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that old-time religion

I did some looking around at some sites, and have come to a conclusion. So far, the closest organized group of princples to my own that I've found belong to Secular Humanism. It preaches relying on reason, questioning "untested claims of knowledge," and transcending "divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity." It's not perfect, but what is? They make this assertion that Secular Humanism isn't a religion, but the way I see it, any set of beliefs has some faith at the basis of it.

Even modern science is based on faith. The scientific method is a set of axioms - you start with hypothesis, do some things to prove it, and build up on "proven" theories until you have a model of how the universe works. But science is, to some extent, faith in the complete consistency of the universe; experiments are repeatable, the unexplainable doesn't happen, and there's no such thing as magic.

To some extent, I still look at organized religion as the way the people in charge promoted a moral code among the masses before there was government. I'd like to believe that people have the capacity to be good without the influence of a long-term supernatural reward/punishment system, personally. Everyone has the capacity for the empathy needed to understand that their actions ripple outward from themselves. Maybe I'm naive.

*sigh* I should start worrying about my memory management stuff now though.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
chaiya
Jan. 29th, 2002 12:42 pm (UTC)
But science is, to some extent, faith in the complete consistency of the universe; experiments are repeatable, the unexplainable doesn't happen, and there's no such thing as magic.

Ah, but I've been told many times that magic is simply what we can't *yet* explain by science. If that's the case, then science is old magic.

*grin* I just like the way that sounds.

Looks like you're doing quite a bit of thinking. I should introduce you to my friend Jon, who's writing a book on his ideas about a "nonpersonified deity" or "non-deity religion" or somesuch ... not sure where exactly he stands at the moment.

Class soon. Ta!
tikva
Jan. 29th, 2002 01:00 pm (UTC)
Yes yes yes!
Even modern science is based on faith. The scientific method is a set of axioms - you start with hypothesis, do some things to prove it, and build up on "proven" theories until you have a model of how the universe works. But science is, to some extent, faith in the complete consistency of the universe; experiments are repeatable, the unexplainable doesn't happen, and there's no such thing as magic.

To some extent, I still look at organized religion as the way the people in charge promoted a moral code among the masses before there was government. I'd like to believe that people have the capacity to be good without the influence of a long-term supernatural reward/punishment system, personally. Everyone has the capacity for the empathy needed to understand that their actions ripple outward from themselves. Maybe I'm naive.


*applauds wildly!*

Science is very much faith-based, which is why I never understood the dichotomy of science vs. religion that people are always saying exists. Scientists must have faith because science works. Science is, by definition, a daily reaffirmation of faith. It's just a particular flavor of faith.

And organized religion is utterly political in nature - and I say this even as a member of such a religion. Studying the historical and political influences in religious texts is a ton of fun, and explains a hell of a lot.

And it's nice to find someone else who believes that people are basically good. Thanks for the reassurance. I'm constantly being told otherwise, even though I believe that people are, in fact, good.

As for the long-term, supernatural consequences, there are those who believe that there are two types of cultural morality: gulit and shame. Judeo-Christian society is very guilt-based - even if you don't get caught, your actions still count. The ancient Greeks (for example), on the other hand, were shame based - if no one caught you, it didn't happen. :) Although I suppose they still believed in supernatural consequences.

Judaism has something kind of in the middle - every human contains a spark of the Divine, and is therefore obligated to do what they can to achieve that potential in this lifetime. Given that belief, it is difficult for me to maintain that people are anything other than good, but then again, like you said, there might be some naivete involved here. :)
hammercock
Jan. 29th, 2002 11:52 pm (UTC)
I'd like to believe that people have the capacity to be good without the influence of a long-term supernatural reward/punishment system, personally. Everyone has the capacity for the empathy needed to understand that their actions ripple outward from themselves. Maybe I'm naive.

I think that most people do have that capacity, if they only thought about it. Problem is, most people really don't think about it all that much, from what I can tell. They want to be told what to think and do. And why not? It's much easier that way, especially if life is otherwise difficult.

Other problem: Because they don't think about it all that much, the more intolerant of them also come to believe that people who don't share their belief system (whether they believe in a supernatural being or are more secular) are amoral and need "saving." Feh.

I am Jewish, yet largely secular. I have morals and I don't need saving. I'm perfectly capable of divining (pun intended) right from wrong. I try to treat people with kindness, consideration, and compassion, and I don't need either the promise of heaven or the threat of eternal damnation to get me to do it, either.

Conclusion: If being religious makes a person happy, compassionate, and moral, then hey, go for it. But if it makes a person a condescending, small-minded fundie, I hereby invite that person to fuck off. :-}
(Anonymous)
Jan. 30th, 2002 09:29 am (UTC)
Secular Humanist Revival
Orson Scott Card has a tape called the Secular Humanist Revival that is both tongue-in-cheek and thought provoking. I'll bring it in some time if you're interested. The title comes from the fundies assertion that Securlar Humanism was about to be declared the official religion of the United States, and yet there isn't a single preacher/pope/minister out there. Since there wasn't any competion for the job, Card signed up.

-Pete Gast, who has avoided started a LJ, but is slowly getting drawn in.
hammercock
Jan. 30th, 2002 09:50 am (UTC)
Re: Secular Humanist Revival
You will be assimilated! :)
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