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Secularism alone does not have the tenets of pursuasive power to lead nations into genocide or corruption. It takes a dogmatism or tyranny to do that. Whatever Stalinism, National Socialism, and all the other so-called "secular forces" that led to this type destruction were, they weren't secular. They carried very religion-like tenets. They were, at least, nothing like the type secularism I would advocate.

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Yes; they were. Because none of them did anything to stop the cruelty of those barbaric beliefs.   How could anyone be in a position to say "actually folks- let's stop persecuting people for no goo

Hard for me to agree with your last point. Christianity is often cultural more than theistic. Same with Judaism, and likely a number of others.   That's why there are cultural Christians and cultur

Not sure what you are referring to. Personally, I never disagreed that it would still be the case that there would still be conflict in the world if religion disappeared, but merely emphasized as my o

For clarity, recommend it may be best to advocate for secular humanism (as opposed to secularism or humanism as independent).

 

Given the tone, tenor, and intent of posters here it just seems like a better fit. Read the basics at the wiki below.

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

 

This most closely describes me and is the answer I provide when pressed for a label on my stance.

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For clarity, recommend it may be best to advocate for secular humanism (as opposed to secularism or humanism as independent).

When I clicked the link on the word "humanism" from the wiki site you mention, it states that "today humanism typically refers to a non-theistic life stance centred on human agency and looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world" so that the term secular is implied when one describes oneself as a humanist.

 

Even religious humanism, which wiki describes as a "non-theistic life stance centered on human agency and looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world" does not sound all that religious.

 

Secular religion is defines as "a term that has been used to characterize capitalism, communism, and other nontheistic communal belief systems," a concept that underscores Tampitrump's comment that

 

"Secularism alone does not have the tenets of pursuasive power to lead nations into genocide or corruption. It takes a dogmatism or tyranny to do that. Whatever Stalinism, National Socialism, and all the other so-called "secular forces" that led to this type destruction were, they weren't secular. They carried very religion-like tenets"

"Secular theism/theistic secularism: includes a belief in deity or deities but without any ritual practice."

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/allergicpagan/2015/10/29/atheist-pagan-does-not-equal-secular-pagan/

 

Wiki defines Christian atheism as "a theological position in which the belief in the transcendent or interventionist God is rejected or absent in favor of finding God totally in the world...."

 

Ultimately, I would suggest that one can't have ones cake and eat it too. It is nice to apotheosize and transcendentalize ones heritage, existence, purpose, morality, and dignity, but it is probably a rather superfluous gesture do do so if one is just going to give the deity the role of cheerleader or mere figurehead, permanently relegating him/her/them to the bench.

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Hard for me to agree with your last point. Christianity is often cultural more than theistic. Same with Judaism, and likely a number of others.

 

That's why there are cultural Christians and cultural Jews who are in parallel atheistic. They're not mutually exclusive. Just depends on context and the actual circumstances under discussion.

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Hard for me to agree with your last point. Christianity is often cultural more than theistic. Same with Judaism, and likely a number of others.

That's why there are cultural Christians and cultural Jews who are in parallel atheistic. They're not mutually exclusive. Just depends on context and the actual circumstances under discussion.

Wow. Where to start.

 

You are really underscoring my point that it is a rather empty, gratuitous, and, in practice, downright hypocritical, token gesture to labeling oneself a Christian if it is just a "cultural" undertaking and little or nothing more. You do not go into detail (and that is part of the problem with short, cryptic posts), but I gather that you are referring to the nice feelings and perhaps health benefits that one gets from congregating and socializing, what with pot lucks, and Bible group discussions, and Sunday dress up, and Easter egg hunts, and opening Christmas presents, etc.

 

But religion or ones deepest philosophy of life should, I suggest, be the last thing to be superficial.

 

What is the point of making a huge holiday out of the birth of Christ if one does not believe the creed that one recites in church that he is the savior who died for our sins so that we may have everlasting life? If fellowship and an excuse for relatives to get together and have a cultural feast is the goal, why not celebrate the birth of Elvis or Madonna (who did a pretty good job of capitalizing on her religious background)? At least these two are contemporary and don't come from a passe' culture that is essentially 3000 or so years old. At least that way we are not dragging along the baggage of an archaic and superstitious culture into the 21st century, complete with its stoning of women for adultery (or even being raped), and other bizarre practices/beliefs.

 

(Judaism is a more complicated issue in terms of its eschatology, so focus on Christianity and Islam in this regard. But I do notice that many if not most Christians do not make religion and religious ethics as much a part of their daily lives as many other religious people do, e.g., Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, which is what happens when ones religion is just a cultural facade.)

 

No, I don't particularly want to be hanging out with a bunch of people at a church picnic who talk about God and sin and religious ethics while all the time wondering whether they are just spouting off what they think is politically correct....or wondering whether the congressmen/women I voted into office are going to vote against abortion or other measures because they think that it is the religiously correct thing to do, or what they think their constituents might (or might not really) think is the religiously correct thing to do.

 

For "godsake" there is enough two-facedness, schmoozing, patronizing, insincerity, double-speak, etc. in this world already without encouraging people to label themselves as Christians or whatever when in their hearts they just want to hang out with a bunch of people who share a few rituals.

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There is nothing superficial about identifying with a culture that is itself religiously based. I'm an atheist, yet I celebrate Christmas with my family. I'm not a military man, yet I honor the veterans. I'm not a cattle rancher, yet I enjoy a delicious steak.

 

If you'd like me to clarify a post I've made, then ask, but don't tell me I'm being cryptic and then read into my posts meanings I had zero intention of conveying.

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I've been accused of being many things. Inarticulate, intentionally obtuse, and hypocritical are not included in that set.

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There is nothing superficial about identifying with a culture that is itself religiously based. I'm an atheist, yet I celebrate Christmas with my family. I'm not a military man, yet I honor the veterans. I'm not a cattle rancher, yet I enjoy a delicious steak.

If you'd like me to clarify a post I've made, then ask, but don't tell me I'm being cryptic and then read into my posts meanings I had zero intention of conveying.
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I've been accused of being many things. Inarticulate, intentionally obtuse, and hypocritical are not included in that set.

By cryptic, I just meant that, as I said, I am doing the best I can to address your remark based on the number of words you have said, so I am not sure why you continue to be offended.

 

I am sure a lot of people celebrate Christmas with their family, but are either agnostic, atheistic, or indifferent. Indeed, Christmas is so ingrained into our society that people who don't celebrate it are often seen as un-American or as subscribing to an odd or pagan religion. I celebrate Christmas myself but have not been religious since the age of 12, so I think that your assumption that you are being personally attacked is misplaced. And no, I don't think that I am being hypocritical because I make no secret of not being religious. Indeed, I have gone to midnight Christmas services, though I don't normally go to church, to accompany my religious relatives. However, it is my personal preference not to sing songs with words that talk about needing Jesus to forgive me for my sins through his sacrifice on the cross and resurrection into heaven, nor do I recite the Lord's prayer, nor take communion (the body and blood of Christ) nor do I recite any religious creeds, etc. as I personally feel that to do so is hypocritical and/or dishonest. I simply go and participate as much as possible otherwise for the sake of the fellowship, and, to some extent, because I soak up the aesthetic sense of the ritual, much as Santayana said that he did.

 

If your Christmas goes a little bit different, more power to you. But again, I think your tendency to feel personally insulted is detracting from the original point which was whether or not a religion's rituals/culture has sufficient positive characteristics to justify its existence, particularly when so many people either do not, deep down, believe in many of the beliefs of said religion, or else don't believe in them sufficiently to be at all worried when they don't, for example, adhere to the ridiculous 'laws' in Leviticus. They aren't worried because they think they will be forgiven, I would suggest, as that they just think that they are ridiculous. (Again, at least Muslims are less hypocritical in this regard, even if they are adhering to archaic practices such as stoning adulteresses.)

 

You seen to be annoyed by the word "hypocritical." Well, again, I did not claim that you in particular were being hypocritical, I was talking about the society in general. Indeed, I am not focused on character assassination but rather on pointing out the conflict between the beliefs and values of a 2000 or so year old religion (esp. Abrahamic) and our own modern beliefs and values. The gap is so substantial that a certain amount of pretense, cognitive dissonance, hypocrisy, and/or role playing is almost inevitable. Just as importantly, hanging on to the transcendentalist religious values of an archaic, superstitious religion no doubt (in my mind) hinders social and scientific progress, as I explained above.

 

So again, if I use a word like "hypocritical," I am making a general social comment. Just how you might juggle or might not juggle roles as an atheist at Christmas need come under the umbrella social descriptive phrase that I might use. Let's not obfuscate things by assuming that my comments are directed at you. I am just making general social comments, not claiming, for goodness sake, that every atheist, for example, who attends a religious function is a hypocrite.

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Secularism alone does not have the tenets of pursuasive power to lead nations into genocide or corruption. It takes a dogmatism or tyranny to do that. Whatever Stalinism, National Socialism, and all the other so-called "secular forces" that led to this type destruction were, they weren't secular. They carried very religion-like tenets. They were, at least, nothing like the type secularism I would advocate.

 

So moderation: I don't know if there are or have been any purely capitalistic or socialistic (or whatever) socieites...The question is a matter of proportion. That's largely the reason that countries hold elections, typically between left and right leaning political candidates.

 

Saying that theism isn't necessary for religion seems like a oxymoron.

 

Again, what is needed is moderation. Ecumenical movements that encourage religions to accept other religions is a major step in the right direction. Secondly, progressive movements that acknowledge scientific advancements is another. I am not Catholic, but even that dogmatic institution has been moving, albeit slowly, in these two ways.

 

Yes, i agree the ideals we choose to live by, whether religious or political, need to be moderate to avoid such atrocities.

 

But theism isn't a requisite for religion: that's a very Western perspective. Maybe we could say theism is a sufficient condition for religion (though Jimmy may disagree) but not a necessary condition.

 

 

 

But religion or ones deepest philosophy of life should, I suggest, be the last thing to be superficial.

 

Some (most?) people just don'y worry about it that much and are happy to take whatever ideology society is handing out.

 

But religion or ones deepest philosophy of life should, I suggest, be the last thing to be superficial.
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But theism isn't a requisite for religion: that's a very Western perspective. Maybe we could say theism is a sufficient condition for religion (though Jimmy may disagree) but not a necessary condition.

Some (most?) people just don'y worry about it that much and are happy to take whatever ideology society is handing out.

 

 

Ok, well I checked out the link "isn't a requisite" and got taken directly to the statement that "Atheism is acceptable within some religious and spiritual belief systems, including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Syntheism, Raëlism,[72] and Neopagan movements[73] such as Wicca."

 

So yes, some of these are religious (having transcendental gods, e.g., Hinduism) and some are spiritual beliefs systems (having a belief in some sort of transcendental realm but not well-defined gods, e.g., generally speaking, modern day Buddhism. Personally, I don't know how one can be an atheist in a religion such as Hinduism with its numerous gods, given that the origin of the word "theism" is "god" (from Gk. theos)

 

Speaking of Wiki, it defines religion as

 

a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation that relate humanity to what an anthropologist has called "an order of existence".[1] Different religions may or may not contain various elements, ranging from the "divine",[2] "sacred things",[3] "faith",[4] a "supernatural being or supernatural beings"[5] or "[…] some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life.

Personally speaking, the students in the Comparative Religions class I was in came up with a definition of "religion" that required the element of "transcendence." Indeed, we agreed that it was debatable whether or not one could say that Buddhism or Confucianism were religions. Buddhism certainly has an element of transcendence, but the transcendental object is not some God, but rather the worshiper him/herself.

 

Merriam-Webster defines "theism" as the "belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world."

 

So, as far as I can tell, the difference between theism and religion is a quantitative one in which the latter has a somewhat less insistence that the transcendent being that one is believing in and/or worshiping has a fairly clearly defined personhood. In short, theism seems more anthropomorphic.

 

So I concede that there is a difference, but I don't think that it matters all that much whether one says that one is a theist who worships Jesus or Allah or a religious/spiritual New Ager who claims to worship and believe in a "higher power," whatever that might mean. To me, this is just semantic quibbling. In my mind, the important thing, as far as making a difference, is whether the object of transcendence makes a difference to the way one lives, e.g., proscribes a life path and moral values. If it don't make no difference to your life, I don't see how it matters if someone believes that there are fairies dancing at the bottom of ones garden in the middle of the night.

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I am hesitant to poke my nose into the above discussion, but it may be prudent to just cut to the chase and agree that, generally speaking:

 

Religion implies some form of theism.

Polytheism = many gods; monotheism = one god.

There is merit in the opinion that people could be regarded (or see themselves) as religious by (cultural) association even though they are not religiously active or staunch believers (in fact some of them may be of very questionable integrity...think along the lines of various Mafia movies...as illustrated by this actual news article: Italian Catholic Church scrambles to explain its role in lavish Mafia boss funeral).

 

And my own opinion: religion = organised superstition.

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I am hesitant to poke my nose into the above discussion, but it may be prudent to just cut to the chase and agree that, generally speaking:

 

Religion implies some form of theism.

Polytheism = many gods; monotheism = one god.

There is merit in the opinion that people could be regarded (or see themselves) as religious by (cultural) association even though they are not religiously active or staunch believers (in fact some of them may be of very questionable integrity...think along the lines of various Mafia movies...as illustrated by this actual news article: Italian Catholic Church scrambles to explain its role in lavish Mafia boss funeral).

 

And my own opinion: religion = organised superstition.

 

I agree. In everyday use of the term, when we think of religion, we generally think in terms of some sort of role model on a super/transcendental scale. Indeed, in practice, it seems that there is always some sort of hero worship involved, whether or not the hero takes the form of a deity, or just an ordinary human (Confucius), or someone whose status seems to be somewhere in between, depending upon whom you ask, e.g., Jesus, Buddha, or Hercules for that matter.

 

But yes, just superficially adopting the culture (e.g., symbols, aura, ritual) without actually partaking of the general notion of compassion that is at the core of most major religions (that I know of) can not only be a ridiculous token gesture (as in a vicious, sadistic biker who wears a cross around his neck), it can also be a dangerous way of bonding with like-minded criminals and validating their actions, as in the mafia example you give.

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So yes, some of these are religious (having transcendental gods, e.g., Hinduism) and some are spiritual beliefs systems (having a belief in some sort of transcendental realm but not well-defined gods, e.g., generally speaking, modern day Buddhism. Personally, I don't know how one can be an atheist in a religion such as Hinduism with its numerous gods, given that the origin of the word "theism" is "god" (from Gk. theos).

 

I find it hard to talk about Hinduism as its such a broad term for a whole range of beliefs, and even those beliefs are changing as the guru tradition is still alive, adding and subtracting from the existing body of knowledge. Buddhism is like that too to a lesser extent, so i'll talk about the Buddhism i know, while acknowledging there are some very different practices.

 

So in Buddhism we are taught that thinking there is anything to transcend, or there is some transcendental realm, is a trap. It's the same idea that eating chocolate (i.e. hedonism) will bring you eternal happiness - thinking there is something transcendental to attain or realise just leads to 'spiritual' pride and one-up-manship and you chasing your tail. Nothing wrong with chasing your tail if you enjoy it, but many people don't.

 

So i disagree that religion necessarily requires a belief in anything transcendental (although i admit it usually does, i just want to labour the point that it doesn't always). Unless you want to strictly define religion in that way, but that excludes a lot of what we normally think of as religion (Buddhism, Confucianism, parts of Hinduism).

 

So I concede that there is a difference, but I don't think that it matters all that much whether one says that one is a theist who worships Jesus or Allah or a religious/spiritual New Ager who claims to worship and believe in a "higher power," whatever that might mean. To me, this is just semantic quibbling. In my mind, the important thing, as far as making a difference, is whether the object of transcendence makes a difference to the way one lives, e.g., proscribes a life path and moral values. If it don't make no difference to your life, I don't see how it matters if someone believes that there are fairies dancing at the bottom of ones garden in the middle of the night.

 

We've been here before - it's not just semantic squibbling: there is a fundamental difference between eastern religions and western religions. My in-laws are Confucian, very active in their local temple, but by any of your standards they are not at all religious, because they don't buy into anything transcendental or super-natural required. Going to their temples is more like going to a graveyard - its a place of gravity and reflection, surrounded by some symbols to get into that frame of mind.

 

I am hesitant to poke my nose into the above discussion, but it may be prudent to just cut to the chase and agree that, generally speaking:

 

Religion implies some form of theism.

 

 

For the sake of my sanity i might just have to agree, but i think this is a very Western perspective and demonstrably false. The other option is that we expand what we mean by religion to include what other parts of the world think too.

 

 

 

I agree. In everyday use of the term, when we think of religion, we generally think in terms of some sort of role model on a super/transcendental scale. Indeed, in practice, it seems that there is always some sort of hero worship involved, whether or not the hero takes the form of a deity, or just an ordinary human (Confucius), or someone whose status seems to be somewhere in between, depending upon whom you ask, e.g., Jesus, Buddha, or Hercules for that matter.

 

A zen Buddhist saying: If you see the Buddha by the side of the road kill him.

 

But yes, just superficially adopting the culture (e.g., symbols, aura, ritual) without actually partaking of the general notion of compassion that is at the core of most major religions (that I know of) can not only be a ridiculous token gesture (as in a vicious, sadistic biker who wears a cross around his neck), it can also be a dangerous way of bonding with like-minded criminals and validating their actions, as in the mafia example you give.

 

I think all my answers are way off topic, so i apologise: they are perhaps more suited to the atheism and spirituality thread. I'll pick this up there later.

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So in Buddhism we are taught that thinking there is anything to transcend, or there is some transcendental realm, is a trap. It's the same idea that eating chocolate (i.e. hedonism) will bring you eternal happiness - thinking there is something transcendental to attain or realise just leads to 'spiritual' pride and one-up-manship and you chasing your tail. Nothing wrong with chasing your tail if you enjoy it, but many people don't.

 

Well, yes. D.T. Suzuki would be the first to point out that there is no where to go and that Reality (as perceived by an Enlightened person) is right before ones eyes. Nevertheless, most people are not, as I think most Buddhists would agree, not at a very high level of satori or Enlightenment, so that what one experiences when enlightened is seen as a state of consciousness transcending the way most people experience the world. So semantics really.

 

So i disagree that religion necessarily requires a belief in anything transcendental (although i admit it usually does, i just want to labour the point that it doesn't always). Unless you want to strictly define religion in that way, but that excludes a lot of what we normally think of as religion (Buddhism, Confucianism, parts of Hinduism).

 

Well, I take your point to some extent, though as I mentioned, many people suggest that Buddhism and Confucianism are not religions, strictly speaking, though again, they may presume some higher (transcendental) realms such as Nirvana. As for Confucianism:

"Confucianism is often characterized as a system of social and ethical philosophy rather than a religion. In fact, Confucianism built on an ancient religious foundation to establish the social values, institutions, and transcendent ideals of traditional Chinese society."

In any case, as per my last post, I modified my definition of "religion" as used in practice to focus on hero worship of some sort, instead of the more vague term of "transcendental," as being a more all encompassing definition. In this sense, we find that people such as Hitler provided the Volk with a hero (himself) in mythic/religious proportions.

 

We've been here before - it's not just semantic squibbling: there is a fundamental difference between eastern religions and western religions. My in-laws are Confucian, very active in their local temple, but by any of your standards they are not at all religious, because they don't buy into anything transcendental or super-natural required. Going to their temples is more like going to a graveyard - its a place of gravity and reflection, surrounded by some symbols to get into that frame of mind.

 

Well yes, if you are reducing all Western religions to the Abrahamic tradition or similar. But again, I don't think that it is realistic to scour Eastern religions of any beliefs in transcendence, as Confucius did refer to the Tao:

Indeed, worshipping ancestors involves a belief in some sort of transcendental realm in itself, since one can communicate with them:

The oldest and most enduring Confucian ritual practice is ancestor worship -- the ritualized commemoration of, communication with, and sacrifice to one's deceased relations. http://www.patheos.com/Library/Confucianism/Ritual-Worship-Devotion-Symbolism/Rites-and-Ceremonies

"In early texts, the living communicate with their ancestors through diviniation, reports, prayers, and offerings of wine and food.

(Encyclopedia of Confucianism, Yao, p. 289)

For the sake of my sanity i might just have to agree [re whether religion must entail theism], but i think this is a very Western perspective and demonstrably false. The other option is that we expand what we mean by religion to include what other parts of the world think too.

 

Well, as I read through various texts and websites on Eastern and Western beliefs, I see that such terms vary from author to author and site to site, so again, despite obvious general differences between East and West, I think that being too adamant about what we label as religious or theistic is pointless.

 

A zen Buddhist saying: If you see the Buddha by the side of the road kill him. [presumably with respect to hero worship]

 

Well, yes, that could mean anything. It could be an affirmation about the insignificance of death, or, in some forms of Buddhism, an affirmation of reincarnation, or it could be, as with many zen koans a caution not to think about things too much, but to experience them. One story I recall is that a student seeks a master in the woods and when he finally finds him chopping wood, the student asks him how he might achieve Enlightenment. Upon hearing this, the master raises his axe as if to kill the student, and the student runs away, only to experience satori moments later.

But generally speaking, Buddha, (or to be more specific, Gautama Buddha), as I mentioned before, fits the bill, as far as I can tell, of being a sort of (worshiped) hero figure, regardless of what he might have reputedly said about all things being equal in nature or whatever.

 

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Well, yes. D.T. Suzuki would be the first to point out that there is no where to go and that Reality (as perceived by an Enlightened person) is right before ones eyes. Nevertheless, most people are not, as I think most Buddhists would agree, not at a very high level of satori or Enlightenment, so that what one experiences when enlightened is seen as a state of consciousness transcending the way most people experience the world. So semantics really.

 

 

But that's the whole point: there isn't (in Buddhism) any levels of satori or enlightenment - you don't experience the world any differently. How is this merely semantics?

 

 

P.S. I really don't think it's controversial to say that various religions are different, some more so than others - it's just a matter of scale. At a great enough distance we could say they are all the same, and as we get closer more details manifest from which we can distinguish them. The only point of contention is what scale is the most useful in a given context.

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As I read through various people's experiences, I read about their sense of oneness with the universe. I am not suggesting that the world necessarily turns into a glittering array of gems. Nevertheless, the experiences people describe are typically mystical, e.g., feeling at one with the universe. Indeed, Suzuki himself suggests that a sense of something beyond (aka, imo,transcendental) is an essential component of satori.

 

Mysticism as defined by D.T. Suzuki:
something which is of quite a different order from what I am accustomed to. The feeling that follows is that of complete release or a complete rest---the feeling that one has arrived finally at the destination...As far as the psychology of satori is considered, a sense of the Beyond is all we can say about it;

http://www.bodysoulandspirit.net/mystical_experiences/learn/experts_define/suzuki.shtml

 

My first Satori Experience:

There was the undeniable sense that I was actually a part of the infinite universe, I was not separate from it. I could feel that connection, or rather, the lack of separation from it. There was still the sense of me but it was not separate from everything else. The borders of separation were gone.

http://www.globalone.tv/profiles/blogs/my-first-satori-temporary-experience-of-enlightenment

My awakening experience: Satori

At first, after my first satori had ended, I felt quite alone. Nobody could understand what I went through. I failed to reproduce this ultimate high I had reached, and I couldn’t communicate what I felt.

https://medium.com/@ripper234/my-awakening-experiences-aka-satori-96f9b82e7a60#.wnif8cm9g

Again, there is not much point of speaking of mystical/religious experiences if one means nothing different than everyday life as experienced by most people most of the time. Saying that mystical experiences make one aware of transcendental realms or states of consciousness makes sense to me, though, again, I don't see much point in being too adamant about how one is using the word transcendental; however, satori is often regarded as being a mystical experience and, mystical experiences tend to imply transcendence, though again, this is a controversial point: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1399069?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

 

Certainly some endgame state of Nirvana to which many people seem to aspire (however one might speculate as to the degree of consciousness in such a state) is not the same as the state (of mind) I have right now.

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As i said before:

 

 

I find it hard to talk about Hinduism as its such a broad term for a whole range of beliefs, and even those beliefs are changing as the guru tradition is still alive, adding and subtracting from the existing body of knowledge. Buddhism is like that too to a lesser extent, so i'll talk about the Buddhism i know, while acknowledging there are some very different practices.

 

I simply think you paint with too broad a brush and miss out on some interesting nuances in the process.

 

This mysticism isn't an integral part of Buddhism, or Confucianism and maybe other religions (or philosophies if you prefer), for many people. Why can't you accept that? I'd recommend reading some Stephen Batchelor books, he explains it well.

 

The reason i feel this pertinent is that many people find there are parts of religion they like and parts they dislike, even abhor. Many of the parts they dislike are mystical in nature - we can simply do away with these parts. But by being so insistent that religion must have mystical elements, i think we lose many people who might be culturally inclined towards a given religion, but otherwise ready to embrace essentially humanist ideals.

 

 

 

 

Certainly some endgame state of Nirvana to which many people seem to aspire (however one might speculate as to the degree of consciousness in such a state) is not the same as the state (of mind) I have right now.

 

That's one interpretation, far from the only. I'll try to dig up some Alan Watts lectures if you're interested in another perspective?

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As i said before:

 

 

I simply think you paint with too broad a brush and miss out on some interesting nuances in the process.

 

This mysticism isn't an integral part of Buddhism, or Confucianism and maybe other religions (or philosophies if you prefer), for many people. Why can't you accept that? I'd recommend reading some Stephen Batchelor books, he explains it well.

 

The reason i feel this pertinent is that many people find there are parts of religion they like and parts they dislike, even abhor. Many of the parts they dislike are mystical in nature - we can simply do away with these parts. But by being so insistent that religion must have mystical elements, i think we lose many people who might be culturally inclined towards a given religion, but otherwise ready to embrace essentially humanist ideals.

 

Referring me to some author's books is not really addressing the issue...perhaps you could proffer a quote to which I might respond.

 

I did not claim that all Eastern religions are essentially mystical, however, I see no point in overlooking those aspects that are clearly mystical or transcendent or supernatural or otherworldly or what have you (whether deemed integral or not) from what I consider to be a Westerner's point of view.

 

And yes, I am suggesting that if you are going to call any set of beliefs religious, irregardless of whether you label them as Eastern or Western, then there is a general understanding in the everyday world that such beliefs are in some way more than just the equivalent of the Boy Scout code of conduct. In short, from a Westerners point of view, I think it is questionable as to whether one would label Confucianism as being a religion, and ditto for Buddhism, though for somewhat different reasons. No broad paint brushing as you suggest, just tweaking definitions.

 

Now if you are suggesting that many Easterners define religion in a different way then Westerners do, then that is fine....but again, I think that it is just boiling down to how individuals or groups of people choose to define words such as mystical or religion.

 

Bottom line is that "words" and there meanings are not set in stone, and vary (in different degrees) from culture to culture, language to language, person to person, group to group, etc. There is often no ultimate right or wrong about such things, but rather just a matter of reaching an agreement as to how such terms are used by the majority of people in the majority of contexts in a particular society.

 

In any case, the real issue, in terms of this forum thread, has perhaps more to do with whether Easterners appeal to their religion in order to validate their controlling tendencies and their violence and with others of different "religious" beliefs....and my guess is that they do, though perhaps in a different way than is common to Western religions.

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And yes, I am suggesting that if you are going to call any set of beliefs religious, irregardless of whether you label them as Eastern or Western, then there is a general understanding in the everyday world that such beliefs are in some way more than just the equivalent of the Boy Scout code of conduct.

 

Now if you are suggesting that many Easterners define religion in a different way then Westerners do, then that is fine....but again, I think that it is just boiling down to how individuals or groups of people choose to define words such as mystical or religion.

 

Bottom line is that "words" and there meanings are not set in stone, and vary from culture to culture, language to language, person to person, group to group, etc. There is often no ultimate right or wrong about such things, but rather just a matter of reaching an agreement as to how such terms are used by the majority of people in the majority of contexts in a particular society.

 

In any case, the real issue, in terms of this forum thread, has perhaps more to do with whether Easterners appeal to their religion in order to validate their violence with others of different "religious" beliefs....and my guess is that they do.

 

 

For sure if you define something too broadly then it becomes meaningless, and i also agree that definitions are not immutable in their meaning. Therefore the context in which we discuss these ideas becomes important.

 

A key point, in light of the OP, is that some religions encourage massacres and others do not. Christianity and Islam have big problems with their scripture being used to massacre people: Jainism does not. So what is the difference? To start to investigate the difference we need to look at the nuances: they have become pertinent to the discussion at hand, and are not simply a matter of semantics.

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For sure if you define something too broadly then it becomes meaningless, and i also agree that definitions are not immutable in their meaning. Therefore the context in which we discuss these ideas becomes important.

 

A key point, in light of the OP, is that some religions encourage massacres and others do not. Christianity and Islam have big problems with their scripture being used to massacre people: Jainism does not. So what is the difference? To start to investigate the difference we need to look at the nuances: they have become pertinent to the discussion at hand, and are not simply a matter of semantics.

 

Well, I don't know if one can say the same about Hinduism, so I suspect that one is cherry picking from the Eastern religions a bit.

I can't help pointing out that transcendence seems to be a definite if not integral part of their belief system even though they don’t believe in a god, per se, as they do believe in what Western scientists would describe as supernatural (aka transcendental) events, e.g., people who break the cycle of reincarnation.

 

Indeed, I am reluctant to accept the idea that the notion of karma, reincarnation, and nirvana is all that much different from the Christian concepts of sin, hell, and heaven....all based on the behavioral concepts of positive and negative reinforcement of behavior.

 

A key issue, I think, is whether one claims that ones own religion has the right recipe for getting to a "good place" and others don't, so that it is necessary to show that other religions are wrong and your religion is right, even if it means killing off (if not converting) that religion's worshipers.

 

Jainism works for peace because it is so insistent that nonviolence and tolerance are essential ingredients for attaining liberation of the soul. Hence, Jainists are not fundamentalistic, as a rule, because they are tolerant.

 

A cynic might point out, as many have, that one is ultimately being selfish if one is good to others just to get into a "good place" oneself (or at least out of a bad place). But I guess one might retort that the idea is that one becomes a better person if one goes through the motions for a while.

 

I realize that not all Eastern religions embrace the notion of reincarnation, and if they do, not necessarily in the same way. But one finds there that, like the Abrahamic religions, they have to a some degree a common (historical/cultural) origin.

 

For comparison's sake, I think it more profitable to examine the etiology of power struggles and violence in Buddhism and Hinduism.

 

(To me Confucianism and early Judaism are not 'true' religions in the sense of that they basically/historically attempted to bind people together as a community with rigorous codes of righteous conduct, rather than focusing on the attainment an afterlife of some sort.)

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Well, to move forwards i wonder whether we can look at how we could use data to distinguish any differences.

 

For instance, for some metric of religiosity (self-defined perhaps?), we could look at instances of violence across the globe. Maybe something like all deaths perpetrated by a group or individual in the name a religion. We cold also look for confounders such as socio-economic status and political affiliations. Then we might be able to test whether certain religions are statistically more violent than others. Maybe we could use secular states as a baseline.

 

Further we might be able to use an unsupervised statistical learning algorithm to classify the various religions based on incidence of violence associated with it. Once the algorithm classifies the religions by violence we could start to look for qualitative differences between the groups and similarities within the groups to draw out what particulars of religion lead to increased violence.

 

I know it would be a messy undertaking, but in such a data rich world it must be possible to start to get some handle on it. Surely some sociologists have started to do this? I couldn't find anything at a quick glance.

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Possibly.

It depends on a few factors.

For example, if it's still got "In God we trust" written on stuff does it count as secular?

Are the atrocities perpetrated more (or less) against one religious group than another?

 

China is certainly more interesting. I have seen communism described as a religion with Mao as a God-figure but I don't think that quite holds out.

 

However I think that China a (relatively) slight extension of the "loony dictators don't count" issue- they have a loony dictatorial party.

 

 

Well here's the official list.

 

 

I think it's a bit more important to ask how secularism could lead to the approval of torture/murder/abuse.

 

 

The politics of fear is the reason for the atrocities, then comes the excuses.

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Surely some sociologists have started to do this? I couldn't find anything at a quick glance.

 

There is certainly quite a lot of biased material available online, though, as you say, it seems that surprisingly little scholarly research has been done in this area. A relevant article is a Penn State U. one entitled Wars and Rumors of Wars: Explaining Religiously Motivated Violence, which looks at the data and concludes that religion acts as both key agent and volatile catalyst:

 

“When religious groups are targets of restrictions, discrimination and isolation, their capacity for social action is enhanced by providing both shared grievances and an increased unity. This capacity is enhanced even more when religion serves to mobilize social and political movements. Together, the clear group boundaries, shared grievances, common religious beliefs, dense social networks, and organizational vehicles for social action result in a high capacity for collective social action.”

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=16&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi82ZifnsbOAhVN12MKHSW2Cy4QFgh0MA8&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thearda.com%2Fworkingpapers%2Fdownload%2FWar%2520and%2520Rumors%2520of%2520War.pdf&usg=AFQjCNFeyWlczNmZwd72XcRT3UdSBttrEQ&sig2=vaBndqOXABAbBAeRObNt6w

 

As for Mao, as he was mentioned, he was seen by many, particularly pre-1950s as a hero with a vision. Indeed, we can see that political card being played in American politics today re the Presidential campaign, so we need not think of the formula (hero + savior + national vision) as being the main tool of only dictators. Indeed, such a formula could well describe many a religion.

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Well here's the official list.

 

 

The politics of fear is the reason for the atrocities, then comes the excuses.

 

 

Look at the reaction of America post 9/11, the fear of further such attacks inspired both torture and war and just look at the excuses; religion wasn't required as an excuse to commit torture, but damn useful to inspire a hatred of Muslims.

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Look at the reaction of America post 9/11, the fear of further such attacks inspired both torture and war and just look at the excuses; religion wasn't required as an excuse to commit torture, but damn useful to inspire a hatred of Muslims.

 

Certainly the role of religion in violence is multifarious. I would suggest that a balanced/objective approach would be to examine the role(s) that religion (in combination with other factors) plays for all countries most directly involved in a violent conflict of this nature.

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Certainly the role of religion in violence is multifarious. I would suggest that a balanced/objective approach would be to examine the role(s) that religion (in combination with other factors) plays for all countries most directly involved in a violent conflict of this nature.

 

 

I think the award for 'the most balanced approach' would go to the Buddhists, prepare for war but hope for peace.

edit to delete unwise statement.

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