Religion-Society

Why does there not exist individuals who deeply believes in certain Gods, with a complete mythology around it about creation, traits, morality and so on, that is completely detached from the beliefs of any other person on earth? Religion does not exist without society.

Viewing religion only as the belief in a supernatural being begs the question why all religions say something about why’s and what’s. Christianity is not the belief “God exists and Jesus is his son”, and Islam is much more than “There is only one God, and Muhammad is his prophet”; they are ways of life and ways of thinking; they are law, philosophy and community.

Why has Christianity changed so much over the years? Because society changed, and a religion separated from society is like a foetus taken from the womb. It dies. When a human dies, the body remains, but we can all agree – the essence of person is gone. When religion is separated from society, its essence is gone. One can never get to know a person by studying the body, and one can never get to know religion by studying it separated from society. One can never understand why one is loved by one’s mother and cherished by one’s friends by looking at the body, and likewise one can never understand why people would believe in religion when looking at it separated from society.

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5 thoughts on “Religion-Society

  1. But we do look at it as a product of society and culture. This is why it is not uncommon to point out that if there were an element of truth, we would have seen it spread across cultures on academic virtues instead of remaining regional and spreading by conquest and immigration. It is easily noted that, if you are born in Saudi Arabia, then you are most likely going to be a Muslim. The question is not so much why would people accept the religious values of their locale, but why they would reject them.

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    • “It is easily noted that, if you are born in Saudi Arabia, then you are most likely going to be a Muslim.”
      Yes, this is easily noted, but, then, is it not equally possible that the values and views of the secular west come equally much from society and not logic and reason – we are only convinced about the reasonableness of our beliefs because it is part of the “belief of our society” (like Islam is part of the belief of society in Saudi-Arabia) that we are reasonable and that our values are reasonable?

      Part of my point is not to defend religion from a philosophical point of view, but to understand the nature of it, which I often feel that the biggest critics of it don’t.

      In truth, this was not a finished article; the full article will come soon, and my point will become clearer. At least I hope it will become clearer. I will be very grateful for any feedback on that later, and I am glad you are interested.

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  2. but, then, is it not equally possible that the values and views of the secular west come equally much from society and not logic and reason

    Sure, but I wouldn’t call the US secular. If you look at the scandinavian countries, they don’t give a thought to religion, and overtly religious people are seen as weirdly defying society. Their success shows that religion is not necessary for a functional society.

    The success of religion has been in getting strangers to work together towards goals. The Scandinavian countries seem to have found another way, so perhaps you should look into that.

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    • I think religion should be considered as a particular case of something more general that I would call mythology. In Scandinavia, it is true that overtly religious people are considered weird and we simply do not understand it (I am norwegian, hence the “we”). There are many people who are religious not in the US sense, but they generally have the same moral and political convictions as the population overall. And this is exactly why the scandinavian societies are so functional – there is a widely shared moral foundation and belief in central principles. Not only that people agree that murder is wrong and so on, but we agree on the why. But all this has very much the shape of religious beliefs – it does not come from logic and reason.

      If society can make one believe in God (as we have agreed it can), then it can also create a belief e.g. in the value of human life. So, then, the explanation for why murder is wrong is not “because God says so”, but because of intrinsic human rights. Just like a muslim cannot consider the Quran being wrong, most scandinavians cannot consider this foundation being wrong and it is not up for discussion. You would have problems discussing free will in public in Norway, even though it is not founded in either logic or science – the belief in it has a religious character.

      Likewise, one cannot seriously suggest that the social-democratic society model is wrong among common people – this conviction is also like a religious belief.

      At least norwegian society is highly conformist in terms of political and ethical opinions (of course there is a lot of variety, but the foundation is generally the same).

      I would say that both religious and “rational” beliefs, here exemplified by scandinavian belief system, have the same social and instinctive source. Of course, one may argue that the scandinavian beliefs put more emphasis on reason and science and is therefore more rational. But still, reason works only from the foundation. Just like christians can logically deduce claims from the Bible, scandinavians logically deduce claims from the “social-democratic mythology”. In both cases, the foundation is not up for questioning or analysis by either logic or science. Now one can argue that one foundation is “better” than the other, and I am even inclined to agree, but I have yet to reach the point where I want to make judgements about what is best for humans, since I know the source of our convictions is not to be trusted.

      Even if we know X is better than Y, we should not rush to X immediately, but take time to look around. Maybe there is a possibility Z that we have yet to consider, which is better than both X and Y. This is why we are (that is, me and my partner in writing) at the moment mostly concerned with the nature of things – of society, of belief, and of morality.

      As a last note, I would point out that scandinavian societies until recently were extremely religious and conformist, and that a lot of the traditional behaviour remains. Us starting to question this behaviour may lead to more unrest and a more fragmented society. We do not really know yet.

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  3. Pingback: Society Changes | janetkwest

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