Previous posts in this discussion:
PostHow Are Deities Business-Savvy? (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 05/12/19 4:35 am)
After my post of May 9th, JE stated he could "see the political acumen of the traditional deities, but how are they business-savvy? Are you referring to the profit of the priestly classes/castes?"
John, I have a deal for you: If with deep faith you really believe in my words, sacred books and rituals, support our religious organization with 10 percent of your income, go visit our sacred monuments, etc. I promise you will go to heaven (or equivalent) where you will live forever among your loved ones in whatever wonderful conditions you desire (bliss, 92 virgins, feasting in Valhalla, etc.). Oh, and don't forget, if you happen to be a bad boy, don't worry I can sell you dispensations for a very reasonable sum. Also if when called you kill our religion's infidel or liberate sacred places...
The whole setup is so obvious that only my early brainwashing and ignorance did not allow me to see it sooner. My theory is that when homo sapiens first existed, they were intelligent (could notice patterns, were imaginative and creative, etc.) but had very little knowledge. Such conditions are perfectly conducive to fear of the unknown and being manipulated by superstitious and/or devious people. As mankind's knowledge grew, so did the complexity of the world to the point that mankind is still bewildered about what to do. So we today follow the wrong paths, love superstitions, choose the wrong leaders, and neglect the necessary factors for prosperity in the long run.
JE comments: Tor, in your second paragraph, aren't you conflating the actual deities with their earthly representatives? Organized/institutional religions, to be sure, must follow solid business practices or face extinction.
Faith v. Business v. Politics
(David Duggan, USA
05/13/19 3:57 AM)
I have hesitated to opine on this question of faith v. business v. politics because unlike business or politics, I don't believe that faith can be learned. It can only be shared. You can go to Harvard Business School and become reasonably competent in a business setting. You can go to the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton (horrors), and become reasonably competent at international affairs (or at least competent enough to earn a living). But you could spend a lifetime at a seminary or monastery, and if you don't have faith, a baseline belief that there is a power outside yourself which you can neither define nor control, you're wasting your time.
Somehow, as readers of my Glimpses of Grace, Reflections of a Life in Christ (WestBow 2013) would realize, I have been given that gift, and have been privileged to share it with others. To some it has fallen on deaf ears (the Parable of the Sower comes to mind), but others have been encouraged, challenged and maybe even caused to re-think their prior assumptions. For this I am grateful, as it is only through sharing these experiences and insights that the faith grows.
Let me try an example. I have traded stock options for the last 10 years or so, but stock options have been around at least since the 19th century when Daniel Drew and Jay Gould traded them privately to squeeze out other owners of railroads (some not so successfully). It was only in the 1970s that "listed options" became traded on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. The question became how to price them (unlike the New York Stock Exchange with its system of specialists who are required to create an orderly market, the CBOE is a pure auction market, with buyers and sellers agreeing on a price). Along came mathematician Fischer Black and economist Myron Scholes (at the University of Chicago, where else) whose "Black-Scholes" method of pricing options became standard fare at business schools. The point is that this was an example of pure intellectual inquiry, backed by empirical observation from a real market.
By contrast, consider the number of bust-out seminarians or gurus whose contributions to the well-being of society have been decidedly negative (Josip Visarijonovič Džugašvili, later Stalin; Grigori Rasputin; guru Rajneesh-he of the 93 Rolls-Royces at an Oregon ashram). Whatever they learned in their formative years was desecrated by their later actions. Some may still follow or respect these leaders, but the movements which they started or fostered can be found on the ash heap of history. Their faith, such as it was, was dashed on the altars of self-indulgence, paranoia, and venality. Anyone who tried to follow their examples of faith would have been sorely disappointed.
There may or not be an inanimate world, a world beyond our senses, a world of beginnings before time. It may have been created by a loving God purely for His pleasure, Who thought in his infinite wisdom that He would bestow on mere mortals the ability to discern good from evil and right from wrong (otherwise sin). That God cannot be found in the heavens or in the libraries or in the laboratories. He can only be found by looking within, and that search cannot be assisted by any man-made tool.
JE comments: I believe David Duggan has solved our "Jesuit mystery." Why do some indoctrinees reject and others embrace the theologies they are taught? Perhaps because matters of faith cannot be taught.
Maybe it's as simple as this: Some possess the "God Gene" and others don't.
The "Gift" of Faith, and an Encounter at Starbucks (from Gary Moore)
(John Eipper, USA
05/15/19 4:29 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
I'm going to hazard a response to David Duggan's note of May 13th,
which articulately says that faith, meaning religious faith, as
exampled by his own deep faith, is a gift.
I think I may agree,
in that "gift" has metaphorical enormity to take in the unknown.
A gift sets apart its recipient from those who don't get it, and
this is the mystery we've been exploring: Why can some people
so deeply believe in what others don't find believable? As we've
seen in this thread, mere religious indoctrination is not the answer,
since it causes many to rebel and scoff at the stage props behind the
curtain, while others emerge profoundly engaged...
Oops--just as I was typing these words, in a peaceful Starbucks store,
a voice said hello and I looked up to see a very intelligent acquaintance, Tim Guess,
who is also an evangelical missionary in Central America. He asked what
I was writing about, and immediately the deep question of why some of
us believe could be explored through a living, impressively bright source.
He said when he had come to belief he found a great peace, a "resting,"
with a very solid confidence. But was it cultural? Had he been born under
Islam, could a very similar-looking "resting" have come with different labels?
He said, just as calmly and thoughtfully as before, that only Jesus rose from
the grave. But how did he know that? There were 500 witnesses, he said.
I kept things off the road of "Yeah, but..." and said it still looked to me like
some people have a gift for coming to the great sense of rightness that can
make such a difference in life. Well, I do confess I wasn't able to resist asking
him about the Holy Ghost and three-in-one. He seemed more or less to say
this is a mystery we should accept because it's reasonable--reasonable to him.
So back to Square One.
My larger point here, though, is quite different: I said to my sudden source
that I agreed with him about many of the ways of faith, in that this very
moment, our sudden conversation, could be looked at as a confirmation.
But to me it confirms the profoundness of our ignorance about the ways our own
elusive minds are part of whatever it might be that we choose to label as being ineluctibly
larger--a something whose obscure but occasionally startling ways very much include
our own mental machinations. Of course Tim knew the answer to that one, too,
but was too polite to proselytize me on it.
Is it really as simple as all of us being lost in the great wood, and some seeing more specific
shapes than others? Reaching this question gives me a sense of peace, a sort of resting.
JE comments: The God Gene? Agnostics and atheists often assume, even if they don't say it, that True Believers are naïve at best, simple-minded at worst. Yet there's no correlation between measurable intelligence and religious conviction. Or is there? One can Google a number of studies such as the following in Psychology Today. One of the conclusions: intelligent people are less likely to conform.
(You've found a peaceful Starbucks, Gary? If so, I recommend you keep the location secret.)
Religion, Man, and the Forest
(John Heelan, UK
05/15/19 1:41 PM)
Gary Moore asked on 15 May: "Is it really as simple as all of us being lost in the great wood, and some seeing more specific shapes than others?"
Oh yes, the old wood analogy! I remember a feminist quote, "If a man is alone in a wood, is any decision he makes intrinsically wrong?" The answer is a scornful "of course!"
JE comments: I am reminded of my favorite student interpretation (ever) of a Pablo Neruda poem. Neruda's iconic "Walking Around" begins with the statement: "Sucede que me canso de ser hombre/It just so happens I'm tired of being a man." Why? The answer is simple: the poet wants to be a woman.
The Forest, Dante, and Non-Sequiturs (from Gary Moore)
(John Eipper, USA
05/17/19 4:41 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
As to my analogy about being lost in the great wood, I'm glad
John Heelan (May 15) was struck by that question, but I thought
the reference would be perhaps too obvious to Dante.
I'm at sea
(or at wood?) as to how both Johns have seemed to take it toward
feminism. Because of one sentence with a forest metaphor? I've got
to get out of the 14th century and wake up and smell the coffee.
("Hey, wow, look at that flying saucer!" "Yeah, reminds me of a dog
I had once...")
JE comments: But Gary, some of the best WAIS discussions begin as non-sequiturs! Still, I urge us to return to the topic at hand: Cute Animals in Socks:
Polari, A-Slang, Backslang
(John Heelan, UK
05/18/19 4:42 AM)
Gary Moore responded (17 May) about non sequiturs.
Having had to study dead languages like Latin and Greek as a teenager, I am comforted that language creation still thrives, such as reported in Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain's Secret Gay Language, by Paul Baker, 1 Jul 2019.
As teenagers we sometimes hid our conversations from parents and others in authority by using "A-slang," "Backslang" and other disguised languages. Some of my family were Cockneys, born and bred, and automatically used the first words of rhyming slang, e.g. trouble (and strife)=wife, plates of meat=feet, barnet fair=hair, boat race=face, apples and pears=stairs.
A frequently used pejorative borrowed from Yiddish was "bleedin' schnorrer" when somebody was describing somebody else who has upset them in some way.
JE comments: How is it that after a lifetime's fascination with language, I never heard of Polari? It's not just a language of the gay culture, but is shared by other marginalized groups: circus performers, merchant sailors, criminals and prostitutes (per Wikipedia). It borrows heavily from Italian (polari from parlare), Romani, Yiddish, and Cockney rhyming slang. Wikipedia gives a fairly complete glossary:
The Paul Baker book is dated July 2019--I presume that means it's forthcoming? You can pre-order on Amazon.
- Ric Mauricio Explains the Trinity (John Eipper, USA 05/21/19 4:14 AM)
Ric Mauricio writes:
The essay "Why Are Religious People (Generally) Less Intelligent?" is very interesting. (John E appended it to Gary Moore's post of May 15th: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mr-personality/201312/why-are-religious-people-generally-less-intelligent )
It actually puts into writing my opinion of religionists in general. But I have to be careful not to think I am more intelligent than my Christian (or any other religion) friends just because I am more questioning. That could lead to arrogance. I just have to smile, when they always end the discussions with "you just have to believe."
But let me attempt to explain to Gary my take on the Holy Trinity. To me it is not a mystery, but most religionists fail to comprehend the true meaning of the Holy Trinity. God the father (or as Tor would put it, God the universe) is the universe and everything that makes up the universe, from the smallest grain of sand to the largest stars (and yes, everything is made up of very micro atomic particles; totally blows my mind, this scientific stuff). God the man is the physical manifestation of an intelligent being created by these subatomic particles. Yes, it is possible that there are other beings just as intelligent as humans, although I am finding that intelligent may be an overused adjective these days. OK, so they might be missing the third branch of the Trinity. God the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is enlightenment (ah yes, Zen and Buddhism share this concept). A question I asked my Buddhist mechanic as I pointed out his statue of the Buddha, complete with burning incense: isn't the Buddha something that exists within us? He smiled, and said "ah yes, you understand." When the disciples were suddenly beset upon by the Holy Spirit, it transformed them from the scared disciples of Christ to brave men willing to face martyrdom.
Being a non-conformist or as I like to call myself, a gadfly, I will always question the prevalent opinion of the group. Yeah, gets me into a lot of hot water.
JE comments: Could we describe Buddhism as the ultimate articulation of the Holy Spirit? Ric Mauricio does an admirable job of synthesizing the world's religions. I have nothing profound to add here, so I'll close with a nod to OSHA: with all the solvents and oily rags around, isn't it a really bad idea to burn incense in a mechanic's shop?
- Why Hypocrisy in Organized Religion? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 05/14/19 1:25 PM)
Commenting on my post of May 12th, JE questioned the notion that whatever a god was defined to be or stood for according to his/her followers, is the same as the followers' behavior and what they say it is.
Except for God the Universe which everyone can see exists, can be studied and measured by any observer, all other gods exist in whatever form (rules for behavior) only in the minds of their followers. The followers become the god. Whoever found a particular religion imagines whatever god they want to suit their purposes here on Earth. They create the god and the god then tells the followers what behavior is appropriate or not. The behavior of the followers is the true representation of the particular god. If the followers say or write in their sacred books that their god stands for peace but they engage in war, the peace god does not exist except as empty words. Thus we have always had and forever will have huge amounts of hypocrisy in every organized religion.
Without at least one follower, for all the hundreds of religions throughout history and before, the particular religion disappears. The Universe is the only thing (I call It God) which I believe will live forever in some form. If I am wrong about this and the Universe will end someday, I also merely imagined that It will live forever, and this notion will disappear without a believer.
JE comments: Here's a "tree falls in the forest" riddle: do "dead" religions cease to be religions? Why not? There are no more Cathars (I think), but no one doubts the religion's existence.
Thoughts on "Dead" Religions
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
05/16/19 4:07 AM)
JE commented on my post of May 14th: "Here's a 'tree falls in the forest' riddle: do 'dead' religions cease to be religions? Why not? There are no more Cathars (I think), but no one doubts the religion's existence."
I see a big difference. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, in reality a tree did fall and the air molecules vibrated violently, even though no one's ears were there to pick up the vibrations.
On the other hand, if the followers of the religion based on the Sun god all died out, so did the religion. What is left is people talking and writing about this ancient and anachronistic religion which existed once upon a time. We have conclusive evidence that the Sun is a common star, it has never been a god, so the Sun god was merely superstition. This religion exists on in the history books, just like unicorns, medusa, and centaurs.
JE comments: We should discuss further the topic of "dead" religions. Even the most obscure religion of antiquity probably has a practitioner or two. Religions are easier to bring back than dead languages. Also, nobody embraces a different language out of a sense of spiritual emptiness.
And yes--Catharism has been revived. Just ask them:
Thoughts on Revived Religions
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
06/02/19 2:40 AM)
My post of 16 May proposed that if the followers of the religion based on the Sun god all died out, all that is left is people talking and writing about this ancient and anachronistic religion which existed once upon a time. Such religion was based on a false belief, because there is conclusive evidence that the Sun is a common star, it is a false god, and merely superstition. With the truth, this religion now should exist only in the history books, like unicorns, medusa, and centaurs.
JE commented that Catharism has now been revived and that "even the most obscure religion of antiquity probably has a practitioner or two. Religions are easier to bring back than dead languages. Also, nobody embraces a different language out of sense of spiritual emptiness."
It is true that any belief can be revived and that just like a drug can even make followers feel different, and motivate good or evil behavior. Beliefs based on imaginary gods will lead to uncontrollable behavior. If the belief is true in reality, then it will become useful for humans to solve real problems like curing diseases, going to the planets, creating whole new industries, etc. That is the important difference between false religions and a God is the Universe religion. It is also true that real knowledge can be used for evil deeds by people following false gods.
JE comments: An interesting paradox: followers of institutional religions argue that they keep humanity from committing barbarous acts ("evil deeds"), yet critics argue exactly the opposite, citing all the suffering caused throughout history by zealous religionists. I see no way to reconcile these conflicting positions.
Religion, Non-Religion, and Morality
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
06/02/19 11:33 PM)
Commenting on my post of June 2nd, JE stated it is a paradox that "followers of institutional religions argue that they keep humanity from committing barbarous acts ('evil deeds'), yet critics argue exactly the opposite, citing all the suffering caused throughout history by zealous religionists. I see no way to reconcile these conflicting positions."
There is no paradox, just misinterpretation. Organized religions are designed to keep their followers within the stated laws of the group but apparently have great difficulty maintaining morals and ethical behavior among their followers. On the other hand, organized religions normally believe they are doing god's work, and thus are always right. The other religions are misguided at best and dead wrong at worst; their followers are all going to hell or oblivion. Thus, we have had numerous atrocities and wars in the name of god against the followers of alternative man-made religions.
The only way to reconcile all religions is to replace the ones based on man-made gods with one which is based on the universally observable God. Unfortunately, as I have recently learned, most humans prefer fantasy and superstition, not logic and reasoning. As stated earlier, I believe this is so because humans are relatively very imaginative compared to their lack of discipline and laziness acquiring new knowledge about the universe. In other words, voodoo is fun and science is boring. Should we be surprised our education system is going to the dogs?
JE comments: My point was a simple one: religions offer codes of morality. Let me cite one beyond the obvious candidates of "don't kill/don't steal": laws against usury. Would "God the Universe" have anything to say about exploitative levels of interest?
Religion and Usury
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
06/05/19 1:11 AM)
JE commented on my post of June 3rd: "Religions offer codes of morality. Let me cite one beyond the obvious candidates of 'don't kill/don't steal': laws against usury. Would Tor Guimaraes's concept of 'God the Universe' have anything to say about exploitative levels of interest?"
Any codes of behavior are useless if the supposedly followers don't behave accordingly. That is my number two reason why organized religions are useless: people don't do what they preach. Worse, because we all know that is true but ignore the reasons why, everyone else's religion becomes a focus of derision and sometimes even hatred.
Regarding rules against usury, it is a man-made issue created because we invented money and charge for the use of money over time, society should decide what is a fair interest. The Golden Rule of not doing to others... applies in general, otherwise God has nothing to do with it. The same goes for any unethical and immoral behavior, crimes, war, etc. They are all man-made and it is wrong to bring God into it. That is why knowingly humans developed whole books of law, ethics, rules, and regulations.
JE comments: I'm presently reading WAISer Muqtedar Khan's excellent new book, Islam and Good Governance (https://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=124273&objectTypeId=90023&topicId=175 ). Muqtedar's exploration of Ihsan (perfection in Muslim theology) delves deeply into the concept of hypocrisy. Rest assured that serious theologians of established/hegemonic religions don't overlook the urgency of combatting it (hypocrisy) in all its forms.
I urge Tor Guimaraes and Muqtedar Khan to reach each other's books. This could spark a very productive discussion.
- Religion and Usury (Tor Guimaraes, USA 06/05/19 1:11 AM)
- Religion, Non-Religion, and Morality (Tor Guimaraes, USA 06/02/19 11:33 PM)
- Thoughts on Revived Religions (Tor Guimaraes, USA 06/02/19 2:40 AM)
- Ric Mauricio Explains the Trinity (John Eipper, USA 05/21/19 4:14 AM)
- Polari, A-Slang, Backslang (John Heelan, UK 05/18/19 4:42 AM)
- The Forest, Dante, and Non-Sequiturs (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 05/17/19 4:41 AM)
- Religion, Man, and the Forest (John Heelan, UK 05/15/19 1:41 PM)
- The "Gift" of Faith, and an Encounter at Starbucks (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 05/15/19 4:29 AM)