I have listened to both a podcasted speech by and an interview of author Karen Armstrong today. And in them I found out a couple of things I didn't know before. Most notably, that religion was not originally intended as a controlling mechanism, but rather a coping mechanism to help people deal with all the unknowns reality had to offer.
True - religion was first brought about to cope with the horrors in life. We wanted to believe that our dead and suffered went to a better place. That's why they invented the notion of heaven. Hell wasn't brought about until religion intended to control people. But, afaik the earliest notion of hell was Dante's Inferno.. the first actual notion of an eternal suffering. It is common for me to argue that people don't want to leave their religion as a Christian because they are too scared of what will happen when they die. Something like that isn't a good thing to be taken literally, and is a terror on society...
1. The bible was not treated as literal until the scientific revolution of the late 1600's and beyond. Prior to that, the bible was seen clearly as myth, but a myth with purpose. Genesis, simply put, was a myth that explained that a newborn child would probably do the wrong thing (sin in religious parlance) unless taught otherwise. But since science was being to literal, some folks started treating the bible as literal. And here we are.
The bible can be taken quite literal. It's only become a recent argument that it was intended to be taken metaphorically. I would say the greatest example of metaphorical religion is Revelation. You can apply things in it to anything to make sense of it, and they are always wrong. But case in point, regardless of whether or not we take it literal or metaphorical, it doesn't really change the message. I mean, Moses can be taken from a military perspective in the Torah. Same with other things - being metaphorical about it just changes meaning slightly.
A newborn child will inevitably do the things they have in their dna and also things that their environment teach them to do. Then you grow up, and some things change, once you have time to think for yourself or have children and change your mind. But, environmental factors are the main causes of how you will be as you age.. It doesn't require a religion, it requires good friends and good parents - relationships with other people.
2. This means that I am an atheist because folks changed religion greatly starting in that time period, and now, as a super-customized social force with many versions, the followers of literal biblical interpretations (as well as similar folks amongst the muslims and I assume some jewish groups as well) are out to ruin the world with their literal reading of a book never intended to be read literally. I assume I would still be an atheist even if religion were a milder force that dealt with things still mysterious rather than trying to be everything to everyone, but at least I wouldn't have to be fending off Fred Phelps and other Kirk Cameron.
Most religious texts these days have been disproven by science. Also through logical reasoning. I took a milder stance on Jesus, and it still didn't work, because what he said would happen if you do something certain ways doesn't actually happen. I wish I wasn't taught any of this stuff to begin with, because it's simply done me much more damage than it has done good - even with the way I was being raised and parented..
3. Early in the scientific revolution, science was seen as an ally of religion. Newton thought that his findings proved that an intelligent designer was behind gravity and his math. But once folks started interpreting the bible as literal, obvious conflicts arose.
Conflicts are there even if it's taken metaphorically. It just changes the message, but then it makes the message something that doesn't seem so religious. It seems more mundane, where instead of applying a positive notion on morality, we see more of a story that doesn't make much sense..
4. Earlier in human history, there were two ways to look at the world. Logos and mythos. Logos being science and such, mythos being a way to look at and explain the mystical. Each had a place. Things that were known (when the deer would start to migrate and be easier to hunt) were treated one way. Things unknown (where rain came from or why someone suddenly died) were deal with using religion via mythos.
I used to think mythos had a place as well. Now I am under the impression that it's doing more harm than it is good. For example - explaining the mystical 'my tooth was taken from my pillow in the middle of the night by the tooth fairy', explains what happened when I was a child, but then you feel stupid that your parents were feeding you full of crap. That doesn't explain the unexplained, it just inserts 'junk' to put a false idiom on the situation. Thunder isn't black spirits tap-dancing...
5. Though religion has always had a suck factor because of the people involved, the original reason for religion was to pass on the wisdom of the ages, most notably lessons such as the golden rule. Given the plethora of unknowns early man had to deal with it is not surprising that the concept of a "god" was used to explain away many mysteries. But there were two types of gods. One was the huge one. Not one who looked human and had human characteristics, but one so big that no human could manage to imagine how powerful and amazing it was. Then there were the human gods, such as the ones in Greece, who had frailties and made mistakes and stuff, but were immortal or close to it and hence more than human.
Yes. Religion was intended to pass down the wisdom of our forefathers. That's the way we should be looking at it. A literal translation of wisdom from earlier people. Everybody that is dying wants to leave behind the best things that they have learned in life, because they are important lessons, and important for people to understand. It does a lot of good. However, we don't need to believe in false religions in order to pass down wisdom..
6. The christian god, yahweh, was picked from a group of several by early jews who were moving things around a bit. He was made closer to human and tossed into the book. People started taking him too seriously.
Did you know yahweh was actually started with the jewish sect that believed in magic and worshipped things like trees? I read this while studying past religions..
7. The various horrors of the bible (massacres, kids killed by bears, floods, etc.) were lessons in how bad the bad could be, not something that the real god literally did.
I disagree. The various horrors of the bible were intended to enforce control on people through scare tactics. I have such a hard time breaking the religion barrier with people because they are too afraid. Satan and judgement is not a description of how bad things can be in life, but rather a form of control that says people get their revenge. But, to any single group of Christians, the others are always the ones to burn. Therefore, I can't believe in a righteous deity that also follows rules of revenge and torture. The real god is taught to have done this, and the early jews did in fact believe that god was pissed when lightning or thunderstorms occurred. This was this way all the way until Ben Franklin revealed lightning was actually just electricity..
Were the world to change and become religious in the sense she says it could, religion would be a social force that helps people deal with actual unknowns, like death and disease and such. Because no matter how many times you read a geology book, it isn't going to help you deal with the loss of one of your kids. So religion such as that doesn't bother me too much. And religion such as that could deal with our atheism, with gays, with science, with eating crabs and with birth control much better.
We had better come up with a damn good religion. Strip out all the bad things. this will never happen, however, because people now need ancient things in order to believe in something that doesn't really exist. And you are putting people on the whipping post by saying we need to 'deal with atheism, gays, science, and birth control'.. science is the #1 saving grace of our time. It has saved me on multiple occasions, where religious people have been trying to 'get me'. And I was a devout catholic once. It took the insanity and idiocy of people to make me atheist. I don't have a problem with gays, atheism is just people that have finally freed their minds from childish beliefs or thought, and I would very much like to offer people birth control when they need it. Just because I have sperm doesn't mean somebody needs to bear my child if we make a mistake during sex. And even the bible isn't going to help you with loss of loved ones, it just becomes a distraction and can sometimes paint a good picture in your mind, which is akin to therapy. (mental imaging). However, religion also postulates that people are damned - I doubt my parents would feel better when I die worrying about how much I am then suffering compared to how much I suffered during my actual life....
Forgive me if I'm close enough.
There's not a problem with listening to this nun. It's just that she postulates religion still has a place and a purpose, where I think it should be abolished and we should replace it with curriculum, learning, and punishment during childhood about morality.
If what she is saying is true, then many of our arguments with christians have us falling for the same line of thinking (though we disagree with it) that they use.
Obviously - you can't get into an argument with Christians as an atheist because many times you have to refer to their religion. That does indeed cause these people to fall for the same line of thinking. Good point there..