I’m finding Google+ a much better platform to actually have discussions. Too bad they are going to shut it down next year, right when i discover it.
Here is a comment in one discussion the began many exchanges ago with “What is religion?”
The discussion developed to here. There are a few points, so I’m making a post. :
Walter: “Now we are getting somewhere. Except you too of course ignore responding to all the points I make in many comments now.
–My response: The way the thread is laid out it is sometimes cumbersome to get to all the points and even sometimes I miss some posts. Also, in such a forum, I have to pick my battles because some of my answers would end up being blog size, and some would have to be book size. So I temper my address to certain issues that catch my eye and seem to go with the arena.
Walter: “Should I just assume you agree with me on things like neuroscience revealing to us how religious indoctrination deceptively works at the hidden subconscious level to influence human thinking and bypassing normal sound reasoning?
—Me: I do not refute science except with science. The facts of neuroscience do not speak of how it is we are even understanding neuroscience. But nevertheless, I am more concerned about the manifestation of knowing and Experience. The fact of neuroscience do not go into explaining just what is occurring in my knowing of these facts and how they are situated in experience. A relevant example could be food and eating. The various biological functions do not fully explain my experience of eating nor digesting nor knowing about these things. There is something else going on besides nearest scientific fact. And I go so far as to say that we need to explore these other areas if indeed science is going to be able to come true to its general assertion of propriety.
I am philosopher. My ponderings go way beyond what is scientifically verifiable or provable. There are philosophical problems with both. This does not mean that I do not use such conventions; my books (and other’s: you could look into Bruno Latour about a critique of science, if you would like) and sometimes my blog posts often deal with the philosophical considerations of science.
Like I said, I am a philosopher. I do not claim to be a “philosopher of…” anything specific, like a philosopher of science, or a philosopher of religion. My work,if I have to narrow it to a label, concerns ontology, teleology and existence, and how such issues manifest to knowledge. In that way one could even say I am concerned with epistemology, but again, not “of…”. These questions are involved, and sometimes I find it difficult to discuss what arises out of them, simply because most people do not get further than, what I could call, real political occurrences. But that too is a problematic label.
All these kinds of things I deal with in my books. And one of my books uses the Gospels to talk about these kinds of issues. But, the title is “…a heresy”. And I mean that in the sense that while I am using the Gospels, I am not making a religious statement except maybe that while we don’t need theology or a divine God to explain what is occurring in the Gospels, nevertheless, the religious explanation is equally valid and informing.
Walter: “If those Supreme Creator Gods are not making any significant difference to have their followers show themselves to be superior in some small way, they are in fact impotent, not omnipotent as we hear in the unsupported rumors.”
— Me: Philosophically speaking, I do not think that ‘belief’ is a sufficient notion to fully explore was is going on in your question. Indeed, the notion of belief is sufficient to have a political discussion about power and ethics, but I am not sure that those arenas get to the heart of what is occurring. They do in fact manifest as a valid and functional dynamic, but, again, my books get into another possibility.
To answer simply, if I can — the creator Gods do not simply occur with the term “God”. The question that appears to me that you are asking is based in a postmodern ideal that discourse identifies true things, what I call, True Objects, actual truly true things the existence of which cannot be disputed except in the manipulation and negotiation of discourse. I am not sure that the postmodern ideal is accurately giving us the truth of things.
But again, as i say, it does give us things that indeed are valid and useful. What I meant by the “creator Gods” and “Yahwehs” are the elements by which human beings are able to discern reality, what is true in reality against what is false. Again, I go into what I am meaning in my books.
If I see the term “God” as indicating a True thing, which is to say, the proof of its existence is something which depends upon ‘real existence’ being a criterion upon which I am able to discern proof, then “God” yes is impotent for the exact reason that you state. This is to say, because everyone is thus involved with “believing” this and that, and we can get into a discussion about politics, ethics and power. Yes I agree there.
Walter: “After thousands of years we see that the religion Business focusing more on its OWN revenue and power than doing all that is possible to help the poor and needy, and to make any significant change. Why spend billions year after year on something that has proven it works no better than reading a book on getting along with others and being the best you can be?”
Me: what works any better? I am going to rather harsh and unethical here: There are, what, Billions? of people that we are almost totally unable to account for in activity nor control, all of which are trying to assert their idea of reality upon everyone else. And our planet is getting smaller. Any functional survivable future of humanity, as a species, will be based on effectively controlling the aggregate of humanity.
However, I try less to get righteous (religious) about what “should be”, and try to deal with what is actually there. For example, though this is a far reach from global religions, it was once thought (and still is) that human beings “should be” hetro-sexual, that children are going to be screwed up if they are raised by same sex or gender fluid parents or even unmarried couples. (The list could go on). We are not changing this paradigm because of what “should be”. We are changing it because we are dealing honestly what what is already there.
And my extended rebuttal is that every ideological structure is also a religious structure. and functions in the same way.
Walter: “ I see you doing quite the elusive dance of self-deception to try to rescue religion from how divisive and corrupt it is, what a failure it has been on average, and how it causes conflict in our daily lives.”
Me: I am not trying to rescue it from corruption. I am fully admitting it is corrupt, but also that human beings in general are corrupt. My work is to explain religion without recourse to outside agency. to show what is actually occurring. not merely as a political power game, but as a vital component of being human in the world.
Walter: “Question: If you wanted to make a map of the world to show where we see more trouble, more poverty, less education, more social injustices fro women and gays, and more conflict and war, what would be a good guide be to do that?”
ANSWER: You plot on the world map the places in the world where religions have had and still do have the greatest influence and control over people and the countries they live in.”
And you will see in general the contrary with happier, more peaceful law abiding people, in places where religion has less influence.
So what does your common sense tell you from that? .”
Me: I think you last statement is a grand overgeneralization and verges on being representative statement of white oppressive culture. Again, it goes back to what exactly you are saying is religion, and if we can find examples of a confluence of unhappy and violent people where religion is not present. Where exactly on the planet does this utopia occur? New York? Los Angeles? Paris? In the Rocky Mountain Forest where the human population density is about 1:100 miles (arbitrary statistic. lol)
I would make the argument about what you are considering as “happy”. Drug addicts as a group, given enough of their drug, are “happy”. More peaceful? …I think there are some overgeneralizations going on with that statement.
Religion can be powerful, good and bad, but the term itself is very problematic, and actually, I think, prevents people from seeing what is actually occurring,