Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Questions about Religion

Regardless of your own attitude toward religion, do you think that the human mind can and will evolve beyond the need for and the belief in religion? If in the future religion is a thing of the past, will that be good for human beings?

38 Comments:

Blogger WeezieLou said...

to me, there is an enormous difference between 'religion' and spirituality. Religion serves many purposes for many people - some purposes that benefit the global community, some that adds to the destruction of the same community. i think the most dangerous part of religion comes from the same place much of world destruction comes from - fanatics. i remember a grad school prof saying "beware the true believer" and that's always made sense. so i'm not sure if a dissipating need for religion is good or bad. now, spirituality, which i would define as having a more personal, private relationship with a higher being, is something i see as more of a need - for some. some folks need the structure and the rituals of organized religion, some don't. personally, i'm good with a mix.

good question!

December 04, 2007 2:17 AM  
Blogger FranIAm said...

What an excellent question PoP!

This is a topic that I have given frequent thought and debate to. I think you know this but for the purpose of full disclosure, I am an actual (albeit lefty progressive irreverent type) practicing Catholic. (gasp!) And I could care less what you or anyone else believe inasmuch as this- I am not pushing my thing on you, please don't push yours on me.

But hey- let's discuss it!

My comment length answer is this... first of all, weizilou in the comment above is quite correct to state the distinction between religion and spirituality.

As someone to whom both are important and part of life I will say this. Who knows what evolution is ahead?

It is my belief that it is the human impulse, for good or ill to externalize this need for something "greater". Now that can be good or bad.

There have been "gods" of some sort over time and I do believe that this will always be part of the human condition.

At its best, religion can help lift people up. This does happen and even in some of the most screwed up organized religions.

At its worst, religion is used for power and control.

Human beings often use religion as an excuse for taking no personal responsibility. "Jeebus made me do it!" Or whomever or whatever.

As a result, I do not think that impulse will leave the human race.

The counterbalance to that impulse is those who love power and control and are happy to use organized religion to exercise their need to dominate.

Thus is created "the perfect storm". Our society loves to demonize religion or those who would control... let us remember however, that nothing happens in a vacuum.

That is the "true believer" problem - any thing that is too orthodox and fundamentalist, over the top. Religion sadly does not hold all of the reigns for that, although it does hold many of them!

This is all very sad, but it is a story as old as time. Sad- it is fucking tragic!

Whether it is "God" or any other externalized being, if it is used for domination, power and control - it is bad. And in that case it can be God as in the 3 monotheistic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, ancient Greek or Egyptian gods, the "god" of whatever evil or facist or whatever movement is active (Stalin for example, Mao, Pol Pot).

Sadly it is never that hard for people to want to follow, even if, perhaps especially if that means killing and destroying each other.

Well this comment has gone on too long.

What will be a good thing is the day- should it come - that whatever people believe in is truly for the good of others. It does happen today and it always has, just as the sad and dark side enumerated above has been.

For the record- my own practice of my faith is pretty much this, paraphrased from Anne Lamott channeling Jesus on the topic... Do you guys think you could just be nice and take care of each other? Not kill each other? Do good things? Great. Thanks for that.

December 04, 2007 3:15 AM  
Blogger fallenmonk said...

An excellent question PoP and the answer is pretty simple(the excellent prior comments acknowledged). Until people face their fear of the unknown and begin living in the now and not the past and the future the answer is no. Until they stop clinging to the rock in the stream(in the belief that they can resist the flow) and let go and go with the flow and have faith that it will take them unharmed down the stream of life they will always cling in panic and fear(religion and empty words from supposed religious leaders). Jesus told them the secret in the Sermon on the Mount but they just ignore it.

December 04, 2007 4:19 AM  
Blogger Wren said...

As long as there are things in the world we do not understand and which we cannot control, religion will be part of human existence.

I don't blame religion for the world's ills. Those who use religious belief and practice to dominate others and inflict harm would find another way - fighting terrorism, for example - to do the same thing if it didn't exist.

December 04, 2007 4:20 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

I'm pretty much with Fran on this. I'm not sure if that impulse will leave, whether it is or isn't biological. Look at the UFO/black helicopter stuff in the atomic age. That's a religion for the non-religious. Those people are hardcore. Most humans want to believe in something bigger, and I think even us atheists do, it's in having the best possible world for humanity, which is an idea shared by a lot of the non-loon religious types - don't worry Fran, when we run the world, we won't send you to atheist camp. ;-)

Whatever form it takes, most humans want to feel part of something bigger. That'll never go away.

December 04, 2007 5:16 AM  
Blogger FranIAm said...

Damn Randal, you just ruined my day. I was almost looking forward to that!

On a serious note- I think what fallenmonk has said is so true.

December 04, 2007 5:27 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

i think we always will have something akin to religion. why? not sure.

spirituality is better. less rigid, less likely to be twisted to bad purposes.

but, as long as it can be used as a tool, religion will be helped to
survive even if it began to die off.

December 04, 2007 5:28 AM  
Blogger Jazz said...

I doubt people will ever lose the need for religion because religion (as opposed to sprituality) is, to my mind, a tool, for want of a better word, to help explain the unknown. "You're not an accident, you're created by god! No need to fear death, you'll keep on living afterwards!". As long as people gain comfort from not having to face the unknown, there will be religion. And I don't think most people are wired to accept, at the least, that the end is the end.

Great question POP

December 04, 2007 5:42 AM  
Blogger betmo said...

i sincerely hope so- and yes. i'll leave it at that. :)

December 04, 2007 6:02 AM  
Blogger niCk (Mem Beth) said...

Our egos are too big. There MUST be a purpose for us to evolve to be soooooo intelligent.

Are we really intelligent? Perhaps we are just highly delusional.

December 04, 2007 6:25 AM  
Blogger dguzman said...

Probably, because enough people will keep it alive for whatever reason--personal need, control, or whatever. It's ingrained in humans to find explanations and reasons for the universe; since the beginning there's been some higher power, whether it was Odin or Zeus or Allah or Jesus.

December 04, 2007 7:05 AM  
Blogger Forty Paws said...

I love a saying I heard eons ago at an AA meeting. "Religion is for those afraid of hell, and spirituality is for those who have already been."

December 04, 2007 7:08 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 04, 2007 7:09 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

I think that there's a need in every human for the sacred - whether it's a form of god, or a reverence for nature or the ancestors who got you here, or just a place[could be virtual] to feel humbled or inspired.

People who have no need for the sacred are less than they could be, imho.

December 04, 2007 7:09 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

Good question, Pop. I'm an atheist, but also feel deeply spiritual about life in the biggest sense. I think monotheism is the worst thing that has ever happened to the planet. If evolution can rid us the desire to keep telling those old war stories, we will be better for it. I'd like to see a mind-expanded, consciousness-raised awakening. Will it happen in my lifetime? Not a chance. But I think it could happen someday. Maybe after global warming has wiped out 90% of the earth's population.

December 04, 2007 7:44 AM  
Blogger Pursey Tuttweiler said...

I think that the need to understand all the mystery and the uncontrollable aspects of the world will always drive religion and spirituality in many different forms.

December 04, 2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger annie said...

you are putting up some sigh-worthy posts, p0p. i am sick to death of religion influencing so much that occurs. like others, i consider myself a spiritual soul. that doesn't mean i run my life by someone else's book of rules.

watching all the so-called candidates posturing and phoniness about "their" god reminds me that religious folks aren't going away. in fact, they're multiplying like bunnies. :) (ever watch idiocracy?)

December 04, 2007 8:42 AM  
Blogger roger said...

my answer to the first question..it is devoutly to be desired. and the second...i suppose we could be worse off, but i don't see how.

December 04, 2007 8:46 AM  
Blogger Targa said...

Second question, answer: Gillian Gibbons, yes!

Now, to the first part:
As long as people exhibit irrational fears of the known and unknown, they will require a cosmic force or deity to help them interpret their own mortality, and to help them define their existence in this world as opposed to just looking inward and trusting themselves for their own strength.
I think it's quite humorous that irrational fears are calmed and pacified by irrational beliefs. Oh well.
Religion will hardly ever be a thing of the past, so long as it can be wielded by powerful entities to be used as a controlling societal tool, and societies allow themselves to be manipulated.

God or Allah or The Flying Spaghetti Monster, whatever you want to call it, or him or her, is nothing more than a clever creation of man to delude and deceive the ignorant masses into an unnecessary belief system. (Well, not so much TFM).
As long as people don't have to worry about a punishment of death or exile for not believing or respecting, then I say, "To each his own"... wait.... see answer to question #1 above.

I got nothing. I hate religion and religious questions, but I CAN'T stay away from them. :)
For being an atheist, I think I have a larger collection of religious books in my library than most believers have. Probably.

My name is Targa and I don't believe in God. I approve this message.

December 04, 2007 11:22 AM  
Blogger annie said...

"all religion is a crutch for weak-minded people"

jesse ventura, in a moment of brilliance!

December 04, 2007 12:25 PM  
Anonymous scott said...

Humankind’s experience with religion is much like its experience with all the other “isms;” all dogma and no discipline. We will probably always have it because believing is easier than learning, and identifying one’s self as an “ist” with all the insight and compassion espoused by the “ism” is easier than taking any real responsibility for the harm we cause and the good we fail to do.

Where does it all come from? I have no clue and the possible explanations are limitless. Is there a continuation of consciousness after death? See above. Is our human existence part of a greater universal whole? Ecologically, yes. Metaphysically, I can find no evidence of it.

And at the risk of angering some, for me the spiritualism angle just doesn’t cut it socially or intellectually. It is one part hedonism and two parts narcissism. It is religion playing tennis without the net.

I often defer to Wallace Stevens who spent a life time exploring how one accommodates a will to believe when the intellect precludes the possibility of belief. Here is a link to his poem Sunday Morning:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=2464

December 04, 2007 12:53 PM  
Blogger Distributorcap said...

i think organized religion has been the worst thing that has ever happened to the human race. the animals seem to do just fine without a god or bible -- they just dont do fine around us.

spirituality is a whole different thing.......

great question POP

and dont you just love how all the WORST humans use religion as a justification for their behavior...

December 04, 2007 12:56 PM  
Blogger fashiongirl said...

That's a great question PoP. I think we're always going to have a need for religion, if only to not feel alone in the universe.

December 04, 2007 1:42 PM  
Blogger Fixer said...

I'd say, collectively over the course of human history, religion has done more harm than good. I'd like to see us embrace the world around us for what it is, not as some gift from a deity.

If some great god was powerful enough to create Life, The Universe, and Everything, do you think his full attention would be on a little speck of rock orbiting an average-type star in a backwater arm of one of a hundred billion galaxies in the known Universe? Maybe the sooner we learn our place in The Big Scheme of Things, the sooner we'll get around to understanding our little corner of it.

December 04, 2007 1:55 PM  
Blogger poopie said...

organized religion? we could definitely do without. but, i think we humans will always need the connection of spirituality to a higher power. i can't imagine dealing with life without it.

December 04, 2007 2:15 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

I have such mixed thoughts on religion and it changes from day to day. On one hand, I am always amazed when educated people are Christians. On the other hand, I believe in...something. I have no idea what that is, whether it is god or nature or what. I don't know if I think it is an entity, or a concept or a big giant guy in the sky. I believe that there are things beyond our knowledge, so I think that there is the possibility, but it is unproveable. And that is when it becomes faith. I do not adhere to the christian myth (myth, IMO) and so I do not claim to be a christian.
But I also firmly believe that this country should NOT base our laws on the christian doctrine. I believe those things belong in a church, not a government, and never the twain shall meet.

December 04, 2007 2:39 PM  
Blogger T&A said...

Yes, many folks such as myself have "evolved" beyond religion. I believe that if we don't blow ourselves up, we will one day move beyond religion. Many in Europe already have. Without the need to subscribe to mythology, humankind will be better able to explore the universe, and understand our place in it.

December 04, 2007 2:41 PM  
Blogger M.Yu said...

Religion is a social phenomenon more than a spiritual one. It will always be around as long as people can use it as a lever of power over others
Spirituality is a personal experience that will always be with each person, though likely filtered through their acculturation. So we should hopefully grow into it, not out of it.
(not that that is like anytime soon!)

December 04, 2007 3:12 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

I think there is a difference between religion and spirituality. I think spirituality is inherent in human beings and will always be there. If one believes in the soul, it is part of the soul, or perhaps it is the soul. Religion, however, is a man made organization, and in most cases if totally useless. Religion has nothing to do with spirituality.

December 04, 2007 4:42 PM  
Blogger ZILLA said...

Some humans will always want religion. That statement does not answer your question concerning need, I know. I've known so many non-spiritual religious people, and so many spiritual non-religious people. I've also known a few outright hedonists, come to think of it, who aren't religious or spiritual.

Guess with whom I get along better :-)

December 04, 2007 5:22 PM  
Blogger AlieMalie said...

only when people take personal responsibility seriously do i believe we will "evolve" beyond the need for and the belief in religion.

December 04, 2007 7:26 PM  
Blogger DCup said...

In a word? No.

December 04, 2007 7:49 PM  
Blogger Comandante Agí said...

People may abandon religion, i.e. belief in a supreme being and a creed of commandments. But humanity will always be plagued by the isms...nationalism, racism, classism, sexism, etc. The problem is thinking in terms of us vs. them.

December 04, 2007 8:45 PM  
Blogger antipop said...

constantin started religion to het people to be obedient. he was a politician. if politicians disapear, religion will disapear. anyone see that happening?

December 04, 2007 9:14 PM  
Blogger eyemkmootoo said...

So you think the human mind is evolving? Eyem starting to think the opposite.

And as a comment on the comments; Eyem starting to think that spirituality is for people who think they're too smart or educated for religion.(Not that Kmoo is an expert on spirituality or religion).Eye need to go back and read some more Rudolf Otto and try to decide whether there is really any difference between the two.

December 08, 2007 3:18 PM  
Blogger Dave The Angry Rhode Islander said...

I do think we can evolve beyond the need for religion. I don't think it will ever happen though. I fear that long before religion is a thing of the past, humans will be a thing of the past, due in large part to the need for and adherence to religions.

December 09, 2007 7:47 AM  
Blogger Spartacus said...

PoP, to answer your first question, I think we already are evolving from it. To answer your second question, it's too soon to tell.

December 10, 2007 8:00 PM  
Blogger Wyldth1ng said...

Yes. No.

December 12, 2007 11:43 AM  

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