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Passions in Poetry

Is Religion a Virus of the Mind?

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Local Rebel
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50 posted 02-14-2004 11:38 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

But even if none are tenable Stephen it would still not preclude a higher being, or many higher beings.

It would merely suggest what we already know to be indicated -- that our limited perception changes as our body of knowledge increases.

Faith also implies its' sister -- doubt.  And, doubt is good.
Brad
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51 posted 02-14-2004 11:56 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
But there are some who cannot even begin to ask which theistic belief system may be right, until they begin to believe that there can be one, or there might be one, or begin to suspect that naturalism has considerable problems of it's own.


Cruising some of the evolution forums and evolution/creationist debate forums, you may have a point. At one place, they even talked about sending invitation letters to creationist organizations to bring in more 'fodder'. Don't know if it was enacted, but it certainly poses some problems for someone like me. Witness the Dawkins debacle on "From a Frog to a Prince" -- respectable debate and giving the benefit of the doubt just aren't in large supply these days.

And what's the deal with Darwin Day? I smiled when I realized what was happening but when a friend asked in complete sincerity, "Aren't there people who worship Charles Darwin?"  I realized that this just can't be the right way to expound a naturalist position.
Brad
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52 posted 02-15-2004 02:39 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Really wasn't looking for this, wife and daughter are asleep and just doing some random reading, but here it is:
http://secularhumanism.org/library/fi/dawkins_21_3.html

quote:
By far the largest of the four categories is "ignorant," and ignorance is no crime (nor is it bliss—I forget who it was said, "If ignorance is bliss, how come there's so much misery about?"). Anybody who thinks Joe DiMaggio was a cricketer has to be ignorant, stupid, or insane (probably ignorant), and you wouldn't think me arrogant for saying so. It is not intolerant to remark that flat-earthers are ignorant, stupid, or (probably) insane. It's just true. The difference is that not many people think Joe DiMaggio was a cricketer, or that the Earth is flat, so it isn't worth calling attention to their ignorance.


Essorant
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53 posted 02-15-2004 01:27 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

What is the point of living and believing in anything when all things that make us sacred must only be in our head or beyond us?

Brad
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54 posted 02-15-2004 07:41 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Essorant,

Questions like that just baffle me. It's like saying, "What is the point of living and believing if we aren't Gandalf?"
Essorant
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55 posted 02-16-2004 01:35 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Ancient barbarians were the foremost founders of Spirit-seeking, and bearers of religion before it had a name; and then perfectionists came and usurped spirituality and forced it all into a seperate house to be detached from nature and natural bodies and glazed with perfectionism; that soon scientists would force as being all only in mind's headquarters.  And now basically nothing sacred is left "outside"  Everything is cramped and isolated into centers of the head or put into special houses and books or in remote places detached from nature.  
The early barbarians for all the ubiquitious ruthlessness and migratory physical lives seemed at least able to be agreeable and constant in their beliefs.  And at least they were able to uphold a spirit and nature that were interwoven.  And worship them at the same time.  That now seems much more ever than the fragmented fanciers of religions and naturalisms may do today segregating everything.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (02-16-2004 08:31 PM).]

Tais
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56 posted 02-17-2004 08:34 AM       View Profile for Tais   Email Tais   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Tais's Home Page   View IP for Tais

Religion is a belief, where there are rules, or laws which guide us on the belief of a certain religion.
Religion is suppose to guide, and make a happy and satisfying path in life for those who believe.
Religion is the gathering of people with the same beliefs.
Religion is a word given to a certain line of beliefs, or a 'basis' thought of life and destiny of the human being, and our relationship with God.

Those are my understandings of religion, in my words.

Virus is something which spreads quickly without us wanting it to, or becomes dormant. Virus is considered something which destroys, when we think of computer virus, virus which makes humans ill or kills them.

I don't see any connection at all between virus and religion, neither any connection between virus and the mind.

We don't know our minds completely. But we do know that it has conscious and unconscious states - which are divided into several other things, according to each different theory.
And we do know that we need to want or desire something to go after it (free will). So, if our mind 'go after' what we believe in or want to believe in, then religion cannot be a virus.

Some people say they don't believe in anything. That is not true. There is always something they will believe in. Either they believe in themselves, others, things...they do believe in something.

A necessity is not considered a virus. It is a necessity for the human being to believe in something.

Religion only gathers those with the same belief. But no one is obligated to believe in what others believe in - again, free will.

Religion gives us the opportunity to connect with the heart (feelings), the mind and the soul (spirit). Whether people think that the spirit is part of the mind or not, does not matter. There is obviously a full connection between 'something' within us, when we believe. It's a good feeling, it's satisfying and it's a necessity. But definitely not a virus.

Tais
Stephanos
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57 posted 02-17-2004 02:21 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Logic didn't exist until the Greeks invented it.



if A then B

A = something exists

B = it is always defined or named


That's not logical.

Was logic invented or discovered?
Was math invented or discovered?
Logic is not an arbitrary construct, though we do it imperfectly.


Stephen.

Stephanos
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58 posted 02-17-2004 02:58 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Questions like that just baffle me. It's like saying, "What is the point of living and believing if we aren't Gandalf?"



I might rephrase that to ask, "What is the point of living and believing if we aren't in a world that is similar to Middle Earth".  That's not such a baffling question really, even though Tolkien's world is fictional and Earth is real.  Middle Earth was made by a personal being (read in the Simarillion).  Good and Evil were real and personal forces.  There were things like honor and disgrace that were more than arbitrary feelings.  There were larger distinctions which gave even a simple life in the Shire, a real honor and dignity.  So everyone didn't have to be Gandalf, but shared his world.


If all such thoughts are merely "in our head", if the whole of reality is mechanistic through and through, and our little flicker of rational thought cannot be shown to be universal in any way, then Essorant's question may hold more weight that you think.  


If "meaning" and "purpose" are just more examples of chemically caused feelings, then what is there to qualify them?  On a reflective level, I too have asked, if the naturalist were right, what purpose or obligation is there to life?  What is the import of continuing in the dance, if there's no tune to dance to?  The existentialists weren't able to really answer this question.  The only thing offered in response since Jean Paul Sartre and others has been something like, "Just keep busy and don't ask, we weren't meant to".


BTW,

I'm a lover of Tolkien's work.
I thought some of you might be interested in an audio lecture called "Ten insights on Evil from Lord of the Rings" by Peter Kreeft.

It might have some bearing on our previous thread about whether or not Evil exists  The link is to download the Mp3 file, which is 13.6 Megs ... kind of a large file, but worth it.

http://www.peterkreeft.com/audio/04_lord-of-the-rings/ten-insights-on-evil.mp3


Stephen.  
serenity blaze
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59 posted 02-17-2004 05:44 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Well.

This is taking forever to download--but what the heck? shrug, I got nothin' but time.



and thanks for the link Stephan. I know someone else who is going to be very interested in this.
Vagabond
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60 posted 02-17-2004 06:22 PM       View Profile for Vagabond   Email Vagabond   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Vagabond

i like this(mp3) i'm only 4:01 into it

Vagabon the Lost One

Brad
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61 posted 02-17-2004 08:16 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I don't have any problems with guidance whether you find it in the Bible or Lord of the Rings. I have a problem when that guidance is left unquestioned. I have a problem when you are told not to question.

The basic virus thesis here as I understand it is an attempt to describe religion without an intentional stance. A computer virus or a biological virus does not have intent. They aren't trying to kill you or hurt your computer, it is a consequence of what they do (reproduce themselves) that these things take place.

A basic defense of religion is that it doesn't want to hurt people or that it wants to help people above and beyond material needs (As an idea, of course, this is correct, it has no intent). One consequence of this belief is that people die, people let others die, people give away their money etc. etc. It is not intended (from the idea's point of view), and yet it happens.

Again and again, "But that's not God's fault," or "It is God's will," or "It is not for us to question the ways of God (or the Church)."

The first two statements presume to know the will of God, the third says that we can't know and shouldn't ask. The first two provide, not for infinite justice, but for infinite justification (and really, really scare me). Berengar tells me that someone else has said that, but I don't know who.

Yet, the third mirrors Sartre's call not to question, as Stephan puts it. I'm not sure where Sartre actually says such a thing, but I do think that's how Stephan sees existentialism.

After all, when Alvin P. states that he doesn't have to have a theory in order to counter another belief, isn't he being just a wee bit disingenuous there? He may not have a theory but he does have a belief.

God did it. And that's enough for him.

Should it be enough for any of us?

Local Rebel
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62 posted 02-17-2004 09:38 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

perspective Stephen... perspective my friend...  

... Logic is only logical because we think it is... it constantly creates paradoxes and is therefore, not logical...

Essorant
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63 posted 02-17-2004 09:45 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Logic needs to be in moderation too
Local Rebel
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64 posted 02-17-2004 09:53 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

almost forgot

Bertrand Russell --
quote:

“In most universities, the beginner in logic is still taught the doctrine of the syllogism, which is useless and complicated,
and an obstacle to a sound understanding of logic.

If you wish to become a logician … Do NOT learn the traditional formal logic.

To teach [the doctrine of the syllogism] in the present day is a ridiculous piece of antiquarianism.”



We wouldn't say that about basic math -- every student needs to know 2+2=4(excepting for extremely large quantities of 2).

Is logic improving or are we just discovering more dimensions of it?

If it is improving then it is an invention... it is improving -- getting fuzzy even...

But of course that's just a variant of the syllogism.

When logic is perfected it may look a lot like emotion.
Stephanos
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65 posted 02-19-2004 12:58 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Logic is only logical because we think it is... it constantly creates paradoxes and is therefore, not logical...



"Logic is only logical because we think it is", is itself based upon logical syllogism.

Reductio ad absurdum:

If logic is only logical because we "think it is", then illogic would also be logical whenever we think it is.  But no matter if someone thinks they can walk out of their house through the front door, and yet at the same time remain in their house, they never can pull it off.


quote:
But of course that's just a variant of the syllogism.



That's my point.  Logic is the ONLY tool you have available wherewith to debunk logic.  If it's illogical, you've accused yourself of invalid thought.  If you want to qualify yourself by saying that thought doesn't have to be logical to be valid, then you've opened (or closed) the door to everything else.  In which case you haven't much to say.


I'm doubtful of how many logicians would agree with what Bertie said in that quote.  But consider this:


quote:
When one of his audience said, 'Convince me that logic is useful,' he said,

'Would you have me demonstrate it?'

'Yes.'

'Well, then, must I not use a demonstrative argument'?

And, when the other agreed, he said, 'How then shall you know if I impose upon you?'  And when the man had no answer, he said 'You see how you yourself admit that logic is necessary, if without it you are not even able to learn this much- whether it is necessary or not.'

(Discourses of Epictetus)



But I think you may have missed my point.  I wasn't trying to deny that logic has it's limitations.  Rather, I was trying to show that when a pre-Greek person understood that he couldn't hunt and sleep at the same time, even though he wanted to do both, he was at that moment participating in informal logic.  It was certainly not invented, only later defined and named in various ways.  And it is certainly irreducible and necessary, since you yourself probably can't count how many times you use it (consciously or not) in a day.  That's very different from something that is like emotion, sentimental and sometimes not based in reality.


Stephen.  
Stephanos
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66 posted 02-19-2004 01:10 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Well.
This is taking forever to download--but what the heck? shrug, I got nothin' but time.



on dial-up Serenity?

DSL has spoiled me, and I would never want to go back to that "download while you sleep" thing.  


Stephen.  
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67 posted 02-19-2004 04:07 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

shaking my head but grinning, Stephan--I am persistant. Or is that stubborn?



there's fine lines everywhere I tell ya.



You boys go back to your discussion now. I'll just sit back here quietly and download.

(It's been what, 3 days now?)

Local Rebel
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68 posted 02-19-2004 10:03 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Methinks we may have strayed a little too far off the path here Stephan... can you imagine that?  Us?  

I agree with you.

I also disagree.

Logical?

You bet...

To an extent Aristotle's logic is a good example of entropy -- it seems to be ordered but it is really gravitating to higher disorder.

Illogic may indeed be logical -- but, we'd never know it -- our brains are only formatted to handle the kind of logic that results in singularities (which -- happens in math too).

These are just tools we're using to try to describe reality -- but they aren't the reality they are describing -- even though they are necessarily a part of it... see... syllogisms abound.  

You may have an interest at some point, if you have the time, to study fuzzy logic a little bit.  Which is what I was referencing above -- it is more flexible -- and like human intelligence -- is capable of reaching conclusions with incomplete data -- which is why I say it looks a lot like emotion.

I have to fall back again to my Einsteinian agnosticism -- God may not require logic -- or even intellect as we understand it -- who knows?
Local Rebel
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69 posted 02-19-2004 10:14 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Brad;

quote:

A basic defense of religion is that it doesn't want to hurt people or that it wants to help people above and beyond material needs (As an idea, of course, this is correct, it has no intent). One consequence of this belief is that people die, people let others die, people give away their money etc. etc. It is not intended (from the idea's point of view), and yet it happens.



I'm not sure that we can attribute those results to the idea though -- in the cases where it is true the idea was just the weapon of choice -- or negligence -- whichever the case may be -- those things all happen without religion too -- we may blame human nature -- but not the idea -- per se.  eh?

But, I agree with the rest.
Brad
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70 posted 02-20-2004 08:40 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I'm not sure I understand what you mean LR. The basic of the virus metaphor is that it doesn't have to have intent in order to cause harm. You're certainly right that many with an intent to cause harm (dupe others etc.) use religion for that, they'll also use the rhetoric of science for the same thing (the picture of the Old West snake salesman and his scientific potions for example), but while I think we can make a distinction between the claims of science and science itself, can we do the same for religion.

That is, can we make a distinction between the claims of religion and religion itself? Rethinking this, I might condense the definition of a virus into just two points:

1. Unquestioned faith in one authority regardless of other evidential considerations.  If infected, you wouldn't condsider a second opinion, of if you did, you would consider it blasphemous.

2. A need to spread this unquestioned faith by any means not explicitly banned by that authority. However, that authority is spiritual, or speaks with spiritual authority, and so any action can, in principle, be licensed.

If you want to argue that the virus can be extended into other areas (nationalism, dialectical materialism immediately come to mind), I would agree, but why must we always exonerate relgion for its faults?
Brad
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71 posted 02-20-2004 08:47 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephan,

I don't believe that orgin is essence. I simply see no reason to worry that say love of my wife or daughter, a respect for healthy discussion, an admiration for people who take risks for the sake of others are any less if their origins are biological or cultural rather than spiritual.

In my world, the bad guys can win and we have to be more vigilent as a result. I just don't trust, "It will all work out in the end, just have faith."
Ron
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72 posted 02-20-2004 10:18 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
1. Unquestioned faith in one authority regardless of other evidential considerations.  If infected, you wouldn't condsider a second opinion, of if you did, you would consider it blasphemous.

2. A need to spread this unquestioned faith by any means not explicitly banned by that authority. However, that authority is spiritual, or speaks with spiritual authority, and so any action can, in principle, be licensed.

You're describing a clichéd stereotype, Brad. Like the naïve academic or the absent-minded scientist, the reality is rarely as simple as the perception.
Local Rebel
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73 posted 02-20-2004 10:50 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I'm strictly referencing Brad the part of the quote where you attribute the consequence to the belief.  It, to me, seems like attributing a murder to a gun.

I like your revisions better -- but like Ron -- I think it's only true in some cases -- and it's those cases where you see me poking at religion with a stick -- I don't exhonorate it at all -- I give it credit where it deserves it -- and I decimate it where I think it's wrong (don't I?)

Not all Christians are flat earthers, not all oppose gay rights, not all are strict creationists -- just like all of Islam is not on a Jihad.

If you take, for example, the post-exhilic period in Hebrew history -- you'll see men bending the faith of their fathers, blending it with Zorostrianism, and carrying out what looks a lot like genocide to 'redeem' Isreal.. (in Ezra and Nehamiah)... we can't really say that the idea was the cause because there was no basis in the idea for what they were doing -- they twisted the idea to turn it into a rabid nationalism... but the Bible also contains the protest literature -- Ruth and Jonah -- that fly in the face of Ezra and Nehamiah and loudly proclaim -- 'nationalism and racism are stupid'.

Local Rebel
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74 posted 02-20-2004 11:40 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I think my ultimate view on the topic would be that religion is probably more analagous to an Operating System than a virus.

It's the Doctor Watsons you have to be scared of.
 
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