I can respect that so long as they can respect the fact that some people just are religious. I personally consider myself part of the "just are religious crowd". While I have honestly next to know clue what religion I actually am, I pretty much established that I believe in some kind of higher power(s).

I mean, you're not *wholly* wrong here, I see where you're going with this and I agree to a large extent-- we're seeing, in the West, the fall of what might just be the last great state religion. (There are some signs of it in Islamic regions too, just smaller and slower-- at least, that's what little I've seen. I'm talking out the top of my ass on this one; read a few articles, not much more.) A lot of people are aware that they're able to question the dominant religion in a way they never could before and possibly not be socially sanctioned for it; and realize that Christianity doesn't work for them but aren't really aware of how *many* options they have nor how different many of them are from the religion they grew up with; they're saying "atheist" or "agnostic" as a way of saying "I don't believe in/want to associate with THAT (point to Christianity)". Yes, I think some of these people will eventually find their way into something else, or into something of their own, some form of spiritual-but-not-religious, deism or pantheism or a very vague panentheism. Or they find themselves missing the structure of church and end up becoming UUs-- several UU friends have told me their congregations are largely atheist, with Christians in the minority. (There's a joke told by UUs that goes something like "you know you're a UU when you read the hymn, see that a line mentions Jesus, and have an internal debate with yourself on whether you're morally okay with singing it".)

But a lot of atheists *aren't* going to find their way into anything religious, nor do they feel the need to. They have different needs and different interests. Also, there are a lot of religious people who'd be a lot less miserable if they just gave in and accepted their atheism.

Personally I wouldn't say those "religious" people are "religious" if they're secretly atheist. I mostly associate religious with "believes in a higher power/spirituality" rather than "belonging to a religious group". Hell, most Catholics in france, from what I recall, are pretty much Atheists. I'm pretty sure that Catholicism will survive even if most of the world became Atheistic simply because it's a major part of a culture/lifestyle and most catholics (whether conservative or liberal) can appreciate Catholic morality and teachings (Liberals love it's more Social Democratic economic stances and can agree, at least partially, with some conservative social stances. Conservatives appreciate the hierarchy and social policies)

What's interesting to me about newer religions and religious movements is that they often don't treat atheism and skepticism the same way Christianity does. For Christians, it's an on-off switch. You either believe or you're an atheist. For Pagans, atheism is kind of a fluid spectrum that people move all around on during their life. I've had a few very active Pagans tell me that "they're pretty much atheists anyway" and other people say that they were/are more/less atheistic than at other times in their life. Pagan religions don't demand blind faith, many openly encourage people to be questioning, and you're generally not kicked out or otherwise disfellowshipped if you confess to being a skeptic, so I guess that outlook on atheism isn't surprising. It'll be interesting to see how ex-Christian atheists will regard atheists who view their atheism as less of a settled thing once religions like those become more popular and more public.

Well I'll be looking forward to seeing it. My only hope is that Theists and Atheists can learn to settle their differences before Atheism becomes a "major player" so that we don't see a radicalization of either. For all I care Atheists could see Christians/Theists as a small minority that tries to push things to a more "charitable" cause, and Christians/Theists could see Atheists as the ones that handle the science and such.

MrCollins:

Agema:

itsthesheppy:

Okay. How many religious institutions suggest that death obliterates the individual? No soul, no lingering essence, no means of continuing the self. Death is the absolute end. I think you'll find that only small, fringe religions actually suggest such a thing.

Okay, think on it this way.

Nearly all cars have doors. Doors are very useful to cars. But does this mean the primary reason people own cars is so they have doors to open and close?

While not being the sole or even the main reason (which I would say is congregation ad the need to feel part of a community) for religion's existence, it is a characteristic of them. It is not always about alleviating fear but it is often about giving meaning to life by describing "the next one"

That was Agema's point. The fear of death can be a characteristic or significant to some degree, but by no means is it "primarily" the reason for religion. itsthesheppy did not understand the analogy.

catalyst8:
Not only is he hugely flawed (like Descartes he relies on a priori assumptions about the existence of the Abrahamic god to draw his conclusions), in a literary sense he's dull, & yes fanatical, mindlessly obeying papal orders to vandalize & destroy others' cultures. The Iron Age & mediaeval Catholics loved to pick & choose not just Plato but Aristotle too, but that doesn't make what they took or ignored necessarily valid just because of who they stole it from.

To say that 'St. Augustine of Hippo is smarter than you' to a stranger is laughably presumptuous & hugely insulting.

I have yet to read St. Augustine, but to dismiss his entire thought based on a particular aspect of it, or on him himself, is ridiculously illogical. If you are expecting perfection from any philosopher as a symbol of their intelligence, then you will be continuously disappointed.

Hap2:
I have yet to read St. Augustine, but to dismiss his entire thought based on a particular aspect of it, or on him himself, is ridiculously illogical. If you are expecting perfection from any philosopher as a symbol of their intelligence, then you will be continuously disappointed.

That was just a single example of how his methodology is biased & flawed in the same way as Descartes' (most certainly for the Cogito). But whether it's the sole flaw in his methodology or not is irrelevant. Reading in the wider context of the whole exchange you'll see that the assertion I was responding to was

Hafrael:
[...] I promise you, my main man St. Augustine of Hippo is smarter than you [Frission].

That's a presumptuous insult based only on bias & no evidence. Taking into account Hafrael's assertion immediately previous to the above-quoted one, where he claimed there was no working contextualized definition for that 'smartness' he then claims for Augustine, it becomes clear the remark is utterly unfounded - it's a deliberate libel.

Please note also how he ignores all the data & research quoted to support the argument contrary to his, & instead hides behind semantics & a snide remark. He's managed to steer away from the actual point he engaged with, in this case that non-religious people generally have higher IQs & better educations than religious people, in order not to concede the argument. It's incredibly poor form & very bad practice, but a stratagem I've noticed predominates among those who attempt to defend religion, not just against criticism, but even against scrutiny.

Witty Name Here:

Eh, I was mostly just using that as an example of a not-so populous religion saying something crazy. I've heard a lot of stuff on the norse afterlife thing, with some saying that you either go to your patron God's hall, or straight to Hel, or some other kind of afterlife.

I figured you had. :) Jumping in was part "this is really interesting stuff!" and part the knowledge that you're actually interested in this subject so it would really help to steer you away from bad information at the outset. PM me if you want me to source you some better stuff, btw.

It was just part of the (admittedly poor) example really, mostly because I forget what the actual "Norse Hell" was, something about drowning in a river of goat piss or something like that. If I recall, Hel was just seen, at worst, as being "dull" with valhalla being a true paradise to shoot for (there was also some place specifically for people who drowned at sea, I forget what that one was called as well), it's essentially being given a choice of either staying at home or taking a vacation to Hawaii.

Norse Hell= exile. Dying alone and miserable, outlawed and unremembered, is pretty much the worst fear of most of our ancient ancestors. (That hasn't changed all that much, it's just that now we're supposed to not fear it and not be upset if it happens because that's "illogical", which I think is plenty disordered. As is the way we treat death, holding it so far at arm's length that we can pretend it doesn't happen. Our corpses aren't touched by us and are either reduced to ash or made to look lifelike by strangers, you get about two minutes for it to be permissible to be seen to mourn and you're treated as sick if you don't "move on" fast enough and pretend there's nothing wrong (all the more so if the dead isn't one of the more-acceptable-to-be-openly-sad-over, for there are definite categories where it's weird if you're sad longer than a week or two, some where it's weird if you're sad more than an hour or two). Hell, even our food is packaged and treated to look "lively", we shudder at the idea of killing cute animals even while we eat their flesh, and you're a sicko if you sanctify a food animal's death, but you're normal if factory farming doesn't bother you. We do everything humanly possible to try to pretend death doesn't happen and when it does, that it doesn't disrupt our routine, and we call our ancestors the ignorant savages. Yes, this is me passive-aggressively responding to that shit upthread in the wrong place, because it's pissing me off a lot more than I expected it to.)

Right, rant off. On the subject of Valhalla, I think the people who think that's heavenly are complete *lunatics*. Sure, you get to feast and drink all night, but that's because you spend all day fighting and dying, over and over again. It's like basic training from hell with the world's scariest drill sergeant. Ack, I'll pass!

Well, the Jotun worshipping BDSM thing sounds like something out of Bible black. Anyways, I'm not trying to say Radicals will be completely eliminated, just in a much smaller number. Unless, for example, radicals christians form their own little compound separate from the outside world, most organized groups like the WBC (which is already very isolated) would end up breaking up. Either because their ideology will be impossible to spread, or because their children will live in a very secular/liberal world and will recognize their parent's extremism for what it is.

That just hasn't been my experience around small non-mainstream groups, religious or otherwise. If anything, non-mainstream groups attract *more* radicals and fringe cases of various kinds because the very non-mainstreamness is seen as tacit permission to act out whatever urges you brought with you that aren't tolerated in the mainstream. No, groups of people like this usually don't last very long, but the part you aren't seeing is how quickly they're recycled into new and different radicals. Sometimes the ideas from the last batch are kept in some form ("but they didn't fail because of the *idea*, they failed because of how they *executed* the idea! We'll be different!), sometimes they're radical in slightly different ways. That's why I mentioned the two extremes in Heathenry, not because radical elements are restricted to neo-Nazis and BDSM-cultists, but because *that's how far extreme you have to be before people start agreeing that you're not acceptable*. (And hell, some people think the BDSM-cultists are respectable Heathens. I'm not sure if this is because they don't know what they're really about, or they don't care.) There are tons of others that the ordinary non-Heathen would find extreme that we just roll our eyes and mutter at because we're sort of used to it. And I think the first people to bring back Pagan religions were about 85%+ kooks.

I think there's a sweet spot to be had with a group of any kind. Too mainstream and it gets entrenched and all its uniqueness blanded out; too fringe and you end up with the kooks drowning out all the sensible ones. I'm an advocate of pluralism for this very reason-- without one group to sit on all the power, it may be easier for new movements to hit that spot, and spread the more practicable parts of their thinking.

Nah, Wicca is a new religion altogether (albeit one with it's roots in a lot of older ones). While their may be attempts to make it seem older (most of those being almost conspiracy theories such as the claims that their was a large "witch cult" in western europe that people like Jean D'Arc were apart of) we can pretty safely trace it back to modern or near modern times.

Modern defined how? I think there's a case to be made for "earlier than the 1950s"; Heselton has it earlier than Gardner, and he's not a crackpot and his sources are sound. Not all that *much* earlier, though, that's clear from all the Victoriana.

Honestly I think a downright hilarious future would be if the Republicans became "Radical Norse" (Small Government, big military. "Valhalla awaits!") and the Democrats would have to deal with a radical Christian Left demanding that wealth be redistributed from the "Evil Atheistic Businessmen" XP

I'm on board with the last half of that sentence. Those criticisms of unfettered greed are both well-founded and, I think, an example of when religion waits for secular society to catch up with it, instead of the other way around. The science is already on their side, too.

Of course there's not a religion for everyone. Hell, I think one of the fundamental problems in both sides (theistic and atheistic) coming to terms with each other is that they honestly can't understand why the other side thinks the way they do.

It's "everyone is just like me, and if I did/want to do a thing, everyone else should too".

Personally I wouldn't say those "religious" people are "religious" if they're secretly atheist. I mostly associate religious with "believes in a higher power/spirituality" rather than "belonging to a religious group".

I mean the people who torture themselves for years trying to get themselves to believe in something they just don't, when they'd be so much happier if they'd just admitted to themselves "yup, I'm an atheist" and went on with it.

itsthesheppy:

Your analogy is complete nonsense. I'm not sure how to respond to it because your shot was so wide of the mark I feel like I should just give you a do-over.

It's like we're playing Battleship, and you called Y48. No such square exists, so I'm gonna let you take a mulligan on it.

One of less inspiring things about the human race is inviting people to think about something, and finding they don't. Let's be more precise, then, to see if we can get a constructive answer.

Just because nearly all religions involve some concept of afterlife does not actually provide convincing evidence that afterlife is the primary reason people believe in religion. It strongly suggests that afterlife has some form of positive function for religion, but falls well short of showing afterlife (never mind a subset reason for afterlife such as fear of death) itself is the main one.

I think religion has one very generalised function: it helps people feel they have a place and meaning in the universe. It gives many a sense of community. It provides a prepackaged code to live by, moral guidance, an objective to strive for. It helps people make some form of understanding of and provide comfort from the very complex world around them, with all its difficulties, unknowns, uncertainties, and adversities. Afterlife concepts can fulfill many functions to some of these ends. Yes, fear of death will be a factor, but I'm far from convinced it's a particularly salient one.

Religion has declined because two main functions - understanding the world and moral guidance / life objectives - have been replaced by science and non-religious philosophy. But just as many as ever don't particularly like the idea of the utter nothingness that death means.

Agema:

itsthesheppy:

Your analogy is complete nonsense. I'm not sure how to respond to it because your shot was so wide of the mark I feel like I should just give you a do-over.

It's like we're playing Battleship, and you called Y48. No such square exists, so I'm gonna let you take a mulligan on it.

One of less inspiring things about the human race is inviting people to think about something, and finding they don't. Let's be more precise, then, to see if we can get a constructive answer.

Just because nearly all religions involve some concept of afterlife does not actually provide convincing evidence that afterlife is the primary reason people believe in religion. It strongly suggests that afterlife has some form of positive function for religion, but falls well short of showing afterlife (never mind a subset reason for afterlife such as fear of death) itself is the main one.

I think religion has one very generalised function: it helps people feel they have a place and meaning in the universe. It gives many a sense of community. It provides a prepackaged code to live by, moral guidance, an objective to strive for. It helps people make some form of understanding of and provide comfort from the very complex world around them, with all its difficulties, unknowns, uncertainties, and adversities. Afterlife concepts can fulfill many functions to some of these ends. Yes, fear of death will be a factor, but I'm far from convinced it's a particularly salient one.

Religion has declined because two main functions - understanding the world and moral guidance / life objectives - have been replaced by science and non-religious philosophy. But just as many as ever don't particularly like the idea of the utter nothingness that death means.

All of that was very well spoken and largely preposterous. The central tenet of most forms of Christianity, for example, is that the path to heaven is through Christ. Church isn't about bake sales and couples night. It's about the saving of your immortal soul from the pits of hell through salvation, accomplished by accepting christ. What's the point of all of that if it had no effect on you after you die?

Islam is very similar. In fact, the more strident the muslim happens to be, the more importance is put on the result of a person's soul after death. And in fact this gets to your 'purpose' argument.

The sense of purpose comes from the feeling of being a small part in something bigger and grander than mortal life here on earth. there's a larger, cosmic struggle happening that people want to be a part of. Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the others would not survive if the priests told the flock from the pulpit that no matter what you did, when you died, you were dead. If religion couldn't promise immortality, they wouldn't have much more to offer than a book club would.

The basis of religious morality comes from the edicts that behaviors in this world effect the punishment or rewards in the next. Absolutely no theism of which I am aware gives moral commands and yet is silent ebougn rewards or punishments after death. All of them share that common theme. To go back to your (terrible) analogy, not all motorized vehicles have doors. Motorcycles come immediately to mind. My brother owned a jeep that had no doors on it. But you know what all motorized vehicles have? Engines.

The afterlife is the engine of religion. The sound system, the windshield, the power steering and the rest are all important parts, but the thing won't drive without a motor. Nobody wants to die. Religion tells people they won't. Ergo, we will have religions for as long as those two facts remain.

itsthesheppy:

All of that was very well spoken and largely preposterous.

It is not as preposterous as you changing your argument from:

itsthesheppy:
Religion is borne primarily out of our fear of death. [plus much fear of death explanation over two comments]

to a generalised one on the afterlife to try to pretend you were right all along. Even worse, to heap derision on my comment whilst simultaneously using it to a large part as the basis for your reconstructed version. Thus you have been rude and underhanded.

You may now feel free continue in that trend and hand me some cocky retort or cheap abuse in order to maintain face and assuage your irritation that my analysis in this comment is true.

Agema:

itsthesheppy:

All of that was very well spoken and largely preposterous.

It is not as preposterous as you changing your argument from:

itsthesheppy:
Religion is borne primarily out of our fear of death. [plus much fear of death explanation over two comments]

to a generalised one on the afterlife to try to pretend you were right all along. Even worse, to heap derision on my comment whilst simultaneously using it to a large part as the basis for your reconstructed version. Thus you have been rude and underhanded.

You may now feel free continue in that trend and hand me some cocky retort or cheap abuse in order to maintain face and assuage your irritation that my analysis in this comment is true.

I called the afterlife the "engine" of religion. I'm not exactly sure how that represents a deviation from my assertion that religion is borne from a fear of death. The afterlife is the entire point; no religion of which I am aware functions without it, and if you read any of the texts, it is omnipresent. In addition, the largest two monotheisms in the world, Islam and Christianity, spend a great deal of time focused primarily on the concept of rewards (or punishments) following death, and the journey of the mortal soul to salvation.

I have consistently made clear my point that the afterlife is the most important part of religion, and the afterlife exists because we're scared of dying; that fact is as self evident as saying that people like to eat candy because sugar tastes good. At no point during this conversation, by the way, have I become irritated. Perhaps you read my labeling of your point as 'preposterous' as some kind of attack. It was, rather, a descriptor, and you would serve yourself well not taking disagreement so personally.

I see this was only for England and Wales though. I wonder if North Ireland and Scotland would've tipped the scales to any significant degree.

I know South Ireland tends toward Catholicism to a large degree, but I'm not sure about the rest.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure whether the dominant religion in Scotland is Protestant or Catholic. Any of you guys know?

itsthesheppy:
[...] In addition, the largest two monotheisms in the world, Islam and Christianity, spend a great deal of time focused primarily on the concept of rewards (or punishments) following death, and the journey of the mortal soul to salvation.

While I consider the claim that a fear of death is the basis for religion highly debatable & completely open to interpretation, I will take issue with your above comment. Islam & Christianity are respectively an Abrahamic sect & cult. As explained in my above post (#55) they worship the same god, the Mesopotamian storm god which Abraham (assuming for argument's sake he actually ever existed) is said in the Tanakh & Qur'an to have taken with him from Ur. The disparity between Islam & the other two Abrahamic dogmas only occurs after Isaac and Ishmael, so Abraham & his Mesopotamian god are the foundation for all three.

That these three dogmas, or two in your example, focus on the same things can hardly be seen as a surprise because even if one argues that they are separate religions in their own right, they most certainly share the same mythology & pantheon of gods, demi-gods, spirits, etc.

To address the wider issue, as I previously pointed out (again in #55) while ancestor veneration/worship appears to be universal it doesn't necessarily demonstrate a fear of death. Take the Anglo-Saxon celebration of what we now call Hallowe'en, it was originally a celebration of old ancestors where sweet things & alcoholic drinks were left out for the spirits of the dead as a mark of respect. There's nothing there about a fear of mortality, & the same goes for Aboriginal Australian ceremonies for their ancestral spirits; it's not fear, it's reverence.

Saladfork:
I see this was only for England and Wales though. I wonder if North Ireland and Scotland would've tipped the scales to any significant degree.

I know South Ireland tends toward Catholicism to a large degree, but I'm not sure about the rest.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure whether the dominant religion in Scotland is Protestant or Catholic. Any of you guys know?

Between them they only have a population of about ten million which, if it did affect the figures, would have to be marginally. Like Northern Ireland, Scotland has a history of friction between Protestants & Catholics though I don't know the actual proportions. I do know that in both Ireland as a whole & Scotland both churches have stated that congregations are in decline.

Saladfork:
I see this was only for England and Wales though. I wonder if North Ireland and Scotland would've tipped the scales to any significant degree.

I know South Ireland tends toward Catholicism to a large degree, but I'm not sure about the rest.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure whether the dominant religion in Scotland is Protestant or Catholic. Any of you guys know?

42% or so are members of the church of Scotland, (so protestant, maybe)

Witty Name Here:
(I've had a few friends claiming to be "Atheists" but also said they'll probably become Wiccans or Buddhists in the future)

Most proper buddhists are atheists- or, at least, agnostic, which most atheists are any how.

Even completely "religious-less" people, I believe, have a personal religion of their own.
Most of what is seen in many religions/mythologies is full of patterns and common archetypes that represent one's inner struggle.
Problems and corruption come out of religion once people start taking their whimsical, metaphorical stories as facts.

If you really care about what I'm saying you should read up on Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung.

MrCollins:

Saladfork:
I see this was only for England and Wales though. I wonder if North Ireland and Scotland would've tipped the scales to any significant degree.

I know South Ireland tends toward Catholicism to a large degree, but I'm not sure about the rest.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure whether the dominant religion in Scotland is Protestant or Catholic. Any of you guys know?

42% or so are members of the church of Scotland, (so protestant, maybe)

Catholic population is very small and mainly concentrated in the western central belt. about 10%-16% although many will be "lapsed" or only "culturally" Catholic much as Agema talked about earlier in the thread.

the same is also true of those who claim to be members of The Church of Scotland (aka "The Kirk").

the second largest "religion" is "none" and last time i looked for figures that was around 40% i think.

the thing with Scotland is that it had its own rather hardline Protestant Reformation that followed on from where it started in Germany and especially Scandinavia (to which Scotland had strong cultural links) and that was completely historically separate to Englands "i wanna get divorced and i'll declare myself mini pope to do it" one under Henry VIII and many of the cultural attitudes of Scotland (even amongst Catholics) come down from certain engrained teachings of "The Kirk" which basically co ran the country for hundreds of years.

the unfortunate thing, from organised religions pov, is that the things Scottish Protestantism engrained into the people of Scotland were things like placing extreamly high value on equality of all men (originally "before God"), education and the ability to critically read your own Bible as fallible men obviously had a hand in its writing (some of whom we knew quite well...) and it was not actually "the written word of God" (we were supposed to look for, and find, the deeper religious truths within however).

it was supposed to be a personal thing : Man > Bible > God. Salvation !

with no potpourri...sry popery (or societal power invested in the external interpreters of Gods word) in-between.

that was the theory.

the problem arises that once you've taught everyone to think everyone is equal, read/write and think critically...it maybe doesn't have the effect you originally wanted...still though, it directly fed/led into The Scottish Enlightenment and the invention of Capitalism so there is that :P

we were one of the first countries in the world to have what was basically a universal education system because of The Kirk and imo the end result of that was the likes of Voltaire saying "We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation"...

and ye i maybe i do have a bit misplaced pride and appreciation for some of these things but indulge a shivering Scotsman just the once eh ?
it is Christmas after all ;)

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