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 Religions - The Benefits

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nordmann
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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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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Aug 2015, 23:30

Not the intelligent reply - mine is the the other one, of course  Temp's perhaps will come later.
My intent on starting this thread was to in part, to counter all the very many ills of religions that surfaced in other threads. This is a constant in world history and surely accepted as a sorry side of religions. Several of you posters are the fearless  Godless ones. I sit in the middle because I do not have  total intellectual knowledge to make such a commitment or judgment. But I admit to being  attracted by spiritual mystery. 
We may not have done with this part of the thread yet  but I'll offer up my next thought now. What, if any, benefits have there been from  religious missions? Slam that one about, for a bit, shall we? Hmmm?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Aug 2015, 23:56

Yes indeed, MM, we don't need gods, on fact we're more impressive than gods. Not omnipotent nor omniscient and very far from perfectly good, we puny, insubstantial little things have, using our brains and our opposable thumbs, built our civilisations and explored, by ingenuity and by our machines, this world and are spreading out to others far beyond. In a real sense we have created the universe by revealing it and making it comprehensible through our reason and study and co-operative endeavour and we did it all by ourselves, bit by bit, step by step, and not in one great act of incomparable, supernatural power and glory. That's easy by comparison.
And if we do manage to survive into the future, it will be by using those same faculties and not by being rescued by salvation descending from on high. It's only by growing up, by realising that we are on our own, that this life is it and there is neither reward nor punishment after it, that we will finally accept our responsibility for caring for each other and our earth.

P, I see your new post. I'll desist from responding right away but what exactly do you mean by 'spiritual mystery'?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 15 Aug 2015, 07:09

ferval wrote:
Yes indeed, MM, we don't need gods, on fact we're more impressive than gods...


Aren't we just?



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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 15 Aug 2015, 09:13

ferval wrote:
Yes indeed, MM, we don't need gods, on fact we're more impressive than gods.

Oh dear, and there was me trying to strike a note of secular humility too. Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 15 Aug 2015, 09:49

Hm, yes, well, maybe posting after an excess of wine isn't the best idea - I do tend to sound like Brian Cox emoting on a mountain top but, humility? Before whom are we meant to feel humble? Yes, we must acknowledge that we don't know everything but, by gum, we've figured out a hell of a lot and the fact I'm communicating with you like this is just one of the little daily miracles that we take for granted.

The Oppenheimer clip reminds me of reading Pearl S. Buck's 'Command the Morning' many years ago, a great read if memory serves, and Jung's 'Brighter then a Thousand Suns' around the same time - both with titles derived from the same source.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 15 Aug 2015, 10:05

I'm not sure about the use of impressive as an adjective either for us or for the gods we create, though neither am I claiming humility as a reason for my indecision. The one is impressive only in snatches and often for terrible reasons, the other only as impressive as any human construct can be when disadvantaged through lack of obvious purpose beyond self-serving ones. 

I do experience a sensation approaching humility when I contemplate the universe, itself a concept for which the word impressive is also singularly deficient, though the unavoidable awe induced by such contemplation has already met with derision from a certain source when I mentioned it earlier so I'll refrain from pressing that particular point either.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 15 Aug 2015, 14:07

Re humans and humility: I sometimes wonder if Walt Disney is to blame for my "spiritual" agonisings on this matter. The following made a profound impression on me as a child. Apparently Goethe pinched the idea from that Lucian Greek(ish)fella, but it took Disney and Mickey Mouse to make it the stuff of genius:



I'm trying to think of something intelligent to say in response to Priscilla's question about missions, but nothing is forthcoming at the moment, so I shall go and inspect my compost heap - always a source of immense (and innocent) joy for me.

PS I know we all disagree about things, but I do hope the discussion continues because it is very interesting. No huffs please, we're British - well, some of us are.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 15 Aug 2015, 14:21

Priscilla wrote:
What, if any, benefits have there been from  religious missions? Slam that one about, for a bit, shall we? Hmmm?

It's the same quandary again regarding definition and causality, isn't it? Religious proselytizing, the stated aim behind most missionary activity, is of dubious merit if of any merit at all when examined as a base motive (in both senses of the term). However the associated welfare, health care, economic development and educational tasks undertaken by missionaries are often of obviously great benefit to their targeted communities, even if they carry a price in the sense of an expected religious allegiance in return that ultimately detracts from their worth in purely altruistic terms. The question however is should this altruism be ascribed solely to a religious motive or to a deeper humanitarian urge of which religion is simply one subversion in terms of expression?

So again, as with all the previous examples provided by Priscilla which pointedly presume a causality that does not survive too diligent an examination in each case, the short-sighted answer to the question of whether missionary work incurs any benefits to those being "worked" is "duh, yes!", while the more reflectively assessed answer is "duh, no! (but where it encourages humanitarian altruism then yes by default)"
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 20 Aug 2015, 10:54

Not eating people is a definite benefit of Christianity. Priscilla, do tell the story here!!

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 20 Aug 2015, 15:30

To define slamming about, religions, missions and benefits. Here goes.

The TV flying adventurer (in a wheel chair now) visits outlandish places. Last week showed his dodgy flight into a hilltop hamlet in Papua. A pair of missionaries have lived among them for 20 years with apparent conversion. One said - in fluent English - that there had been many changes in their life. "Whenever we used to see the fires of our neighbour enemies  we attacked them with bows and arrows. Now we don't. The missionaries give us food and we can do many things for ourselves." Earlier it had been revealed by another that they used to eat slain enemies. I would say that has been a twofold benefit and the score 30 love to the missionaries. They had introduced pig farming and crop farming. The tribe regretted that no one wanted to buy their crops so they could not buy anything much for themselves - coinage being a recent introduction.

Now, they have lived in isolation ( apart from attacking for dinner raids.) They had had an awful long time unsullied by assorted faiths to change their direction before and yet they had not discovered the humanism that some here think mankind could have had it not been for tainted types imposing tainted notions on them. The hamlet had a little school, proper weather proof huts, clothes and had hacked out the airstrip  into a mountainside. So  what of that? 'duh yes?'  'duh no?' or 'duh go away for good woman as  we always have a problem with what you mean.'

For ferv. 'Spiritual mystery' - you asked what I mean by it. Sorry, ducky if it ain't clear enough, try a dictionary.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 20 Aug 2015, 16:56

Zounds, mucky ducky! Steering us in the direction of a dictionary has indeed clarified everything to the consistency of soft, sticky matter resulting from the mixing of earth and water! Thanks!

Spiritual mystery = "something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things".

The scales have fallen from my globular organs of sight. By the way, it's also nice to hear that introducing symbolic cannibalism has "cured" them of the real thing down Papua way. And they even get to keep dry now thanks to religion. I'm off to find an Umbrella and God  

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 20 Aug 2015, 17:19

Don't forget yer wellies - a visit to the glorious Cathedral of Bath and Wells may be further inspiring and beneficial. Only saying..........
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 20 Aug 2015, 17:43

nordmann wrote:
I'm off to find an Umbrella and God  


Oh, please, God - no.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 20 Aug 2015, 17:48

Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 20 Aug 2015, 18:16

Priscilla wrote:
Don't forget yer wellies - a visit to the glorious Cathedral of Bath and Wells may be further inspiring and beneficial.

Actually if we're talking cathedrals and saintly invocations, either for or against rain, shouldn't he visit Winchester Cathedral ... the repository (either outside, or inside if wet Wink ) of the remains of St Swithun?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 20 Aug 2015, 19:30

Priscilla wrote:
Don't forget yer wellies - a visit to the glorious Cathedral of Bath and Wells may be further inspiring and beneficial. Only saying..........

Don't mention Bath and Wells, I just can't forget that holy cannibal............




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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 21 Aug 2015, 18:39

From MM's post re church income and nordmann's there is no argument re religions finding dubious means to keep their coffers topped up, however, are there instances of religions actually benefiting an economy - local or state? If nordmann will forgive - unlikely, by I'll continue - for example,  the 'Knock-On' effect of religious tourism. I recall the money raised about the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal that was, well, gross. I can only think of the effect of paid labour, the formation of guilds, skills and broad trade that flourished about the building of great cathedrals, temples - and such - including pyramids. My understanding is that they were not totally slave built. Monastic orders served general economic purpose, perhaps; their downfall certainly helped insolvent royalty.
Delphi gave out trading loans set against the wealth held in treasuries there and perhaps therefore the first banking system; there may have been others but this is an early example. So, folks, any other ideas on this?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 02:17

Religion invented the bankers?

I bloody knew it! Thanks for that, P! It's about time you fessed up. But don't worry - you'll feel better for it.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 10:32

Oh dear, it's true: there really was a Bank of the Holy Spirit:

The Bank of the Holy Spirit (Italian: Il Banco di Santo Spirito) was a bank founded by Pope Paul V on December 13, 1605. The Bank was the first national bank in Europe (as the bank of the Papal States), the first public deposit bank in Rome, and the oldest continuously-operating bank in Rome until its merger in 1992.

How I long for a cheque book from this bank - would have been so much more interesting than my cheque book from the NatWest - even my ecology-friendly one with little otters and birds and things on the cheques. I wonder if the BHS did a credit card too? I bet they did - and with a reward points system to beat even M&S's.

Weren't those hard-nosed Protestants the real capitalists though? Antwerp and all that?

Karl Marx would have seen Cromwell as a classic example of the new bourgeoisie. Mantel draws a contrast between the fanatically devout Thomas More and the worldly wise Cromwell: the one settling in for a day’s scourging, the other off to get the day’s exchange rate in the City’s Lombard Street, where all the big banking houses had their home.


http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/22/wolf-hall-the-economic-lessons

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 11:32

PS I still think the problem with this thread is that we have not defined our terms: "religion" is not the same as "religious institutions". And "influences" rather than "benefits", maybe? Although that's definitely wriggling a bit and not, I think, what Priscilla meant.

PPS Poor old Church of England never gets it right: the Archbishop of Canters tries to do something about loan sharks terrorising people and provokes this from the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2014/jun/25/church-england-wonga-stake-archbishop-payday-lender

PPPS Perhaps not at all relevant to the thread, but Judas was "the keeper of the purse", wasn't he? He must have been terribly confused by the conflicting messages. There is the famous "Go sell all thou hast and give to the poor" - but then there is also the following account of Christ's response to Mary's crazily extravagant offering of the costly unguent. (Was it just that Judas was a thief, I wonder?)

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.  4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,  5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?  6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.  7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.  8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 11:42

Ah, the Banco Ambrosiano! Cardinal Marcinkus and Calvi dangling from the bridge, free masons and the Mafia - that was a proper scandal. Poor old Fred the Shred was nothing compared to that lot.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 11:55

The theological point about whether Christ owned a purse was one of issues fiercely debated in the battle of wills between Pope John XXII and the monastic orders (principally the Cistercians) as he attempted to suppress what he considered to be the excesses of the 'Spirituals', who contended eagerly for the view that Christ and his apostles had possessed absolutely nothing at all, not even their clothes and certainly no money. The danger, as the Pope saw it, was that there were several popular sects who contended that if Christ had been poor then should not the the church also be poor and so made to give away all its wealth. From the Pope's point of view this horrific idea had to be quashed, and ultimately he issued the Papal Bull Quum inter nonnullos (November 1323) which declared "erroneous and heretical" the doctrine that Christ and his apostles had no possessions.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 12:42

But is any of this nasty stuff really about religion? Isn't it rather, to quote Thomas Cromwell's weary line from Wolf Hall, "No, it's just people"?

I'm sure I don't know.

The C of E sold our lovely Old Rectory to some posh folk from London. Cost them a fortune, even though the place was in a bit of a mess. It's all done up like something from a Joanna Trollope novel now, and must be worth a couple of hundred thousand more.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 12:52

Delphi also encouraged hedge funding - Xerxes had a treasury there before the 2nd Persian War - then decided to take over all the others.
Delphi charged up to 30% interest - or confiscated the collateral in the event of failure to pay up. Thus was the sanctuary funded. Seems the Greeks are suffering from a banking backlash at the moment; late but telling. (I should be banned for that one.)
As no possessions I know for certain that some Plymouth Bretheren missionaries own nothing but what is given to them. They neither ask nor show need; what they also have are hungry children and several of us have had to ensure that somehow stuff got to them; they always got very much better party loot bags than the others.
Not only a church matter, finance. Willy Wobblestick made a play out it.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 12:55

Temps, the Cof E has been asset stripping for some time now and with poor advice about real value.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 13:26

Another interesting path some may like to Google-read about is the root basis of economic ethics in Japan with Confucian and Shintoism. Of which I know nothing, I should add.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 13:39

Temperance wrote:
But is any of this nasty stuff really about religion? Isn't it rather, to quote Thomas Cromwell's weary line from Wolf Hall, "No, it's just people"?

And that's my point exactly. Not only the 'nasty' stuff but all of them - the good, the bad, the beneficial and the downright malevolent - are just aspects of people's essential 'peopleness' couched in terms of one type of ideology, in this case religion.

Although I acknowledge that religion has facilitated, often by financial support or by virtue of its infrastructure and organisation, much that I consider a benefit, I challenge the believers to come up with one thing that they consider a benefit of religion that could never have been produced within an ideology that did not recognise the supernatural.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 13:49

Does this thread have to be a discussion of believers versus the rest? It was not my intent. I'm not out to prove anything, only to reflect on what we can glean from history in this particular. I assume that's what you dig about for via the trowel, widening knowledge not contending with it. I suggest you open a new thread to expand on non religious advancement - or whatever it is that so interests you.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 14:01

ferval wrote:
Temperance wrote:
But is any of this nasty stuff really about religion? Isn't it rather, to quote Thomas Cromwell's weary line from Wolf Hall, "No, it's just people"?

And that's my point exactly. Not only the 'nasty' stuff but all of them - the good, the bad, the beneficial and the downright malevolent - are just aspects of people's essential 'peopleness' couched in terms of one type of ideology, in this case religion.

Although I acknowledge that religion has facilitated, often by financial support or by virtue of its infrastructure and organisation, much that I consider a benefit, I challenge the believers to come up with one thing that they consider a benefit of religion that could never have been produced within an ideology that did not recognise the supernatural.



But where do these impulses - for good or for evil - originate, I wonder? Is it all Darwinian? Maybe. I repeat my favourite saying that makes me the despair of the godly and the ungodly alike: I don't know. But if, in my ignorance, I choose to be "superstitious", does it matter? Does it matter if you and MM and nordmann choose to be - er - rational? It's when people start beating up other people -  that it all matters.

I still think El Nord was right when he posted this - I've quoted it before:


Temperance (Me) wrote:


What is it to be human then? What exactly is "the human response"?

I think one of the wisest things nordmann wrote was a while back on another thread:

nordmann wrote:
God made man make god make man make god make man make god ... and so what? Does it matter who gets the credit for Mercy, Love and Pity? They're the real constant. A wonderfully affirmative sentiment for faith in humanity.

Yes - I sometimes wonder what it is we are arguing about.  


And I still wonder why we're arguing. Perhaps we just like it.

PS Off topic, but I'm sure P. won't mind: I recommend Bishop (don't be put off - he is a proper bishop, but a lot of Christians hate him and want to kill him, literally) John Shelby Spong's book: "Why Christianity Must Change or Die". It's very good. But they're all accusing him of being a humanist now or even an atheist. Horror!

EDIT: Oh, sorry, P. just seen your post. Will shut up at once. I did want to look at Merchant of Venice  though.

Trowels at dawn - I love it. Who's got the biggest trowel, then?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 14:16

This thread is nearly 2500 views now - it must be benefiting someone out there!
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 14:33

Temperance wrote:

And I still wonder why we're arguing.

Are we arguing? .... I don't think any of us are really trying to defend a position or convert everyone else. Are we not just discussing all the various aspects, albeit perhaps from our own, biased viewpoints.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 15:29

Meles meles wrote:
Temperance wrote:

And I still wonder why we're arguing.

Are we arguing? .... I don't think any of us are really trying to defend a position or convert everyone else. Are we not just discussing all the various aspects, albeit perhaps from our own, biased viewpoints.


OK - if you say so, MM. I was arguing a bit. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 16:36

Priscilla wrote:
What have been the benefits of the world's many religions? Some posts condemn the very notion of any form of religion yet our lives have been and continue to be moulded by religious circumstance, Would  the several enrichments that we enjoy have evolved without?

Can I refer you back to the op? What I believe we are discussing- or at least I'm trying to - is that final question. Unfortunately I feel it to be impossible at present outwith the realms of speculation since it seems that the human understanding of causality, vital for our progression as a successful species, compelled us to seek explanation for phenomena in an analogy to the only social structure we could understand - a hierarchy stemming initially from our experience of families.

But where do these impulses - for good or for evil - originate, I wonder? Is it all Darwinian?

I think Freud (and a load of others) would be prepared to answer that one.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 17:15

ferval wrote:
I think Freud (and a load of others) would be prepared to answer that one.


"Answer" - now there's a dangerous idea -  or speculate about a possible answer? There are lots and lots of interesting theories (I'm a bit of a Jungian myself ), but my point is that none of us really know.


Just to stay on topic, even Freud in the end did acknowledge that religion could be of immense value, didn't he, especially to those of us of the neurotic persuasion? Jung certainly thought that belief was a healthier option than the postmodern alternative of "a mythology of rational despair".


Jung viewed religion as contributing positively to mental health. Unlike Freud he argued that the basic psychic drive is not sexual libido but something far more spiritual. It is the most basic human need and is not based on repression but on self-realisation.

PS Got to go and do my hair now - going to a "function" tonight. pale


EDIT: According to this, having some kind of belief is also good for one's teeth (it is actually a serious article):

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/12/believe.aspx


Having spiritual beliefs might also lead to enjoying a longer, healthier life. A large body of research finds that religious people live longer, are less prone to depression, are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, and even go to the dentist more often.

I bet someone comes up with a picture of an American evangelist flashing his dreadful, gleaming, white gnashers at us all.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 22 Aug 2015, 18:01

Unlike Freud he argued that the basic psychic drive is not sexual libido but something far more spiritual.

Whereas I might argue it's something far more spirituous. So I hope your function is licensed. Enjoy it.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 23 Aug 2015, 08:55

Temp wrote:
Jung certainly thought that belief was a healthier option than the postmodern alternative of "a mythology of rational despair"

Only for those with a perceived requirement to invest superstitious belief in a mythological construct rather than actually use their noggin to examine more realistic options, the latter alternative being thinking people for whom rationality is not a one-way ticket to despair but to that thing which so assiduously eludes the religious mind - "enlightenment" (not to be confused with the inferior "received wisdoms" so often masquerading as enlightenment among myth-junkies). Jung, if the above quote is an accurate reflection of his view, is guilty in it of dismissing us all as ninnies, only capable of swapping one piece of metaphysical crap for another, and with no actual intellectual premise upon which to make such a limited analysis except that it is the one that presented itself to him (where the true limitation lay, therefore). I've never had much time for him myself, and this only serves to reinforce my dislike for his condescending presumptuousness.

However in the case of Priscilla's question regarding "benefits from religion" the causality issue remains key. We create things of worth and beauty. We also create religions and all the gods along with all the other fantastic fictions that inhabit that sub-intellectual pursuit. Some of us credit that invention with the role as inspiration for our other efforts, but in the ultimate analysis those who do so are simply creating a fictional root cause for our own collective act of creation. It is still creativity, and it is down to us. We create that which benefits us and we often create fictional accreditation for it.

We also create quite a lot of stuff that is detrimental to us. Not wishing to take the blame for that might be reason enough to also have created a communal displacement tendency to wrongly assign credit with the same lazy ease with which we hope to deflect blame. In that sense we use everything from "I was only following orders, guv" to "Satan/evil voices/Postman Pat/God made me do it" and the popularity of such obviously self-serving and ludicrously stupid reasoning is seemingly as high as ever. The flip-side as it governs who "made us do the good stuff" should hardly come as a surprise to anyone.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 23 Aug 2015, 19:36

nordmann wrote:
 ... except that it is the one that presented itself to him (where the true limitation lay, therefore).



But isn't that true of all of us, even you, Sir?

And some of us are desperately trying to use our noggins you know, Olaf.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 23 Aug 2015, 20:24

I suppose it is one of the crucial differences between philosophy and theology, and one of the reasons practitioners of the latter can pretend to have something in common with the former. Both ologies place a value on intuitive thought and so - the theologian argues - the only real difference is deference to spiritual belief. However this disingenuously ignores the rather crucial other difference. In philosophy intuition and its product is the start of a process which attempts to use cognitive constructs to either expand or even destroy that thought in the light of reason. In theology it can, and often will, be declared the end product and presented as such. Jung - like just about every theologian who has ever lived - cannot avoid such claims.

One aspect to using one's noggin is knowing when the noggin has made faulty, aberrational or downright wrong judgement calls. This presupposes the noggin's owner is taking responsibility for its function and its ability to absorb fresh data. This is not the religious way, or at least this is not a way that most religious theological argument can long support without implosion of the constructs it purports to present as fact and which it holds as essential to understanding.

When the process of increasing understanding undermines the precepts hitherto assumed essential then their lack of value is established with regard to their role in the development of comprehension, and whatever theory they pretended to support - ipso facto - no longer is supported. Any theology I have taken the time to study begins with a refutation of that principle, normally to be taken on faith by the "follower".

Basic rule of thumb. Never follow. Logic should follow, and when it does it is a wondrous thing to experience. But not people. Not even Olaf.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 07:56

nordmann wrote:
I suppose it is one of the crucial differences between philosophy and theology, and one of the reasons practitioners of the latter can pretend to have something in common with the former. Both ologies place a value on intuitive thought and so - the theologian argues - the only real difference is deference to spiritual belief. However this disingenuously ignores the rather crucial other difference. In philosophy intuition and its product is the start of a process which attempts to use cognitive constructs to either expand or even destroy that thought in the light of reason. In theology it can, and often will, be declared the end product and presented as such. Jung - like just about every theologian who has ever lived - cannot avoid such claims.

One aspect to using one's noggin is knowing when the noggin has made faulty, aberrational or downright wrong judgement calls. This presupposes the noggin's owner is taking responsibility for its function and its ability to absorb fresh data. This is not the religious way, or at least this is not a way that most religious theological argument can long support without implosion of the constructs it purports to present as fact and which it holds as essential to understanding.

When the process of increasing understanding undermines the precepts hitherto assumed essential then their lack of value is established with regard to their role in the development of comprehension, and whatever theory they pretended to support - ipso facto - no longer is supported. Any theology I have taken the time to study begins with a refutation of that principle, normally to be taken on faith by the "follower".

Basic rule of thumb. Never follow. Logic should follow, and when it does it is a wondrous thing to experience. But not people. Not even Olaf.



Believe it or not, I actually fully agree with what you say. Sorry to be so boring, but I do.

I think Bishop Spong is different from most theologians - that is why I read him with such enthusiasm - and such immense relief. Again, apologies to Priscilla and the followers of the thread, but I feel I must, this rainy Monday morning, quote this:

I am increasingly unimpressed with what people call "orthodox" Christianity. It has become a kind of religious straitjacket into which all Christians must be bound or face expulsion from the faith community by those who think of themselves as the true believers. To be called an orthodox Christian does not mean that one's view is right. It only means that this point of view won out in the ancient debate. I am convinced that the future of Christianity rests not on reasserting those words of antiquity, but on our ability to refashion the symbols by which Christianity is understood in our time. This would include rethinking its creedal patterns in the light of contemporary understandings of the world. I hasten to recognise that any and all contemporary reformulations of the Christian faith will still be but the products of yet another age in human history. As such they will inevitably reflect our levels of knowledge and our prejudices. So any recasting of the creeds that we might produce today will be no more eternal than those formulations of the fourth and fifth centuries proved to be, nor should they be.


One of the undoubted benefits of religion is that it provokes discussion and debate. So long as such debate remains verbal and courteous, it is surely a good thing? Of course, the sad thing is that such debate has traditionally always got out of hand, people being people. But even philosophers can get nasty: I'm thinking of the infamous Wittgenstein poker incident. But that's the Cambridge University Moral Sciences Club for you.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittgenstein%27s_Poker
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 08:46

Temp wrote:
One of the undoubted benefits of religion is that it provokes discussion and debate.

Undoubtedly so, but unfortunately the motive to engage in such debate, especially on the part of the religious mind involved, has more with intolerance to do than intellectual pursuit.

Anyone tempted to get carried away with the wonderful legacy of religion, and who up to yesterday might have wished to point to the marvelous ruined temple of Baal Shamin in Palmyra as a striking example of such bestowed benefit, has now only to point to today's headlines regarding the same structure to see religion's true legacy.

When logic and reason are poisoned by anti-intellectual "faith" the outcome is difficult to predict. While it might contribute arbitrarily to valued achievement in human terms now and then it is ultimately rarely good.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 09:16

As appalling as that destruction is, and that temple is somewhere of which I have fond personal memories, the act of almost unbelievable barbarity that preceded it with the beheading of 82 year old Khaled al-Asaad just underlines the point that the expression of religious belief has been responsible some of the most beautiful things humans have produced and some of the most utterly horrible acts they have performed.  
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/khaled-alasaad-authority-on-the-antiquities-of-the-syrian-city-of-palmyra-who-was-devoted-to-studying-and-protecting-its-treasures-10464467.html

This whole discussion seems to be predicated on there being 'good' religions and 'bad' religions - a distinction I find impossible to ascertain and frankly disingenuous. Using faith, any faith, as justification for good or bad just diverts from the proper question - why are some humans capable of such things?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 09:33

nordmann wrote:
When logic and reason are poisoned by anti-intellectual "faith" the outcome is difficult to predict.


Again, I agree. But I am glad you put "faith" in inverted commas. All thinking people of faith - or no faith - must condemn the destruction of the temple and the murder of Khaled al-Asaad.

Surely we recognise that such atrocities are not about faith at all: this is all about power-hungry, opportunistic (I want to add "evil", too, but that won't do, I suppose) narcissists of the worst type: lying fascists who hide behind an "Islamic" face. It is grossly unfair on the millions of decent, compassionate, thinking Muslims to suggest otherwise.


ferval wrote:
Using faith, any faith, as justification for good or bad just diverts from the proper question - why are some humans capable of such things?


Indeed. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard hearts, as Shakespeare put it? You tell me, because I am baffled.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 09:46

Again, I agree. But I am glad you put "faith" in inverted commas. All thinking people of faith - or no faith - must condemn the destruction of the temple and the murder of Khaled al-Asaad.

But that's just not true, the nature of faith means that those who believe that both that destruction and the murder are justified by their faith must applaud those acts.

Indeed. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard hearts, as Shakespeare put it? You tell me, because I am baffled.

And surely, from that persective, the truly altruistic things that people do are just as baffling as the cruel?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 09:56

I put faith in inverted commas because if one doesn't then it is erroneously assumed that it has intrinsic meaning and validity as a philosophical precept in its own right. It doesn't. "Faith" is a euphemism for not thinking things through, and not wishing to either. "Faith" will inevitably justify ignorance. It is unavoidable. Worse, it will equally inevitably protect ignorance against assault by intelligence, reason and logic. Promoting ignorance cannot be a good thing.

If you don't take things "on faith" then you are obliged to examine their validity and even explain them in terms that do not themselves invite others to accept the explanations "on faith". In terms of reason there is nothing demonstrably valid that is taken "on faith" alone. It is no wonder that those who would have us believe otherwise, the same people who place such a high value on their own ignorance, equate reason with tyranny.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 10:04

nordman wrote:
"Faith" is a euphemism for not thinking things through, and not wishing to either. Faith" will inevitably justify ignorance.


I see. So I've been justifying ignorance all these years, have I? Thanks for that, nordmann.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 11:07

Well, when one says that a portion of the universe is unknowable, something of which we are forever destined to be ignorant, which can only be understood as articles of faith and not through reason, and that this state of affairs is down to some kind of divine decree, then this is just about as profound a justification for ignorance as one can make, is it not?

I prefer Marcus Aurelius's take on it, which is really just the old Stoic one. The Fates makes us curious. The Fates decree that our curiosity can never be totally satiated in our brief time here. The Fates are right bastards. But at least learning this much - thanks to the Fates - constitutes wisdom in human terms. It is ok to accept the unknowable as long as one realises it's down to physical constraints on our existence, not gods. Using gods to explain what is a natural limitation is simply false, and in fact can only be prosecuted as an explanation if it is enforced through a propagation of further ignorance.

Where MA departed from the standard religious defence of ignorance and even from the Stoic take on gods was to draw a logical conclusion from the equation. If a person could theoretically live for ever then their knowledge would constantly grow, but it would never be totally satiated, at least based on our experience so far as mortals. If it could be satiated however then the universe - and the gods within it - are finite constructs. This rules out the "for ever" part and the only constant is the thirst for actual knowledge. Any religion that attempts to slake that thirst with glib made-up answers is therefore anti-human and in fact anti-universe. Gods who nominally support this process are therefore also anti-human and anti-universe.

He had a big problem with monotheistic religions in his day. We do still.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 11:59

I think you have changed your post a couple of times ???? which has confused me. I can't find the quote I was going to respond to. Or am I going crazy and imagining things? Always a possibility.

I have spent my adult life trying to combat ignorance - and intolerance and unkindness - hence my mardy response. With how much success that battle was fought is most definitely open to question.

But, alas, if we say we have no sin - or, if you prefer, no ignorance - we deceive ourselves. No doubt I do indeed deceive myself, but I really do try not to deceive others.

Dear Marcus Aurelius - impossible to fault him. And of his equestrian statue which stands in the Piazza Campidoglio in Rome, Henry James wrote that "in the capital of Christendom, the portrait most suggestive of a Christian conscience is that of a pagan emperor."

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 12:11

The equestrian statue only survived early Christian destruction because they allegedly thought it was Constantine for a long time. When it comes to willful destruction of unwelcome icons Islamic State can still learn a thing or three from reading Christian history.

But almost as seriously - when did sin and ignorance become synonyms? Willful ignorance comes close to as grave a sin as one can commit in my book but ignorance itself is like atheism, a natural and completely amoral state of affairs. No matter how knowledgeable one is there always has to be much more of which one is ignorant. Just as no matter how theist one purports to be it is equally unavoidable (thanks to boundless past human invention) to be atheist according to someone else's rules.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 12:20

Sigh, there's no winning here, is there?

Can I be a Deist, then? Is that allowed? Voltaire was a Deist, wasn't he? From Wiki -

Like other key Enlightenment thinkers, Voltaire was a deist, expressing the idea: "What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason."[46][47] Voltaire held mixed views of the Abrahamic religions but had a favourable view of Hinduism.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 24 Aug 2015, 12:31

Voltaire is having a go at faith itself in that passage. He goes on "Faith consists in believing not what seems true, but what seems false to our understanding. The Asiatics can only by faith believe the journey of Mahomet to the seven planets, and the incarnations of the god Fo, of Vishnu, Xaca, Brahma, and Sommonocodom. They submit their understandings; they tremble to examine: wishing to avoid being either impaled or burned, they say: “I believe.”"

He also cheated. When he said "evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme and intelligent being" he infers that he has examined evidence. All he meant was that he was open to the idea. Not the same. Naughty Voltaire, though I can see why you would quote him. A lot of people never have read the whole chapter he wrote on faith.

Divine faith, about which so much has been written, is evidently nothing more than incredulity brought under subjection, for we certainly have no other faculty than the understanding by which we can believe; and the objects of faith are not those of the understanding.

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