What is the role of religion in our modern secular world?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Magical Realist, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I concur: there are some non-theistic religions, although the majority of recognised religions are theistic.
    But "theist" also does not equate to "religious": I know of many people who believe in a god but don't hold with any of the recognised religions and consider the matter entirely subjective.
    Although, from other discussions, it may depend on what one views "religion" to be.

    What may also be missing from the discussion (and I apologise if this has been raised previously) is that religion (theistic or otherwise) can offer structure of thought and process to those that might benefit from it, and offer a crutch for those that need it.
    That may sound as though I think those that need it are somehow incapacitated, but I am mindful that people do work differently to me and have different worldviews to me (however irrational such views might be to me - given that rationality is also a fairly subjective matter), so there is no disrespect intended. I like apples, others like oranges.
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  3. Balerion Banned Banned

    I'm well aware of that. Indeed, I never made the claim that it was.

    No idea what that's supposed ot mean.
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  5. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    I think this is because ''theism'' is holistic, meaning it caters for the uniques aspects of humanity, the individual as opposed to the universal. No other form of discipline afects that (to my knowledge).

    While they may not subscribe to a recognised religion, they are still religious because their beliefs shape how they live their lives.

    I would agree with that, but I will also add that an atheist/agnostic will also benefit from structure of thought, and that is in no way different than the theist. The object may differ, but in alot of cases the actions are the same, and the benefit recieved is as important as the theist's. As long as we recieve data, our perception will change, and we will eventually live our lives according to those experiences.

    We are all incapacitated to some degree or other, because we are not in possession of full knowledge, and as such we are going with what suits us. The reality is, we're going to cease to exist as we are now, very shortly, and the chances are that we will not be in possession in of full knowledge before we croak. So unless we know we are right, and the others are wrong, we're simply wasting our time in thinking this.
    I don't think you disrespect theists, but you do blatently refuse to look at it past a certain point, and I think the view that you have now is because of this reluctance.

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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I tend to disagree with these, as you would use theism to mean more than I do (I.e. I consider it purely a matter of belief in god), and I can't accept the vagueness of your usage of "religious" here as it suggests that empiricists, or materialists, or panpsychists etc are all religious.
    Sure, I should have said that it offers a certain structure of thought that some may find more acceptable/useful, and did not mean to imply that it was the only route to a structured thought process. Science offers that, after all, but is not a religion, although you may disagree.

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    I can only look at it to the point where it goes beyond what I consider rational and unsupportable.
    No matter how hard I try, reluctant or not, there are some things I just can not accept as true.
    At best I would consider them unknown to me, especially if I have no convincing evidence one way or the other.
    That is my position with regard the existence of a deity.
  8. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member



    We don't disagree on the definition of theism, only what it entails.

    If the type of people you mentioned have a code of life, and live by that code, they yes, I regard them as religious.
    If you agree that there are ''non-theistic religions'', then you cannot really argue with what I suggessted without changing that.

    The car is science, and the driver is religion.

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    ''What you consider''? That makes alot of sense.

  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Thus your definition takes it steps beyond what I define it as. Mine has no "entailing" other than the non-belief in the existence of god. This our definitions do differ, even if just in defining the practical aspects.
    There are non-theistic religions due to the fact they are an organised cultural system that relates to the spiritual. Such things as empiricists don't necessarily do this, and there is no cultural system behind them.
    Just because i accept that there are non-theistic religions (eg Buddhism) does not mean that I think all non-theists are religious just because you an assign their philosophy or world view to a certain label or two.
    I would say that the driver is curiosity.
    And religion is the winding path that one hopes gets them to their destination but for which there are no maps.
    Unless it is true (and not just a claim of knowledge) then all we have is our opinion, our view, our consideration.
    I wouldn't "accept" something as true if I knew it was. But the point is that for such things i don't know. So for such things I won't merely accept them as true.
    How can I explain what evidence would be acceptable if no one has yet put forward a cogent and coherent definition for what god is that can even be evidenced, and that evidence only be rationally attributable to god?
    For example, if you take the two claims: god exists and is defined as the original cause; and the claim god does not exist. What evidence is there that can only be claimed by one side over the other?
    What, in the workings of our universe, can be used as evidence for god's existence that can not also be shown to be consistent with our understanding of a godless universe?

    Evidence acceptable to me to support the notion of gods existence is anything that can only be attributable to god's existence, and can be proven to be inconsistent with the workings of an otherwise godless universe.
    You find me something that fits that bill and I'd be a theist.
    But don't ask me to detail what exactly such a thing might be... I have no idea, only that I have not come across it yet.
  10. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    Sure they differ in practical term,s but not in actical terms, because we are individuals and our experiences idiffer, the difference can only be fully explained by the individual.
    The actual word ''theism'' merely states the position of the individual regarding belief or not, nothing more, nothing less.

    Yes, and ''spiritual'' has different meanings according to the individual, society, or culture. Atheists have their idea of spirituality which is conducive to their mindset...

    It wouldn't surprise me if you accepted the bolded section as ''spiritual'', but I'm not going to assume. Nevertheless this is an acceptable idea of spiritulity to atheists in general.
    You can build a religion around anything, it doesn't have to include God, or even God consciousness. It only requires some kind of code to living.

    They either do it or they don't. What's this ''don't necessarily do this''?
    And what do you mean by ''no cultrural system behind them''?

    I haven't assigned any labels, I'm merely stating that ''religion'' is ultimately a way of life, whether you worship God, or money, it makes no difference, if you live your life to pursue success, then you become religous.

    Religion can only be associated with the human being. You seem to give it an existence of it's own here.
    Also, the point of becoming religious IS because there are maps to the desired destinatiion.

    What else is there outside of these parameters?
    My point is, you have no reason to accept that God doesn't exist other than you choose not to, you say ''evidence'' is lacking, but you have no idea of what the evidence would be.

    1. What do you mean by ''accept''?

    2. Why should you accept anything as truth without experience? That was the point of my question.

    Oh come on! You're just going round in circles.
    Are you that afraid to venture out?

    God is the original person, from whom everything comes. The Supreme Being. The Cause of all causes.
    God is pure spirit, etc......

    What discipline do you think is going to evidence that for you? And if that definition isn't attributable to God, then what is?

    I don't care whether you believe those defs or not, and it doesn't matter whether I believe them or not, but that is the God who people say they worship in their temple, church's, synagogues, homes, hearts, etc....
    And that is what you expressly lack belief in.

    ''God does not exist'' a concotion. If there is an effect, there must be a cause, that is our experience. So there must be a point where there is a cause which is not caused, but is the cause of all causes, otherwise it just goes on and on, and on... which is basically stupid. The idea that a thing comes from no thing is nonsense, but a necessary explanation for the concoction of ''God does not exist''. So something exists, from which all over things come from. That's called God, or whatever word you want to use.

    The evidence is simply everything, which we have to work backwards from. The materialists work forward.

    The universe itself, our perceptiveness, our ability to enquire who and what we are, where we came from, what happens when we die, just for starters.

    You're assuming that this is a ''godless'' universe. Why?
    What is the 'evidence that would at least allow you not to make such assumptions, as you are unable to cite any evidence that God does not exist, or what it would take for God to exist in your mind??

    Believing God exists does not make you a theist. To be a theist means you believe IN God. That God exists, is a given.

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    That doesn't make any sense.
    How are you ever going to come across God, if every fibre of your intellect shuts Him out with insubstantial reasoning?

    Last edited: Jul 4, 2013
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I know. So why are you trying to assign more to it than that?
    It entails nothing more than this. Yet you seem to want it to.
    I'd accept that many atheists would use that bolded part as an acceptable idea of spirituality - but I tend not to use the word - as it is oft taken to imply things that aren't meant.
    I disagree that religion is synonymous with "code of living" as you seem to imply. While religion may certainly be, or include, a code to live by, not all codes are religious. They are merely perhaps philosophies, but philosophy is not synonymous with religion either.
    Religion involves practical rituals. Philosophies don't necessarily involve such.
    I mean that there is no necessity to do it while still being, for example, an empiricist. While some may and some may not, there is no necessity. Thus it (empiricism) is not itself a religion.
    They are not borne from a cultural system. They may affect how their culture develops, but religions are borne from the culture.
    And I disagree. I think you are being unnecessarily vague and woolly about the term in order to include everything you want within it. While religion is a way of life, not all ways of life are religions.
    Well, at least they think that the maps are to be believed - possibly the lure of an afterlife, and relegation of their moral compass etc persuades them - but that is another matter.
    I don't accept that God doesn't exist. Nor do I accept that God does exist.
    Perhaps you have confused my position here?
    I mean to consider it true from a practical point of view, regardless of whether it ultimately is or is not. As soon as I know something to be true then there is no mere acceptance but there is knowing.
    One shouldn't accept anything as true without experience, other than on a practical point of view - as practice is either a case of doing or not doing - there is no equivalent of "not believing".
    No, Jan, I'm not going round in cirlces.
    If you think I am it is merely due to your preconceived notions, and not through an understanding of my position as I have explained it.
    If we take that as the definition of God then, simply put, there is zero evidence that can ever be attributable to God that can not also be attributable to the "Godless" universe, where there is no initial cause.
    The notion of God has to compete with the other possibility - that God does not exist.
    For there to be evidence of one over the other then something needs to happen, observed, evidence that could not have happened under the other option.
    So, what is that something. I am not aware of anything that fits the bill.
    I do lack belief, yes. Because, as explained, there is zero evidence that could not equally be explained satisfactorily in the absence of the "God theory".
    So you're appealing to personal incredulity, to absurdity?
    And yet you're okay for God to be the cause of all, yet for God not to have a cause?
    I'm satisfied in saying/admitting "I don't know" the answer to such questions.

    And even if God is the "ultimate cause" (not that there is meaning to such in an environment without "time" - which at best we know is a property of our universe) - what else can you say about it other than there was an initial cause?
    What other properties of this God are you going to try to establish, and where is the evidence.
    Again arguing from personal incredulity, perhaps it is out of ignorance that you choose what is comfortable rather than being content with "I don't know". No matter.
    No, the evidence is not simply everything. In a universe that starts without God you still have the universe operating in exactly the same way. There is nothing that must be evidence only for the "God theory" and not the "no-God theory" unless you start with the a priori assumption of God's existence.
    As stated earlier - evidence for a proposition has to be something that can only be attributable to that proposition, and not to both. "Simply everything" is attributable to both.
    I'm assuming from a practical point of view - because it is the more rational position for me to take.
    If there are two competing theories that are equally supported (or in this case equally unsupported) then opt, from a practical point of view, the one that posits the least redundancies. This is how I view what is rational or not. God is a redundancy if there is an equally unsupported theory that does not require God.
    That is why I accept (from a practical point of view) the Godless universe.
    I do not believe it. I do not believe either proposition. There is no evidence for either. I am, after all, an agnostic atheist.
    Now you're equivocating. Look up any dictionary and it will give theism as belief in the existence of God - not in the belief IN God. One can technically be a theist yet reject everything God wants, however absurd that may sound, especially if you believe God to be omniscient, all powerful etc.
    It does, although perhaps not to you.
    How can I say what evidence of "X" I will accept when all the evidence I can think of can equally support "not-X".
    If you say that "X" exists then you tell me what evidence you accept - and I will tell you why I don't.
    Otherwise there is nothing else I can say other than it has to be evidence that can only be attributable to God, and not equally to not-God.
    How am I ever going to come across the Celestial Teapot if every fibre of my intellect shuts it out with similarly insubstantial reasoning?
    You consider it insubstantial because you are, presumably, swayed by something or other that I am not.
    Maybe you should be less interested in why I am not swayed and more interested in why you are?
  12. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    I'm not assigning more to it, I'm explaining to you what it actually is. Being a ''theist'' I think I am in a position to do so. The word itself only gives a broad/generalised definition of the basic state of mind.

    Nevertheless, ''spirituality'' is the basis of religion, a need to get in touch, link, join, with something greater than oneself, working to achieve this. That is the objective characteristic of religion.

    Where did I imply this? I said ''a religion only requires some kind of code of living for it to be a religion''.

    I didn't say ''codes are religious''. Religious activity has a certain characteristic that makes it religious regardless of the object and aim. If someone wants to become a doctor, then they have to become disciplined, they would need to be austere (contextually), they would have to follow a specific path, and if they prove themselves worthy they will get the initial qualification and become a doctor. But it doesn't stop there, they have act appropriately within their proffession, because they are ethically bound by oath, meaning they have to adjust their life to it. The only difference between that application, and the application of a serious religious person is the subject matter. It is the application that is to be called religious, not the aim.

    It's safe to assume the empiricists have a way of life. Right? If that is so and they believe that knowledge can only be understood via sense perception, then that belief will be central to how they percieve everything. One can't be an empiricist and be open to anything that is beyond sense perception, less he/she be making an effort to be an empiricist.

    An empiricist will obviously regard science and the scientific method as way of enlightenment, and as we have discussed in another thread, it is clear that science was being done at a time when religious devotion to God was predominant. So an empiricist is not doing anything new, the only difference is that he doesn't believe in anything which falls outside sense perception.

    Another somewhat different example is, in some home families may sit around the table and say a prayer before they eat, and some families may just eat without saying a prayer.
    You could say that the prayer is the ''religious'' act, but the sitting at the table together is also just as important.
  13. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    We're arguing about two different things here. When I say ''religion'', I'm not refering to specific religions like Islam, Christianity, and so on. I'm pertaining to...

    a) The cloth (so to speak) that these ''religions'' cut from.
    b) The spiritual, mental, and physical objective characteristics of religious action, which differ only in the subjective.

    You cannot really believe the maps if you have no knowledgable connection to them. The ''lure'' is not the promise of an ''afterlife'', but the recognition of a connection to something.
    Boy meets girl, they are physically attracted to each other, next they have things in common and the relationship develops the more they connect with each other. It's the same thing with being attracted to a specific way of life. It's all about attraction, and if there is none then you won't advance. So to pinpoint only one or two things about why people are religious, is to reveal that one doesn't have a sense of themself and relate that lack of sense to everybody else, or that one could care less about religion and sees no point in understanding it past a extremely superficial level, or lastly, disrespecting people on the basis of their worldview.

    Do you act as though God exists, or God does not exist?

    Do you, or would you, pray to God?
    Do you offer any kind of gratitude to God?
    Do you blame God for anything?

    If you don't do any of these things then you practically accept that God does not exist.
    Belief in God is a practical thing, not just a mental concoction, but you'd have to believe in God to know that.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds as if you want confirmation that God exists before practically believing He exists. Correct? This begs the question: How will you recognise God? Your thinking implies that God is separate to you, so right of the bat you're barking up the wrong tree. You wouldn't put off marrying your finance because you want confirmation that your marriage is going to be good. Would you? You have to build a good marriage by both parties acting properly.

    Please can you rephrase this point?


    So you accept that the universe could be beginingless, endless, transcendental to matter, pure spirit (consciousness)? Is the universe a person, or does it have the capability of being a person (seeing as it is the cause of persons)??

    Where is the literature that enlightens us that God does not exist?
    Where is the literature that tells us exactly how everything came to be?
    ''God does not exist'' is not a concept, it is something that is believed through choice or ignorance, therefore there is no competition.

    On a basic level, the universe looks as though it was designed, and we know that things that look designed more often than not, are designed. And we have a knack of knowing if something is designed, as opposed to coming about through a natural process.
    Seeing as you have no concrete reason to assume that the universe came about through natrual processess, and have more reason to assume that it came about through an intelligence, why don't you go with the positive?

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    Nope, just using plain old common sense, naturally applying occam's razor.

    It doesn't matter whether I'm okay with it or not, it is simply the best explanation.
  14. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    You're using ''i don't know'', implying that I'm using a ''god of the gaps'' argument, therefore elevating your own self over me. I'm using what I do know, to believe, because I cannot possibly know everything, not in this format anyways.

    If God IS the ''nultimate'' cause, then the evidence is everything.
    We can deduce that God is greater than His effect.
    We can deduce that God is not affected by His effect.
    We can deduce that God is not the same as His effect.
    We can deduce that God is an intelligent agent?
    We can deduce that we are somehow related to God because we have intelligence.
    We can deduce that we are both matter and spirit.........

    Your accusation(s) of personal incredulity is baseless because we don't have experience of something coming out of nothing. Sure, we can give a definition of ''nothing'' that could include the possibility of such an idea, but that is pure speculation as we cannot possibly know that it came out of nothing. The imagination is powerful tool and also something that does not grow on trees.

    Being a theist is the foundation of being content with ''I don't know'' but using what you do know to draw logical conclusions.

    How would you know that a universe without God operates in the same way? The best you can say is that ''I believe this universe operates without God''. It boils down to belief, and whether you believe or not is down to you, not evidence or lack of it.

    Given the subject matter, and the fact that we don't, and most probably won't ever know everything, it is good to see that a priori assumption that God exists is beneficial given that the evidence point more to God than no God (ie, intelligence, cause/effect), but more importantly for the purpose of this discussion, we base our belief on what we do know.

    In respect of your testimony, why is it ''the more rational position to take''?

    How are they competing theories?
    There is one theory (God exists), and there are objections to that.
    It's like saying other numbers compete with the supremecy of number one, but in reality, all numbers are born out of number 1.

    You're accepting a Godless universe because it is possible that God may not exist?
    Does the current scientific evidence convince you that God does not exist? If yes. Why?
    If not where does the idea that God could ever a redundancy, come from?

    Intellectually, yes, but there are no purposeful actions for agnosticism, as all purposeful actions are positive with full intentions. Meaning you are acting via a specific code of life which has to be based on something tangable, and not all intended acts are done with an overall view of the situaton, meaning we rely on belief and faith. Two more characteristics that are the basic foundation of religion.

  15. Mr Hope Registered Member

    It's to make people think and ask questions.
  16. Ivor Bigun Registered Member

    Probably not.
    Scientific knowledge (such as the number of electrons in an atom of hydrogen) doesn't come from religion.
    Religion is a primitive way of understanding the world and society.
    People obviously start out non-religious.
    A person is unlikely to adopt a religion without indoctrination.
    I can imagine a child being raised by wolves on an isolated island and inventing a religion from scratch.
    It wouldn't be identical to any of our existing religions.
    It might involve an invisible Wolf-god in the sky perhaps ?

    Modern gods are usually invisible, distant and based on important people, such as Father.
    Ancient gods, such as Yahweh, were local, sometimes visible tribal war gods or weather gods.

    When skeptical people asked to see god, the response was to make god invisible and outside of space and time.
    Before that, he lived in a Tabernacle or up a mountain or just above the clouds.
  17. Ivor Bigun Registered Member

    I'm not sure you are right.
    "Deduce" is the wrong word.
    "Guess" or "choose" would make more sense.
  18. river

    There is no role of religion in our secular world .

    Other than to reach deep into religion , into the ancient past of religion , and therefore to really understand how it came to be and why .
  19. Ivor Bigun Registered Member

    I agree that religion should be a part of our education. We need to learn about the past in order to understand the world in which we find ourselves.
  20. river

    Absolutely true .

    And religion not in our present form , but in ancient roots . As in BC ( before the common era ) .
  21. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    What is the role of religion in our modern secular world?

    Same as it always has been

    Con artist making easy money from gullible people and assuming unsubstituted authority where none exist

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