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 Religions - The Benefits

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 24 Jul 2015, 19:18

@Priscilla wrote:
Before the big guns come out to tear into that, I am not sure I understand what forgiveness is - beyond not harbouring any ill will and moving on - pained acceptance without malice. Does that sound like rubbish - probably. Its how I feel about things and how I live. Forgiveness smacks of patronising  superiority. I cannot imagine myself forgiving someone who hurt anyone close to me in the sense of allowing belief that the transgression is somehow mitigated .


Mmm. The big guns are silent. Not surprising. Forgiveness is a topic that shuts us all up. What have the majority of us ever experienced that needs real forgiveness? Little pricks to our narcissistic pride? Oh yes, but really not much else perhaps. What do most of us leading our comfortable, sheltered, English lives (I'm thinking of myself here) know of real evil - and real forgiveness? You, Priscilla, with your experience of war, will probably know far more. Others here will also, no doubt, have much more understanding than I could ever hope to have of the need for - or the impossibility of - forgiveness.



@Priscilla wrote:
  Oh deep water, P. get out of this one and stay out.


Yep, good advice that I ought to take too. The idea of "forgiveness as a benefit of religion" was no doubt a rather foolish thing to introduce.



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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 25 Jul 2015, 10:05

OK then, who's the big gun and who's the little prick?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 25 Jul 2015, 20:52

@Caro wrote:
@Priscilla wrote:
Odd isn't it how many billions have seemed to have had need of some sort of spiritual fulfillment - yet you think of it is of nebulous benefit - you must wonder also then why they bothered. Of course you do.

This is what I have been thinking generally about this thread.  There is some form of religious belief in so many societies over the course of history, whether you are talking about the worldwide ones of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hindism, Buddhims, etc, or ones like the beliefs of Polynesians, Australian Aboriginees, American Indian, African religions.  It defies logic (I was going to say 'belief' but 'logic' will fit better) that there is not an underlying human benefit to all this.  It may not be needed any more and by many people, but obviously it has been needed.  And things that are needed have a benefit by definition. 

I don't really understand why the discussion here has seemed to be along the lines - I am religious so can see the benefits; I am not, so put it down to other elements.  I am not religious but it seemed weird to say it hasn't brought benefits to people, or hasn't an intrinsic benefit in itself to people. Saying religious or any other style of (social, scietntific) benefits are only because we are human is rather circular.  Might as well say a dog barks because a dog barks - well, of course it does, but that doesn't mean there isn't some logical or rather biological reason behind it.  Religious belief fits some sort of need for humans and therefore is automatically part of being human but it still exists in its own right, just as scientific knowledge comes from humanity, but still exists as an entity.

 Caro,

I think I understand your reasoning

"This is what I have been thinking generally about this thread.  There is some form of religious belief in so many societies over the course of history, whether you are talking about the worldwide ones of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hindism, Buddhims, etc, or ones like the beliefs of Polynesians, Australian Aboriginees, American Indian, African religions.  It defies logic (I was going to say 'belief' but 'logic' will fit better) that there is not an underlying human benefit to all this.  It may not be needed any more and by many people, but obviously it has been needed.  And things that are needed have a benefit by definition."

Of course I don't deny the "underlying human benefit" even if it was only the comfort of a "belief" to protect from the threatening incomprehensible outside world environment.

But there is an evolution... you say it too:
"It may not be needed any more and by many people, but obviously it has been needed. "
In the asymptotic evolution of the last 7000 years of human (and Nordmann I use human as the concept of "belonging to the human species) evolution this aspect of human behaviour seems to be more to the background in the human thinking as it better and better understands how the environment exists, although it is still present as some 40,000 years evolution are not changed in one day? And yes Priscilla said it already too: as in each aspect of human behaviour there are benefits and there are disavantages...

But the original question from Priscilla was:
"Would the several enrichments that we enjoy have evolved without?"

"I don't really understand why the discussion here has seemed to be along the lines - I am religious so can see the benefits; I am not, so put it down to other elements.  I am not religious but it seemed weird to say it hasn't brought benefits to people, or hasn't an intrinsic benefit in itself to people. Saying religious or any other style of (social, scietntific) benefits are only because we are human is rather circular.  Might as well say a dog barks because a dog barks - well, of course it does, but that doesn't mean there isn't some logical or rather biological reason behind it.  Religious belief fits some sort of need for humans and therefore is automatically part of being human but it still exists in its own right, just as scientific knowledge comes from humanity, but still exists as an entity."

"Saying religious or any other style of (social, scietntific) benefits are only because we are human is rather circular.  Might as well say a dog barks because a dog barks - well, of course it does, but that doesn't mean there isn't some logical or rather biological reason behind it.  Religious belief fits some sort of need for humans and therefore is automatically part of being human but it still exists in its own right, just as scientific knowledge comes from humanity, but still exists as an entity."

"Saying religious or any other style of (social, scietntific) benefits are only because we are human is rather circular."

No in my opinion it is not circular because for the reasons I pointed to in my former paragraph there seems to be from the dawn of time some sort of need for religious belief and is perhaps part of being human...but can't it be that by nowadays "reasoning" this need don't exist anymore and not anymore is an "entity"?

To answer the original question:
"Would the several enrichments that we enjoy have evolved without?"

And I point to the word "evolved"...
As I think that religious belief was a necessary evolution intrinsic (inherent) in the growing of humanity with all its advantages and damages it is very difficult to imagine an evolution without...
My guess for what it is worth as I know the human nature it could have been as good and as bad to humanity as any religious trail...and yes a world without religions has yet still to prove that there are more benefits...

Kind regards, and I said it before, I enjoy the good discussion from a "thinking" human as you are.

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 25 Jul 2015, 21:33

@Priscilla wrote:
Paul, so what of this  'Shrimp Fishing on Horseback that UESCO wants to save in its 'Oral and Intangible Treasures of Humankind.' programme. I know this is not thread related but am curious about hunting shrimps on hoseback - don't shrimps have rights too? Such matters are a constant issue in the UK.
 Priscilla,

"don't shrimps have rights too?"

Good question and rather difficult to answer about it in my opinion if you think it over...

We had rabbits at home as foodstock...one rabbit resided at home due to my sister...on the same level as our cat...then came the day that my father said that it was time to eat that particular rabbit...she hasn't eaten not a single part of it...

I suppose it is a kind of hierarchy in the world where the humans are dominant...and humans as every mamal need food...I think there is lot of convention...a cow and swine you can eat...but a dog and a cat...and for the English people a horse?...can't be eaten,
although dogs in China...perhaps it pours down to the preservation of our species...and all beings that we have an affection to and in whom we recognize some human traits...?  And yes even plants have a life as we...

And with all these millions of "earths" around us, who fit perhaps the right time of coexistance in the same or evoluted stage of our earth and which "advanced" beings are able to come overhere....and they are already on such level that they considers us as "shrimps"...hein...?

Always enjoying your "rich (in events)" background, Priscilla, kind regards from Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 27 Jul 2015, 11:31

@ferval wrote:
OK then, who's the big gun and who's the little prick?


Re above - I was not trying to be funny - or sarcastic - or insulting - in any way to anybody when I edited my post about forgiveness on Saturday, ferval.

My problem is that I take all this stuff ridiculously seriously; the thought, therefore, that nordmann was possibly right when he posted the following over on the Saint Paul thread is actually causing me considerable distress. But distress can be a very positive thing, even at my advanced age. It's very uncomfortable, though.

@nordmann wrote:



Temp wrote:Are the great world religions no more than superstition then?




If only they were.

But no, they are much worse than that. They are superstition masquerading as the key to fulfilling impossible ambitions such as eternal life, salvation from invisible threats etc etc, though when it comes to being of actual practical help in achieving anything worthwhile they are in reality of dubious value indeed. They mendaciously claim credit for all that is deemed naturally good by humans anyway, as well as for all humanity's higher aspirations and their product. They then quite cynically and equally mendaciously encourage humanity's basest tendencies and - as long as these efforts are expended in nominal support for one "faith" above the other - will quite enthusiastically endorse this often murderously evil activity with promises of spiritual reward and (probably more often) some extremely non-spiritual rewards in the form of material wealth, abusive positions of power, and a notion of legal and moral impunity conferred upon their acolytes and "believers".

A lot of superstitious people would have to spend a lot of time walking under a lot of ladders before their particular delusional tendencies would have so drastic and disastrous an effect on their fellow humans as the one labelled "religion".



I feel at the moment as though somebody up that ladder has just emptied a very large pot of Dulux Weathershield Smooth Masonry Paint all over me, metaphorically speaking. Someone's having a good laugh, but it sure as heck ain't me.

Hey ho, as MM would say.

I think we need a nice, new, silly thread about ladies' underwear  or Victorian drains or something.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 27 Jul 2015, 13:04

Oh Temp, I should apologise for my base sense of humour and my inability to resist an open goal.

One way of interpreting P's question , and perhaps a less fraught one, is - has religion been essential for these benefits to accrue to humanity? And benefits the art, music, charity and so forth definitely are. I would contend that it is not but , as P said, "That's the way it happened" so it's almost impossible to prove.

Let's look at the art; I would suggest that although religion has provided the vehicle whereby these supreme examples of human creativity have been brought to us, it is something much deeper and more fundamental in our response to them that gives them their power. Those wonderful Caravaggios for instance, is it not their emotional truth and sheer humanity that moves us? The 'Crucifixion of St. Peter", I find that heartbreaking but it is in its depiction of a bewildered old man grappling with what is happening to him that compels and not its religious connotations. And its beauty and craftsmanship of course. There's also the way that religion - like great art - has this strange and disquieting ability to make the terrible and ugly, beautiful.

It's difficult, I would not want to be without the cathedrals or the music or the compassion but, as Paul (our Paul) asks, has religion been a necessary stage in human development, like our childhood adulation of our parents, but something we must grow out of to grow up?
And remember, after we judge our parents, we seldom forgive.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 27 Jul 2015, 13:18

Good post, ferval.

Cheers

Back later.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 27 Jul 2015, 14:16

@ferval wrote:
And remember, after we judge our parents, we seldom forgive.



But don't all the wisest counsellors try to lead us to the conclusion that we must forgive them (parents, I mean, not the counsellors) - for our own sanity's sake? Perhaps that includes God, too.


But I do agree with what you say about art and our response. I've just come across (after reading Peter Hitchens' book The Rage Against God) a very unusual and compelling interpretation of the Prodigal Son story. It's Thomas Hart Benton's take on the theme: his Prodigal is like a character from a Steinbeck novel. Benton was a modernist, I suppose, but this is also one for our own desolate postmodern times. Or is that just my depressed mood speaking? Is it a crap picture? I should really put this on the Art thread.




http://paulkuritz.com/2012/07/thomas-hart-benton-the-prodigal-son/


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 27 Jul 2015, 17:51

This guy looks bothered. He never understood his parenting - forgiveness I have never considered as an option; understanding them, yes - and loving them all the moe for it. I told myself to get out of this one and will now.
So I'll move on. I'll consider the lowly shrimp. Respect for life forms was a late introdution into many religions and not at all in some. Paul points out our idiosyncratic choices according to the society we live in. Many faiths have moved others with their compassion - I think of Bhuddism for instance.
As a by thought though, if ever there is a time in all the universes out there that there is not one speck of a life form - and all are somehow dependent on their environment - if not one such speck lives then there will be no universes. Being totally unused thus nonexistant. Time to go and build bits of my rockery, I think.... to which perhaps I am better suited.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 27 Jul 2015, 18:21

P - your latest post reminded me of this

God in the Quad

Ronald Knox

There was a young man who said, "God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."

REPLY
Dear Sir:
Your astonishment's odd:
I am always about in the Quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be,
Since observed by
Yours faithfully,
GOD.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 27 Jul 2015, 20:55

And what, if we, the Universe, are God?

Kind regards to all, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 04 Aug 2015, 20:42

I cannot resist the temptation: I must quote from Chris Hitchens's book - but to back up our argument that spirituality - religion if you must - does bring benefits. Even the delightfully wicked Hitch himself has the grace to admit this:

"But there is a great deal to be learned and appreciated from the scrutiny of religion, and one often finds oneself standing atop the shoulders of distinguished writers and thinkers who were certainly one's intellectual and sometimes even one's moral superiors...The loss of faith can be compensated by the newer and finer wonders that we have before us, as well as by immersion in the near-miraculous work of Homer and Shakespeare and Milton and Proust, all of which was "man-made" (though one sometimes wonders, as in the case of Mozart). I can say this as one whose own secular faith has been shaken and discarded, not without pain." (CH then goes on to talk about how he lost his belief in Marxism.)

I'm going to quote Wordsworth now -  from Tintern Abbey, a poem I mentioned above, but didn't quote. I don't think the religious mind need be at war with the secular mind. There's room in this universe for both; what there is no room for is rabid fundamentalism, religious or atheist. That's of no benefit whatsoever to man nor beast.

http://www.rc.umd.edu/sites/default/RCOldSite/www/rchs/reader/tabbey.html

And I have felt  
A presence that disturbs me with the joy  
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime  
Of something far more deeply interfused,  
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,  
And the round ocean, and the living air,  
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,  
A motion and a spirit, that impels  
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,  
And rolls through all things.


Right, time for a Tudor meat pie post now.

PS I used to loathe Chris Hitchens, having seen/heard him on YouTube - thought him an arrogant prat - but he's a very good writer.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 04 Aug 2015, 23:44

Ah! Have been listening to Vivaldi all day - two Glorias among them. From the CD cover I learned that Vivaldi was an ordained priest but he never joined the church body. It does explain though the rapture in some of his work..... Cum Spirito Sactus.' Having sung them several times I still never fail to thrill at those pieces in particular. I'm on a religious benefits high today. Is there an athiest equivilant? 

However, and moving on - could we say that there have any religious  benefits in say the development of law and justice?  Or is the best of the humanist approach been more responsible in that area? I hear the grinding of northern teeth already.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 05 Aug 2015, 06:13

@Priscilla wrote:


However, and moving on - could we say that there have any religious  benefits in say the development of law and justice?  Or is the best of the humanist approach been more responsible in that area? I hear the grinding of northern teeth already.



Gibbon mentions religion and magistrates:

Edward Gibbon wrote:
The various forms of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people to be equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful.



For centuries, magistrates and judges dispensing justice in England and Wales have relied on the Bible to ensure that people do not lie.

Its moral force was unquestioned, "placing intense pressure on witnesses to tell the truth".

The oath, still sworn by witnesses and defendants as they hold a holy book, has given the English language one of its most familiar sentences.

I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Other faiths can take the oath on other books - Muslims on the Koran, Jews on the Old Testament, for example.

Atheists are allowed to "solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm" instead of swearing. When was the atheist oath first used in a British court, I wonder, and by whom?

The wording of that original oath is very lovely - old and impressive, and has the solemnity, ring and majesty of the KJV and the BCP - but of course, as we all know, countless lies have been told in court...
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 05 Aug 2015, 08:47

PS I've been googling about this morning, like I do, looking for info on religion and the Law.


I stumbled upon this - not really relevant to Priscilla's urging us to "move on" in our serious musings on the benefits of religion and its interest to the judiciary, but thought I'd share it with yawl. ("All" meaning we few: me, Priscilla, MM, ferval, Paul and a couple of those "bot" things.)


http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2015/07/31/incense-and-the-psychoactive-substances-bill/

Last week, a report on the House of Lords debate on the report stage of the Psychoactive Substances Bill in the Church Times carried the headline “Incense could be a legal high, peers are warned,” indicating the possibility that “priests using incense could be criminalized under a new law being introduced by the Government to crack down on so-called “legal highs”. Baroness Hamwee  said:

“The expert committee also warned that closer thought needed to be given to possible unintended consequences of the loose and generalized term “psychoactive substances” used in the Bill. We do not want to criminalize priests. The more vigorously the priest swings the censer, the more incense is let loose into the body of the church … we have to be very careful that we do not unintentionally criminalize either priests or florists because flowers have psychoactive effects”.

HL Hansard 14 July 2015 Vol 764(31) Col 469
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 05 Aug 2015, 09:15

Many of those of a religious persuasion repeatedly say that ultimately all human law stems from God's law, essentially as codified in the Ten Commandments. That trite statement rather seems to assume that humankind is incapable of coming up with a similar set of moral codes on it's own to regulate it's own society. It also ignores the basic premise of the Golden Rule ("treat others as you would have them treat you") which would seem to have been generally accepted in societies both before God wrote the Decalogue down for Moses, and appeared independently worldwide in many differing societies and outside of any influence of the Abrahamic God.

As a set of rules the Ten Commandments do not actually given much in the way of earth-shatteringly new ideas: don't lie, steal, cheat or kill, and don't covet anything that isn't yours .... all the rest is just about honouring the "jealous God" who is supposedly giving these instructions to maintain the religious status quo.

There are of course lots of other "laws" laid down in the Bible/Torah, and hadiths in the Qur'an, but injunctions about not planting beans with grain, not wearing mixed cotton-nylon clothing, or the condoning of slave-owning, are not generally seen as terribly relevant these days.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 05 Aug 2015, 09:50

Surely the fact that every society, whatever particular religion, cult or belief system it follows, has devised broadly similar sets of societal rules, don't steal, lie or kill (in the sense of 'murder' of course, approved killing is fine), suggests that these are the basic rules for successful communal living and quite apart from any faith issues. 'God' only comes in as a method of compulsion. The Torah rules on diet, if you exclude some of the really daft stuff, could be seen as early public health measures; pork, dairy and shellfish all have real risks pre-refrigeration in the heat and conscious slaughter does eliminate some of the risk from eating diseased flesh or dodgy carrion.

Your point about incense is interesting, Temp. Religion and psychoactive substances and techniques have been associated since day one and very quickly the religious hierarchy took for itself control of, and access to, the best gear. As a species - as some other species as well - we just love getting out of heads and religion has validated that process as being 'spiritual' and so using drugs, alcohol or chanting/dancing to 'expand our consciousness' is so much more acceptable as a way of communing with the gods than as just good fun.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 05 Aug 2015, 11:00

@ferval wrote:
As a species - as some other species as well - we just love getting out of our heads...


Yes, Bosworth is forever rolling in the catmint.


I wonder if he sees visions, or dreams dreams during such episodes? He does tend to meow rather a lot after he has indulged, but whether or not this is some kind of moggy attempt at prophesying I have no idea.


Ironically, I have just come back from vacuuming and polishing mightily before the Lord at my little church: while there I noticed that a new headstone has been erected in the ashes to ashes bit of the graveyard. The new stone bears this rather interesting inscription:


James I said: "I can make a lord, but only God can make a gentleman."


I bet that'll get a few old northern gnashers gnashing nicely!  Smile


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 05 Aug 2015, 11:18

Northern gnashers?  Don't you know about Glaswegian dentition?




Or did you mean these?


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 05 Aug 2015, 15:54

@Temperance wrote:
@ferval wrote:
As a species - as some other species as well - we just love getting out of our heads...

Yes, Bosworth is forever rolling in the catmint. I wonder if he sees visions, or dreams dreams during such episodes? ...


Surprisingly I think Doggy-Dog might incline towards the more austerely Catholic or fundamentalist Puritan, indeed even flagellant, side of religosity. That is to say he's like my hedonistic high church cousin, who admits even rejoices, in being a cutured gourmand and pius bon-viveur ... ("I'm spending Easter at so-and-so Abbey 'cos their wine cellar is so much better...") but still has periods of intense austerity, denial, even fasting and self-mortification ... ("but a week of fasting surely cancels out a week of fornication, ya?).  So Doggy-Dog, like many sincerely religious persons, does rather make a big thing about publically showing his piety ... by eating grass, rolling in nettles and brambles etc, and then for true penitence he'll sit for hours (like an old-style christian saint) holding a spikey sweet-chestnut ball in his mouth.

But then, suitably praised, absolved and forgiven, he'll happily scoff all God's given good munchies.


PS : I've been lured in here again after I said I wouldn't get involved ... but P said something about music, and it rather touched a nerve:

@Priscilla wrote:
Ah! Have been listening to Vivaldi all day - two Glorias among them. From the CD cover I learned that Vivaldi was an ordained priest but he never joined the church body. It does explain though the rapture in some of his work..... Cum Spirito Sactus.' Having sung them several times I still never fail to thrill at those pieces in particular. I'm on a religious benefits high today. Is there an athiest equivilant?


.... and I have, possibly even sensible, things to say ... about music, both secular and sacred, and about Vivaldi and Mozart. But I've got a Danish family of four, Les Neilsens (any relation?), arriving in a few minutes....

I'll be back!
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 07 Aug 2015, 21:20

@ferval wrote:
Surely the fact that every society, whatever particular religion, cult or belief system it follows, has devised broadly similar sets of societal rules, don't steal, lie or kill (in the sense of 'murder' of course, approved killing is fine), suggests that these are the basic rules for successful communal living and quite apart from any faith issues. 'God' only comes in as a method of compulsion. The Torah rules on diet, if you exclude some of the really daft stuff, could be seen as early public health measures; pork, dairy and shellfish all have real risks pre-refrigeration in the heat and conscious slaughter does eliminate some of the risk from eating diseased flesh or dodgy carrion.

Your point about incense is interesting, Temp. Religion and psychoactive substances and techniques have been associated since day one and very quickly the religious hierarchy took for itself control of, and access to, the best gear. As a species - as some other species as well - we just love getting out of heads and religion has validated that process as being 'spiritual' and so using drugs, alcohol or chanting/dancing to 'expand our consciousness' is so much more acceptable as a way of communing with the gods than as just good fun.

 Ferval,

"Surely the fact that every society, whatever particular religion, cult or belief system it follows, has devised broadly similar sets of societal rules, don't steal, lie or kill (in the sense of 'murder' of course, approved killing is fine), suggests that these are the basic rules for successful communal living and quite apart from any faith issues. 'God' only comes in as a method of compulsion. The Torah rules on diet, if you exclude some of the really daft stuff, could be seen as early public health measures; pork, dairy and shellfish all have real risks pre-refrigeration in the heat and conscious slaughter does eliminate some of the risk from eating diseased flesh or dodgy carrion"

It is just that what I wanted to answer to Temperance...
The great societal rules are grown from the dawn of humanity into customs and rules and as the different groups have some  common inheritance specific to their species it is perhaps normal that they react in the same manner on the great events of life...?

For me personally the greatest event is the "dead", the end of your personal life and as such murder, causing the dead of another human is the most capital deed one can do...
"approved killing is fine" Ferval I like your style... Wink ...

Speaking about "dead" I learned from Tas that one of our old friends from the BBC Ross Durham is passed away...
http://www.companionfunerals.com/obituaries/2013-ross-m-durham

And to come back to our thread overhere, he didn't want a church service or anything else as he was convicted that it was on earth that it had to be accomplished all...

As I already said in this thread it is not a comforting position with any afterlife, an afterlife as from the dawn of our humanity always presumed...?

Kind regards Ferval and with esteem for your many to the point thoughts on this messageboard, Paul.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 08 Aug 2015, 14:52

I suppose that until Mrs T relaxed the Sunday trading laws (didn't she claim to be Christian?) at least people who worked in the bigger shops (I know that smaller shops used to trade on Sundays - I'm old enough to remember the "corner" shop) got a Sunday off.  I appreciate that shop workers in the supermarkets probably get time off pro-rata but it is far easier for parents to spend quality time with their school age children at the weekend - though when they become teenagers those "children" may not want to spend time, quality or not, with Ma and Pa so much.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 09 Aug 2015, 11:48

A further benefit of religion was mentioned in the Rick Stein prog about Venitian cuisine - namely that tourism originated from religious pilgrimage; well, there you go. No end to these benefits, are there? Well, possibly there is because our beloved leader has gone awol and the site is becoming deserted. The trouble with having silly other names is that one could die and no one else here would know. That is not Rave content material but you get my drift..... all two of you.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 09 Aug 2015, 12:15

Yes while laying cold and stiff and being accused of being in a major huff - that would be most irritating..
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 09 Aug 2015, 14:19

Indeed, Nan. I have wondered before if Dragons' Den would be interested in funding a service whereby failure to log-in to a favourite website or email account for a designated period without prior warning would trigger an email to an emergency contact to come and pick one up from the floor behind the door.

Or should one rely on prayer?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 09 Aug 2015, 22:00

You naughty ladies...
Priscilla, I wanted to reply to your "critics" thread on an elaborated way, but as ever so busy...and now I spent some one and a half hour with a what if Britain neutral in 1914 because no entry in Belgium and a defending stance to France between the Mosel and the Rhine and taking the initiative in Russia...

Kind regards to the ladies from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 09 Aug 2015, 23:51

Madnan - lovely image - had a chuckle and then wondered if I ought knit suitable nonhuff garb for members who cannot sign in because of circumstances - the power of prayer unproven in this respect - so far.

So go on on all you fearless godless ones of this site, would early tourism have developed through humanist social development had there been no pilgrims on religious jollies? And many faiths seem to have or have inspired them.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 10 Aug 2015, 00:53

I watched that too, P. Great scenery, wonderful food, rubbish history.

But to your question - what do you mean by 'tourism'?  If you mean travel for no purpose other than personal pleasure, and that's how I'd define 'tourism', then pilgrimage surely can't be classed as such; it has a clear purpose and any fun and games en route were a by product of the journey just as if the travel were for commercial purposes and the pilgrims were using infrastructure initially established for trade. Those old Romans lounging around in their seaside villas in Campagnia were much more akin to holiday makers today than pilgrims on the road to which ever martyrium they favoured. Of course the Crusades were fore-runners of mass international travel, were they another of the benefits?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 10 Aug 2015, 07:26

@ferval wrote:
 Of course the Crusades were fore-runners of mass international travel, were they another of the benefits?


I'm probably being hopelessly naïve here, but I must ask: were the Crusades really about "religion", Christian or Islamic? Of course religion was the official reason/excuse given by both sides, but wasn't/isn't that always the way, then as now? The name of God invoked to support our usual human aggression, greed and territorial expansion - whatever, whenever, wherever the conflict? Fascism with a pious Christian/Catholic/Protestant/Islamic face?


At least pilgrimages were spiritual - well, sort of. Although I suppose some were just the excuse for a bit of a break - which is fair enough.

And don't forget that without pilgrimages we wouldn't have had Chaucer's merry tales of junketing to Canterbury - and all those revealing portraits of "religious" folk: the good, the bad and the ugly. Alas, for Chaucer, most members of the Church seem to fall into the bad and/or ugly category, but at least the Poor Parson is OK - a sort of Little Bilney from the 14th century. You do get such men (and women) cropping up throughout history, although most seem to have come to an unhappy end, burnt - or otherwise disposed of - by the "religious" authorities.

It's a mad world, my masters.


From The Canterbury Tales:
General Prologue
lines 479-530: The Parson

      A good man was ther of religioun,
And was a povre PERSOUN OF A TOUN,
But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk.
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
Benynge he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversitee ful pacient,
And swich he was ypreved ofte sithes.
Ful looth were hym to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
Unto his povre parisshens aboute
Of his offryng and eek of his substaunce.
He koude in litel thyng have suffisaunce.
Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer asonder,
But he ne lefte nat, for reyn ne thonder,
In siknesse nor in meschief to visite
The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite,
Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
That first he wroghte, and afterward he taughte.
Out of the gosple he tho wordes caughte,
And this figure he added eek therto,
That if gold ruste, what shal iren do?
For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
And shame it is, if a prest take keep,
A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
By his clennesse, how that his sheep sholde lyve.
He sette nat his benefice to hyre
And leet his sheep encombred in the myre
And ran to Londoun unto Seinte Poules
To seken hym a chaunterie for soules,
Or with a bretherhed to been witholde;
But dwelt at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie;
He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie.
And though he hooly were and vertuous,
He was to synful men nat despitous,
Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,
But in his techyng discreet and benygne;
To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse,
By good ensample, this was his bisynesse.
But it were any persone obstinat,
What so he were, of heigh or lough estat,
Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys.
A bettre preest I trowe, that nowher noon ys.
He waited after no pompe and reverence,
Ne maked him a spiced conscience,
But Cristes loore, and Hise apostles twelve
He taughte, but first he folwed it hymselve.



   
PS Chaucer's crusading knight is not all he seems to be - read Terry Jones.

A closely argued, forensic dissection of Chaucer's Knight. From 'veray, parfit, gentil knight' to all round 'bad-boy' in one easily digestible essay. It challenges received analyses of the text with withering academic insight. Perceptive, slightly over-emotional in parts, this readable text is a must for all students of Chaucer. Read it in parallel with the standard, accepted commentaries of Chaucer's work and its value is highlighted. Crucial reading to all non-conformists, and seekers of truth studying Middle English.

Is the development of conscience a religious benefit? Is it religious at all? Is it a benefit? And confession - do humanists ever confess? Is confession a good thing, or is it unhealthy and/or morbid?


Last edited by Temperance on Wed 12 Aug 2015, 10:11; edited 1 time in total
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 10 Aug 2015, 10:14

Ach, I really must stop posting on this topic, fun though it is, because all I'm doing is waffling and that's inevitable not least because we have no commonly agreed definitions. 'Religion' - what do we mean? Individual 'spiritual' (and what does that mean?) experience or codified and systematised belief systems?

And 'benefit'? Who decides what is a benefit? We may look on the cathedral and feel uplifted and lost in admiration of the architecture but was it really of benefit to the medieval serf that all that treasure and technology went into its construction when she was scraping a living on a hovel?  Did the fat, licentious cardinal who commissioned the great painting for his collection do so just for reasons of personal faith and as an aid to contemplation or for other, more worldly, motives?

And conscience, isn't that the human response to knowing that one has contravened the accepted social rules of whatever society in which one lives and so entirely subjective and contingent?

The ultimate problem is though, it's impossible to unpick the religious from the secular motivation in most of these 'benefits', the religion bit has always been there and so we constantly are facing a 'what if' argument in this discussion.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 10 Aug 2015, 12:13

@ferval wrote:

Ach, I really must stop posting on this topic, fun though it is, because all I'm doing is waffling...


Me too. All I ever do is waffle anyway.

I've just fallen off a stepladder trying to change an awkward bulb. I now feel like a helpless old woman which I'm not at all. Well, not helpless anyway. But the bulb remains unchanged - what to do? A matter on which prayer has not enlightened me.

Made me think ruefully of the possibility of ending up lying in a heap and a huff. The huff to end all huffs, in fact.

I wonder if Our Leader has fallen over somewhere and is lying in a huff? I do hope not. I  think we may have bored him to death, though...
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 10 Aug 2015, 13:49

Do be careful with the stepladders Temp or I will be accused of jinxing you.  I must admit that Ferval's idea sounds very interesting considering how many of us live alone we would just have to make sure we did not keel over just after logging onto our favourite website which would be my luck!
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 10 Aug 2015, 14:19

I was reading that when laws are enforced regarding the banning of legal highs there will be a need to take care not to affect priests swinging incense around.  Also in many non Christian  religions particularly those with a shamanic lean it is very common to use psychotropic substances - could this also be considered a benefit of religion I wonder?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Aug 2015, 11:03

@ferval wrote:
Ach, I really must stop posting on this topic, fun though it is, because all I'm doing is waffling and that's inevitable not least because we have no commonly agreed definitions. 'Religion' - what do we mean? Individual 'spiritual' (and what does that mean?) experience or codified and systematised belief systems?


True. Language is always such a problem in any discussion.  Smile  (Not being sarcastic - it is. )

I've been reading a lot recently - on trains, in gardens and in bed. I've just finished God is Not Great (Chris Hitchens) and The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason (Sam Harris). I have been exceedingly well cudgeled by both writers, and it will be with some relief that I shall return to my biography of Edward Thomas.

Hitchens and Harris are both excellent: intelligent, witty and utterly ruthless, and one can only agree with this verdict (on Hitchens, but applies equally to Harris) by Richard Dawkins: "If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens*, decline. His witty repartee, his ready-access store of historical quotations, his bookish eloquence, his effortless flow of well-formed words...would threaten your arguments even if you had good ones to deploy...God Is Not Great is a coolly angry book, but there are good laughs too..."

(*Sadly, Chris Hitchens has now gone to meet - or not, according to your point of view -  his Maker.)

Mmm. That Dawkins comment made me think ruefully of Priscilla and myself trying to argue with nordmann. I think we are very brave.

But, to be serious, the books have made a profound impression on me. The force of their arguments cannot be denied. Religion - the Benefits? Having read Hitch and Harris one may well ask with not a little bitterness - benefits, what benefits? Has religion been of much use at all? Apart from, as mentioned above, a few nice pictures and poems - and the satisfyingly clean lines of a well-fitted Shaker kitchen - the history of religion, according to H&H, is actually an appalling tale of violence, aggression, torture and greed - man's inhumanity to man that just does not stop.

But the horrible irony of "religion" is that it is all so bloody Darwinian. Those "of the religious persuasion" have always been engaged - like the rest of humanity - in a monumental struggle for survival and dominance. "Religion", it must be admitted, has been (and continues to be) a powerful excuse for our species to humiliate/annihilate/exterminate the opposition." Religion" is tribal: perhaps no more than dressed-up (literally) animal aggression coupled with our diabolical human intelligence and our proclivity for the theatrical. It's ape and essence all right, and religious apes, it would seem, are a particularly brutal bunch. And how these nasty primates continue to flourish.

But Hitch and Harris have perhaps missed the point. So have most of us, most of the time. That's not what the really great teachers (religious or philosophical - choose your own poison) were all about. No wonder Jesus wept. No wonder He kept saying, "Do you still not understand?" I bet Socrates did too, when no one was looking. The ancient Golden Rule of "Love thy neighbour as thyself" ain't easy. It goes against the grain. It's plain unnatural, because it defies millions of years of patient and determined human evolution spent doing the opposite. We need another evolutionary thrust now -  not more religion in the old sense, but less of the ape and more of the beneficial essence - whatever that essence is.

Here's how Huxley ended his 1948 novel - with a few lines from Percy Bysshe Shelley's elegy on the death of John Keats.


That Light whose smile kindles the Universe


That Beauty in which all things work and move
That Benediction, which the eclipsing Curse
Of birth can quench not, that sustaining Love,
Which through the web of being blindly wove
By man and beast and earth and air and sea,
Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of
The fire for which all thirst, now beams on me

Consuming the last clouds of cold mortality.









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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Aug 2015, 14:30

The ancient Golden Rule or "Love thy neighbour as thyself" ain't easy. It goes against the grain. It's plain unnatural and defies how many millions of years of patient evolution - which involved doing the opposite?

No, it doesn't. 'Loving they neighbour' is in fact the ultimate expression of all those years of evolution, and the past hundred thousand in particular. The definition of 'neighbour' has changed though.
Co-operation and empathetic understanding is what has allowed us to be still here despite our being small and weak compared with other species, not least those of other hominids. It's because we can extend regard and even care to those who do not share out personal genetic material that we have achieved what we have by living in the ever expanding communities that have ensured our survival and the reproductive success that has facilitated, and was facilitated by, that.

But I'm waffling again and I've got a lobster to dispatch to wherever lobsters go......
Humans, eh?

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Aug 2015, 14:37

You are a better Christian than I am, ferval: most of the time I want to thump my neighbour.  Embarassed

But that probably means I'm a really good Christian.  Embarassed

What on earth are you doing with a lobster? Are you trying to keep up with the Meles meles? Smile

You are not going to boil the poor thing alive, are you? pale
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Aug 2015, 15:16

Boiling it alive? No, of course not, I have no doctrinal dispute with crustaceans - chill to comatose then a big knife quickly through the brain stem, it's a kinder end than most of us can hope for.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Aug 2015, 21:32

@ferval wrote:
Boiling it alive? No, of course not, I have no doctrinal dispute with crustaceans - chill to comatose then a big knife quickly through the brain stem, it's a kinder end than most of us can hope for.


Ferval,

I have no time, but couldn't resist nevertheless...
My mother along new year time as a fishmonger, was asked by the rich of the town, her customers, to cook the lobsters.  and they had to be alive when they arrived. Lobsters already cooked in our home, they didn't trust as it could be dead lobsters that we had sold as cooked alive...only our customers who trusted our integrity...
But now about cooking a lobster...
It has to be put in the boiling water alive and head first...
http://www.lobsterhelp.com/boiling-lobster.html

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Aug 2015, 21:55

@ferval wrote:
The ancient Golden Rule or "Love thy neighbour as thyself" ain't easy. It goes against the grain. It's plain unnatural and defies how many millions of years of patient evolution - which involved doing the opposite?

No, it doesn't. 'Loving they neighbour' is in fact the ultimate expression of all those years of evolution, and the past hundred thousand in particular. The definition of 'neighbour' has changed though.
Co-operation and empathetic understanding is what has allowed us to be still here despite our being small and weak compared with other species, not least those of other hominids. It's because we can extend regard and even care to those who do not share out personal genetic material that we have achieved what we have by living in the ever expanding communities that have ensured our survival and the reproductive success that has facilitated, and was facilitated by, that.

But I'm waffling again and I've got a lobster to dispatch to wherever lobsters go......
Humans, eh?



OOPS, Ferval and I forgot:
Thanks for your message, it was exactly in that sense that I see it too...from all what I have read till now...
And yes, cooperation within the group for survival already started in the higher mamals...and even mourning for a dead member of the family or the extended family exists also already there...
And yes for the better working of the group one needs "empathetic understanding" within that group...and in that group there becomes a differentiation and an hiearchy...and leaders...
Perhaps the trouble starts when one group meets then another group...and if the other group has other customs, religions...?

The benefits and the disadvantages of the whole are all that "human" I believe...but perhaps at the end the benefits will dominate as a evolutionary? necessity? for the survival of the species...? Wink

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Aug 2015, 11:00

Within the family group give and take is easy and nothing to do with religion. Loving a strange, truculent neighbour is another matter altogether so I am with Temps on this. Ensuring that your neighbour survives much as you want to yourself and not solely for your own benefit - mm. Now that takes us beyond pack survival reasoning. What had Mr Darwin to say on that?

PS. Temps -you are the brave one, I'm just plain ol' silly.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Aug 2015, 11:37

Perhaps this will be my very last post - who knows (we are all wondering where Res His is going). But it is important for me to state this: I fully agree with the ideas in the paragraph I reproduce below - a paragraph which I have lifted from Sam Harris's excellent book, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason.

As I have mentioned in a previous message, Harris is an atheist writer, approved of by Richard Dawkins. Natalie Angier of the New York Times says of his work: "The End of Faith articulates the dangers and absurdities of organised religion so fiercely and so fearlessly that I felt relieved as I read it, vindicated, almost personally understood...This is an important book." Yet in the paragraph which I am about to quote, Harris is fair enough to admit the benefits of what I, as is my woolly wont, call the "spiritual" or the "mystical", unsatisfactory words which Harris himself uses.

Apologies for this long quotation, but it sums up exactly how I feel. Harris is such an intelligent and honest man - and this concessionary paragraph makes me feel that I am not entirely stupid in believing what I believe. Harris is cleverer - or rather wiser - than Hitchens, I think: he realises that clubbing people to death (intellectually) isn't always the most sensible approach:

The basis of our spirituality surely consists in this: the range of possible human experience far exceeds the ordinary limits of our subjectivity. Clearly some experiences can utterly transform a person's vision of the world. Every spiritual tradition rests on the insight that how we use our attention, from moment to moment, largely determines the quality of our lives. Many of the results of spiritual practice are genuinely desirable and we owe it to ourselves to seek them out. It is important to note that these changes are not merely emotional, but cognitive and conceptual as well. Just as it is possible for us to have insights in fields like mathematics or biology, it is possible for us to have insights about the very nature of our own subjectivity...For millennia, contemplatives have known that ordinary people can divest themselves of the feeling that they call "I" and thereby relinquish the sense that they are separate from the rest of the universe. This phenomenon, which has been reported by practioners in many spiritual traditions, is supported by a wealth of evidence - neuroscientific, philosophical, and introspective. Such experiences are "spiritual" or "mystical", for want of better words, in that they are relatively rare...significant, and personally transformative...There is no doubt that experiences of this sort are worth seeking, just as there is no doubt that the popular religious ideas that have grown up around them, especially in the West, are as dangerous as they are incredible. A truly rational approach to this dimension of our lives would allow is to explore the heights of our subjectivity with a open mind, while shedding the provincialism and dogmatism of our religious traditions in favour of free and rigorous inquiry.


PS I'm still fretting about ferval's lobster.

PPS Priscilla has posted something as I've been typing - haven't read her message, but will send this.

PPPS Off-topic, but funny (well, I think so) - Harris says this: "There is, of course, much that is wise and consoling and beautiful in religious books. But words of consolation and beauty abound in the pages of Shakespeare, Virgil and Homer as well, and no one ever murdered strangers by the thousands because of the inspiration found there. The belief that certain books were written by God (who, for reasons difficult to fathom, made Shakespeare a far better writer than himself Smile ) leaves us powerless to address the most potent source of human conflict, past and present."
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Aug 2015, 17:20

The notion that "love thy neighbour" does not logically extend beyond close family and similar communal constructs is completely tautological, and nor does it take a philosophy major to see the rather obvious failing in the assumption that strong family-based endearment is so logical as to be a constant rule, just as the equally inferior assumption that to extend the notion to the rest of humanity must be so illogical as to require to be taught also runs against what simple observation would suggest is the case. As in many cases where simple philosophical theory based on observation is construed to become a religious edict, the "love thy neighbour" precept (a rather simplified adjunct to the principle that one insists upon others treating one as one pretends to treat them in return) when reduced to a didactic becomes less, rather than more, intelligent.

Since we have yet to agree on what constitutes religions in this thread, and as yet almost every shade of anything pleasant has been defined by some as being a "benefit" which can be said to have arisen from religion nevertheless, it has all become rather circular argument, I feel. I am still of the opinion that communal requirements dictate what can be construed as beneficial and that organised religion tends to want to control those same communal forces. It is inevitable therefore that some "benefits" can be short-sightedly traced back to a religious root and no further, and that almost every single one of these can be long-sightedly traced further back to rather more human urges, needs and resultant behaviour.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Aug 2015, 18:28

At last, I hear the pipes and reinforcements have arrived. I was beginning to wilt; as singular defender of the gates of rationalism, even MM having deserted the field, I feared the onslaught of the barbarians (and a right religious lot, most of them were) might overwhelm me.

I'm away for some R&R and by the way, the lobster was delicious and departed this life with tender care.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Aug 2015, 18:38

MM has not deserted the field but has spent the afternoon in the local hospital's A&E .... and has got a sick note to prove it! I would like a drink but that's not allowed with all the antibiotics I'm now taking. I'll tell all if someone buys me a pint of shandy over in the bar.... Wink

But more to the topic, I would still like to say something about music, Mozart, the Marriage of Figaro ... and forgiveness. I just need to get my thoughts in order, but don't hold your breath as it's nothing terribly revelationary nor revolutionary.

PS : re lobsters ... I once bought two from the local fish market. They were placidly alive when I paid for them, and the man that put them snuggly into a big ice-filled polystyrene box assured me they'd be calm and docile as I took them home to my waiting guests. But in the car on the short journey back they started to warm up and revive ... they managed to get the lid off their box and started to clamber about. It's not easy driving with two mightily miffed lobsters parambulating around the footwell and getting in the way of the brake pedal, especially when you're only wearing flip-flops! Although finally tucked into the fridge alongside the live oysters they did quietly nod off again.

And for that admission of animal cruelty I'll probably be villified for ever.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Aug 2015, 19:24

Pint of shandy is waiting in the bar so tell all!
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Aug 2015, 21:19

@Meles meles wrote:


But more to the topic, I would still like to say something about music, Mozart, the Marriage of Figaro ... and forgiveness. I just need to get my thoughts in order, but don't hold your breath as it's nothing terribly revelationary nor revolutionary.



Ah, MM, The Marriage of Figaro - I'll forgive anyone anything who loves this.



What on earth have you done that you ended up in A&E? Are you all right?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Aug 2015, 09:51

Oh good, that means I'm forgiven too. Figaro was the first opera I ever saw live and all the way through, we went with the school when I was about 13 and I went around humming Voi che Sapete for weeks afterwards.

Not long afterwards our French teacher took us to see Les Enfants du Paradis, I fear we were just a little too young to really appreciate that and I've meant for 50 odd years to watch it again. Now I might just do that. Les Vacance de M. Hulot went down a lot better.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Aug 2015, 11:46

@nordmann wrote:
The notion that "love thy neighbour" does not logically extend beyond close family and similar communal constructs is completely tautological, and nor does it take a philosophy major to see the rather obvious failing in the assumption that strong family-based endearment is so logical as to be a constant rule, just as the equally inferior assumption that to extend the notion to the rest of humanity must be so illogical as to require to be taught also runs against what simple observation would suggest is the case. As in many cases where simple philosophical theory based on observation is construed to become a religious edict, the "love thy neighbour" precept (a rather simplified adjunct to the principle that one insists upon others treating one as one pretends to treat them in return) when reduced to a didactic becomes less, rather than more, intelligent.

Since we have yet to agree on what constitutes religions in this thread, and as yet almost every shade of anything pleasant has been defined by some as being a "benefit" which can be said to have arisen from religion nevertheless, it has all become rather circular argument, I feel. I am still of the opinion that communal requirements dictate what can be construed as beneficial and that organised religion tends to want to control those same communal forces. It is inevitable therefore that some "benefits" can be short-sightedly traced back to a religious root and no further, and that almost every single one of these can be long-sightedly traced further back to rather more human urges, needs and resultant behaviour.


Huge sigh.

Well, I suppose this is a circular argument, but I think we have - most of us at least - all enjoyed the discussion. Priscilla's thread has had nearly 2000 views, and the other "religious" threads have also been immensely popular. Thousand of views when you combine this thread, St. Peter, St. Paul and the Darwin/Faith discussions. Religion is of benefit to Res Hiss viewing figures at least. Gets people interested. Wonder why?

I don't fully understand your complicated post above. Your English is so good it is sometimes incomprehensible. But I think love your neighbour as a concept is not a natural human response. We do not love our neighbours as ourselves do we, even when prodded and chivvied? Oh yes, as Priscilla says, it's easy enough to be charitable to those we really do love  - or just quite like even - but what about the rest? The alien, the obnoxious, those whom we frankly detest? If I am honest, I find it easier to love animals these days.

Jeremy Clarkson summed the problem up recently: speaking of the current migrant crisis, he asked just how many do-gooding "liberals"  (or "Christians"?) were preparing their spare rooms - or making up the sofa bed in the sitting-room -  for a non-paying, very needy "guest" from North Africa. I sure as heck am not. Christian? Humanist? We are all hypocrites.

Was going to start quoting Isaiah and Saint John, but best not to.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Aug 2015, 12:08

But I think love your neighbour as a concept is not a natural human response. We do not love our neighbours as ourselves do we, even when prodded and chivvied?

The 'Love thy neighbour as thyself' thing is yet another of those glib sayings which doesn't stand up to close examination. Loving oneself is really hard sometimes, at least if one looks inwards with clear eyes so, to be true to that maxim, one must view one's neighbour with the same degree of clarity.
Forgiving oneself is even harder and so it's not surprising that forgiving others is hard too.
It's those you can't manage to do either towards themselves who have problems with others.

Do as you would be done by. suffers from the same problems: don't we really want to get a bit more favourable treatment if at all possible? Maybe not at the expense of others but, if we can get away with it and not feel too guilty........
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Aug 2015, 19:25

Surely being neighbourly ‘loving one’s neighbour’, if you like, or at the very least tolerating and working with them (which immediately implies a degree of empathy), is actually what being human is all about. Individually, stripped of our policemen, doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists, writers, farmers, shopkeepers … our clever discoverers of X-rays, vaccination, writing, printing, petrol engines, refrigeration, atoms, … our guns, ploughs and antibiotics … we humans, as individuals, are actually very poorly adapted to survive. As naked animals we have pitifully small teeth or claws and we walk upright, exposing all our most essential bits (our guts) to easy evisceration. Put most humans alive today in a ‘wilderness situation’ and they would be hard-pressed to survive for more than a few days. Individual humans need the support of the group, preferably a big group, and though we might like to try and reduce the ‘group’ to just our family and friends and 'those like us', we all know deep down that our continued existence is intricately linked to almost everyone else on the planet.

And let us not be too proud of our communal human accomplishments … as we all know what comes after pride.

Sadly I can all too easily see the collapse of modern global civillisation within a hundred or so years ... through God-sanctioned over-population, depletion of basic resources (food, water, fuel), collapse of natural ecosystems … global warming ... and all the resulting wars, migrations, famines, plagues etc that this will entail. It is ironic that all this misery might well come about simply because humans are so good (too good even?) at working together to exploit all the available resources to the full … but at the expense of the local environment which is currently still limited to just this one planet, Earth.

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

Arrogant fighting talk there from God as reported in the KJV (... are there really any other versions of God's truth? Wink ). But seriously I can't help thinking that a little humility in the face of the awesome magnificence of reality (as revealed through scientific endeavour) would serve us better than a few waffly old fables, fairy tales and platitudes from two millenia ago. But feel free to chalk up extinction, of humans as well as uncountable other plants and creatures, as one of the benefits of religion ... if you want to claim Religion as the font of all good things (Mozart's Requiem, Gothic cathedrals, illuminated manuscripts, hymns, or whatever... ), then in all honesty you have to accept full share of the bad results too.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Aug 2015, 21:45

Well said, MM. It will be interesting to hear the intelligent reply.
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