Religion v. Myth

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by stellaluna, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Lovely construction/deconstruction going on here! Setting them up, knocking them down. The incoming tide eating at the ever-renewed sand-sculptures.

    What is life?
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Oh, absolutely ...
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Well the particular beliefs of the US never cease to amaze me, I'll admit that, but these are your believers, not your 'nones' that the Pew report deals with.

    I tend to think Cino is closer to it, people are 'nones' because they never had, or fall away from, faith, and in the latter case it's not an intellectual decision, but they come up with the same old-same old arguments/excuses when pushed to provide a reason.

    I would suggest that the continual revelations of clerical abuse and the cover-ups is a factor, however.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Well, two things there.

    The first is who could take offence at them? And this is my critique about modern 'believe what you will' boutique religions generally, they're anodyne and lay out their table for the broadest consumer appeal.

    Compassion, 'sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others' is not itself a religious motivator, it's quite humanist, in that sense. Compassion as defined within a religious context takes on a nuanced meaning, an ontological relation to being, hence compassion in Christianity differs from compassion in Buddhism, for example.

    The Parable of the Good Samaritan is an interesting one.

    In our ego-oriented culture, we identify with the Samaritan, he's the good guy, and we tell ourselves we are/would like to be like him. (Ignoring the fact that the First World is 'mugging' the Third World to maintain its lifestyle, so even this self-view is something of a self-delusion).

    The moral reading of the parable is, be the good guy, do the right thing ... and that's basic humanity 101.

    The spiritual reading of the parable is a whole other ballgame. In that version, we are the man who was beaten and robbed and left for dead at the roadside (Luke 10:30). The Samaritan is Christ (or Buddha) who is moved by the sight and saves the fallen victim ... this version, the 'adult' or 'mystical' meaning, has largely fallen out of favour.
     
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  5. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Did a bit of looking round...

    There seem to be two reasons one can identify as to why people leave the Catholic Church.

    The first, according to Pew, is that there is no general consensus why — the general reason seems to be a rather nebulous: "they simply stopped believing the church’s overall teachings, gradually drifted away from Catholicism or said their spiritual needs weren’t being met." which I find far more understandable than rejection of particular doctrines.

    There is a feeling, I believe probably a lot stronger than bishops will care to admit, that the Church should review its attitude towards birth control, towards the divorced and the cohabiting, towards sexual orientation other than heterosexuality, I think all these are evident ... but the single biggest influencer is the continual revelations of clerical abuses, and the church's attempts to silence, cover up and dissemble ...

    While we're on 'religion v myth', here's a couple of Catholic myths that need debunking:

    The opinion that Catholics think of God as an old man with a white beard who sits on a throne in the clouds ...
    For the simple of heart, it's an entirely adequate image, and no better nor worse than any other, but for there is also the understanding that symbols are deployed to convey abstract, metaphysical truths which the imagination can find harder to grasp.

    The opinion that Christianity is about being good ...
    No. Christianity is about participation and deification.
     
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  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Yup
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering about this ... where do these beliefs come from?

    According to one source, Christian denominations that accept evolution theory include:
    Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Episcopal Church, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, United Church of Christ. I would assume that the American Anglican denominations are in accord too.

    The denominations who apparently deny evolution are home-grown. I cannot answer for them, nor should their beliefs form any part of an argument for or against religion as such. It's a local phenomena, and I suggest one born out of a nationalist idealism, rather than any metaphysical, philosophical or religious conviction.

    Perhaps someone will (has?) researched why the US is such fertile soil for such banana theories?
     
  8. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    There is a vast difference between what is known in the hierarchy and priesthood and what is preached from the pulpit, taught in Sunday school and understood by the parishioners.
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Same as in everything else, really.

    There's two things at play here — firstly, people of faith aren't theologians and aren't interested in theological debates or intellectual arguments — just look at political debate and it's clear people argue from the heart or the gut rather than the head.

    Secondly, people cannot simply absolve themselves from responsibility by not bothering to further their faith. Some do, in prayer and practice rather than theology, and that's more likely to produce saints than the latter path.

    Often outsiders criticise believers for their lack of intellectual rigour, but then that critique can be made of anyone. You and I have clashed over what I see as fundamentally illogical and theologically unsound about Unity or Spong, but you still stand by them.

    I am also in the David Bentley-Hart camp when it comes to the appeal of 'boutique religions' which, like the 70s 'headshops', offer the disaffected a much to attract the ego and the eye ...

    My own Catholic education was, in anything, well below par. I went to a state school until I was 11, then a Catholic secondary school where the education was bloomin' useless. Can't remember anything. Dad was not a theologian, nor was mum. All my education follows in the wake of my own studies in philosophy and comparative religion, and then a distance-learning degree.

    In defence of the parish priest, they too often have enough on their plate looking after the pastoral needs of the parish, and I know from my own experience that to get any kind of interest behind theology or further studies is look pushing peas uphill ... there just ain't the interest. My mum's parish priest used to pass his sermon notes to her to give to me (we never met) ... it was all there, references in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, etc., etc.

    His parishioners didn't like him much. 'All head and no heart', someone once told him.
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    In addition to the above ...

    If we look at the current political situation, of which I think we (you and I, Wil,) agree that our current domestic situations are pretty bloody awful, then we look at a Trump Rally, or a pro-Brexit Rally, and we can see that people are in sway to a myth that to you and I, from our respective positions, has as much substance as the Emperor's New Clothes ...

    I remember being in the Church with a geriatric old monk ... we were getting ready for Mass. I was reading. We approached the altar, and he pointed to the new mikes that had just been installed at the lecterns. "Apparently, we are to ensure the little red light is on," he said. "Lord knows why, but we all need our myths to live by, don't we?"
     
  11. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    So, in your opinion...Is there any such thing as "an Absolute"?
     
  12. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Change, for example. Always happens.
     
  13. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    Yes of course.

    The creation is composed of "Opposites"

    Ying and yang is the changing flux;
    Ying and yang is the absolute state.

    Which is superior: the state of changing flux, or the status quo of opposites rising & falling, or the absolute objective observer?

    Yes, of course none can exist in isolation ---all three exist in-separably and simultaneously.
     
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  14. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    I think yin and yang are born from the absolute state.

    The absolute manifests as yin and yang.

    In the quaballah, the 'absolute' kether manifests as the 'opposites' chockma and binah: wisdom and understanding. From the union of the first two elementary opposites, the rest of creation emerges, in increasing complexity?

    In Genesis, Adam and Eve first emerge as perfect spiritual opposites, but the spiritual descends into the natural world. Through the 'knowledge of good and evil', Adam and Eve receive 'coats of skin'.

    There is a higher state beyond the primal opposites?

    Somehow our spiritual progress is to return to(ward) that forever unreachable 'oneness'? Of course we do not know why.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
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  15. dfnj2019

    dfnj2019 Member

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    You would probably like and greatly benefit from this series of videos:



    Here's a really good video on the same material:



    The purpose of myth and religion is to provide us a map on how we are to live our lives with sacred meaning. Joseph Campbell once said myth is the only thing worth writing about.

    The purpose of religion is to answer the following four great existential questions:

    1. Who am I?
    2. Why am I here?
    3. What does it all mean?
    4. What is going to happen to me when I die?

    Myths are stories providing answers to these questions. A religion is a little more structured but serves the same purpose. Religion provides a context and way in which we live our lives giving concrete answers to the four great existential questions.

    We live in the age of nihilism. The nihilist believes everything is meaningless. The Universe is just patterns of energy swirling around according to the laws of physics with no one pattern of energy being more meaningful than any other. The thing is it is also meaningless that it is meaningless. So if it is meaningless that it is meaningless then you can be the ultimate nihilist and choose everything is divine and meaningful because what difference does it make how you choose!
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  16. dfnj2019

    dfnj2019 Member

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    For several months now I've been resonating with the ideas of Apophatic theology and certain interpretations of the trinity. I like the idea that God is not a person but God is a type of experience. Just because you use a toilet everyday does not make you a master plumber. The same thing is true about religion. The idea of God is much bigger and more complex than the way most people and atheists think about God.

    Most people think of God in two ways based on philosophical materialism or realism. With philosophical materialism as a belief system, either God is an imaginary friend or someone you would be able to meet in reality. People then argue if God is an imaginary friend then he is irrelevant since he isn’t real. And if God is a person, introduce me to him and have him demonstrate his powers. So if God can’t be experienced in reality as a person, then God doesn’t exist.

    This way of looking at God as an object in reality, or a figment of the imagination, requires the acceptance of the assumption philosophical materialism as an absolute fact. The thing is science has shown philosophical materialism is a delusional fantasy and just another belief system or dogma. Contrary to the chagrin of the philosophical materialists, we live in a spiritual Universe where consciousness exists and participates in changing reality through observation.

    Since philosophical materialism is a fairy tale, we need a more sophisticated way of looking at and understanding the nature of God. As I said I've been leaning toward Apophatic theology lately:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophatic_theology

    With this way of thinking, God is not an object person to experience in reality. God is manifested in the way the Holy Trinity is interpreted. With this way of thinking about God, God is perfect, complete, desiring nothing, lacking nothing, and needing nothing. God is absolute perfection and unity and beyond distinctions created through the use of language. This is a very different way of thinking about God than as an imaginary friend or someone you meet in person. Since God is absolute unity, complete, and perfect God cannot be a creature with limitations.

    With the Apophatic way of thinking, "the essence of God is completely unknowable; mankind can know God only through His energies". So we can only know God through our experiences as an indirect way of seeing fragments or glimpses of the greatness that is God's infinite perfection.

    "Apophatic theology, also known as negative theology,[1] is a form of theological thinking and religious practice which attempts to approach God, the Divine, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God"

    "Dionysius describes the kataphatic or affirmative way to the divine as the "way of speech": that we can come to some understanding of the Transcendent by attributing all the perfections of the created order to God as its source. In this sense, we can say "God is Love", "God is Beauty", "God is Good". The apophatic or negative way stresses God's absolute transcendence and unknowability in such a way that we cannot say anything about the divine essence because God is so totally beyond being. The dual concept of the immanence and transcendence of God can help us to understand the simultaneous truth of both "ways" to God: at the same time as God is immanent, God is also transcendent. At the same time as God is knowable, God is also unknowable. God cannot be thought of as one or the other only"

    "[t]hat which is infinite is known only to itself. This it is which gives some notion of God, while yet beyond all our conceptions – our very incapacity of fully grasping Him affords us the idea of what He really is. He is presented to our minds in His transcendent greatness, as at once known and unknown.[49]"

    Most philosophical materialists believe there is no purpose to the Universe. Most philosophical materialists believe there is no purpose to evolution. With this way of thinking the philosophical materialists think the Universe is nothing but meaningless patterns of energy with no one pattern of energy having more meaning than any other.

    For the philosophical materialists evolution has no purpose. Evolution is the result of essentially random events with no outside organizing agent or influence. For the philosophical materialists consciousness doesn't really exist. Each of us is just a machine carrying out the laws of physics. And consciousness is just a delusional side effect of activity of the brain. And many philosophical materialists are researching the problem of consciousness so to finally prove consciousness does not exist. Anytime someone says consciousness doesn't exist immediately punch them as hard as you can right in the nose and then ask them, "Did you feel that?"

    However, in contrast to the way the philosophical materialists think about reality, this idea that God is both immanence and transcendence is fascinating to appreciate. Since God is absolute perfection and complete, the Universe was not created out of need and desire but an abundance flowing out of God. This abundance has no where else to go but to flow back to the absolute unity that is God.

    We are the Universe's way of experiencing itself. We are made of the very stuff we are experiencing. The purpose of Universe is to support evolution. The purpose of evolution is to create ever greater forms of consciousness capable of appreciating the unity that is God. We are all drawn to the unity that is God. We experience slivers of God's infinite beauty and perfection when we experience greatness in our lives. Experiencing or the appreciation of great beauty and great performance brings us closer to the perfection that is God. In the end, all the energy of the Universe conscious and unconscious all flows back to experience unity with the infinite perfection that is God completing a kind of spiritual circuit of reality.
     
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  17. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Nicely put.

    Still, for a apophatic approach, yours assumes a great number of things about God...
     
  18. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    You intelligent folk keep me busy
     
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  19. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    :)
     
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  20. dfnj2019

    dfnj2019 Member

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    Apophatic theology is not my invention. However, please elaborate on what you are thinking.

    The thing is any conversation with regards to religion involves having a set of assumptions that are considered to be true without any proof. If this were not in the realm of subjectivity then religion would be decided objectively based on reasons. Religion is not a decision based on reasons. Religion is a subjective choice based on assumptions which is essentially what we call faith.

    I've spent a lot of time studying the nature of belief systems and dogma. Also, how belief systems and dogma have meaning with regards to human language. First and foremost when discussing religion it is important to think for ourselves by not concentrating on who is speaking but by concentrating more what is being saying.

    So here is my ideas on dogma. Each person has their own personal dogma or belief system. Dogmas are built on a set of assumptions or axioms that are accepted as being true without any evidence. For example, one axiom of a belief system could be, "God exists". And another could be "The Abrahamic God of the Old Testament exists." If we do not share another person's axioms then we will think what they say is insane. This is because every sentence we speak must be aligned with our personal set of axioms making up our own belief system. Otherwise our thoughts would not formulate making any sense to us. Judging thoughts based on axioms is the way the human language works.

    Every person develops a different set of axioms based on their life experiences. Some axioms of course are shared. What is important to understand is there is nothing "wrong" with the way other people think. People just have different life experiences. It is very valuable to try to understand the way other people think by identifying their axioms. Axioms are like clothing. Sometimes we have to try it on to see how it looks and feels to appreciate it. It is also important to be aware of our own axioms so we can better understand the source of our bigotries and prejudices.

    With this way of thinking about an axiomatic base human language then it becomes clear there is more than one way to think about God. All religions are true by themselves but may be considered "wrong" relative to each other because people do not share the same set of axioms.

    Belief systems are important because they are the filter through which we experience our lives. If we want to live a happy meaningful life with divine purpose then we will have to have a belief system with a set of axioms that supports it.

    One of the problems with modern thought is the idea of nihilism. This is the idea that everything in the Universe is just patterns of energy swirling around according to the laws of physics where no one pattern of energy being any more meaningful than any other. The nihilist doesn't believe in God or purpose to the Universe. The nihilist believes everything we do is absolutely meaningless and insignificant on the cosmic timescale. The thing is it is also meaningless that it is meaningless. Since it is meaningless that it is meaningless then to be the ultimate nihilist one would CHOOSE to have a belief system supporting divine meaning in the Universe. And there is value in consciously choosing the axioms we have in our own belief system.

    There is an important distinction too be made when making a choice versus a decision. Most people use the word choice to be the same as the word decision. When we make a decision we do so based on reasons. When we make a choice, a true choice, it is made based on "no reason". It order to make a true choice you have to be willing to accept either choice as an acceptable outcome. We are then drawn to make one choice versus another without thinking too hard about it.

    It is important to respect other people's ways of thinking. When we idolize our own dogma as being superior to other people's we lose friends.
     

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