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Comparative Studies Comparing religious beliefs across human history and cultures

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Old 12-23-2003, 03:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Why are the Virtues not enough?

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,
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Old 12-23-2003, 03:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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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).

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Old 12-23-2003, 04:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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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.
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Old 12-23-2003, 04:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Why are GOODNESS, TRUTH AND BEAUTY not enough?
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.

Quote:
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."
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.

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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."
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.

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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?
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

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Old 12-23-2003, 11:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Greetings Kaldayen,

You say:
Quote:
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
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,
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Old 12-24-2003, 01:20 AM   #6 (permalink)
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They are good enough Pilgrim and don't let anyone BS you otherwise.
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Old 12-24-2003, 02:35 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bananabrain
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.
I just had to say, this was put so well.
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Old 12-24-2003, 04:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Greetings Brian,

Brian says:
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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.
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.

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Old 12-24-2003, 05:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Greetings Brian,

Brian says:
Quote:
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.
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
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Old 01-09-2004, 01:23 AM   #10 (permalink)
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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.
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Old 01-14-2004, 03:55 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Pilgram, I am your man.

Pilgram asks:

Quote:
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 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.

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Old 01-15-2004, 02:08 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Virtue Over Religious Form

Greetings juantoo3,

You say:
Quote:
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.
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
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Old 01-15-2004, 02:21 PM   #13 (permalink)
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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
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Old 01-28-2004, 01:09 PM   #14 (permalink)
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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.
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Old 02-02-2004, 04:52 PM   #15 (permalink)
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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.
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

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