Theists in severe decline.

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Xelasnave.1947, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    The question remains.

    What can be done to get folk back to church?

    We can help with building a list.

    Items from me...

    1 cut out the hyms.

    2 provide better seating.

    3 better parking.

    4 have God available to answer problems and provide instruction on boat building.

    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
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  3. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    If you strip the divinity and mysticism from the new testament, and people commit to follow the secular examples of Jesus the man, would it still be a religion? Or simply an adoption of an ethical code of conduct. That’s essentially the case with the Buddhist and Taoist examples you cited.
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Leave in the "mysticism", the teachings etc, if you want to draw parallels with the Buddhist and Taoist traditions.
    And you would find them easy to draw - from the Sermon on the Mount, say:
    Buddhism and Taoism are simply adoptions of an "ethical code of conduct"? Now you're just being silly.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
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  7. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    You have to strip Buddhist and Toaist tradition of its native mysticism in order to qualify it as an atheist religion, but in doing so do you also disqualify it as a religion?
    At what point does the practice of an ethical code become a religion?
  8. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    When it invents a mythical higher authority

    Not just a feeling of a higher unknown knowledge

    A higher LIVING AUTHORITY who issues life style guidelines (ie lifestyles which did not originate from the people living the lifestyle but from the mythical LIVING AUTHORITY)

    The kicker is of course the lifestyle guidelines WERE written by those living the lifestyle BUT in order to give the guidelines extra weight they were assigned to the mythical LIVING AUTHORITY

    In effect those preaching the guidelines tie their own hands.

    So any questions directed to them, with tied hands, allows them to shrug shoulders "Hey don't blame me. Take it up with the mythical LIVING AUTHORITY"

    Cop cop cop out

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  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    No, you don't. They are both - at least in some sects or manifestations - atheistic religions, right now, with all their traditions and so forth.
    Not applicable.
    Rephrase: At what point would the practice of an ethical code become a religion?
    An interesting question. It's one we will face, surely, if we are fortunate enough to continue our scientific efforts and accomplishments. None of the current religions seem to be adequate.

    Let's say, for starters, that if we have established a clergy or priesthood as a specialty in that code - independent of pragmatic accomplishment, but with effective influence over those who accomplish - and temples devoted to the transmission and further investigation and ritual respect of that code (including its context of meaning, which will perforce be at the logical level of spirituality), and a set of rituals devoted to inculcating those ethics and that code in the young who aspire to accomplishment in the world,

    we would have crossed that line.
  10. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    Which ones? If in any manifestation they incorporate mysticism, deification, or veneration of such, they are essentially theistic.
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    They all incorporate "mysticism", in some sense - they do not all incorporate deities. I already named Zen Buddhism - the Western-familiar Japanese stuff - and classical Taoist belief as derived from the Tao Te Ching and I Ching and such down through the centuries. Might as well throw Confucian belief systems in there.
    Where there is a priesthood, a temple, an approach to spirituality, and a set of rituals engaged in by a community, there's a religion, no?
    And then there are all the animists - unless prepared to demand that a bear spirit be either not mystical or classified as a deity.
    And the more sophisticated - the Navajo and similar.
    And so forth.
  12. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

    Not necessarily. A religion or spirituality is theistic if it explicitly identifies certain objects of belief to be a god or gods. Mysticism, magic, and spiritualism are not the same thing as theism. I know a ton of atheists that believe in ghosts; they believe in spirits, but are pretty straightforward about there not being a helmsman at the wheel. Spirits don't necessarily imply something higher or greater or more powerful.
    And as iceaura pointed out, there are formal religions that are not theistic, or at least do not necessitate theism.
    Magical Realist and exchemist like this.
  13. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    Theism is essentially a belief in deities. And broadly speaking deities are supernatural entities or conceptions.

    There is no universally accepted consensus on what a deity is, and concepts of deities vary considerably across cultures. Huw Owen states that the term "deity or god or its equivalent in other languages" has a bewildering range of meanings and significance. It has ranged from "infinite transcendent being who created and lords over the universe" (God), to a "finite entity or experience, with special significance or which evokes a special feeling" (god), to "a concept in religious or philosophical context that relates to nature or magnified beings or a supra-mundane realm", to "numerous other usages".

    A deity is typically conceptualized as a supernatural or divine concept, manifesting in ideas and knowledge, in a form that combines excellence in some or all aspects, wrestling with weakness and questions in other aspects, heroic in outlook and actions, yet tied up with emotions and desires. In other cases, the deity is a principle or reality such as the idea of "soul". The Upanishads of Hinduism, for example, characterize Atman (soul, self) as deva (deity), thereby asserting that the deva and eternal supreme principle (Brahman) is part of every living creature, that this soul is spiritual and divine, and that to realize self-knowledge is to know the supreme.

    If someone believes in the existence of supernatural entities of any order, then by extension they believe in a divine framework that allows for the existence of such entities. How do these “atheists” justify such beliefs? Likely the same way other theists justify the existence of their imagined deities.
  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Not sure I would agree with that, at least not with such "supernatural" things as ghosts etc. Yes, they may be stretching the definition/usage of "supernatural" to mean more akin to "not currently known by science" or "beyond the laws of nature as we currently understand them" rather than in the absolute sense, but to these people the notion of ghosts would still colloquially be referred to as supernatural.
    I.e. they might see ghosts as some manifestation after death, existing wholly in the physical realm, just not yet understood. It really depends on what the person believes ghosts to be. But there certainly need be nothing divine about it.
    That said, there would seem to be some inconsistency in thought processes in someone who believed God to not exist yet held belief in other things not proven.
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  15. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    Ghosts have been traditionally defined as manifestations of the souls of the deceased, which carries the implication of some supernatural or transcendent existence beyond death. If you feel justified to believe in such an afterlife, then you are justified in defining its existential characteristics as well, which is exactly what theists have traditionally done, and still do today.
  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    As said, it depends upon the definition they are working to (i.e. what they believe ghosts to be) when they refer to "ghost".
  17. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Saying a believer in spiritual beings has to believe in God too is like saying a believer in intelligent life on other planets has to believe in Darth Vader too. God is a character of literary fiction and nothing more.
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I'd say that it's possible to believe in the supernatural (in some sense) without personalizing it into a god and turning it into an object of religious worship. Hence without it becoming theism.

    It's obviously dependent on the meaning of 'supernatural', which in turn is dependent on the meaning of 'natural', which in turn seems to be dependent on 'nature'.

    I get the impression that for many people, 'nature' is the sum total of whatever their preferred ontology accepts. So providing some account for why that kind of nature exists in the first place and for why it behaves as it does involves us in serious tangles. Appealing to any explanatory principle outside our preferred realm of the natural would seem to involve us in the supernatural simply by definition. (And probably in infinite regresses.)

    What's more, settling on some boundaries for nature would seem to be a choice right out of the gate, implicit in our choice of preferred ontology. While I tend to lean towards a very broadly construed physicalism myself, one that accepts the reality of abstract mathematical objects and maybe even unrealized possibilities (largely in the former case for indispensibility reasons), my agnosticism makes me a little skeptical about the idea that human beings are in any position to definitively decide on that kind of stuff.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  19. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    Nope. There are no rules of make-believe. One can certainly think there are ghosts or spirits and no God.
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Read the Tao Te Ching, the Analects, the various Zen Buddhist explications, the Navajo who have done us the favor of speaking on the record, the anthropologists's accounts of animisms, for various examples.
    People do not need Gods to believe in ghosts, tree spirits, ancestor spirits, reincarnation, and so forth. You have that reality directly in front of you - it's not a theoretical matter.
    Theists do it by postulating deities. Atheists do it without postulating deities.
    The converse is not true.
  21. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    I do not have any beliefs about any god. You know that.

  22. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    IF we find there is an afterlife, that does not prove there is a god.
    IF we find there is a god, that does not prove there is an afterlife.

  23. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    It’s more of saying that gods and spiritual beings are varying degrees of the same thing. Gods and spiritual things can come in any manner of unjustifiable configurations, and they are all products of imagination. Belief in the possibility of alien life or gods is one thing, believing in their actual existence is another.
    It’s the belief in the actuality of supernatural entities that defines theism, not necessarily the worship of them. I could conceptualize a god that exclusively rules over dog shit, that has no obvious merits for human worship, yet a belief in such a deity would qualify as theism.
    The lack of rules regarding the conception of supernatural entities is what defines all such entities as being cut from the same unsubstantiated cloth. When you believe in imaginary supernatural beings, you believe in deities. When you believe in deities you engage in theism.
    A god is just one example of deification, ghosts, tree spirits, ancestor spirits, reincarnation, and so forth are others.
    The reality is that these groups believe in deities that are not directly in front of anything.
    Postulating deities doesn’t qualify one as a theist, it’s believing in the actuality of that postulation that does.

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