Why are the Virtues not enough?

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by Pilgram, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Greetings All,

    Does anyone have suggestions or thoughts about this:
    Why are GOODNESS, TRUTH AND BEAUTY not enough? By this I mean that many people seem to need and/or desire a complex theology that goes far beyond "love God and love each other."

    My thoughts are that it is the intermediate and advanced dogma of the various religions that cause people to choose up sides and, in essence, tell each other that "my god is better than your god."

    Perhaps I am being naive or perhaps I'm missing something very important. Does anyone have any idea why the mythology, rituals, etc. seem to be more important to people than simply doing what all of the religions tell their followers to DO?

    Peace and Love,
    Pilgram
     
  2. Kaldayen

    Kaldayen Spiritual ronin

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    My opinion would be : Because those virtues don't answer such fundamental questions as : What is there after life? Is there anything else out there? :)
    Religion, IMHO, are more than a moral code of conduct. They try to grasp the "ungraspable" (I think I just invented a new word? hehe).

    Kal
     
  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Also, such terms are so entirely subjective. It's so easy to comtemplate the beauty of the natural world as expressed through a sunset - but not so much at the sight of a child blinded by parasitic maggots.
     
  4. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    because they don't reflect the total reality of the universe. if there are such things as evil, falsehood and ugliness, we need ways to understand where they come from and what we should feel and do about them. theodicy alone (the problem of bad things happening to good people) makes this necessary.

    if you lived in some edenic environment where only nice things ever happened i dare say your theology would be more likely to reflect that. as it is, theology must reflect the totality and complexity of the human experience if it is not to result oversimplification and then an emotional and intellectual disconnect. even the result of considering the question "why should i love G!D/people if they inconvenience me?" should bring this issue up.

    i don't think it's that at all. i think it's people's tendency to simplify hard decisions and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. it's a lot easier to blame someone else. we can see this in action as a general human tendency because of people who blame religion for their own abrogation of responsibility.

    actually, that's a different question. we need rituals and mythology like we need music. of course, some people are tone-deaf - it doesn't make them bad people, it just makes communication harder.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  5. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Greetings Kaldayen,

    You say:
    I can see from your response and the others that it would be easy to misunderstand my question. What I'm concerned about is how the abuse of religion has and still is resulting in keeping people separated from each other and therefore, separated from GOD.

    I think your concern about answering fundamental questions is a good one. It is my concern too. But I don't see religion answering that one. Religions can and do offer myths about creation, the end of the world and most things in between. And it doesn't help that one religion may differ from another in their myths (opinions, guesses, etc.).

    For instance, many christians still have a big problem with the probability that evolution, a theory, is closer to the Truth (big T), than christian mythology with its creation story. There is nothing wrong with a myth about creation but most "believers" don't get that it is metaphor and not fact!

    My concerns about the harmfulness of religioius abuse do not blind me to the beauty of myth, poetry and much good sense (not all) that exists in many religions.

    My question is really this: wouldn't we be better off if everyone who thinks of herself as "religious" actually incorporated the most basic teachings of all great religions? Instead of debating about which particular religion is the ONE TRUE RELIGION?

    I can, and do love GOD without attaching any particular myth, ritual and official creed.

    And I have NO problem with any believer who does not try to convert or kill everyone else. The problem I'm concerned with is the zealots within every religion who feel a need to treat everyone outside their club as sub-human and kill them. Thus, my question. Why not reduce the various dogma of the great religions down to the basics that all agree upon instead of focusing on the differences that lead the zealots to war and the majority to fear, prejudice and elitism?

    Peace and love,
    Pilgram
     
  6. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters New Member

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    They are good enough Pilgrim and don't let anyone BS you otherwise.
     
  7. Darkwolf

    Darkwolf Kemetic

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    I just had to say, this was put so well.
     
  8. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Greetings Brian,

    Brian says:
    Yes, Brian, I agree that GOODNESS and BEAUTY are subjective. Some people even argue that good and evil don't really exist. But I think you get the gist of it with your own examples. But just because such concepts are relative it does not follow that they are "entirely subjective." If that were true we never could have conceived of such values. In fact, most world religions define The Good in remarkably similar terms using very similar stories and myths. For example, can you name one major religion that says that lying, cheating and stealing are GOOD?

    The subjectivity of which you speak is usually found in "gray areas" that actually move into the area of opinion rather than fact. Whether chocolate is better than vanilla is opinion and therefore subjective. Whether love is better than hate can be called subjective but aside from the insane or the sadistic there is not much debate.

    I would not agree that TRUTH is subjective at all, even if it is difficult or impossible for us to TOTALLY identify. Little truths can be "wrong" but close to the big TRUTH while leading step by step towards it. Science and the advances that it has brought us often makes statements that latter turn out to be wrong or only partially right. But few sane humans would argue that Doctor Sammelweis and his observations about antiseptic practices did not lead in the right direction (toward TRUTH).

    It is very tempting to many to disparage science but those who do are usually hypocrites who take full advantage of human progress by driving cars instead of walking and going to the emergency room instead of just saying a prayer and bleeding to death.

    In the end I guess it really comes down to whether people care more about feeding the hungry rather than blaming them for worshipping the wrong god. Although I am not a christian, I agree with Jesus' message that what you do to the poor you do to God. This is my paraphrase in case someone is tempted to correct me with a biblical quotation. I believe the message and Jesus' actions hit the nail on the head. Doing is more important than theological debate.

    This brings me back to my original point.

    Peace and love
     
  9. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Greetings Brian,

    Brian says:
    Yes, Brian, I agree that GOODNESS and BEAUTY are subjective. Some people even argue that good and evil don't really exist. But I think you get the gist of it with your own examples. But just because such concepts are relative it does not follow that they are "entirely subjective." If that were true we never could have conceived of such values. In fact, most world religions define The Good in remarkably similar terms using very similar stories and myths. For example, can you name one major religion that says that lying, cheating and stealing are GOOD?

    The subjectivity of which you speak is usually found in "gray areas" that actually move into the area of opinion rather than fact. Whether chocolate is better than vanilla is opinion and therefore subjective. Whether love is better than hate can be called subjective but aside from the insane or the sadistic there is not much debate.

    I would not agree that TRUTH is subjective at all, even if it is difficult or impossible for us to TOTALLY identify. Little truths can be "wrong" but close to the big TRUTH while leading step by step towards it. Science and the advances that it has brought us often makes statements that latter turn out to be wrong or only partially right. But few sane humans would argue that Doctor Sammelweis and his observations about antiseptic practices did not lead in the right direction (toward TRUTH).

    It is very tempting to many to disparage science but those who do are usually hypocrites who take full advantage of human progress by driving cars instead of walking and going to the emergency room instead of just saying a prayer and bleeding to death.

    In the end I guess it really comes down to whether people care more about feeding the hungry rather than blaming them for worshipping the wrong god. Although I am not a christian, I agree with Jesus' message that what you do to the poor you do to God. This is my paraphrase in case someone is tempted to correct me with a biblical quotation. I believe the message and Jesus' actions hit the nail on the head. Doing is more important than theological debate.

    This brings me back to my original point.

    Peace and love
     
  10. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Greetings Pilgrim, and everyone else.

    I am new here, please bear with me.

    I appreciate your search. I am on a similar one. I am currently looking into prehistoric religion, that is, the source.

    What I have come away with so far is that religion throughout historic time is virtually synonymous with political power.

    I do have concerns about a "one size fits all" religious belief system however. That is one of the beautiful things about being human, the cultural differences that distinguish each of us. I agree that those differences tend to get magnified, creating tensions between the different cultures. That is what I would seek to diffuse. To that end, a focus on the similarities is a good thing. Although not at the expense of what makes each of us unique.
     
  11. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Pilgram, I am your man.

    Pilgram asks:

    I am that man, Pilgram. I can accept the best in every religion as regards beliefs. Just you get a committee of thinking people of good will and character to round up the beliefs which they think are the best of each religion; and I can and will accept them, believe in them.

    As regards observances involving time and motion and place, I have to find out whether they are safe and healthy, though, to myself and to others, at least to my loved ones. Also postures and gestures, that they be not overly uncomfortable for long periods of time.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  12. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Virtue Over Religious Form

    Greetings juantoo3,

    You say:
    Thank you, juantoo3 for your respose. Sorry I took so long to respond. In other places on the website I have expressed my agreement with you. Religion has been (and still is) synonymous with political power. Politicians court the rich and powerful televangilists making deals for votes by giving away civil liberties of those of us who value them over AUTHORITY.

    Cultural differences are the spice of life. I have never experienced a culture in which I did not find much beauty and humaness. However, in the name of cultural diversity we risk our "leaders" keeping us divided from each other in fear, distrust and outright bigotry.

    One size fits all, as you have put it works in most things human. All people need to breathe clean air, drink clean water, eat unadulterated food. All people need love, friendship and a community where justice is meted out to all and not only to those who can afford to buy it.

    This brings us back to a New Religion that focuses on the basic teachings of all religions (Do the right thing) and deemphasizes the different names used for god, different rituals in the name of god, different and all the other DIFFERENT arbitrarily made-by-human religiosities that are said to be MADE-BY-GOD.

    Until we see that feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting the widow is infinitely more important than debating points of theology, we will remain DIVIDED and OTHER fearing, mistrusting and hating.

    Thus I offer an NEW RELIGION that emphasizes our agreement and puts aside our disagreement until we have evolved to a more emotionally, mentally, and spiritually mature world of humans doing the humane.

    Peace and love,
    Pilgram
     
  13. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Accept the best, disgard the rest!

    Greetings Susma Rio Sep,

    You say:[QUOTE
    I am that man, Pilgram. I can accept the best in every religion as regards beliefs. Just you get a committee of thinking people of good will and character to round up the beliefs which they think are the best of each religion; and I can and will accept them, believe in them.

    As regards observances involving time and motion and place, I have to find out whether they are safe and healthy, though, to myself and to others, at least to my loved ones. Also postures and gestures, that they be not overly uncomfortable for long periods of time.

    Susma Rio Sep[/QUOTE]
    ********************

    Dear Susma,
    In accepting the best in every religion, aren't we accepting the basic principles that all the religions agree upon, i.e. Do the right thing (the golden rule)?

    It is the "observances" and "postures" and "gestures" that are MAN-MADE and that politically motivated "religious leaders" emphasize as important. Problem is that these differences have led to fear, mistrust, war, "crusades", "inquisitions", and other forms of blood letting and slavery.

    In a risk-benefit analysis alone, I fail to see how we continue to support dozens of religions that manipulate billions of people instead of creating one religion based on ONLY the things that ALL PEOPLE need, i.e. love, friendship, justice for all rather than only for the O.J. Simpsons who can afford the price.

    Peace and Love,
    Pilgram
     
  14. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    Truth, goodness etc are symptoms of a pure mind. It is not enough to intellectualize about being good, we have to purify the mind and then it will behave meritoriously without our constant intervention. Most religions don't teach how to purify the mind. They show you what the result should be, but they don't give you the path to follow. Instead of methods of cultivating the mind, they have contingency measures when you step out of line. Prayer's for mercy, confession boothes, rituals for penance.
    Purify the mind, and compassion and all the good stuff will flourish like a bud that has reached the soil's surface.
     
  15. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    yeah, that's been tried quite a few times. in fact, christianity and islam are both examples of implementing religions that are both essentialist (only what people need) and universalist (for everyone) - both started with exactly these aspirations; i hope it is obvious that the "strip out all the rubbish and keep the good stuff" approach creates more problems than it solves - besides being responsible for the rise of modern-day fundamentalism, which in whatever form harks back to a spurious golden age and prides itself on keeping the "true faith" and purging the "corruption" of the "dozens of religions that manipulate billions".

    if we cannot learn from history....?

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  16. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    You misread me when you say that it's been tried quite a few times. You only quoted part of my original post. It hasn't been tried even once. I proposed that we take all the SHARED dogma of all religions and NONE of the argued about dogma. Christianity and Islam could hardly qualify. They inject a god who incarnated and a prophet who created even more dogma that contradicted both Judaism and Christianity as well as all the pagan religions.
     
  17. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    The real Golden Rule

    Pilgram says:

    "Do the right thing" is not the golden rule; it is in fact the most dangerous rule in mankind.

    The real Golden Rule was pronounced by a wise man from the Far East: "Do not unto others, what you don't want others to do unto you". (Find out who this man was. Clue: the Romans and Greeks are gone a long long time ago, but his people are still around.)

    The real Golden Rule must be in the negative formulation. The positive formulation much vaunted by Christians, for coming from their Master: "Do unto others what you want them to do unto you" is not very good. Why? Suppose you are a masochist... but the vast majority of mankind are not masochistic?

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  18. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Religion not an exact 'science'

    Pilgram, science is what you should strive for in religion. Don't you see that in science things are reduced to the barebone essentials, a formula that says everything, in the language of mathematics. For example, the very common phenomenon of burning, combustion, everyone is uniformly agreed on its what and and its how, and everyone is agreed on its barebone ingredients of which one important element is oxigen.

    Now, religion is essentially unscientific, so there can be no uniformly barebone components where everyone will agree on.

    Just the same, mankind rises further and further in more humanistic aspirations as can be seen in history. For example, the abolition of slavery, that is a humanistic value. Another one: liberty, equality, and fraternity for all men. And religion being a behavior of mankind will also put on more and more humanistic properties, and in this sense these elements will become more and more universal.

    The religion that insists on being alien to humanistic values, it will be a fringe phenomenon, a small fanatical grouping that flees society and thrives among obscurantist minds in remote recesses of deserts and mountains -- so much the better for the rest of mankind.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  19. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Your idea is mere semantics. I can use your suggestion to arrive at the same result. Do not give me water (because I am a masochist) and I will not give you you water.

    If you don't know what the right thing is, no one can tell you. If you do know what it is, know one can stop you from doing it.

    All the world's religions agree with a few very simple principles: it comes down to doing what you would want others to do. Your apparent exception to the rule is not a real exception in that a masochist still wants what he believes is good for himself i.e. a certain amount of pain delivered in a certain way. This is not a significant obstacle to the general rule. As with all things there are almost always exceptions that need to be made on a case by case basis. I would never stand in the way of a person who wants someone to inflict pain upon them. The voluntary factor is all that needs to be considered.

    As long as we continue to play with the letter of the law we will ensure that there will never be a spirit.
     
  20. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    i don't agree. both of their main creators saw them as taking the universal truths (or shared dogma, if you prefer) and peeling the particularist dogmas off them so as to enable them to appeal outside a closed group. the whole point was that it didn't work. even within judaism, the sadducees and, later on, the karaites tried the same thing and they found what people always found - that new "glue" has to be found to fill in the gaps between grand statements and everyday reality.

    there's a web page with the different versions from different cultures i've seen once. in our version, it was hillel and he concluded by saying "everything else is a commentary on this - now bugger off and study the commentary [if you want to be able to live by this]."

    paradoxically, mystics - who are generally most comfortable with paradox - tend to agree with each other, often over the heads of their respective coreligionists. the central component of this is generally something along the lines of "All Is One, One Is All". in this field, even monotheists and polytheists can find common ground.

    judaism can arguably be shown to have held these values (rather like those of socialism) since biblical times. the "enlightenment" has a tendency to think it invented everything right-on, when in fact it was simply throwing off the legacy of the roman empire.

    and the "humanistic" society that insists that religion is inimical to its values will reap the whirlwind - as the french state will no doubt shortly discover.

    yeah, that's what the church fathers said about judaism, but continuing to explore the deep spaces among those letters has not served us badly.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     

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