General Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Do you view religion as a sum of all your beliefs?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38963points) July 5th, 2009

http://www.fluther.com/disc/48694/you-and-your-loved-one-decide-to-marry-but-it-would/#quip673694

The above question has inspired my current one in that many of the people that responded said that to switch religions would be like switching ‘everything they believed in/all their beliefs’ and I wondered (I am not religious myself) why that’d be such a big deal – it’s not like religions really vary in all the things one must believe, they just vary in rituals and gods and all that stuff but not in terms of how one views murder or the relationship to others or whatever…am I off here in thinking that to go from, for example, one Abrahamic faith to another wouldn’t be such a stretch, belief-wise? And it’s not like people have beliefs only stemming from their religions, right? Because that’s just, well, scary…

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

55 Answers

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

What is scary is that people who say that a belief in GAWDS is the only think keeping them from going off the deep end and committing felonies. Christians mostly come to mind, with their oft-espoused belief that without Jesus, there are no morals. People lose faith in religion all the time. Those are the people that scare the fuck out of me.

The sum of all my beliefs are the sum of all my experiences and knowledge and wisdom gained in a lifetime of living. religion doesn’t even apply.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra this makes me think of the article I just read about the people in Florida protesting an ‘atheist’ billboard and the person in charge of the protest says that ‘with all the killing going on around their children, their children should have something to believe in and without belief in god, there’d be even more killing’ and I wondered why the belief in god that they so cherished didn’t do much to prevent the crazy environment their children faced daily

Jeruba's avatar

By no means. It is the sum of nothing I believe.

DrBill's avatar

The problem is the definition of the word religion. Religion is a belief system, but some people support ideas they don’t believe in simply because it is part of a doctrine of a religious sect they belong to.

I don’t support most of the Organized religions around today, because they have a part of their doctrine I do not support.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DrBill but see, that’s the thing – you do support some of it and you can live without religion because those beliefs that you do share with people who are religious don’t necessarily come from religion

Darwin's avatar

While I am not particularly religious, I do attend a church simply because it is a source of contact with other people who have good intentions and who attempt to do good things for others and for the community.

So no, religion is not a sum of all my beliefs.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Not at all. Religion is pure evil. Not one of them has remained true to the essence of God.

DrBill's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

As an example, I support the ten commandments, all eleven of them. One issue I have with organized religion is most of them believe in the bible as interpreted by their founder.

i.e. Lutherans believe Martin Luther’s interpretation is the only correct one.

In opposition, I believe everyone should interpret it for themselves.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies and you have somehow preserved it?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Not a matter of preservation. God doesn’t need me for that. It’s a matter of acceptance. Understanding that Religion and Faith are two entirely different things.

Religion is a teaching.

Faith is an essence of being.

Too many people have “faith” in their “religion”. That is SO wrong. They cannot separate the medium from the message, and they rarely study the materials for themselves, preferring instead to just take somebody else’s word for it. EVIL.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies well they don’t think it evil, evil is a strange concept, it’s in the eye of a beholder, yes?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Evil is an absolute.

Evil occurs when, and only when, Deception is mistaken (or given) as Truth.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies then I suppose you think there’s an absolute Truth

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Evelyn says she is an absolute Truth when it comes to gods, but it’s hard to take her seriously when she’s grinning like a deranged Jack O Lantern.

Thammuz's avatar

Nope, quite the opposite, actually

whitenoise's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
Evil doesn’t need god, neither does good. In chaotic systems of social interactions, they are behavioral patterns that are bound to emerge as recurring patterns. Both patterns will offer benefits to groups as well as individuals, goodness through a better society and reciprocity and evil: well by being able to take more from others without having to care. After reading many of your posts, I have to say that, in all honesty, every time you claim knowing the truth I more and more feel that you’re trying to hijack it.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
I think that many people feel that way indeed, but you are right; it doesn’t (or rather shouldn’t make sense. My impression is, that it stems from the same fallacy that has caught @RealEyesRealizeRealLies: religions claim to their followers to have the moral high-ground and exclusive access to the truth. That is a great selling point to followers: knowing the truth feels great. It also gets one hooked though, since it implies that letting go of one’s religion means leaving the moral high-grounds and having to enter a land of total uncertainty.

It touches on one of the elements of religion that scares me most: teaching people to externalize their ethical reference set. That makes them susceptible to all kinds of evil based on not having to care about the consequences of your actions, as long as your sanctified; from racism through socialistic dictatorships up to extreme egocentric capitalism.

Personally: I feel one has to look into oneself to find out how good differs from bad and what choices are to be made. The fact that chimpanzees can do that gives me faith (I guess I do have that, after all) in humanity and makes me think that the human spirit is the better path over religion.

quasi's avatar

I view religion, rather, as the sum of all other people’s beliefs.

Blondesjon's avatar

The sum of all of one’s beliefs is their religion.

whitenoise's avatar

@Blondesjon
So you’re saying that everyone is religious, or are you saying that those without religion do not hold beliefs?

sap82's avatar

I believe a lot of things.

fireside's avatar

I fell away from the religion I was raised in and followed my own path for a long time while figuring out what my beliefs were. Once I found a religion that matched with my beliefs, I felt at home.

So I guess that you could say my beliefs led me away from one Abrahamic religion and towards another.

mammal's avatar

sadly religion is too often the sum of all one’s fears

Blondesjon's avatar

@whitenoise . . .Religious is defined as…relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity.

We all have an acknowledged ultimate reality if not a deity.

So yes, we are all religious in one form or another.

Jeruba's avatar

Who says we all have an acknowledged ultimate reality? How can that be presumed? I do not believe that I have any acknowledged ultimate reality. I consider that any such thing would by definition have to be unknowable and that it therefore really doesn’t matter if it is there or not. I regard “ultimate reality” as a human construct that I don’t happen to subscribe to. To call that acknowledging an ultimate reality is a pretty big stretch, to my way of thinking.

Blondesjon's avatar

I assume that an Ultimate Reality is a set of rules that you live by, above all others.

Theists have their rules handed down to them by whatever deity they follow.

Non-theists develop theirs from their life experience and whatever code of “right” and “wrong” that they follow.

I don’t see where that should put any undue strain on your imagination.

Jeruba's avatar

Your assumption does not translate into my belief.

I don’t mean to be rude, much less sarcastic, but what you are saying sounds entirely alien to me. It does not pertain to my thinking at all. I see no connection whatsoever between a notion of Ultimate Reality and a set of rules to live by. Ultimate Reality, if there were such a thing in any meaningful sense, would have something to do with an underlying universal substance or a Cosmic Consciousness or a pervasive definition of all existences that transcends relativity and illusion. Ultimate Reality, to be ultimate, would have to be absolute and hence without qualities. Nirguna Brahma, if I may use such a term, is one way of saying it.

Rules that I live by, however, are nothing if not relative. They pertain to my relationship to my fellow human beings and my expectations of myself, expressed in terms of principles and standards of a moral, ethical, social, and aesthetic nature.

If those things meet at some point, it is a point outside my awareness.

Blondesjon's avatar

So your Ultimate Reality is semantics?

Jeruba's avatar

No, simply irrelevant.

Darwin's avatar

My Ultimate Reality is simple – everybody dies, so enjoy the ride up until then.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Darwin . . .Exactly. Everybody has one no matter what you choose to name it.

my ultimate reality is similar but it also includes all of my kids outliving me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Blondesjon if everyone has an ultimate reality, it’s not an Ultimate Reality, it’s just, well, everyone’s own reality – that’s not a set of anything, it differs to everyone, like our lives

Blondesjon's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir . . .Then call it @Simone_De_Beauvoir‘s Super Special Exclusive Ultimate Reality.

Darwin's avatar

Mine is capitalized because it is my only one. Your mileage may vary.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Blondesjon now, THAT’s semantics

Blondesjon's avatar

Rules that I live by, however, are nothing if not relative. They pertain to my relationship to my fellow human beings and my expectations of myself, expressed in terms of principles and standards of a moral, ethical, social, and aesthetic nature.

^^This is what I mean. What does it matter what you call it? Are you that threatened by a word?

Jeruba's avatar

@Blondesjon, your reality seems to include ascribing beliefs to me that I don’t hold. You’re welcome to do that, but I don’t think you can call it ultimate without compromising the meaning of ultimate.

quasi's avatar

religion is fun fun fun by the ton ton ton.

Blondesjon's avatar

now that’s semantics.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@whitenoise

I made it very clear in a previous post that I agree with you, “Evil doesn’t need god, neither does good”.

I’m unsure why you suggest that I hijack the truth… For years I have said that Truth cannot be possessed. It can only be accepted or denied. I have no idea how you got the reverse impression from any of my comments. But thanks is due to you for pointing out the issue. I should review my tact, rather than unwittingly promote the opposite of what I understand. How did you gather that from my comments? My directness can be very offensive to some. My confidence is often mistaken for arrogance, yes I know this. Please make suggestions to improve my demeanor.

As well, I’m extremely interested in discussing chaos and patterns with you. Are you suggesting that social patterns are an agent that effects humans, or the reverse? And do you promote that good and evil are equal to social patterns? Please advise.

@whitenoise said:
“religions claim…to have the moral high-ground and exclusive access to the truth.”

Yes they do. And I can generally go along with the rest of your rap about what “scares” you the most.

@whitenoise said:
“I feel one has to look into oneself to find out how good differs from bad…”

Somewhat agreed. That’s why I defined Evil in my comments above. What does the pedophile find about good and evil when he looks into himself?

@whitenoise said:
“…the human spirit is the better path over religion”.

It can be. Depending on how that spirit was nurtured. But we don’t even know if we’re talking about the same thing when using the word “spirit”. Do you mean “spirit” as in “soul”? Or “spirit” as in a persons mannerisms?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Blondesjon right, so which word do you mean? religion? what I’m talking about can not be called religion or an ultimate reality as it’s no one else’s but my own exclusive reality

Blondesjon's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir . . .then call it your own exclusive reality…taa daa

whitenoise's avatar

@Blondesjon…. Sorry to have started you off on this tour…

* In line with many others, I would like to say that I do not follow your reasoning on everyone having an (interpretation of) ultimate feeling/reality.

* When originally asking you “So you’re saying that everyone is religious, or are you saying that those without religion do not hold beliefs?” I seem to have triggered a rather weird definition of religion. In my view religion does not merely imply an ultimate belief in a reality or deity, but also devotion/service to it. The etymology of religion even stems from “being bound”.

I think one can be religious (bound to a religious doctrine) without truly believing and one may believe in an ultimate deity or reality and not be religious.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Blondesjon @Simone_De_Beauvoir

Is not a persons exclusive reality part and parcel to the greater objective reality? If it’s absolutely true that you have an exclusive reality, then having your exclusive reality is absolutely true.

Snow is white, if and only if… that sort of thing.

whitenoise's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
Re “I’m unsure why you suggest that I hijack the truth…”
Well… Two examples…
* you make a lot of statements on various exegeses and you display not even a shimmer of doubt, while doing so.
* you stated “Religion is pure evil. Not one of them has remained true to the essence of God.”
And these are just two. You cannot make these statements without at least implying that you know the truth. When you say that other religious people are part of a religion that “has not remained true to the essence of God.”, you imply that you however do know – without a doubt – what that essence is. To me that equals claiming the truth. In this case, since I can see no true way of discerning your truth from the other religious truths people cling to, I get the feeling you hijacked it. BTW One thing I learned is that many believers think that true belief is not so much knowing there is a God, as well as accepting it.

Re “That’s why I defined Evil in my comments above. What does the pedophile find about good and evil when he looks into himself?”
You did not define evil, as far as I could find it in this thread. you stated “Evil is an absolute… Evil occurs when, and only when, Deception is mistaken (or given) as Truth.” All you said is that it was absolute and when it happened. I do not see a relationship between your definition and the pedophile. I am convinced, such pedophile knows when evaluating himself that what he is doing is wrong but still does it.

Re “Do you mean “spirit” as in “soul”? Or “spirit” as in a persons mannerisms?”
I meant those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of the human race. The basic abilities to distinguish good from evil that comes with being human, through our genetic mockup.

Re “As well, I’m extremely interested in discussing chaos and patterns with you. Are you suggesting that social patterns are an agent that effects humans, or the reverse? And do you promote that good and evil are equal to social patterns? Please advise.”
My thoughts on this:
Human societies are very complex social systems where many parallel interdependent interactions between individuals occur simultaneously, in many ways, this can be viewed as a chaotic system with emerging behavioral patterns. Now to fully follow this path… it would be good to share my definition of good versus evil. In order to do that I need to address my interpretation of ethics.

Sorry to @all for this digression. Ethics to me are about the extent to which you consciously consider other people’s (and creature’s) interests in pursuing your own. To me, behaving ethically, for instance, means that I will not hurt other people’s interests in the pursuit of my own without a very good reason to do so.

Well… from this perspective one could add that people’s behavior can be beneficial or detrimental to themselves and others and this is where my definitions of good and evil start to take form. On one side of the ethical spectrum, as I see it, there is behavior that is solely aimed at harm or damage and on the opposite side, behavior is solely aimed to benefit people. In between is the mix of balanced life.

In society, behavior will pop up all across this spectrum, given that the system is big enough and people are diverse enough. Now in society, behavioral patterns will form from the self-sustaining characteristics of the two sides of the scale: each extreme will have its benefits, since when you are excessively willing to hurt others in the pursuit of your interests, than that behavior will merit individual benefits to you: power over others and disproportionate access to sources. On the other hand… behavior aimed to benefit others, will allow society to grow and create reciprocal benefits for you as well.

These emerging patterns are what I view as “evil” and “good”. They will always emerge from the chaotic nature of our society.

Had I more time, I would be able to write a better and shorter version of this anwer. For now, I think it’s – if not good – at least long enough. ;-)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Jeruba said:
“If those things meet at some point, it is a point outside my awareness.”

Is it absolutely true that your reality is relative?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@whitenoise

Being doubtless does not presuppose that I own Truth. I am doubtless that Truth cannot be owned. Acceptance, not ownership, but acceptance of this quells any doubt that I may have.

If you can point out a religion that has remained true to the essence of God, then I will graciously retract my previous statement about religion being pure evil. But before you make the attempt, please know that our definitions of God are very probably not synchronized.

I can confidently make “those” statements by first accepting the Truth, and from that acceptance, distinguishing it from Deception. You say I cannot make that statement any other way beyond “knowing” or “hijacking” the Truth for myself. How can you make that accusation without committing the same fallacy? Perhaps I can make “those” statements for reasons that you are unaware of. Truth can only be accepted or denied. Humans may accuse or ask why. Will you accuse me or ask me why?

You quoted me but still missed it somehow. For clarification:

Evil is…
Deception taken, or given, as Truth, even if unwittingly so.

Good is…
Truth accepted for what it is and nothing more.

Both are multidimensional with many layers. But those definitions are stanchions for all cascading sub layers of Good and Evil.

Your definition of “spirit” seems to negate the individual, referring instead to a general “genetic mockup… in the character of the (entire) human race”. Do I read you correctly?

If so, can you refer me to the “spirit ethic gene”? What is the basis of claiming a universal human genetic marker for humans to have “basic abilities to distinguish good from evil”? I won’t tell you that you “can’t” make that statement. But I will ask why you did.

Could those like Jim Jones or Marshall Applewhite then claim that evil deeds in the name of good causes are attributed to a bad mutation of their genome, thus absolving them of personal responsibility?

I’m unaware of any genetic marker or random pattern mechanism to explain away what individual humans consider good or evil. So far the only reliable mechanism I’ve witnessed has come from the application of Free Will. The Free Will to accept or deny Truth, and the Free Will to substitute Deception in its place.

Your thoughts on ethics and chaotic systems of good and evil are interesting and seem somewhat valid on the surface. Have you considered that “Human societies” and “social systems” and “interactions between individuals” and “emerging behavioral patterns” and “consciously consider(ing)” and “people’s interests” and “good reason’s” and “peoples behavior” and “aimed at harm” and “aimed at benefit” and “self-sustaining characteristics” and “excessively willing” and “pursuit” and “interests” and “create”…

Have you considered that these notions might be better explained from a process of “authoring” through thought/action which requires sentience, rather than “chaotic patterns” of cause/reaction that doesn’t require sentience?

whitenoise's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
First: I am truly sorry if I offended you and not intended to do so. In my mind, I didn’t accuse you of doing anything, I just told you that I more and more feel you hijack the truth. That nuance has been there in my comments from the beginning. As I have been trying to explain: it is that same nuance that I miss in your statements that adds to my feeling. If you don’t recognize yourself, well that be it. Again: there’s no harm intended from my side.

With respect to genetics, I do not claim that we have a spirit gene. I will claim, however, that we are genetically predispositioned to have ethics in our lives. There are many reasons to think so. Disgust of thievery, jealousy, kindness, forgiving, caring and empathy, for instance, are all traits that can be found in our closest relatives in the animal kingdom: primates and bonobos’ in particular. (An interesting read would be The Inner Ape by Frans de Waal.link and link) Also it is quite interesting to see that we share many ethical beliefs across cultures and across the boundaries of religions or lack thereof. Also brain research indicates that specific parts of the brain commit themselves to moral dillemas (link)

Finally, I did not elaborate on the alternative of “a process of “authoring” through thought/action which requires sentience, rather than “chaotic patterns” of cause/reaction that doesn’t require sentience?” since my whole statement was based on my intention to illustrate that such sentience was not necessary for the phenomena of good and evil to manifest. Yes, indeed such sentience might explain as well, the problem however is that I see neither proof of such sentience, nor reason to believe such sentience exists in any other form than human thought and the result of human interaction.

In relevance to God and the existance of good and evil: the fact that something may explain something is not proof of its existence. Just that I agree that an existence of God (and devil?) may explain the existence of good and evil, is no reason to believe there is a God or a devil. People explained the visual movement of the Sun for millennia through various more or less plausible constructs, to only later find out that it was the earth moving, not the sun.

Blondesjon's avatar

not my definition…mirriam/webster’s definition

whitenoise's avatar

@Blondesjon Oops… you mentioned devotion in your definition indeed, I guess I got confused by “We all have an acknowledged ultimate reality if not a deity…. So yes, we are all religious in one form or another.”, since there you seem to only focus on the acknowledgement and forgo on the devotion part.

Religion is not possible, without the manifesting faithful devotion regardless of the acknowledgement. Next time I’ll read better.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@whitenoise

Understood. I can’‘t wait to read the links you’ve provided. Thanks.

The sentience I was referring to was indeed as you say “human thought and the result(ing) of human interaction” ie: Thought/Action. Cause/Reaction requires no sentience whatsoever.

@whitenoise said:
”...no reason to believe there is a God or a devil”

Perhaps not from a Religious position. But Science and Philosophy may suggest otherwise.

prude's avatar

no, I don’t believe my beliefs would qualify as a religion.

Ruthi's avatar

I’d call myself more than just a namesake theist, but all my beliefs certainly aren’t based solely on religion. There are some times when I just can’t accept some of the interpretations of my religion…...so I simply have a personalized stand.

The problem is that most people think that blind acceptance is equal to being religious, but I think an individual evaluation of religious beliefs is necessary for one to have a healthy religious basis!

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther