Undoubtedly religion have been used by groups and individuals with power to make the common people behave as they want them to and accept what they want them to. It can only be used this way if the people already believes – what does the proletariat care what a God they do not believe in commands of them! This view of religion can explain many aspects of religious beliefs as they occur in society – why, say, Catholicism has contained so many dogmas and ideas that are far away from the bible and the word of Christ. But as an explanation for why religions exist in the first place it does a poor job. Continue reading
This is an expanded and improved version of my comment to the article There is only one dogma of science: truth is better than fantasy. The term “tribe of science” is taken from that blog’s author reply to my comment, as I found his term to be more descriptive and poetic than my original term.
Science exists in two forms. There is the concept of science itself, and there is science as a group belief – the tribe of science. Like one has Christianity as in the bible, and Christianity as a group belief that often has little relation to the bible. There is science as a method or idea, and science as a symbol; a group ideal that one feels connected to.
There are Christians who react with violence to “heathen” behaviour, though the new testament never allows violence, not even as a reaction to violence – one should turn the other cheek! This is Christianity as the group symbol – the reaction does not stem from the belief in Christ, but from the group attachment. Similarly, there are scientists and “Believers in Science” who not only discard but ridicule statements, ideas, experiences and thoughts without as much as considering the possibility of their “truth”, much less trying to disprove them. This is far from how conclusions are reached by scientific means, exactly like the violence and warmongering of many christian groups is far from the teachings of Jesus. There are also those who seem to deny the possibility that current scientific theories may have overlooked/misunderstood something – who in words may say that “according to current knowledge there is no indication that…” while obviously believing and behaving as “there is no possibility that…”.
The kind of behaviour as described above explains why some call atheism and “science” for beliefs: many who profess their conviction in either of these (usually both) display the same type of behaviour, reasoning and closed-mindedness that is often, especially by these people themselves, connected to religiousness. Religious people’s behaviour towards their religion does not, in general, come from the fact that they believe in a God, but because the religion is, as I have called it here, the group ideal. This type of behaviour and attitude comes from humans group behaviour – our tribal nature -, and it is only natural (and reasonable) that such behaviour should occur within “science” as well when it becomes a group ideal. (To be fair though, some concepts/ideals/beliefs are more easily abused by our tribal nature than others).
Religions and political movements have wrongfully been blamed for actions that are generally thought of as a result of the content of a religious/political belief itself, or the nature of religious beliefs. The true culprit is the tribal nature of humans. As discussed in Categorizing Beliefs, if one is concerned about people’s behaviour, beliefs should be classified according to the relevant properties – making the psychological attachment more important than philosophical content. According to internal, psychological criteria, “science” or “evolution” can be a belief equally well as Islam.
What is duty? – A dictionary will let us know it is a moral or legal obligation. Legal obligations we can make unambiguous sense of. One is obligated in the sense that failure to comply will lead to persecution in a clearly defined manner. The obligation of law is not an invisible bond, but a simple statement of consequences – do this, or else…
Moral duty, on the other hand, is a mystery. Indeed, we have done legal duty a disservice, for the law is not in truth meant as a statement of consequences; if it were, what then when there are no observers, no one to enact the promised consequences! The law states, as the moral duty does, that one should. Here the moral duty sets a period while law, perhaps in admittance of should’s obscurity, adds a tangible motivation; a because. You should; if you do not, then… Law made the astute observation that handcuffs are more certain to be binding than should.
Since the enlightenment, if not before, philosophy has belonged to the abstract and the ideal. Terms, concepts and categories have been defined by abstract properties, and the language used have been in a sense platonic – speaking as if these concepts exist in themselves. In later years, most thinkers have left the cave, and instead of gazing far away into worlds beyond, the focus has changed to the immediate and the internal. Instead of looking to the stars for moral and religious answers, we have admitted ourselves as the source of such ideas, and the study of these concepts is moving more and more into the fields of psychology and biology. However, while the focus has taken a sharp turn the way of speaking has remained much the same; we study concepts in a new way, but still separate concepts along the same old lines. Is it safe to think no information is lost this way? Continue reading
Recently I started to read the book “Natural Justice” by Ken Binmore, and in his introductory chapter he talks about the evolutionary basis for morality. For his part this is meant only as an introduction of sorts, and therefore the exposition is shortened and simplified, and so it would be unfair to criticise it too harshly for avoiding some issues. But, it did get me to think about some common presentations and arguments from evolution that I feel are too much of a simplification – especially if the goal is to make ethical and political claims based on human nature. I will in this article raise some general questions considering how one argues from and presents evolution, and in particular I will present important concerns about the focus on religious beliefs, that is beliefs containing deities or the divine, by certain atheistic groups. Continue reading
Certificate of “Truth”
When you smile at someone they smile back: Society is a house of mirrors. Our psyche has a mirror nature, which determines education, morality and culture. We copy when we learn, we copy what we like, we copy as we see – and, in order to save energy, our mind leaves it all behind the limit of our consciousness. Whoever we meet, all we can see in others are our own traits: exaggerated, fascinating and sometimes similar. Whatever we see we are only aware of the properties we have already saw: the reflections of previous experience. Whatever we do was already done by someone else in a similar way: the new is transcendental to human society. The mirror nature is our gift and our curse. Here is the source of society and its boundary.
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 Muhammed is his prophet”; they are ways of life and ways of thinking; they are law, philosophy and community.