Wednesday, June 1, 2022

On Medium: Why There Are No Religious Beliefs or Practices

Read on about shibboleths, social sacrifices, apologetical double agents, and the hidden social function of religious beliefs and practices.


  1. I can sympathize with the human need to participate in a social identity which is based on something other than the bare, mundane facts of existence. The problem with some religions is that the beliefs they espouse are empirically false. It is not what IS, but what COULD and SHOULD be, that ought to define our social identities. What kind of world do you want to live in? That's the question we should ask ourselves and each other. Secular religions like Humanism are superior to traditional religion for this very reason. Christianity can be refuted because it makes claims about the world that are falsifiable and actually false. Try refuting Humanism. You can't. You can criticize its principles like Nietzsche did, but all the criticism really amounts to in the end is "I don't like it".

    1. Hmm. Exoteric Christianity makes a key empirical claim about the resurrection of Jesus's physical body. But couldn't Christianity be interpreted as being more normative than empirical? The main point of all the monotheistic religions is the Zoroastrian one that we ought to progress to an absolute moral defeat of evil, and that we should trust in such an eventual triumph. Christians expect that will happen on God's Day of Judgment.

      I've written about this before, but I think the main problem with Christianity, then, is that Christians have forgotten how to read myths. They mistake myths for historical records, and that's supposed to be what makes Christianity alone true. Instead, it makes Christians the most confused of the world's religionists.

      We're saying the same thing except that it shouldn't be so hard to read Christianity esoterically or Gnostically (creatively), to see past the exoteric literalism and to look for useful metaphors in the NT's myths. The question, then, is which worldview has the best story, secular humanism or Christianity. Which impresses more in aesthetic and ethical terms. I think I've written directly on that question on my blog, some years ago.

  2. Two of the greatest strengths of the''religions'':

    -historical empowerment: political-demographic

    A person believing in Superman: crazy

    Several people believing: cult or sect

    Thousands of millions of people believing and from rooted institutions: ''religion''

    -narrative centered on the existential perspective, the most intimate and absolute of all, for us.

    Realize that, contrary to the belief that all human beings who do not have any major intellectual disabilities are equally rational, highly rational individuals are a minority.

    This irrational personality disorder has been positively selected, not only because it is so convenient for an elite of parasites to have a credulous majority, but also because it is far more appealing to believe that we are the sons of the creator of the universe than to accept that we are microscopic, fragile, finite creatures, through the grand scheme of the universe.

  3. The roots of human “religion” predate our species and are universal to all others: egocentrism, the feeling or the idea of ​​being the center of reality or at least of our/own reality.

    I could say that ants have their own "religious beliefs".

    This is the essence of all human "religions", but not in its most original sense, of seeking and reflecting on the ultimate truths: about oneself, its origin, its destiny, its reason for being and also its own existence.

    Because every culture/religion has asked the same questions of a universal character, but seeking/manufacturing parochial answers.

    Astronomy is the area of ​​science that naturally followed this path.

    Pseudo-paradoxically, true religion leads to atheism, because it does not seek to build a doctrine of lies, but of truths.

    But unlike science, true religion, which is at the heart of philosophy, is not just about discovering or expanding objective understanding, but also about living that understanding in everyday life. It's not just knowing that the universe is huge and that we are microscopics, comparatively. It is instilling in us humility for being so insignificant and solidarity for being so equal in our insignificance.

    1. There's some danger in speaking of "true" religion, since that could land you in the No True Scotsman fallacy. Nevertheless, I've been looking for another angle to take on religion, and I'm thinking of writing a series on what a respectable religion would look like. This requires a similar distinction between good and bad religions, especially with respect to our current state of knowledge and historical condition. It's a big topic.

      But just because religion has certain prehistoric roots doesn't mean we can automatically explain the weird nature of religion's pseudobeliefs in those terms. That's their shibbolethian role, in my view, which does address the elementary social origin of religion.

      I agree, though, that theism tends to be anthropocentric. But secular humanism is also human-centered since we aim to domesticate nature for our benefit. Religion isn't identical, then, with anthropocentrism or with theism.

    2. It is not an appeal to purity, but to the coherence between the original intention, common to all religion, and what has resulted, in the manufacture of what should be a genuine search for truth from an existential perspective.

      Every religion asks the same fundamental questions. And every religion has been searching for/producing parochial answers.

      Every religion is essentially anthropocentric, even animistic, because it is a narrative in which man places himself as the narrator and protagonist of his own story as if it were a representation of the essence of reality, its origin, functioning, etc.

    3. "Douglas declared that Scotsmen don't put sugar in the porridge. Adam said he's a Scotsman and he puts sugar in the porridge. Then Adam angrily said he's not a real Scotsman."

      Douglas is wrong because actually not putting sugar in porridge is not an absolute condition of being a Scotsman.

      Another example of the Scotsman's fallacy

      "According to a famous English philosopher, true conservatism preaches and practices empathy and not selfishness"

      But according to the historical and current practice of conservatism, it has been the exact opposite.

      For it would be the same to say that the true consequence of rain is drying and not wetting.

      What is not:

      "The true philosopher can never deny a truth"

      If philosophy is the search for wisdom, then it is conditional that someone who claims to be a philosopher should always search for the truth, even if it is inconvenient for him or for others.

      ''True religion is about existential truths''

      If all religions seek and believe they have found the answers about the origin of the universe or existence, the meaning of life, etc.

      Now, if all religions have fabricated these answers, then it would be the same if all doctors, who are committed to taking care of the health of others, learn techniques that actually compromise health and still consider them to be totally adequate. Therefore, there is no fallacy here if it is conditional for religion to seek these truths, even if all religions ever invented by human beings have deviated from this purpose.

    4. Oh satan why have you made me so innatentive

      "Douglas declared that Scotsmen don't put sugar in porridge. Adam says he's Scotsman and puts sugar in porridge. Then DOUGLASSSSS angrily says he's not a real Scotsman."

    5. Fair enough. I was just pointing to a potential danger of that fallacy. And I agree that the content of religious beliefs tends to anthropocentric. What I'm suggesting in this article, though, is that the content may not matter as much as the social function.

    6. I would like to thank you for the warning about this fallacy.

      Yes, but then I disagree because I did not say that religion tends to be anthropocentric, I said that it is essentially anthropocentric and that this is directly related to all other forms of life, because they all perceive the world from their own perspectives, considering it them as if they were the center of the world, as if there were no other perspectives than their own.

      I believe that the origins of religion, as anthropocentrism, go back to this very primary self-centered perception, which in other life forms is absolute and for us not so much.

    7. I agree that religion has a typically tribalist structure, but so is any community or culture.

  4. ''If just anyone could join a religion without having to prove his or her loyalty, the religion would lose its favour because the organization would be vulnerable to parasitic members.''

    When the organizers are not the parasites themselves, as most religious societies do.