General Question

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Could religion be considered as a form of information entropy?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30951points) July 26th, 2009

There is an original essence to every spirituality. That is the primal information source. Transmission of that original information is carried out by those who actually incorporate it into their every day lives.

Along comes religion, claiming to broadcast the original information. Yet the original source message is muddled up a bit in the process, broadcast again, translated, changed a little to fit the purpose at hand, broadcast again, and again… again.

Soon there is so much noise on the line that the original essence can no longer be received as intended. Thus a new message has been authored, accepted, and transmitted again. A big ring game of whisper tell-tale.

All of these religions have their very own transmitters. Some of these towers of truth actually have a cross at the top to help boost the signal further.

For instance, how is it that common Christian teaching promotes salvation sheerly by the acceptance that Jesus Christ was/is God incarnate when Jesus Christ never said such a thing? The virgin birth, the crucifixion, the miracles… all irrelevant to the original message, acting as noise on the line preventing the intended signal from being heard clearly. Let’s remember that it wasn’t even called “Christianity” until religion got a hold of it. Before that it was known as “The Way”.

Then Mormonism comes along to transmit an entirely new signal… What gives?

And speaking of “The Way”, how is it that Alan Watts and Eckart Tolle changed that message into one of “The Now”, instead of the current, the present, the moment? How will I pass along The Way if I’m stuck in The Here and Now? Now here is nowhere.

For Jews it’s the Law of Moses. Claiming to boost the signal of the original Ten Commandments, the Law of Moses only served the purpose of men at the time and somehow convinced people that it was the Law of God. But God only transmitted the Ten Commandments. Moses did the rest.

I have the same issues with many legacy notions and their different interpretations from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita “Song of God” to Classic Darwinian Evolution. How did “random mutation” ever gain such wide acceptance when Darwin never mentioned it in Origin of Species? He mentioned the need for a mysterious, as of yet unknown process that could account for fulfillment of his original hypothesis. Did biology become a religion upon the race to find that process, calling it “random mutation” only to disguise a newborn dogma that really meant “we don’t have a fucking clue, but thanks for the grant money by thinking that we do”?

Could religion be considered as a form of information entropy?

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13 Answers

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’d like to see people focus more on that ‘original’ primal transmission and give humans the reverence they deserve instead of attributing so much to unseen, unspoken gods.

wildpotato's avatar

Absolutely. You should read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash; it’s about exactly this. And it’s a great read.

Ria777's avatar

you seem to not understand how empirical science works (at least in theory). scientists (in theory) base their theories on evidence, not on whether Darwin mentioned it in his book. random mutation, as a theory, developed later. so what? I actually do happen to believe that DNA somehow manages to guide itself to a degree, though it doesn’t always do this. (Chernobyl created more hopeless mutants than viable ones.)

and I wouldn’t dismiss evolutionary biology until I had studied it. if you reject something before you understand it, that makes you the equivalent of the worst kind of Bible-thumper.

Ria777's avatar

so as to the question generally…

the bias against “religion” comes from the Enlightenment which, hundreds of years later had turned into secular humanism which in turn influenced religious discourse. from the pre-Enlightenment Truth (as revealed by god[s]) to truth via science or personal experience (modern-day) to “true for you” (modern times)

the people of Biblical times wouldn’t have understood that, I don’t think. they would have thought in terms of true religion and false religion, if they understood what religion meant at all. (we lived on Earth for millions of years until we started to analyze this stuff called air that we breathed. or, even thought to study it.) flash-forward to post-modern times and we have people calling themselves spiritual (who have what a sociologist would call religious beliefs) (and that includes born-again christians, by the way, who I have personally met) opposing “religion”. (the born-again christian gave Catholicism as an example of a religion. versus “a relationship with God”, I think he said.)

okay. what you said in terms of entropy happens both way. both elaborating upon fairly crude texts and giving them sophisticated meaning (“do what He says or else” turning into something more elevated) and, as you said, degradation of meaning.

these wonderful books of pre-religious spiritual truths include such sage advice as to the holy duty to commit genocide against neighboring tribes.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Ria777

What does rejection have to do with Bible thumping?

What did the Ten Commandments have to do with genocide?

What gave you the impression that I have rejected evolutionary biology?

Jayne's avatar

The teachings of religion are no more exemplary of information entropy than any other piece of information transmitted across many generations, because there is, in my opinion at least, no more central ‘essence’ or truth to be corrupted than in, say, linguistic structures or rules of etiquette. They are all subject to entropy, they all adapt to circumstances, and they are all as valid at the end as at the beginning; religion is not a special case.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Jayne

Understood. I like the rules of etiquette example.

Yet somehow I feel that language and etiquette are supposed to evolve, expanding vocabularies and technology demands it, and etiquette is purely culturally subjective, also changing with technology (global warming promotes casual day at the office attire).

Is religion with us for that particular purpose… to force spirituality to evolve with the times? I’d rather leave that to philosophy, hoping for a day when there is no more religion… leaving only science, mathematics, philosophy and spirituality to remain.

Religion seems more often bent upon claiming instant validity for any specious desire of men. Reason and logic are thus shelved for God himself has ordained our blood lust. Little do they know I’ll become rich and powerful in the process.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I gave you a GA because although I read what you were trying to say here, I have no answer that expands upon the answers already posted here.

Zendo's avatar

You are forgetting that these religions really tried to continue the message of each religion’s prophet(s).

But hundreds of years of worthless rascals becoming priests out of laziness and greed tends to roil the waters away from any sort of positive aspect these organized religions may once have held.

They got too big for their britches and decided to take control.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I like this analogy, and I think it is quite accurate. However the original message is not necessarily accurate or true. I prefer to view religion as a superfluous but curious phenomenon that has resulted from the imperfect nature of the human mind. It began as a chaotic system of information, and has been steered in many different directions without ever escaping its fundamental flaws.

The same also applies to other groups, like environmentalist groups. Without any reference to truth or error (I do not wish to state an opinion here), some people approach environmentalism in a pseudo-religious fashion and as each adds their opinions to the debate the original issue becomes obscured. The same happens with sport. A person may begin to follow a certain team for logical reasons such as a superior team, but their loyalty means they will soon begin to support the team for entirely unfounded reasons.

Although religion may be subject to ‘noise’, it is also subject to natural selection. Religions survive if they are readily accepted by people, and so features of religions that lead to greater acceptance (such as the Catholic ban on contraception and the Islamic honour killings) aid the religions’ survival and growth.

Ria777's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies):1 What does rejection have to do with Bible thumping?

Bible thumpers frequently reject evolutionary biology (and other aspects of science) without knowing much about it.

2)What did the Ten Commandments have to do with genocide?

nothing directly.but, as it says in Numbers 31:7–18, the Hebrews killed every inhabitant of the city of Midian. God himself nuked Sodom and Gomorrah (as you doubtless know). God ordered David to kill one hundred Philistines and bring Him their foreskins. and so forth.

3) What gave you the impression that I have rejected evolutionary biology?

you said in your original post: “Did biology become a religion upon the race to find that process, calling it “random mutation” only to disguise a newborn dogma that really meant “we don’t have a fucking clue, but thanks for the grant money by thinking that we do”.

Ria777's avatar

by the way, in summary of how attitudes to religion have changed I forgot maybe the most important thing… Rousseau and his concept of the noble savage and (I think he came up with this one) a former golden age. according to him, we started off great and civilization corrupted us. his ideas don’t have a lot of currency among anthropologists because they have actually gone and studied these supposedly perfect idyllic cultures, still the idea permeates New Age thinking and the goddess worship paradigm. (i.e. first goddess worship then patriarchy.) (I don’t want to demonize traditional cultures, either.)

if a religion has bad values, I think it started off that way. Buddhism has some decent values, as has Jainism, as far as I know. for the most part they have continued to advocate good values. even some exponents of the Abrahamic religions, like the Quakers, have good things to say.

Zuma's avatar

To answer your question, No. Religion and concepts of God have evolved over time. The early versions were of a stern, jealous, violent God (Yahweh or the highway), where the New Testament, especially the post-Enlightenment conceptions are of a compassionate and loving God. Rather, discord we experience in modern life is actually due to the persistence of the older more violent constructs of God, the exact opposite of information entropy.

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