Reason for Religion

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Reason for Religion
« on: March 05, 2007, 04:03:37 PM »
In my own personal philosophy, I believe that the main purpose of Religion was to fill the gap us humans have in the understanding of infinity/forever.

If a humans could actually understand infinity/forever (probably lead a person to insanity) there wouldn't be a need for religion. Religion fills the questions humans have about how the universe was created, but if humans understood infinity we could grasp the concept that matter could have been present in the universe forever. The Big Bang also has the same principal behind it as it states that the universe has a beginning.

An explanation towards why humans cannot grasp the concept of infinity, accurately, is that the things we see around us always have a beginning and the end; why does the universe have to apply to these same rules though? Could the universe not have evolved from a singular structure to a greater expanse as we know the universe today? I believe that this is the simplest explanation of the universes origins, not to bash religions.

Discuss.

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skeptical scientist

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2007, 04:11:17 PM »
Firstly, what justification do you have for the idea that people cannot grasp the idea of infinity? I feel like I understand it pretty well. Secondly, is it really helpful to have false explanations simply because we lack true explanations? Isn't it preferable to have no explanation at all than to have a false one? Thirdly, if we have scientific explanations, such as big bang theory and evolution, aren't these clearly superior to religious explanations?
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unclegravy

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2007, 04:15:57 PM »
Religion is the opiate of the masses.

Hoo-hey! I said something deep and thought-provoking!

I think I'm gonna cry of happiness...:')
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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2007, 04:19:55 PM »
skeptical scientist-

You are correct in my assumption in that people cannot grasp the idea of infinity, although I have had this same discussion with countless people and they could not accurately describe infinity. In response to the second and third questions, I don't believe that false explanations will overall advance humanity, in fact I think it is greatly slowing the advancement, but for the short term it is good for people to have faith and hope even if it is unfounded. As for the Big bang theory, it is littered with holes that lack proof and in the end it is just a theory. Evolution on the other hand is widely accepted to be true, even by religious people and with that it proves itself to be superior to religious explanations.

Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2007, 05:19:12 PM »
Actually religion was founded for the simple reason that people wanted power.

Every single form of religion revolves around an individual who "holds the word of God" and thusly controls everyone who believes that individual.

Aztec priests used power and threatened anyone who stood in their way with sacrifice. The Christian church swayed the nations of europe into constant conflict and amassed large armies to war with the "infidels". Infact the Christian church is the biggest and bloodiest example of religious control over the masses. They incited riots, mass murder over witchcraft and werewolfism, and started entire wars.

All it boils down to is secondary nationalities. Nationalities that have fluid bounderies and ignore government bounderies. The Christian Nation for example spans the entire world. What this means is that the pope and bishops and "higher ups" on this pyramid of donations and worship live lavishly while their followers wallow in slums thinking God cares.
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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2007, 05:27:04 PM »
That is a very plausible theory, but to maintain power the individual who, "holds the word of God" would have to give explanations as why things are the way they are, and fill in the nagging holes that are so constant in human life.

Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2007, 05:44:37 PM »
That is a very plausible theory, but to maintain power the individual who, "holds the word of God" would have to give explanations as why things are the way they are, and fill in the nagging holes that are so constant in human life.

All it takes is creativity and ambition. We've witnessed it hundreds of times with the formation of major cults who sometimes convince their followers to comit suicide.
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Nomad

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2007, 05:45:10 PM »
Scientology anyone?
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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2007, 05:48:54 PM »
Scientology anyone?

What IS Scientology anyway?

NVM I'll look it up on Wiki :p
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Nomad

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2007, 06:10:25 PM »
It's a bunch of goofy bullshit written by a known science fiction writer that a bunch of people (including celebritys Tom Cruise and John Travolta) actually believe apparently.

The best summary of their beliefs comes from South park.  Wish I could find the episode on YouTube or something.
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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2007, 06:15:06 PM »
It's a bunch of goofy bullshit written by a known science fiction writer that a bunch of people (including celebritys Tom Cruise and John Travolta) actually believe apparently.

The best summary of their beliefs comes from South park.  Wish I could find the episode on YouTube or something.

Sounds like they believe they can prove the existence of the soul.

But I lost respect for them the second I read "psycology is an evil practice" on wiki.

For the most part it sounds like a typical religious cult. Worse they keep potential blackmail records on all up and coming members despite their policy to never use those records as such. A lot of room for potential corruption which means they are here for a very long time (that prediction is based on Christianity).
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Nomad

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2007, 06:19:57 PM »
Yeah.  It's a bunch of bullshit, truly.  If there's ever a "war on religion," those guys really gotta go first.
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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2007, 07:13:42 PM »
Scientology doesn't qualify as a religion in my book, it is nothing more than worldwide scam that preys on the feeble minded and insecure people of our world.

Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2007, 08:15:00 PM »
Scientology doesn't qualify as a religion in my book, it is nothing more than worldwide scam that preys on the feeble minded and insecure people of our world.

It probably didn't start out that way, thigh >might< have had a genuine interest in discovering the soul. However I still see a great deal of potential exploitation and would consider it a cult to avoid.

But I consider all organized religion to be cults :p
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Nomad

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2007, 08:20:34 PM »
Scientology doesn't qualify as a religion in my book, it is nothing more than worldwide scam that preys on the feeble minded and insecure people of our world.

You've pretty much just defined "Religion" in my book.  :P
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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2007, 08:29:45 PM »
Scientology doesn't qualify as a religion in my book, it is nothing more than worldwide scam that preys on the feeble minded and insecure people of our world.

You've pretty much just defined "Religion" in my book.  :P

I would say the same, however I do feel that Judaism stands above the rest in terms of being a true religion.
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skeptical scientist

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2007, 08:45:42 PM »
skeptical scientist-

You are correct in my assumption in that people cannot grasp the idea of infinity, although I have had this same discussion with countless people and they could not accurately describe infinity.
I'm not sure what you are looking for in terms of a "description" of infinity, but it's very easy to describe. Something is infinite if it goes on forever - i.e. no matter how much of it you examine, there is always more. For example, an infinite amount of empty space would be a region of vacuum that one could never cross, no matter how far they journeyed across it. A somewhat famous example is the hilbert hotel, which is just like an ordinary hotel with numbered rooms: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc., except no matter how far you walk along the hallway, you just keep seeing doors to new rooms marked with higher and higher numbers. You can also illustrate certain properties of infinity by means of such examples. I'm sure you must have seen this description of infinity before, so perhaps you could tell us why you found it "inadequate".

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In response to the second and third questions, I don't believe that false explanations will overall advance humanity, in fact I think it is greatly slowing the advancement, but for the short term it is good for people to have faith and hope even if it is unfounded.
If I were a doctor, and I knew you had cancer and could expect a 2-4 years left in your life, would you want me to tell you the truth, or tell you that you were just hunky dory? Is it really such a good thing to have unfounded hope when knowing the truth could allow you to use the time you have left more valuably?

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As for the Big bang theory, it is littered with holes that lack proof and in the end it is just a theory.
What holes does it have? And you are aware of the scientific meaning of the word "theory", right? You seem to be saying "just a theory" as if that means it's just some wild conjecture, but in fact scientific theories are usually rigorously vetted before they are called theories, and that is the case with the big bang. If you are looking for evidence of the big bang, some of the best evidence to be found is the cosmic microwave background radiation. It was predicted as a result of the big bang in 1948, and discovered in 1964. It was predicted to have a black body spectrum, due to it's formation from the big bang. The observed spectrum matched the predicted spectrum so well that you can't see the error bars on the graph. It was predicted to have random fluctuations on the order of 10-4 to 10-5 due to conditions in the early universe. These predictions were confirmed. There is a long list of confirmed predictions about the observable universe based on big bang theory. All of these constitute very good evidence that the big bang did, in fact, occur.
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beast

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2007, 09:38:09 PM »
It's interesting that bacardi2cola claims that the big bang is full of holes, yet the scientists who have been studying it for over 40 years disagree.  What information is it that he has that they don't?  Personally I think people who have spent that amount of time studying something probably know a little more about it than bacardi2cola.

Regarding the actual topic at hand, there is some discussion of that subject at edge at the moment;

www.edge.org

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04evolution.t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine&oref=slogin

Essentially, if we look at things from a scientific point of view, rather than just trying to think of answer that makes sense to ourselves, it appears that we have evolved a natural tendency to believe in religion.

There are two different trains of thought as to why this is.  Neither of them involve infinity.  One side of the debate argues that our belief in religion actually is an accidental outcome of other evolutionary traits and that religion has no positive role in our lives.  Rather the psychological traits that lead us to believe in religion are what evolved.  These include our trust of information we're told (especially at a young age) and our natural assumption of purpose in objects.  Both these factors have been fairly conclusively shown to be commonly occurring in all humans regardless of culture.  It is easy to see how this leads to beliefs that there is a larger pre-determined purpose to our lives and to believe the explanations that make the most sense to us, without seeing any evidence to back up those explanations.

However the other side of the debate argues that religion actually does have an evolutionary benefit specifically and that that is why we are likely to be believe such irrational and unreasoned claims of fact.  Certainly the act of prayer and mediation is shown to have positive benefits.  Religion also builds a sense of community and connections between people.  The evolutionary evidence suggests that we are clearly social creatures and that we are more likely to care and protect for people we are connected to than those we are not.  Belonging to a religion means that there are a greater number of people in our community who are more likely to help us out.

Of course, having understood what causes religion, that doesn't mean we should either dismiss it, or accept it.  If the second explanation is correct, we can see that we can easily gain the same benefits without believing ridiculous stories of human parthenogenesis and the like, and if the first explanation is correct we can see that religion is a side effect.

Of course there is a third, much less common argument, which is that the reason the above evidence is the case is because God made us that way so that we'd be "hardwired" to believe in him.  This obviously does not stand up to the fact that there are so many different religions in the world, all with no evidence suggesting that any is more likely to be correct than any other.

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EvilToothpaste

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2007, 12:23:39 AM »
I agree with Wolfwood in that religion is a means of having power over others, but I do not think it is merely that simple.  In my opinion, religion is also a hierarchy of hypocrisy layer upon layer of which was created to shore up the insecurities of the scared and desperately alone. 

At its foundation, religion is basically good.  However, what I mean by foundation is that which came before its creation; the flickers of insight and imagination had by a man that others after him wanted to attain.  This good is desired by those too scared to think for themselves and develops into the worship of a man.  So rather than searching for oneself, the devout worship the son of an infallible being and praise him as their lord -- something no one can hope to attain.  This, I believe, is stifling to personal insight, imagination, and innovation; progress in general (see the Dark Ages). 

I find it very funny that western religion is always playing catch-up with scientific (and societal) progress.  I'm sure I don't have to provide those of you reading with examples of this, as you all are probably very aware of them yourselves (and I know I'm not being fair to all religions, but I am speaking mostly of The Catholic Church).  Similarly, I find it funny that this progress commonly comes from someone labeled a heretic, atheist, or generally hell-bound (again, do you need me to provide examples...?).  At some point, if it weren't for their blind hypocrisy, this group of people should realize the book that gives all the answers is entirely fictitious. 


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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2007, 06:53:29 AM »
Who's to say there is order in an infinite universe? How do get to the center if there's no begining nor end? What path or steps does one take to arrive at particular place?

definiton of infinity = chaos

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Miss M.

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2007, 10:09:40 AM »
That is a very plausible theory, but to maintain power the individual who, "holds the word of God" would have to give explanations as why things are the way they are, and fill in the nagging holes that are so constant in human life.
they made it up as they went along. Part of the problem with the Renaissance was that scholars were restudying the scriptures in detail, and found that the authorities of the chiurch were wrong. Luther (led the reformation of the Holy Roman Empire), is an example. Or Jan Hus (burned for heresy) or Savonarola (although he claimed to be a prophet as well...) or Wycliff (also burned).*




*the last three were before the renaissance, but they had restudied the holy scriptures.
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Ubuntu

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2007, 01:47:52 PM »
Since I can't post in the 'Jesus' thread...

Omnipotent = all powerful
Omniscient = all knowing
Omnibenevolent = all loving
Omnipresent / Omniubiquitous / Ubiquitous = everywhere

Maus, you might want to check out the arguments against the existence of the historical Jesus. Watch for example, The God Who Wasn't There (get a free copy at www.blasphemychallenge.com).

bacardi2cola: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_big_bang#Observational_evidence

"Theory" in science is used differently than in causal conversation. In the latter, a theory is a proposed idea or thought. In science, a theory is a system of explaining a phenomenon or entity; it remains a theory even after it is proven correct. That's why we talk about the "theory of gravitation" and the "theory of evolution" and the "germ theory of disease."

Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2007, 02:30:00 PM »
I like your definition of theory, Ubuntu.

Unfortunately, I haven't dedicated enough time into researching the Big Bang though, so I am not familiar with all the mechanisms included in it. So again, it might have been inappropriate to introduce the Big bang to the conversation without knowing the majority of the materials associated with it.

As for infinity, I completely understand the definition, but can you imagine the universe was here forever without getting a strange feeling something is amiss, that it just doesn't seem right? If you honestly don't, then I have been proven wrong.

If I were a doctor, and I knew you had cancer and could expect a 2-4 years left in your life, would you want me to tell you the truth, or tell you that you were just hunky dory? Is it really such a good thing to have unfounded hope when knowing the truth could allow you to use the time you have left more valuably?

When I said short-term I meant as in relation to peoples well-being and general happiness and when people have hope and faith their lives seem worth living. Ignorance is bliss. If the majority of people didn't have hope or faith they wouldn't go out and say, "this is the only life I got! I'm going to do something with it!" The majority would kneel over sob, and do nothing with their lives as they are so depressed, as they do not have the capacity for intelligence to accept that there is no higher power.

EDIT: THIS IS AN OPINION. STFU beast, I misused my words. Get over yourself.


   
 
« Last Edit: March 07, 2007, 04:44:35 AM by bacardi2cola »

Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2007, 02:50:54 PM »
I personally think religion is the most primitive form of government.  With an omnipotent and omniscient god, who punishes those who are immoral and rewards those who are moral, law and order fall into place, without the need for formalizing them.  Also, faith in predestination absolves the believer from regret, revenge, and other negative actions/emotions dealing with the past and future.

Faith in and of itself creates an intrinsic motivation to be moral.

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beast

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2007, 05:26:53 PM »


When I said short-term I meant as in relation to peoples well-being and general happiness and when people have hope and faith their lives seem worth living. Ignorance is bliss. If the majority of people didn't have hope or faith they wouldn't go out and say, "this is the only life I got! I'm going to do something with it!" The majority would kneel over sob, and do nothing with their lives as they are so depressed, as they do not have the capacity for intelligence to accept that there is no higher power.


I'd like to see some evidence to back this opinion up.  I think it's just mindless speculation.  I'm also still waiting for the evidence that suggests the work of Dr Scot Atran, Dr Stephen Pinker and Dr Marc Hauser is false, and the evidence that religion has anything to do with infinity.  Instead of just coming up with hypotheticals, why don't you look at what we can actually observe?

Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2007, 05:38:15 PM »
I'd like to see some evidence to back this opinion up.  I think it's just mindless speculation.  I'm also still waiting for the evidence that suggests the work of Dr Scot Atran, Dr Stephen Pinker and Dr Marc Hauser is false, and the evidence that religion has anything to do with infinity.  Instead of just coming up with hypotheticals, why don't you look at what we can actually observe?

I am just putting forth ideas, and sorry if I am not familiar with every work created on the subject, but as the forum states this is philosophy. I didn't realize that all philosophy needs to be referenced and strewn with evidence backing up data.

BTW: "I think it's just mindless speculation." Are you speculating about me speculating?

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skeptical scientist

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2007, 07:42:54 PM »
As for infinity, I completely understand the definition, but can you imagine the universe was here forever without getting a strange feeling something is amiss, that it just doesn't seem right? If you honestly don't, then I have been proven wrong.
I really don't get any feeling like what you do. In fact, I have no idea why you feel it. What's wrong with the idea of a universe which has gone on forever?
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beast

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Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2007, 07:45:52 PM »
Philosophy completely relies on you being able to back up your ideas with evidence or reason to support those ideas.  Simply putting forward a view point without being able to back it up is not philosophy.

http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth-32-409-FAQ_Philosophy.aspx

I may have been speculating, but the clear difference between what I said and what you said is my comment; "I think..." is a fact, I actually think what I wrote.

You, however, said;

"If the majority of people didn't have hope or faith they wouldn't go out and say, "this is the only life I got! I'm going to do something with it!" The majority would kneel over sob, and do nothing with their lives as they are so depressed, as they do not have the capacity for intelligence to accept that there is no higher power."

Which may be a fact, or it may be completely false.  You stated the comment as if it were a fact, but need to back it up with some evidence or reason to show that it is true.

Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2007, 07:52:24 PM »
I misused my words, as I am only trying to put ideas out there.

Maybe it doesn't qualify as philosophy but nonetheless, I put created this thread with the purpose of seeing other peoples viewpoints on the subject, whether or not they are backed up with sufficient evidence isn't relevant to me. I want to see the exchange of ideas.

Re: Reason for Religion
« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2007, 08:43:31 PM »
Normally I agree with what you have to say beast, but in some circumstances I think you really need to pull your head out of your ass.

And my reasoning for this speculation is that you are being an asshole to Bacardi for no reason other then to appear "intellectual and scientific". In all honesty I have to say any statement you make in regards to religion, religious thought, spiritual thought, supernatural ANYTHING, or anything else that can not be observed/measured/proven with current technology should be dismissed immediately based solely on your obvious biased opinion regarding any such discussion. In short, sit down and shut up.

And I ask you to note the title of this thread, of which you have COMPLETELY derailed based on the speculation of the author who had a clear point to make when he attempted to point out a possible REASON for religion. It boils down to simple troll once you get passed the book waving and finger pointing.

Back to the subject:

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I agree with Wolfwood in that religion is a means of having power over others, but I do not think it is merely that simple.  In my opinion, religion is also a hierarchy of hypocrisy layer upon layer of which was created to shore up the insecurities of the scared and desperately alone.

At its foundation, religion is basically good.  However, what I mean by foundation is that which came before its creation; the flickers of insight and imagination had by a man that others after him wanted to attain.  This good is desired by those too scared to think for themselves and develops into the worship of a man.  So rather than searching for oneself, the devout worship the son of an infallible being and praise him as their lord -- something no one can hope to attain.  This, I believe, is stifling to personal insight, imagination, and innovation; progress in general (see the Dark Ages).

I find it very funny that western religion is always playing catch-up with scientific (and societal) progress.  I'm sure I don't have to provide those of you reading with examples of this, as you all are probably very aware of them yourselves (and I know I'm not being fair to all religions, but I am speaking mostly of The Catholic Church).  Similarly, I find it funny that this progress commonly comes from someone labeled a heretic, atheist, or generally hell-bound (again, do you need me to provide examples...?).  At some point, if it weren't for their blind hypocrisy, this group of people should realize the book that gives all the answers is entirely fictitious.

I believe what you are saying is that the original purpose of Religion was to help calm people down, however some have taken advantage of this nature and began exploiting the power that comes with being a "man of the cloth"? That is an interesting point. I think people are inherently good and honest people. However there are some with ambition and a will to rise to power and these people are often religiously aligned (and will use their religion as leverage).
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