thread: 2011-07-11 : Hooray for Religion

On 2011-09-01, Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:

Dave is spot on. You can't express "belief" to someone. You can only assure them that you feel it, and we're terrible at self-reporting that kind of thing. It's not admissible evidence for anything, other than that it's what you want to say.

More to the point of religion: even people who "believe" that God is always watching them act differently when they think no one's watching them, and even people who "believe" that when innocent babies die they go to heaven are sad when a baby dies. This is because our beliefs are a thin skin over a much deeper and more substantial human practicality.

The difference between a religious sane person and a religious nutjob isn't in their beliefs, which may be identical, but in the fact that the nutjob is nuts.

Well, or the nutjob lives in a social environment where acting a particular kind of nuts is social currency. That is, you have a reason to proclaim belief in something invisible and intangible and claim it's real, but visible and intangible things are not.

So, here's a thing: religion is poetry about the grandeur of the Universe, right? Sometimes people make statues, or dance, or literally recite poems. Sometimes you dress in a way reminds you of a poem, sometimes you do math that you infer from the poem. You might do that to reassure your ancestors that you're not fucking up, or you might do it because you hope to appease a god who has thrown a hurricane at you. But really it's because the Universe is so big you're trying to get your mind around it.

But ultimately, it's the stuff you do ? morally or ritually ? that is the religion. Not the part where you have a special feeling, or at least want to. That feeling is the reason you do it, not the result. If you feel the need to express a result as saying how special your feeling is, it tends to sound like you're still trying to convince yourself.

(PS: it looks like I didn't post this, after all! It's just sittin' here!)


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