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How long do Religions last?

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posted on Apr, 25 2006 @ 09:57 PM
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From Greek mythology to Pagan mysticism, everyone's heard about ancient beliefs and various forms of worship, right? In general, religion was used by the ancients to describe what they didn't understand.

The Sun was not really a ball of glowing plasma that gravitationally anchors our solar System. It was a God riding his chariot across the sky during day and into the underworld at night. Well, now we know the truth and Apollo is no longer worshipped as a God. The ancient beliefs have been abandoned and are no longer relevant in modern society. We know the truth, and it has set us free.

I was wondering if the same thing could eventually happen to the world's modern-day religions, specifically the mono-theistic ones that are causing a lot of conflict these days. At what point do people finally say "You know, this just isn't working and I don't think it ever will. Let's come up with something else."?

Will Christians still be waiting for the Rapture in 3,000 AD? 5,000 AD? 10,000 AD? Will the 12th Imam ever return? Are Jews still God's "chosen" people, or has He changed His Holy Mind?

If history is any guide, at some point these religions will be replaced by something else. Let's just hope that humanity is better off with whatever follows.




posted on Apr, 25 2006 @ 10:44 PM
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Originally posted by Double Helix
From Greek mythology to Pagan mysticism, everyone's heard about ancient beliefs and various forms of worship, right? In general, religion was used by the ancients to describe what they didn't understand.


No. This is a common misunderstanding of atheists, ascribing to religion the same motives as those of science, with the implication that religion amounts to an inferior sort of proto-science. But describing -- in technical terms, modeling -- natural phenomena is at most a side-benefit of religious stories or myths; the main point of religion is something else altogether.

What religion is about is establishing and maintaining relationships between individuals and nature, individuals and each other, individuals and society, society and nature. It operates primarily on an emotional and spiritual, not an intellectual plane.



The Sun was not really a ball of glowing plasma that gravitationally anchors our solar System. It was a God riding his chariot across the sky during day and into the underworld at night. Well, now we know the truth and Apollo is no longer worshipped as a God.


We now know the truth, but that is not WHY Apollo is no longer worshipped as a God.

Actually, it isn't even TRUE that Apollo is no longer worshipped as a God, he's just not worshipped as extensively as he was in pre-Christian Greece. By Hellenistic times, the Greeks were already aware that the sun was not literally the chariot of Apollo, but this did nothing to diminish Apollo's rites.

What happened to the worship of Apollo is not that his myths were replaced by science, but that his worship was replaced by that of other deities. And this happened quite some time AFTER his myths were replaced by science, and had nothing to do with that replacement. Simply put, various monistic and monotheistic faiths (Mithraism and Christianity primarily) proved more emotionally and spiritually compelling in the late Roman Empire period than the old polytheistic worship of classical Greece -- more relevant to those times for moral and cultural reasons, not scientific ones.



I was wondering if the same thing could eventually happen to the world's modern-day religions, specifically the mono-theistic ones that are causing a lot of conflict these days. At what point do people finally say "You know, this just isn't working and I don't think it ever will. Let's come up with something else."?


I believe that is already happening, in the more advanced nations anyway. Religion of the future will have to be strongly environmentalist in its ethic, and turn away from the classical sexual mores that sought to maximize birthrates in favor of something that keeps them at a lower level. It will need to replace the myth of Man as Dominator, which is currently part of all great religions, with one of Man as Caretaker or Steward of nature. It will also need to recognize the metaphorical nature of all myths, in the information age where mythic purity is a thing of the past, and accommodate much more fluid religious language and imagery than the great religions do.

However, very little of this process arises from the advance of science. The truth of myth is a truth of the heart and the intuitive perception, not of the straight linear perception that characterizes scientific thought. Myth doesn't have to be scientifically accurate to hold its own kind of truth.



posted on Apr, 25 2006 @ 11:01 PM
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It's not just ancients that use religion to describe what they don't understand.

And do we really know the truth; and are we really free. Our technology in the future will seem so primitive, as will our belief systems; that is if we have a future.
Many advanced civilizations have faded into obscurity.

I think that religion is more of a control mechanism of the elite in society more
than a form of worship. The worship, ritual and mythos of religion is merely the focal point for the subtle indoctrination and eventual mindcontrol.
Once you are a true believer then you are ripe for the "prayer offering" picking.

As long as there are men that realize what a great racket organized religion is and that the masses need to be "saved" religion will play a great part in all societies.
Plus I think there is a genetic component that people want to be lead by a strong, charismatic leader. Those that don't display this trait are shunned, singled out and dealt with according the tenets laid out by those in power.

Some futurist believe that the www. will eventually co opt the church style of worship. Political systems are forms of religion, just with out the esoteric trappings.

If contact is ever made with EBEs, then watch religion be replaced by something else as you surmised Double Helix.

[edit on 25-4-2006 by whaaa]



posted on Apr, 25 2006 @ 11:17 PM
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I believe that the "Modernist/Liberal" response of Christianity to Darwinism and Spencerism has already brought a change something of the type you both describe.

In the late-19th/early 20th century the thoughts of Spencer, regarding the evolution of societies, was applied by Modernists to Religion so that all religions became valid, although Christianity was viewed as the most evolved. In a sense it was different, in that Modernism viewed religion as a function of man's evolving understanding of the divine (with the emphasis on human evolution of thought); whereas Fundamentalism (which, essentially, grew as a response to Modernism, viewed things in terms of God's revelation of himself to man.

Spencerism also provided the philosophical underpinning for some of the worst of the exploitation of the Gilded Age, as well as the whole dismal Eugenics movement. It was Spencer who actually coined the term "survival of the fittest, and he meant it in regard to humans.

To the Modernist, Darwinism appeared to provide a scientific validation of the idea of evolution. Rather than rejecting Darwin's ideas on science, Modernist's understood that they were going to have to make their understanding of the divine comport with what science appeared to be revealing about the world.

To this end, Modernist Christianity has historically seen humanity in terms of the possibility of forward evolution; hence, their emphasis on the ability to change society for the better, in a direction which would trend, predominantly, upwards toward greater perfection. This has a great deal to do with Liberal Christianity's close association with the "Progressive" elements of politics.

Fundamentalism takes a generally negative view of the perfectability of human societies, but that is somewhat beside the point here...

I understand that you are speaking of the idea of the religious impulse in general; but I know that studies have been done which demonstrate that many sects within Christianity which began as fringe elements, either because of their doctrine or their self-perception in relation to society, tend to modify their beliefs, over time, with the more radical elements of their original message toning down the further in time they get from the founding generation. Thus, sects or off-shoots, become more mainstream denominations, as they seek to accomodate to society.

Mormons, SDAs, certain Baptist groups, and others, have shown this tendency.

Now I have roamed off-topic...my apologies to all.

[edit on 4/25/2006 by apocalypticon]



posted on Apr, 26 2006 @ 12:23 PM
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Originally posted by apocalypticon
I understand that you are speaking of the idea of the religious impulse in general; but I know that studies have been done which demonstrate that many sects within Christianity which began as fringe elements, either because of their doctrine or their self-perception in relation to society, tend to modify their beliefs, over time, with the more radical elements of their original message toning down the further in time they get from the founding generation. Thus, sects or off-shoots, become more mainstream denominations, as they seek to accomodate to society.


Yes, that's true. But what we need to do is to look at things over a much longer time-frame.

To repeat what I said above, the purpose of religion is to establish and maintain relationships among individuals, society, and nature. It does this through poetic and mythic imagery, ritual, and mental disciplines, as well as moral teachings. This is a constant, but what kinds of relationships are appropriate have varied over the millennia of human existence on this planet.

We can broadly identify two prior paradigms of human society, each with its own characteristic type of religious thought, practice, and structure; and a third towards which we are now moving. The transition from one paradigm to another occasions an overwhelming religious revolution, such as the one we are now undergoing. Within the period in which each paradigm was dominant, lesser evolutions occurred that invited new religions to emerge, all within the general type appropriate to the paradigm but nonetheless exhibiting differences in doctrine, practice, and structure.

The first paradigm I call the "Precivilized Paradigm." Humans lived under it from the evolution of our first ancestors until the dawn of civilized life, a period between a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand years long. The second paradigm I call the "Classical Civilized Paradigm." Humans lived under it from the beginning of civilization until about the 15th century C.E. We are now in transition toward a third paradigm, which we have not yet achieved, but the changes are already sufficient that we really are not living under the Classical Paradigm any more.

All of the so-called "great" religions in the world today emerged under the second paradigm of human existence, and are of the same broad type. While the differences among, say, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism may seem great, they are insignificant compared to the difference between any of these and the prevailing religions of pre-civilized times, or what religion will become over the next century or so.

In precivilized times, humans lived in small family-related bands and practiced a foraging/hunting economy. They had no formal government, no organized religion, no currency; within the band, distribution of wealth was accomplished by sharing more than trade, and all capital property (hunting and foraging grounds, fishing streams, flint quarries, etc.) were communally owned. Man was in a subordinate position to nature, with strongly-recognized kinship to the animals. Religious practices reinforced all these relationships.

Under the classical paradigm at its purest, humans lived in city-states or imperial dominions or kingdoms, and practiced an agricultural economy. Formal government (usually monarchical but sometimes republican), organized religion strongly interwoven with the state, distribution of wealth accomplished primarily by trade, and private ownership of capital property (especially by a hereditary landed warrior elite) characterized its social structure. Man was in a dominant position over nature, and his kinship with the animals was de-emphasized or even denied. Religious practices reinforced all these relationships.

With the scientific and industrial revolutions, we have moved out of the Classical Paradigm. Many things about it have been abandoned. The primary generator of wealth is now industrial production, not agriculture. The class of slaves or serfs that resided at the economic bottom of classical civilization throughout its entire history has been abolished, replaced by an industrial lower class of marginal hired workers. The typical government type today is republican rather than monarchical. (Even dictatorships use republican window-dressing to establish their legitimacy, whereas in the old days they would have tried to establish the dictator's hereditary claim to the throne.) In religion, too, many things have changed. The subordinate position of women that was part of all classical religious mores is questioned everywhere and abandoned many places. Traditional sexual morality is also being undermined in other respects. And the relationship between man and nature has required a complete overhaul, to recognize our proper role as caretaker of nature rather than its tyrant.



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