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JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Clearer Question: How significant do our religious beliefs become to you when considering our relevance throughout the entire universe and the thought we may not be the only species with an understanding of Religion?

Asked by JoeyOhSoClever (969 points ) February 26th, 2013

What I am trying to ask is, does the fact that we are simply a spec of dust in the vastness of the universe make our religions insignificant? Obviously if God is real (and I believe God is) a relationship with God is important. However, being that there are approximately 2 billion Earthlike planets just within our galaxy( it obviously would increase exponentially when converted into our entire universe), we may not be the only species with a grasp of religion. Intelligent-life on other planets is still just a mere hypothesis but think we have also not fully grasped the minds of animals on our own planet. We have no concrete evidence that animals do not grasp religion or abide by one. Some may think of that as blasphemous and silly but there is a lot we still do not know about the thought processes and capabilities of animals on our own planet. Being able to learn about religion from other species would be more helpful than harmful, no? My point is does the vastness of what we do not know about space, ourselves, or other species make religion or any part of it a bit more insignificant to you? (The beginning of time, end of time, theological morals, etc…) All I ask is for some input, it would be helpful. Thanks Jellies :)

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27 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

The vastness of the universe only makes the true nature of religion more clear: an irrational expression of humanity’s unwarranted selfimportance.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@ragingloli The vastness of the universe can lead to the belief of a creator but just how important is the rest of the stuff beyond the creation point. As in theological morals or worship?

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@ragingloli in relation to the vastness

bookish1's avatar

There’s a reason that Galileo posed such a threat to the Church Universal…
But not all religions place man at the center of the universe.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Obviously if God is real (and I believe God is) a relationship with God is important. Ah. That explains why you keep asking about the relevance of dogma in relation to the universe.

And please don’t tell me your question was inspired by the religious robots from Battlestar Galactica xD~

To me all religion is blasphemy – it presumes to understand the universe better than I do.

I’m sorry but I have to go “MU!” on this one…

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@bookish1 love your answer. @fremen_warrior I’m on the fence right now actually lol. Not sure what I believe which is the point of me asking this question to sort of solidify what I believe.

kess's avatar

To determine that we are only a spec of dust, is to presume you understand, the how, the why and the what of the universe…
And your question irrelevant.

But I can offer you, that religion tries to speak of the things it does not quite understand…
Not that it is beyond understanding , it is just that, it is pondered upon incorrectly..

That this Is Life which encompassed all within the universe, but nothing encompasses it.

BTW science as we know it, is exactly in the same position as religion.
much hype with little understanding.

ragingloli's avatar

“The vastness of the universe can lead to the belief of a creator but just how important is the rest of the stuff beyond the creation point. As in theological morals or worship?”
Simple. The fact that religion got the entire history and structure of the universe wrong, pretty much invalidates its claim to divine origin and consequently the justification for having its deity worshipped and its “morals” followed as divine dictate, especially considering that much of the so called morality particularly of the abrahamic religions is already considered immoral in today’s enlightened society, such as the endorsement of slavery, treating women as property, divinely mandated mass murder as well as the call for killing homosexuals, adulterers, witches and people of different beliefs.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@kess You are right that I have never been in space to conclude just how vast it may be. Simply looking into the sky can make someone feel small that is where I base my understanding off what I can physically see. Mathematics can also tell us an approximation of the size of space using the dimensions of earth, the sun, and the moon. So to me it’s not an assumption I am making I feel I’ve learned enough about space, science, and mathematics to develop my educated thoughts.

wundayatta's avatar

Relevance. Relative. What is our significance to the rest of the universe? I really have no idea. To say something has importance is to say that there is something that is capable of establishing importance. I.e., a consciousness. There is no evidence that the universe in conscious. Indeed, there is almost no evidence of any other consciousness in the universe other than our own.

Inference is not evidence. We can say we exist and we are conscious, therefore the same processes that brought us to awareness should have happened elsewhere in the universe. But that hypothesis is just a guess. There’s no evidence so far.

Further, there is no evidence of other consciousness on our planet. Not in any of the other animals we know of. Of course, that depends on how one defines consciousness—something that is, so far, very difficult to define in a way we can test.

My own personal definition is that consciousness is attributed to others we can communicate complex ideas with. This bothers some people because it says that people without sufficient mental capacity to communicate, like babies, are not conscious. This idea seems inhumane to some. But for me, it’s just a definition. It is sort of testable. If you want to define consciousness in some other way, please do.

So far as I know, there is no evidence to suggest any being capable of communicating complex ideas with us anywhere else in the universe or, indeed, on our planet. It’s just us humans.

Our beliefs are significant to us, but there is no one else, so far, they could be significant to.

You suggest that having religious ideas is somehow significant. I ask what is your evidence for this? Personally, I think religion is a sign of poor thinking. It is emotional, which is fine. But it does not count as scientific thought. People mistake emotion for thought, and suddenly we can’t communicate. Ergo, it not evidence for consciousness, since religion gets in the way of communication. So I’d have to say your hypothesis is wrong. It reflects a big misunderstanding of how the universe works. It makes the classic anthropocentric error.

Religion is about humans. It is not about science and knowledge. Please don’t use it to try to understand the universe. That’s not what it is for. God is for comfort. God is a coping technique. Religions are about community. They bring people together. But they do it intuitively, not with knowledge. And ultimately, they separate people.

We are at a point where we can no longer afford the separation that religions bring to humanity. They are creating too much war and strife. You could argue that war would happen anyway, but I don’t think it would be as hard to settle if religions held less sway over people. Religions have served well in the past, but they need to change now, or they will destroy people. Perhaps they are changing.

But the major change needed is understanding that religions aren’t objective, and they aren’t science. They are about people and only about people. They need to stop trying to influence people with irrelevant ideas about the nature of the universe. One of the irrelevant ideas is this notion that there is a creator with personality like a human being who actually cares about humans more than anything else. That is a wishful thought, and is important to humans, but it has nothing to do with actual knowledge of the universe.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@wundayatta Oh no. That is not what I meant I wanted to see how significant religion is to you personally first and if the significance decreases with thoughts of the vastness of what is still unexplored. A simple “religion isn’t significant to me regardless,” would have worked. But I agree with the rest of your points.

wundayatta's avatar

You do seem to have trouble getting at what you are looking for. I did not at all get that you were asking for personal opinions about religion. I thought you were trying to make a point about the vastness of the universe. My mistake. Sorry I bothered.

Just kidding. It doesn’t matter what you wanted. It only matters what I thought about. See? Wundayattacentric! ;-)

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

But I said that in my question :( “How significant do religious beliefs become to YOU…” I guess people aren’t getting that message of how I’m looking for personal ideas :( oh well lol ill stay persistent somehow

wundayatta's avatar

You need to lead with the most important question and put it in the title. All the rest is detail in detail part. That way, it is clear what is most important to you. You aren’t obfuscating things for yourself. If you had cut it off after you, then it might have been a bit clearer what you’re after. Although I don’t think that’s what you’re really looking for either.

They don’t call me “question whisperer” for nothing.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Lol yeah well I probably won’t ask about religion anymore. I think I’ll have a better way of wording other ideas and topics

ETpro's avatar

With a mere 7 billion people alive on Earth today, plus the uncounted billions that have lived and now gone, mankind has claimed the existence of 3,000 different supreme deities, almost all of them claiming to be the one and only true God. So just this tiny spec of dust has seen religious cults numbering in the tens of thousands to the billions. Almost all the adherents to each were absolutely certain their deity was the right choice and all others were and are impostors—false gods. Almost all believed as they did because they were born and nurtured where those around them believed the same.

Amplify that by the billions of planets that potentially have sentient beings on them. Back before they were able to understand the Universe, as their intelligence developed, they almost undoubtedly also invented deities that controlled the forces of nature and that they felt they needed to placate lest those unpredictable, often frightening forces destroyed them.

Haleth's avatar

*speck. A spec is a lens, or short for a specification. :)

Every culture creates their own religion. Different cultures on earth don’t agree on religion, and if there are extraterrestrials out there, they will probably have their own ideas.

Different religious beliefs are a reflection of the culture they come from, not the other way around. The one thing religious people seem to agree on is that they believe in a higher power, and they are trying to understand what that means. People have fought wars over their different interpretations of the search for a higher power, rather than respecting their differences. If we meet aliens, it will probably be the same.

Isn’t it possible that religious people are all trying to reach the same higher power… if it exists? Or that there’s no higher power, but they’re united in the same search for understanding?

I mean, the thought that one religion is right and all others are wrong… that’s just bananas. Look at all the different squabbling sects of Christianity. They’re really just political and cultural differences. Do you think a god would care?

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@Haleth lol again great response but I think the one related point as in respect to my question is the fact of a God caring about political and cultural differences. That’s exactly my point maybe some of the things religions differ about like morals and other beliefs are completely irrelevant to God and we could possibly be missing the entire point.

DrBill's avatar

My dog believes in God, but he thinks it is me.

LostInParadise's avatar

You have no choice but to lead as good a life as you can. It makes no difference how big the Universe is, whether there is intelligent life elsewhere, that the Universe will eventually disappear, whether or not you are immortal, and at least as far as I am concerned, whether or not there is a God.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Because we’re taught that God created everything, the vastness of the universe in no way affects my belief system, except to highlight the fact that He is great and Divine.

Paradox25's avatar

I’m open to the possibility that if there are (likely are in my opinion) civilizations which are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years more advanced than us, it is likely that what we term as the ‘supernatural’ would be accepted as a verified scientific fact, or an extended branch of physics, rather than a religion. This is because I don’t believe that anything is outside of science, but only outside of our ability to understand certain concepts relative to our evolution at a certain point in time.

This is one of the reasons why I feel that CERN is wasting its time trying to contact alien intelligences, because they (aliens) are likely so more advanced than us that their way of communicating is probably going to be different. Maybe these hypothetical advanced intelligences were in our boat pertaining to religion at a time when they were in their earlier evolutionary process.

ragingloli's avatar

“This is one of the reasons why I feel that CERN is wasting its time trying to contact alien intelligences”
CERN is doing no such thing. CERN does particle physics, and they are the ones that discovered the Higgs Boson last year.

Paradox25's avatar

@ragingloli I’m a member of another site where scientists frequently post, and we’ve been discussing mtheories and particle physics so CERN was on my mind for some reason. I should of had mentioned SETI.

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ragingloli's avatar

The bots are getting dangerously close to becoming Skynet.

KNOWITALL's avatar

When compared to the entire universe and all that encompasses, we are but speck’s of dust, but I believe that God was part of the creation of everything, so His power is not diminished in any way to me.

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