Does religion make us better people?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Magical Realist, Aug 18, 2013.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Someone who would face aging, illness and death with dignity.

    Not just calling it "dignity," but actually being without (any visible) greed, anger and delusion in the face of aging, illness and death.
     
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe not in a crowd, but surely within a few minutes of conversing with a person and getting to know how they go about their daily lives.


    So you default to whatever seems to be the default for you ...


    If you believe you know better than others, if you think you can criticize others (and you do), then you are in fact proposing to potentially offer things.


    Not necessarily.


    But surely you don't want to experience rabies.


    Sure, and we're talking about the philosophical tenets behind all this.


    The meaning of life is an immediate matter. It's the most immediate matter there is.


    For a few generations, yes.


    The absurdity of seeking enjoyment - and shelter and meaning - in things that will sooner or later cease to exist.
     
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  5. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    So nothing particularly profound then.
    No, my default would be a Christian outlook. It was what I was brought up with.
    I criticise/argue where I think I know better - as do we all. Knowledge in itself is not a worldview. The worldview is determined by each person in how they use or assimilate that knowledge. My worldview attempts to offer nothing to others.
    It is for each to have their worldview offer themselves something from the knowledge the gain (from whatever source).
    Or to put it another way: Reality gives no thought to how it is perceived. It just is.
    Yes, I would. Others might not, but it would be the top of my wish-list.
    No, because, as explained, I would not enjoy it. If you offered me non-existence as the only alternative, however, I would choose rabies.
    Indeed.
    It wasn't in the cases I have been close to. There were far more immediate issues that, once addressed, helped stave off the immediacy of any such thoughts. Longer term, sure, the meaning of life might be an issue for some.
    Why is it absurd? Calling it such does not make it so, so you'll have to explain why you think it absurd. I see nothing absurd in such things.
     
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    So you are honestly saying you have never come across a person who succeeded in facing up to the predicament?
    Wow. Genuinely: wow.
    Certainly two of my elderly relatives were as content and happy in their dotage as at any other stage in their life, with no greed, anger or delusion at the prospect of death. To them the process was as natural as the rest of their lives.
    And before you ask, one was devoutly religious, the other atheist.
     
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    I know of many people who claim to be dignified in the face of aging, illness and death, and of many people whom some others people call dignified in the face of aging, illness and death. They just didn't look dignified to me.
     
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    On the contrary. But I guess what some find profound, others find superficial ...


    You said - "How can I be so sure? I can't. But I have not been otherwise convinced by any alternative." Ie. you have not been convinced otherwise, so you just go with whatever seems currently present in your mind.


    That's just your outlook.


    Oh. I find this a very odd answer ... Wow. Rabies over non-existence! That's a first.

    My amazement aside - Do you have any idea what it is like to have rabies? Have you ever had, say, a broken femur? A root canal without anaesthesia?
    They say rabies is one of the worst things a human can experience, so your saying that you'd prefer this or that over rabies is rather ... let's say, enthusiastic.


    LG and myself have been arguing all along that there are no nor can there be any other more immediate issues than the meaning of life.
    Just because people forget about it, or aren't able to think about sometimes, doesn't mean it is not primary.

    Yes, even for people who are drowning or starving, the meaning of life is the primary concern, not how to get out of the water or find food. It's their outlook on what they find primary in life that will inform whether and how they go about trying to get out of the water or find food.


    Already intuitively, I would say it is absolutely absurd to seek enjoyment - and shelter and meaning - in things that will sooner or later cease to exist.
    I can't explain it better at the moment, but I can't understand how someone can think otherwise.
     
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I rather suspect you don't want to accept that they are as they either claim, or as they look to others, so you simply do not see it, as you'd then have to admit to yourself that it's possible. And doing so might only make you worried that you are not so capable.
     
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Perhaps you'd like to give an example of a profound practical difference? It may make it clearer as to what you are arguing.
    I did say that, and I'll say it again that my current position is not my "default". I moved away from the default to my current, as it made more sense to me, and subsequently no other has been able to convince me away.
    Indeed - but if you're able to convince me otherwise...?
    You'd seriously not exist rather than exist but have rabies, a treatable viral disease?

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    I may seek a cessation to any pain in the latter stages, if (or most likely when) it got too much. But I'd rather exist and have that choice than not exist at all.
    I find it rather surprising that you would not. Shocking, even.
    Primary does not equate to immediate.
    Of primary concern, for example, might be that I need to get to the hospital on time for an appointment. But an immediate issue might be that my car does not start.
    One could argue that the meaning of life is THE primary issue - but that does not always make it the most immediate.
    Primary does not equate to immediate.
    So you do not find enjoyment in seeing a sunrise or sunset? They end. Each is unique and each will cease to exist.
    Or whatabout enjoyment in a relationship with someone else? That relationship will cease to exist at some point. What is it about the temporary nature of something that prevents you from enjoying it?
    Well, feel free to explain when you can.
     
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    See below, on building one's whole life on one's purpose, on purpose.


    For now, I am just amazed by your stance.


    Last I checked, rabies is not treatable. Just the other day on the news, there was a feature about a proposal to reduce mandatory vaccination of dogs against rabies from every year to every second year, and there was some strong opposition against that proposal.
    Wiki says there is treatment after exposure, but it depends very much on administering it early enough. Many people don't have access to it, though.
    For all practical intents and purposes, rabies can be a sure and extremely painful death sentence.

    Anyway, I've mentioned rabies because traditionally, it was considered one of the worst things that can happen to a human, since we were talking about the bad things that humans can experience.


    Again, it's not clear how it is even possible to meaningfully talk about oneself not existing to begin with.
    That aside, if we're talking about options, then beside the option of one life, the option of non-existence, and the option of one life and one afterlife, there is also the option of reincarnation available in what the world's cultures have to offer.

    If you believed in reincarnation, how appealing would rabies be then, especially if you would be someone over and over again born in Africa, dying from rabies over and over again? Surely then even you would prefer non-existence over rabies.


    I say it does. See below.


    I think that depends on how aware one is of one's reasons for doing things, on a moment to moment basis.
    Someone who is acutely conscious of their purpose in life, will justify all their actions with that purpose, anything from which career to pursue, to the smallest things, such as how to use the toilette or how to breathe.

    Of course, people are typically not used to think and act this way, but religious people on principle are, be they theists or Buddhists.


    I think that you are working with some premises that you haven't stated yet.
    I'm trying to figure out what they are.


    It's not that their temporary nature prevents me from enjoying them; it's that their temporary nature makes me aware that no lasting meaning or happiness is to be found in them, hence I don't enjoy them in ways that something lasting could be enjoyed.

    Sure, there is some enjoyment in temporary things, there's no denying that. But it takes a good dose of distraction and limiting one's awareness to continue to enjoy them. Unfortunately, distraction and limiting one's awareness are not things one could control very well.


    I'll make an effort to do so.
     
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, materialists are worthy of envy ...
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    You'll still have to give me specific examples, as I'm currently struggling to see anything profound in practical differences. The rationalisation of and thought behind the practical may be profoundly different, but if it ends up with the same action then there is no practical difference.
    So again, what is an example of a profound practical difference?
    Why?
    As you say, it is treatable if caught early enough... E.g. within 10 days of contracting. Once symptoms start to manifest it becomes increasingly difficult.
    As said, I have no hang up with suicide if and when things get unendurable. But I'd still prefer the choice.
    I find it quite easy to do so... One merely imagines oneself not experiencing.
    Sure, but I would group that with afterlife, as generally reincarnation is a process until one is ready for the afterlife.
    If one believes in reincarnation, does one recall those previous lives? If not then I would see no difference, as each life would make its own determination. I would imagine each person would still prefer to experience rather than not be alive, at least until it became unendurable. Again, I'd rather have the option than not. But I guess if you then indoctrinate everyone that suicide is also a sin that would prevent you from all the goodies that a religion has to offer, then i can see that the thought process might be different, and the decision might be different.
    Sure, that is when the primary is also the immediate. But that does not mean that they are necessarily the same, as I previously exampled. Trying to support a claim that they are necessarily the same by using an example of only those people who are "acutely conscious of their purpose in life" is a fallacious argument: "It's true for everyone because it is true for these types of people!" Etc.
    Maybe the most pious, but on the whole, in my experience no they are not.
    What is it you disagree with, or do not understand, and perhaps we can narrow it down? Plus, you didn't actually answer the questions.

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    Surely the fleeting nature of something is a reason to make the most of it when it exists? Meaning? Perhaps not, if you're looking for things to reinforce your current expectation of meaning. But since I see no meaning other than what I choose to give myself, I am not necessarily looking for meaning in such things.
    Happiness? Again, perhaps not, for much the same reason. But since I am someone who considers all things temporary, then happiness is to be found in the temporary.
    Why does it require distraction or limiting one's awareness? I do not understand that. Do you not have a memory?
    But what, per se, is the issue with moving from one fleeting moment of happiness to another. After all, it is not the object of attention that has inherent happiness, but rather the person viewing it that is happy. Happiness is therefore with us for as long as we live, if we know how to access it.
    Why the need or focus on those things that are eternal, to the detriment of the temporary?
     
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    As mentioned, of the two people I exampled, only one was materialist, the other devoutly theist, and certainly not a materialist.
     
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    In the quality of a person's consciousness.
    This is the most immediate that each person works with.


    I'm amazed by impersonalists and materialists anyway.


    I think you overestimate your ability to imagine - to imagine the unimaginable. !!


    We're talking about the philosophical implications of believing or considering reincarnation as opposed to not doing so.

    To borrow a line of reasoning proposed by Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being: the reason people don't believe in reincarnation is that the thought of the same thing happening over and over again is too horrible to live with, so they prefer a one-lifetime conception.


    Frankly, that seems very abstract.
    I need somebody else's input on this to triangulate.


    It's more the case that religions tend to see suicide as an ineffective solution to the problem of suffering.

    If death alone could open the gates to heaven, then all we would need to do is die, and we'd be free of suffering. But the major religions typically say that it doesn't work that way.


    It doesn't matter to how many people statistically applies what I'm talking about; I'm talking about the principle.

    Normative principles cannot be derived simply from observing people and then making absolute conclusions about the nature of morality and philosophy.


    I'll put it this way: Can a person deliberately become a Stepford wife?


    I replied. I said: "Sure, there is some enjoyment in temporary things, there's no denying that. But it takes a good dose of distraction and limiting one's awareness to continue to enjoy them. Unfortunately, distraction and limiting one's awareness are not things one could control very well."


    It comes down to how easily or how difficult said thing is to obtain. The more difficult something is to obtain for a particular person, the more effort they have to invest into getting it, the greater is the chance that they will begin wondering whether said thing is really worth the effort or not.
    This isn't automatically sourgraping, but it is a calculation of the expected costs and benefits.


    ?? What, are you a demigod?


    And it's a temporary happiness.


    A broad awareness and a good memory make it very difficult to focus only on the pleasant aspects of something. Ordinary pleasures work by the principle of being ignorant of or actively denying the drawbacks that come with those pleasures. For example, being acutely aware of how bad it feels to be drunk lessens the pleasure of drinking the whole bottle of wine.
    Ignorance is bliss!


    But can you teach this to others? Can you teach others how to access happiness in the temporary?
    Or is your solution to simply dismiss as inherently defective those people who are not able to simply "just do it" and "just enjoy"?


    False dichotomy. Nobody was suggesting to focus on those things that are eternal, to the detriment of the temporary.


    There's plenty of "religious materialists." It's something that gets a lot of criticism in theist circles.
     
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I still don't see that as being an example of anything practical. I would, as previously mentioned, consider this as being an intellectual/mental difference. The mental is why you turn the tap on, the practical is the action of turning on the tap.
    Maybe we should line up in a freak-show for you?

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    Why do you think it's unimaginable? It's no more difficult than imagining the mathematical square-root of minus-one.
    Sure - and I would philosophically group it with "afterlife" - not at a detailed level but sufficiently so to distinguish it from those philosophies that have this existence as a "one-shot deal".
    But I would hold that if one does not recall any previous lives then I would not care if I experienced it over and over again... as each time would be experienced by a different "I" (even if by the same "soul" or whatever one calls that which rolls over from physical body to body). The issue I would have with it is if memory persisted.
    How bad would it have to get before you would prefer non-existence? You've already indicated (through your surprise) that you'd prefer to not-exist once you've contracted rabies. So I'm curious at what point you might consider non-existence the preferable position?
    Christianity barely mentions anything with regard it being an ineffective solution, but rather stresses what the action means for others... e.g. Catholicism states that your life is actually the property of god - so not yours to choose what to do with it in that way, and it stresses that you are hurting your friends, family etc that may rely on you. Other Christian branches treat it as self-murder. But I'm not aware of any Christian teachings that argue from being an "ineffective solution to suffering", other than it being a loss of hope.
    Aye - they have to keep the coffers coming in somehow!

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    But my view on the matter is that all we would need to do is die, and we'd be free of suffering.
    There is no principle that says that immediacy necessarily equates to primary and vice versa. That is your premise, your claim. I see it applying only to a minority, yet you try to insist upon it as a norm.
    I'm confused by the relevance of the reference. Please elaborate.
    I'm not referring to specific things, but in whatever one finds happiness in... i.e. after the calculation and happiness resulting.
    In such things, surely the fleeting nature of something is a reason to make the most of it when it exists?
    If you define demigods as those who get to choose what their own meaning in life is, then yes.
    And if I'm lucky it will be a temporary happiness that lasts my entire life.
    In my world view that would therefore make it a happiness that lasts all of time - in that time would not exist to me before I was conceived, nor after I am dead. So for the entire duration that time exists for me, I would be happy with what you might consider a "temporary happiness".
    Ah, if you're like me you gradually build up a tolerance, so that you learn to drink for as long as your desire lasts while never drinking quite enough to get drunk.

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    But yes, that is all part of the risk/reward you noted earlier. One merely needs to accept any displeasures that one decides to take in pursuit of the happiness. And, for me at least, such acceptance that there will be displeasure should negate them emotionally (although not physically). I.e. it was my choice, my decision to drink the entire bottle. And while I'm suffering I can smile at the pleasure it gave me the night before. Sometimes one gets the calculation wrong, but that then just helps improve future calculations.
    False dichotomy, but I'm sure you were aware of that as you wrote it.
    Can I teach it to others? No. Perhaps psychologists can. I struggle to teach a dog to sit. But I also think everyone has to find their own way in such things.
    I certainly do not dismiss people as inherently defective. I consider them different, but not defective. After all, it may be me who is defective.
    Which part is false? The focussing on the eternal, or to the detriment of the temporary, or both?
    I'm just not sure what the alternative otherwise might be to what I understand you to have been saying: that you do not find as much happiness in temporary things as you do in things that last... If that is the case, why would you not focus on the things that last? And in doing so, why would it not be to the detriment of the temporary?
    But no matter - I may be barking up the wrong tree here.
    Materialist deists I could understand, but religious materialists? Really?
     
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Some of us consider the state of our mind to be the most practical issue there is. Just like some of us consider philosophy to be the most practical field of knowledge.


    Surely then you can also imagine a square circle, eh.


    Like I already said: We're talking about the philosophical implications of believing or considering reincarnation as opposed to not doing so.
    Most Buddhists and Hindus also don't remember their past lives, and yet the belief in rebirth/reincarnation importantly informs how they go about life.


    Talking about my own non-existence is moot. I couldn't experience myself not existing anyway.


    Mainstream Christian doctrine is that if you kill yourself, you'll go to hell, and thereby suffer forever.
    The mainstream Christian solution to suffering is to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior and do all the necessary to get to heaven and be happy forever. Not accepting Jesus etc. means that you're going to be misearble now, and forevermore.
    Maybe you haven't heard the formulation "an in/effective solution to suffering", but that's what they are talking about.


    Since there would be no us, there would also be noone to experience this state of being free of suffering.

    We can only meaningfully talk about the cessation of suffering as long as there is someone who experiences this. If there is noone, then the cessation of suffering simply doesn't apply.

    Corpses don't suffer, but corpses aren't humans. Unless you want to argue that there is no important difference between a corpse and a living human.


    Of course. That's how people think of norms.


    I often refer to Stepford wives as the role-models of a happy materialist.
    I'm struggling to understand how a materalist can be happy, and whether this is something that can be learned, or whether it is beyond one's power.


    Oh yes.


    I wish LG would see this ...


    If you're lucky?! If you're lucky?! Whatever happened with your proactive demigod status?


    If you're lucky. Meaning: it's out of your hands.


    I think there is something perverse in calculating the dosage of an intoxicant ...


    Nonsense. I offered two common options, and you are welcome to offer more options. I never stated that the two options I offered are the only ones. In response, a goodwilled person would first offer more options, rather than accuse the other of fallacious reasoning ....


    Oh. When the going gets tough, you're out of the door ...


    One cannot "focus on the eternal to the detriment of the temporary." That's a contradiction in terms. One may be focusing on the temporary to the detriment of the eternal, but not the other way around.


    Because doing so makes one a social outcast.

    Which is one of the core problems with religion in the modern world: by diligently practicing religion, one becomes unfit to live in the modern world, which in turn has negative material consequences, as even a religious person needs to be able to earn money to sustain their body, so that they can engage in their religious practice.


    Sure. There's a surge of American Christian self-help books on how to get rich. In a way, they are very pius, but also focused on how to get more and more money, material things and relationships, with the help of God.
     
  19. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    And I would consider "most practical field of knowledge" to be an oxymoron: knowledge is mental, what you do with it might be practical.
    No. But being able to imagine one thing you consider unimaginable does not mean that all things you consider unimaginable necessarily are.
    Because, unless i am mistaken, their philosophy has reincarnation/rebirth as a path to an ultimate endpoint. That endpoint gives perspective to the journey.
    So I'm not sure what point is being made?
    But you at least acknowledge that you would not experience it. So you at least have something with which to compare to your current state of experiencing (and this is why it is different to the square circle).
    Yep, but it is an "ineffective solution" only because it is specifically stated, I.e. it being a sin, not because of anything inherent within the religion as there might be with those that include rebirth/reincarnation.
    But okay, I can see how such would be included under the banner of "ineffective".
    But I disagree that you can not meaningfully talk about it without experiencing it. One can conceptually compare the two. One can know what it is to experience, and the absence of this is the alternative.
    Further, it is the inability (per my worldview) to actually experience non-experience that makes death not such a biggy.
    The process of dying, though... Another story.
    As only applying to a small minority?
    If you get happiness from watching a sunset, or listening to a joke, then you can understand how a materialist can be happy... Because you, too, get happiness from the same.
    You confuse setting our own meaning with actually achieving it. Setting I consider to be in our control, achievement not necessarily,
    In many regards, yes.
    So you consider it an all or nothing? As with all things, and as you have argued yourself, there is a risk/reward calculation. Not sure why you should consider it perverse just because of the intoxicating nature of something? Are you just as guilty of such "perversion" and if so, how does it make you feel? After all, the same can be applied to almost anything that, if not moderated, will kill you.
    Perhaps you'll note that I made the accusation only as a result of you actually misusing it in the post previously. But heck, why should you not be hypocritical about such things.
    Your wording was such that the implication was that you considered it an either/or. But I won't push the matter further.
    If that is how you see it, despite it being my view for longer than I have posted on these forums, and consistent with what I have been saying up to now...
    [Qupte]One cannot "focus on the eternal to the detriment of the temporary." That's a contradiction in terms. One may be focusing on the temporary to the detriment of the eternal, but not the other way around.[/quote]Why not? One can forgo temporary happiness in order to focus on the eternal... Just look at any austere monk. That is all I was referring to.
    And unless you can think of a third option, it was not a false dichotomy (unless you can think of an excluded middle option?) but rather just a contradiction (although, as mentioned, I dispute your accusation of such).
    ??? In what way? And why should that stop you other than through fear? And how would unwillingness negate the theoretical option I presented?
    There are places such people can and do go. So I don't see your point here.
    Hmmm. I was thinking you were referring more to philosophical materialists rather than to economic materialist... I.e. the people that believe all is made up of matter, rather than just those who wish to collect material goods.
    A religious person who believes all is made from matter/energy? I find it hard to fathom.
    But yes, economic materialists, who want the money etc, but who are also religious? Yes, sure.
     
  20. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    Religious people tend to be more self reliant than what you find in atheist liberalism. The main reason is religions teaches will power by creating rules that restrict unhealthy and unnatural impulse. This is willpower 101. For example, overeating would be called gluttony and is therefore a sin. This was not arbitrary but centuries later science proved this cause all types of health problems and social expense. This rule adds internal and peer pressures which forces the development of will power. Will power, in turn, then allows more control in other aspects of life.

    Religions also teach a higher power, beyond humans. The US Constitution is based on this principle of God given rights, which supersede any attempt to substitute human manipulation for power. Without God given rights, rights become relative to scam artists and/or thugs who set the rights in ways to consolidate their own power base at the expense of the people.
     
  21. Coltephilos Registered Member

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    No, I don't believe that religion makes individuals "better" people; quite the opposite, in fact.
     
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    You said that reincarnation would only matter to you if you'd have knowledge of previous lifetimes, and that if you wouldn't, it wouldn't matter. I pointed out there are people who don't have knowledge of previous lives, believe in rencarnation anyway and that said belief informs their actions.

    As for the endpoint: not for everyone. There are people who believe in rebirth/reincarnation, but who don't believe it has an end.


    Oh well. Blame it on my lack of imagination.


    Exactly. Which is why much traditional religion and philosophy was focused on how to die well.
    For philosophers, see eg. http://www.amazon.com/The-Book-Dead-Philosophers-Vintage/dp/0307390438


    No, as being independent of statistics.
    Imagine, for example, where we'd come if people would require statistical evidence before they would accept the equality of all people as a norm. It would never happen.


    No. I think there is a lot more necessary for a materialist to be happy. Certain beliefs must be held before temporary happiness can be considered the best there is. I want to know what those beliefs are.


    If achieving a goal is out of our hands, then there's little point in setting them to begin with.


    If one has the presence of mind to calculate the dosage of an intoxicant (!), then surely one also has the presence of mind to make an effort toward a happiness that doesn't rely on intoxicants.


    Ah.


    Sure.


    Monks?

    For one, you seem to be thinking that eternal things are those that take place before one is born and after one dies. No. Eternal things, being eternal, as the name says, last in the here and now, before, and after one's death.

    As for monks - you seem to have a strange idea of monasticism and austerity - as if it is something inherently unenjoyable, or grim, or "waiting for the big prize somehwere off in the distant future while now we just grin our teeth and bear it." You might want to listen to a few talks here http://dhammatalks.org/mp3_index.html, by the keywords "pleasure" and "happiness" to get an inside idea about monks and pleasure. The speaker is a Buddhist monk.


    Because people who don't follow mainstream values tend to be perceived as abnormal and ostracized.


    Indeed ...


    Oh no, it wouldn't.


    And rabies is eminently treatable. When did you last check what the requirements are for being accepted to a monastery, especially as a woman?
    A hundred or more years ago, it was easy enough; nowadays, not at all.


    A nominally religious person who values material goods as the highest, is actually a philosophical materialist.
     
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Sure - and undoubtedly my view of reincarnation stems from my actual view of everything otherwise being temporary. As you're aware, it's difficult to fully put yourself in the shoes of someone with fundamentally different core values. One can understand certain things, but generally one is only able to consider them from an initial standpoint of their existing values.
    Really? I was not aware. So what do they see as the purpose of rebirth/reincarnation?
    I was thinking more of the painful slide to death through illness etc. Dying well, as per this book, I'd like to think would not be an issue. But until I get closer I obviously can't be sure.
    Okay - but how is it that you get to define the "norm"? On what basis are you considering it the norm?
    One belief only: that this is all there is. The rest is just a matter of coming to terms with it.
    Not that many of us would consider it a belief in the same way that religious people believe that God exists, for example. I.e. it is just what we consider to be the most rational position: Occam's razor and all that.
    If we don't roll the die then we can never achieve a 6.
    Achieving is not entirely out of our hands, and possibly not at all - it depends on what we set our goal, and what happens on the journey. Plus it is in the setting and striving toward the goals that gives our life a focus. Although some might be content to blow around on the chaotic winds and just see where things take them, and are happy to do so.
    Sure - as we have agreed it is a matter of calculating... and the risk one attributes to the intoxicating nature. With regard alcohol it is, in moderation, comparatively risk-free. With something like heroine... I'd think not so much. So this all forms part of the calculation. There are also some forms of happiness that are unique to certain things... so one must build that into the calculation.
    Yes, I know what eternal means.
    I admit my experience of monks is the Christian variety, and having been to a school run by such, and discussed the matter with them at length, I can assure you that they give up much temporary happiness in seeking eternal happiness.
    So I don't see the issue, or the point you are trying to make. Either the practical applications would prevent you, or they are not an issue.
    As a woman, I couldn't say - and certainly not in the wider religious community. So point taken.
    Ah - and now I can jump on LG's bandwagon and say that these are only nominally religious, and not actually religious.

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