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Why Do Religions Exist? An Atheist Perspective

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posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 01:18 AM
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Why Do Religions Exist?



Here is where Atheism becomes a belief system all of its own. I say this because every Atheist I have asked this question of answers it in a unique way, and of course, according to their beliefs on the subject.

That is, except for those who I call True Atheists. This is just an arbitrary term I use to describe those who have analyzed their own "psyche" and the collective "psyche" as much as they have religions, and came to the same conclusion; that not only is the belief in God erroneous, but also that the belief in Self is erroneous.


In other words, the subjective experience of self is, nothing more than a composite convergent flux of stimulus and responses that could all possibly be explained by any number of deterministic theories. And thus personal ambition and desire is nothing more than vestigal, and sometimes current, behaviors of the ego as a means of continued survival. Just like every other portion of the body and mind.

And True Atheists also realize that in the primitive mind, ego can throw such a tantrum in it's attempt to survive that it misses opportunities to work as a collective towards that basic primal desire of survival. It is because of this that psychological and emotional love emerges in the human brain and nervous system. It is also because of this that, in more complex psyches, culture develops, (which includes relgion). The rituals of a religion form the heartbeat of early cultures, as they stimulate a sense of normality during somewhat crazy cultural conditions.

The Atheist of today is justified because this collective ego has gotten to the same point as the individual ego did so long ago, and it is indeed Religion itself (as a collective ego) that requires checking, (as it did 2000-3000 years ago). The Axial age has ran it's course and served it's purpose. And now it is time for the next step in this deterministic and gradual evolution towards a better moustrap of survival.




posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 01:36 AM
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Intriquing post, Quazga.

While the various religions of the world, exinct or extant, have very different dogmas and lore, they all do seem to want to address the truths of existence. A lot of wisdom is available in the teachings of Moses, Confucius, Mohammad, Jesus, Vishnu, etc.

Perhaps where athiests are drawn away from religion is the need for them (the religions) to address personal survival after death, whether through the promise of an afterlife in the West -- be it Heaven or Valhalla -- or reincarnation in the East.

I understand why athiests and agnostics reject any specific religion just as I, as an agnostic, have. But I also understand why a follower of a certain religion, or sect or denomination of one, does. The basic truths of human nature and our relationship to nature and to each other, of the teachings, which seem to be consistent throughout human religion, keep them anchored in a seemingly chaotic world.

Science and logic and "true" knowledge, by the way, serve the same purpose for those of us who are not religiously inclined, I think.

As far as casting off religion as an antiquated, vestigal artifact of pre-enlighted culture; that'll a hard sell, lemme tell ya.


[edit on 12-8-2007 by Tuning Spork]



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 01:38 AM
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You seem to present Atheism as a rejection of religion more than a rejection of God. Can a God not exist outside the logic of religion?

"In other words, the subjective experience of self is, nothing more than a composite convergent flux of stimulus and responses that could all possibly be explained by any number of deterministic theories."

I suppose this thinking stems from a lack of belief in afterlife? Indeed there is nothing in the human experience that would really indicate the existence of an after life.

How then do you explain the extreme complexities of the universe and the mind, as exampled by your complex thinking?



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 02:00 AM
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Originally posted by Tuning Spork
Intriquing post, Quazga.

While the various religions of the world, exinct or extant, have very different dogmas and lore, they all do seem to want to address the truths of existence. A lot of wisdom is available in the teachings of Moses, Confucius, Mohammad, Jesus, Vishnu, etc.

Perhaps where athiests are drawn away from religion is the need for them (the religions) to address personal survival after death, whether through the promise of an afterlife in the West -- be it Heaven or Valhalla -- or reincarnation in the East.

I understand why athiests and agnostics reject any specific religion just as I, as an agnostic, have. But I also understand why a follower of a certain religion, or sect or denomination of one, does. The basic truths of human nature and our relationship to nature and to each other, of the teachings, which seem to be consistent throughout human religion, keep them anchored in a seemingly chaotic world.

Science and logic and "true" knowledge, by the way, serve the same purpose for those of us who are not religiously inclined, I think.

As far as casting off religion as an antiquated, vestigal artifact of pre-enlighted culture; that'll a hard sell, lemme tell ya.


[edit on 12-8-2007 by Tuning Spork]



I don't just cast them off as antiquated actually, the unfettered ego worked well for eons. It still does in many primates today. There just comes a time, when it gets in the way of it's goal, namely survival. Usually this happens when many other egos end up in the same space. Eventually submission of some kind has to occur.

I believe religions have reached this point in our society today. There are many of them, and right now many of them are acting collectively in an unfettered way. Eventually though, they will have to adapt to a more eccumenical relationship with eachother.



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 02:08 AM
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Originally posted by Vipassana
You seem to present Atheism as a rejection of religion more than a rejection of God. Can a God not exist outside the logic of religion?



Oh I think so. But I don't think we have any evidence of atheism in primitive tribes prior to the existence of religions. I do indeed believe Atheism is a product of Religion, as ironic as that sounds.




"In other words, the subjective experience of self is, nothing more than a composite convergent flux of stimulus and responses that could all possibly be explained by any number of deterministic theories."

I suppose this thinking stems from a lack of belief in afterlife? Indeed there is nothing in the human experience that would really indicate the existence of an after life.


Not at all, the evidence in front of me shows many different spheres of life built on top of smaller spheres. For instance, the material sphere is built upon the energetic spehere. And the biological spehere is built on top of the material sphere. And consciusness (or the noosphere) is built on top of the biological spehere. I think it is completely valid to assume that there is yet another sphere built on top of this too. And that very well might be an afterlife.



How then do you explain the extreme complexities of the universe and the mind, as exampled by your complex thinking?


I don't see how complexity in emergent systems has anything to do with a requirement of a diety. Check out the entrys in Wikipedia for Emergence and Autopoesis...

en.wikipedia.org...

en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 03:05 AM
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I would definitely agree that atheism is a product of religion. In fact I also agree to some extent with your sphere ideas and consciousness. Perhaps the only difference is that I call all of it God and maybe you only call it the Universe. In a sense my belief is that all things in existence is God, therefore humans are too.



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 09:50 AM
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Originally posted by Vipassana
I would definitely agree that atheism is a product of religion. In fact I also agree to some extent with your sphere ideas and consciousness. Perhaps the only difference is that I call all of it God and maybe you only call it the Universe. In a sense my belief is that all things in existence is God, therefore humans are too.


Did you check out the links on emergence? It's interesting that in experiments where emergence is studied there is always the "illusion" of an "invisible hand".



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 10:38 AM
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Atheism is more so a product of logic and science; albeit, religion does have a role in creating atheists.

But to answer your question, why religions exist.

First off, one must understand that the religions practiced today are almost virtually entirely different than the religions practiced many centuries ago. That is to say, the same religion one practices today was practiced very differently long ago.

As to why they started and why they are practiced is entirely psychological, despite it being an entirely philosophical question. As Freud put it, religion is the by-product of mass neurosis and psychological distress. Religion helps those with clouded minds make sense of otherwise seemingly incomprehensible events - for instance the creation of the universe, or life in general.

Other great minds, like Stewart Guthrie, have deducted that religion is a byproduct of systematic anthropomorphism, meaning that we have given human characteristics to non-human things and events that we don't understand - for instance ancient civilizations having gods for wind, fire, earth, et al.

I think the real question here is "why does religion have value?"

[edit on 12-8-2007 by ModernDystopia]



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 11:06 AM
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Originally posted by ModernDystopia
Atheism is more so a product of logic and science; albeit, religion does have a role in creating atheists.

But to answer your question, why religions exist.

First off, one must understand that the religions practiced today are almost virtually entirely different than the religions practiced many centuries ago. That is to say, the same religion one practices today was practiced very differently long ago.

As to why they started and why they are practiced is entirely psychological, despite it being an entirely philosophical question. As Freud put it, religion is the by-product of mass neurosis and psychological distress. Religion helps those with clouded minds make sense of otherwise seemingly incomprehensible events - for instance the creation of the universe, or life in general.

Other great minds, like Stewart Guthrie, have deducted that religion is a byproduct of systematic anthropomorphism, meaning that we have given human characteristics to non-human things and events that we don't understand - for instance ancient civilizations having gods for wind, fire, earth, et al.

I think the real question here is "why does religion have value?"

[edit on 12-8-2007 by ModernDystopia]


I think you meant "deduced". Decducted is what I did to my expenses last year on my taxes.

Well, if it were not for Theists.. there would never be A-Theists. Thats pretty obvious.

Yes, Guthrie does go a long way to describe the mechanics at work in the psyches as religion is developed. However, the reason for religion, and any other desire, is at the most ultimate level, survival.

Even the desire for logic has at it's most primal urge, Survival. There is a belief that Logic can provide survival where the lack thereof cannot. The desire to be "right" is simply the result of wanting to stay alive.

I mean, seriously why do you think the concept of "eternal life" or "reincarnation" even exists? As a placebo to that desire to stay alive.

Humans are nothing more than an eventuality given the conditions in the environment, and their products, including religion are the same.

As for value, that is chosen through natural selection. So given that Religions have survived for so long, I'd have to say there is something to their value, at least in the past.

Moving forward, the egoic nature of religions will have to go through the same process as the individual ego did. Keep in mind the individual ego is merely a steering wheel for the mulitple systems and organisms that make up the human body, just as Religion is the same for the collective of humans.

If you are to assume that people have an actual self, and that religion is simply the lack of good analysis, then you are as duped as those believers in religion.

[edit on 12-8-2007 by Quazga]



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 12:01 PM
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Yes, my mistake. I did mean deduced. I'm running on very few hours of sleep, bear with me.

And yes, I agree with you, religion is also indeed, perhaps at the highest level, a byproduct of man's basic survival instinct. I still think that the more important
question is what value religion has, and I don't think that the fact that religion has been around for so long is not a reason it has value, at least not today. I find myself believing in Dawkin's theory that religion is a byproduct of psychological propensity that was at one point in time, long ago, useful. Essentially, an evolutionary accident.



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 04:58 PM
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Originally posted by ModernDystopia
Yes, my mistake. I did mean deduced. I'm running on very few hours of sleep, bear with me.

And yes, I agree with you, religion is also indeed, perhaps at the highest level, a byproduct of man's basic survival instinct. I still think that the more important
question is what value religion has, and I don't think that the fact that religion has been around for so long is not a reason it has value, at least not today. I find myself believing in Dawkin's theory that religion is a byproduct of psychological propensity that was at one point in time, long ago, useful. Essentially, an evolutionary accident.



Yep, I think you and I are on the same page with that one.

Although I don't think accident is quite a good enough modifier. I mean, I can't think of a culture that doesn't have some sort of religious concepts guiding it. It seems like humans are going to have a belief in a deity of some sort due to the unavoidable anthropomorphism that occurs as we look out on the world though the consciousness of the complexs primates we are.

It's more of an evolutionary eventuality for complex primates. Although it could apply to more species, I just haven't seen evidence of it.



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 06:03 PM
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Well written original post Quazga, though perhaps not as lucid as I'd have liked. I had to refer to Dictionary.com and Wikipedia just to confirm I was following you correctly.

I don't imagine I'd like debating with you very much, I'd spend less time writing a rebuttal than I would attempting to follow your confusing writing style and simply trying to ascertain what point exactly you're trying to make...

I'm all for writing in a style that's representative of a functioning brain, but is writing brilliantly at the cost of lucidity really impressive? I don't think it is. Tone it down a bit Einstein so the average among us can follow you
.



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 09:52 PM
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Originally posted by seeingevil
Well written original post Quazga, though perhaps not as lucid as I'd have liked. I had to refer to Dictionary.com and Wikipedia just to confirm I was following you correctly.

I don't imagine I'd like debating with you very much, I'd spend less time writing a rebuttal than I would attempting to follow your confusing writing style and simply trying to ascertain what point exactly you're trying to make...

I'm all for writing in a style that's representative of a functioning brain, but is writing brilliantly at the cost of lucidity really impressive? I don't think it is. Tone it down a bit Einstein so the average among us can follow you
.



Sorry about that. I do tend to write things a bit hastily. Most of these thoughts and opinions of mine come from about 10 years of stewing on the subject, so please forgive me.

Ten years ago I would have probably said the same thing as you, had I read something written so hastily from such odd perspective.

I do hope you catch the basis of my meaning. Simply that all of existence is in a form of "adaptive flux". A situation governed only by the mechanics of self-organization with a bias towards survival.

Of course Mark Twain does a brilliant job of describing this without the complexities and labirynthine thoughts that I exhibit. Check out his remarks on it here...

ww3.telerama.com...




[edit on 12-8-2007 by Quazga]



posted on Aug, 12 2007 @ 11:23 PM
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Originally posted by Quazga
Sorry about that. I do tend to write things a bit hastily. Most of these thoughts and opinions of mine come from about 10 years of stewing on the subject, so please forgive me.


No problem, you're only guilty of being extremely smart which is hardly a crime
.

.....

Edit:
Actually I should be the one apologizing to you for not having furthered my education enough to keep up with you haha
.

[edit on 12-8-2007 by seeingevil]



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 06:34 AM
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Religion is a way to control the vast majority of the population, look at the main onese
Catholism & Christianity - State, follow God or be punished in Hell for eternity.
These are the only ones I actually know but the others are pretty much the same.
They scare you into ignorance and false faith and belief so you can be controlled and lead like sheep.
None I'm fully aware of hold any truth or any original statements.
Look at the story of Jesus, I'm sure most of us know it. Now look at the story of Horus, Isis and Osiris. Find any similarities?
Jesus was a Jew. The bible is simply the best selling novel ever. The incidents in the bible can not be proven - and if a Christian tries to argue, then we can automaticly assume that they believe in all the mysteries of the world based on the FACT that they believe something with no facts.

Thats enough ranting, I mean no offence but abuse is welcome as another thing I learned from the catholic church is that the believers of that faith I have met (and thats quite a few) have the belief that you either believe in god or you will be punished, take Northen Ireland for example!

Sorry ranting is really over now, no offence intended, after all these are just my beliefs as you have yours and I welcome them as I hope you welcome my beliefs.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 06:49 AM
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Religion is probably the most complicated thing we humans do and no answer as to why we do it is entirely satisfactory. Some of the reasons why include:

Fear of death
The inspiration for the creation of cultures and civilizations
A source for moral codes
An explanation for why the universe exists
A purpose for the individual life
A feeling of anchoring in the cosmos
An expression of awe
A focus of spiritual longing

And many many others. To simplify the subject as being a manner of social control, while true on one level is to do a disservice to the subject.

It has been suggested that we can't help it humans are wired for the spiritual. I don't know about all that but I do know that in all its aspects, morals, art, myth, symbol, psychology etc. It is a vast subject.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 06:52 AM
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I am an Atheist.

You die. You rot. End of Story.
Strangely i believe in Ghosts 0.o



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 07:12 AM
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religion... what is it ?

religion is just a different form of the mind game/role play paradigm
that became popular for a decade ... aka: "Dungons & Dragons"


it's a dreamers creation that gives the participant some solice
in a harsh world of nature/reality/social dynamics



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 08:50 AM
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reply to post by Quazga
 


Thought I’d throw in my two cents here as well ... since we are ‘passing the plate’ on the ‘whys’ of religion and its existence.

Our story begins in some remote era of early man. At one point a young male must have challenged his sire for dominance in a small group of pre-humans. The older male was defeated and the younger one took his place as the Alpha male ... until the older male came back with a stick and bashed in his offspring’s head, and so was born “The Big Stick Theory of Control”.

The Big Stick Theory (TBST) became something of a revolutionary phenomenon, and soon many groups of humans were utilizing it. It was found that the bigger and heavier the stick, the more effective it was, especially in defense against other stick wielding tribes. Variations on the theme arose, such as stone tipped spears which could be either used from greater distances or be thrown, and soon small fascist dictatorships sprung up in abundance, concerning themselves primarily with hunting grounds and breeding rights.

But all was not well among these early humans, for one, I suspect it was a female, rose up and challenged this status quo. She wielded a stick so large it could not be seen by these savage tyrants. The act of child bearing, child rearing and healing of wounded men was granted to her by the unseen stick and goddess worship had been created. What men could not understand, men feared. She brought other females to her way of thinking, and wise women and witchery were born.

Women ruled by way of this big stick for some time, although this age of compassion and reason would come to a brutal end.

As civilization evolved, a man stepped foreword with a greater invisible stick, perhaps brought about with a few lucky breaks such as close lightning strikes and mastery of fire. He was displeased with the matriarchy that had spread amongst the tribes. With fire, he was a mighty opponent, a master chef (army’s do travel on their stomachs ...), and a creative and manipulative thinker. He claimed he was granted these things from a source higher than the wise women’s stick ... that he could strike them down with the coming storms. He found that through fear and manipulation, he never had to use his stick, for it was so mighty, few would stand against it. When he did have to use this mighty stick, he found he could destroy entire settlements with minimal effort, simply burning their villages and homes, then slaying the stragglers from the fires. This phenomenon, too, caught on, and was eventually given names such as An, Enki, Utu ... organized religion had been born.

But force alone was not sufficient enough to keep men in line. Many skirmishes were present ... lawlessness needed to be curtailed. Stories were invented, fables and myths were brought together to form a dogma, morality tales to keep believers docile and in line when there was no pressing need for them. Man learned the wisdom of having a reserve of forces, supplies and resources.

Through utilization of TBST, man has found a most effective means of manipulating his environment, especially as society and civilization were concerned. With TBST, politics could be shaped and molded. Economies could be funneled and controlled. And when foreign leaders and upstart cults could not be easily controlled by the stick, soldiers could be easily recruited by the words of the unseen Big Stick.

Basically, little has changed since those days. There have been refinements of tactics, but it all comes down to mass control by few. Superstitions have been reinforced by these leaders, because all men fear, all men are selfish and all men manipulate, with complex variables modifying the amount of each.

True Atheisms is the rejection of these manipulations, and exactly why so many have been scorned from on high for such beliefs. Atheists are more a threat to such power bases than ‘upstart cultists’ because they can see through TBST and are not subject to its many variations.

Now, having presented a cute little story, I would like to state for the record that this is simply a theory of mine, and is no way any proof of the way things truly are. It’s probably worse ... :LOL: Seriously though, I tend to fall under the heading of Agnostic more than Atheist, in that there is something out there, but modern organized religion has not quite touched on it in any way that is meaningful.




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