Religion Defined

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Cris, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    The common element in every religion is the promise of an afterlife of some form. There is an assumption that humans have duality - a physical component and a spiritual/soul component.

    We can define religion then as - A set of beliefs that some form of potential continued existence will occur after physical death.

    To ensure the promise is fulfilled and/or to determine the quality of the after death experience - requires obedience to a set of rules that describe - lifestyle, morality, and rituals. These details determine how each religion will differ from any other. These include theistic and non-theistic religions. The scope of the details appear to be limited only by human imagination, and in many cases some details will be in direct conflict with other religions.

    If duality is false then all religion is pure nonsense and has no purpose. If duality is true how could we determine what set of imaginative guidelines might be true, if any? From reincarnation to heaven or hell, etc?

    Is there any evidence that duality might be true or is even possible?
     
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  3. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    How could there be evidence of a spiritual/soul component?
     
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  5. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    from wike:
    The Latin term religiō, origin of the modern lexeme religion (via Old French/Middle Latin[2]) is of ultimately obscure etymology. It is recorded beginning in the 1st century BC, i.e. in Classical Latin at the beginning of the Roman Empire, notably by Cicero, in the sense of "scrupulous or strict observance of the traditional cultus".

    The classical explanation of the word, traced to Cicero himself, derives it from re- (again) + lego in the sense of "choose", "go over again" or "consider carefully". Modern scholars such as Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell favor the derivation from ligo "bind, connect", probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re- (again) +ligare or "to reconnect," which was made prominent bySt. Augustine, following the interpretation of Lactantius.
    .....................
    Re ligare = religion = reconnect with god, (or, at least with the practices of the cult).
     
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  7. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    Is it? My understanding is that the Jewish faith has no teaching of an afterlife.
     
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    That assumption is not made by several religions. In Taoism, Buddhism, a whole slew of animisms, some offshoots of the Abrahamic and Hindu traditions, and others, the spiritual and physical are aspects of one unified whole - no more "components" than the back and front of a coin, the color and transparency of a gemstone.
     
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  9. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    It is not emphasized but it is the underlying expectation. Judaism focuses extensively on current lifestyle. Like many religions the daily details of rituals etc become a major deflection from the fundamental reason for the existence of the religion - survival beyond death. An afterlife is very much the basic principle of Judaism.
     
  10. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Etymology is often interesting to see the routes of a word and its original usage, but every language changes over time and people either forget or misuse words to mean something else. For some time I became annoyed when people used the word "decimate" to mean near total destruction, when in fact its origins refer to killing every 10th - 10% is not near total destruction. But to correct everyone's error when their meaning is clear is eventually counter productive. Similarly the use of "agnostic" is rarely used based on its original meaning. To communicate effectively it is usually a good idea to use current popular meanings of words.

    In the case of "religion" the meaning is not so clear, and it means so many things to different people. It is also clear, when examined more deeply, that those involved in religion focus extensively on the cosmetic "fluffy" parts - rituals, lifestyle, etc, and almost entirely forget or have never understood the underlying foundation. In an actual face-to-face Christian debate many years ago I was arguing for anti-aging research when a woman stated that wouldn't be a good idea, and that she didn't want to live forever. I pointed out John 3:15 -" believe in me and you shall have everlasting life". That is the fundamental purpose of Christianity - immortality. She was surprised at the revelation- she didn't really understand why she believed.

    So for me I am trying to define what the term means in today's "deflected" beliefs about what religion truly means.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
  11. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Trying not to separate the two components does not detract from the underlying belief that an afterlife is fundamental. In Taoism - look for ascendance, in Buddhism - look for reincarnation. And Hinduism - rebirth and reincarnation of the soul, etc.

    Again the sense that survival from death is not the basic principle of a religion is a similar tactic everywhere - a deflection from the primitive instinct to survive by using increasingly complex fluffy rituals and imaginative explanations of an "other" spiritual realm.

    Look deeper and you will find the basic human desire to "NOT DIE" is the ONLY real reason for the existence of any religion.
     
  12. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    That is a logical fallacy. That there is something we don't know doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Science is silent on the issue of a soul since science is entirely about evidence and the soul concept offers none. It either means it is nonsense or we haven't looked somewhere.

    The better question would be - what is a soul and what does it do, and how does it do it?

    We now know that the brain accounts for - identity, memory, cognitive abilities, and emotions. We know these things from extensive examination of brain damage through war injuries, accidents, drugs, diseases, etc. So if someone dies and their brain disintegrates then all of these functions would be lost. What then does a soul have? No identity, no memory, no ability to think, no emotions. Would a soul in an afterlife have anything worthwhile? Think also of an infant death - there wasn't much to transfer

    For a soul to have meaning it has to be something independent of brain functions - but just what that could be seems illusive to me. And if I did go to an afterlife without any of my brain functions then what am I?

    An assumption is that the soul is immaterial - supernatural - that is problematic when it comes to how does something supernatural interact with something natural without itself being part material? That feels like an insurmountable problem.

    We could perhaps argue that there can be no evidence for a soul since it fulfills no purpose and has no identifiable attributes.
     
  13. spidergoat Trump rejects intelligence Valued Senior Member

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    The lack of proof for a non-physical soul is about the same as the lack of proof for a God or spirits.
     
  14. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Both are highly speculative concepts requiring a medium that exists outside of known physical laws. So yes, prove that there is this "something else" medium, or show how it might be possible, then we could pursue the concepts further, but otherwise, you are right both suffer from no idea where to start.

    But there is a dependence relationship.

    1. There is no duality - then who cares if there is a god or not - they would only seem to exist to exert an eternal reward/punishment offering, if there is no duality the worst is that we get killed earlier - meh.
    2. There is duality but no god(s) - seems like no problem.

    Feels like a credible god depends on human duality. Show there is no duality and the question of god(s) becomes irrelevant.
     
  15. spidergoat Trump rejects intelligence Valued Senior Member

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    If there is a God, it could give us an afterlife without any sort of duality. On another planet, for instance, or in a computer simulation.
     
  16. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Haha - OK.

    But what sort of mechanism would be involved? I define death as the point at which the brain has decayed so much that its neuro-networks can no longer function. Let's say, for the sake of there being no doubt, by being vaporized by a nuclear explosion. The idea of duality is that there is something permanent that can continue, without that we are talking brain integrity. Once destroyed what would such a god provide? Being omnipotent I guess it could take a snapshot of your brain patterns just before being destroyed. How about someone who dies very slowly say over 10 years through some type of dementure. I would prefer not to have an afterlife being largely brain dead. Hmm - guess the duality issue would have the same problem.

    Maybe it would maintain a record of all your activities during your life and when you die it would create an optimum version of you somewhere else. And for an infant death - perhaps it would create a person from that infant DNA of what it might have been had it lived - bit of a stretch that idea.
     
  17. river Valued Senior Member

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    Then you have not looked into religion deep enough . Not even close .
     
  18. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    So choose one and lets take a closer look. How would you define religion if it doesn't assume life after death as a basic tenet? What purpose would it have?
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
  19. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    I decided to take a deeper look at Taoism following comments above. Most articles emphasize that lifestyle and attitudes are the primary focus. On issues of death it becomes less clear. The underlying assumption is that it is possible achieve immortality and that this is a long term primary goal, and that death is irrelevant.

    A quote here is informative -

    The Taoist view of death may confuse to those accustomed to the detailed, specific portraits the afterlife in Christianity and Islam (Judaism is less clear). There is no doctrine and in fact, what happens after death is not important to Taoists, whose ambition is immortality. Taoism stresses health and longevity through diet and meditation. Death is nothing but a return to the Tao. A practitioner of Taoism strives to render death meaningless by becoming one with the Tao. At that point, whether the person is alive or dead makes no difference.

    Death Rites and Rituals in Early Taoist Practice
    Taoists were traditionally not concerned about death because they expected to live forever. Inevitably, this proved not to be the case. So they developed elaborate rites to protect the spirit from evil. Taoists believed that the body was populated by many spirits. The idea of funeral rituals was to keep those spirits from straying too far from the deceased's body. Taoists envisioned a complex, bureaucratic hierarchy of spirits who must be petitioned and appeased in order to insure smooth passage to reincarnation. This structure was likely modeled after government bureaucracies of the era, which sound very similar to those that exist today.

    From - http://peopleof.oureverydaylife.com/taoists-believe-afterlife-7283.html

    The religion, while very attractive regarding its practical approach to life, has duality running throughout its assumptions, though rarely mentioned. The afterlife in this respect is a variation of reincarnation. But the underlying tenet is that immortality is the goal and that life of the individual does not cease to exist at death.
     
  20. spidergoat Trump rejects intelligence Valued Senior Member

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    Religions are all different. I find they are usually characterized by at least one untestable claim. But that claim may not have anything to do with an afterlife.
     
  21. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Religions are faith based - or more precisely - based on imaginative speculations. The results will vary but that approach will inevitably lead to untestable claims - that's a given, religion isn't science. But my thesis here is that the COMMON element that links ALL religions is the fundamental human instinct to survive and an "inevitable" death is a major and overwhelming threat to that goal. I would assert that if we didn't die then religions would not exist, or rather their "other" features would not offer anything sufficiently attractive for an organized movement to gain any meaningful traction.

    Avoidance of death is the route cause of any religion, and the overwhelming details of any given religion is pure irrelevant imaginative fluff.

    In the case of Taoism the avoidance came through living in a way that extended longevity with the expectation of physical immortality, that is a somewhat attractive gambit, and one I hope we will be able to achieve eventually through medical sciences and technology. But reality kicked in and they gave way to rebirth and reincarnation beliefs.

    A useful quote here -

    Taoist notions of life beyond death are thus most easily discerned by looking at the time prior to the establishment of Buddhism in China. Generally speaking, early Taoist concepts of salvation focused on this life rather than an afterlife. Early Taoist groups were founded on utopian ideas of a new and perfect society, echoing sentiments found in the Taode jing. The focus for some individual practitioners, both fangshi, Taoshi, and some members of the nobility, was immortality of the physical body. They were not interested in what happens after death because they hoped never to die. Instead, they hoped to live forever in human form, with the supernatural powers of an immortal. Related to the quest for immortality was a popular interest in realms of the immortals that were believed to be located on earth — on mountains, islands, or other locations that are usually invisible to the human eye.

    From - http://www.patheos.com/Library/Taoism/Beliefs/Afterlife-and-Salvation
     
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  22. spidergoat Trump rejects intelligence Valued Senior Member

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    I'm sure I could find a religion that isn't concerned with an afterlife. Taoism is one, even if you can find texts that talk about achieving immortality, some forms aren't concerned about it, also Judaism. But I agree that fear of death is a common theme in religion, as they try to answer all questions.
     
  23. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    How can a question be a fallacy?
    I didn't suggest that something doesn't exist. I asked about evidence. Evidence must be objective; unless anybody can see it, it isn't evident. How can anything "spiritual" be objective?
    Which is why the only question I asked was about evidence.
    So, again I ask: How would you know? How can you determine objectively what a soul "is" if the soul concept offers no evidence?
     

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