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Thread: What is religion?

  1. #1 What is religion? 
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    What is religion?

    From my understanding, there is no true scientific definition of religion. Early anthropologists like Frazier believed it was essentially a way to understand and control life events. Durkheim believed religion was a way of uniting people by sharing similar beliefs of the "sacred" and "profane". Nowadays, in the cognitive science of religion, Guthrie believes that it's essentially organized anthropomorphism whereas Boyer believes religion is based off of the mind's intuitive systems.

    Religion is a complicated subject and I think that all of these definitions contains a certain aspect of religion. What do you guys think? What is religion?


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    A form of social control.


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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    A form of social control.
    It definitely can be a form of social control but isn't this a limited view? Religion is a much broader topic than simplifying it to a Marxist theory. The New Age religion, also known as theosophy, generally isn't used to control anyone as it's not centralized like many other religions like Christianity and Islam are. It seems to me that much of religious belief is produced in our mind due to our evolutionary past and how our mind's work. Some people definitely take advantage of religions to control people like the current leader of Scientology and Ted Haggard but there is much more to religion in my opinion.
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    Forum Masters Degree Implicate Order's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReligionOfTheSemites View Post
    What is religion?
    I'll have a stab. It is a purely human trait associated with our inquisitive nature to attempt to understand our universe and provides a mechanism to unite people and offer social cohesion by offerring an explanation that can ameliorate the 'fear of the unknown'.......and it can be subverted by those seeking power over others.......or used for noble purposes by those genuinely seeking to help others.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Implicate Order View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ReligionOfTheSemites View Post
    What is religion?
    I'll have a stab. It is a purely human trait associated with our inquisitive nature to attempt to understand our universe and provides a mechanism to unite people and offer social cohesion by offerring an explanation that can ameliorate the 'fear of the unknown'.
    I really like this definition!
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    Forum Masters Degree Implicate Order's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReligionOfTheSemites View Post

    I really like this definition!
    I tried to explain this to my dog and she just looked at me blankly. Definitely a human condition. :-)
    Last edited by Implicate Order; August 23rd, 2014 at 11:25 AM. Reason: Ghastly typo of one of the most mispronounced words in all of history.....and then some.
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    This is purely my opinion.

    Religion is a stopgap measure to combat ignorance. We create explanations for that which we don't understand, we create comfort where there is fear, we create guidance where there is waywardness. Religion is there to give us structure in a chaotic world.

    Personally, I see it as a weakness. An inability to accept that we are on our own in a vast universe which does not share our human emotions. If we cannot anthropomorphize something, we seem to struggle with understanding it. So, we give a human face and mind to the whole of the universe.

    It's a pretty clever coping mechanism. Beyond that, I see no use for it.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Implicate Order View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ReligionOfTheSemites View Post

    I really like this definition!
    I tried to explain this to my dog and she just looked at me blankly. Definitely a human condition. :-)
    I don't think that is fully thought through. Had you said it to me, I would have looked at you blankly too. As far as I can tell, religion is just a word, and you can assign (or not) whatever meanings you wish to to it, but it is just a word, not something real, so I figure you have a pretty intelligent dog. *hides paws*
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    ~ Try telling the people on the front porch that they are being miss directed or led.. and horrible miss informed. They will not thank you..
    That what I see as true is hard and real.. and I suspect gaining ground as the popular view.. As I see it, where I live,. The same can not be said of the whole free world. Religions are often used for a control method.. it's about the $... and that most of the populous do not care.. Just going about surviving the economies of struggle street.. I conclude perhaps unfairly* that religion is a weakness to face the big questions alone.. Unfair* This IS a science Forum.. If you want for religious discussions go search for religious discussion groups.. not here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReligionOfTheSemites View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Implicate Order View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ReligionOfTheSemites View Post
    What is religion?
    I'll have a stab. It is a purely human trait associated with our inquisitive nature to attempt to understand our universe and provides a mechanism to unite people and offer social cohesion by offerring an explanation that can ameliorate the 'fear of the unknown'.
    I really like this definition!

    I second that.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  12. #11  
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    This sums religion up....

    When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
    Jimi Hendrix
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    This is purely my opinion.

    Religion is a stopgap measure to combat ignorance. We create explanations for that which we don't understand, we create comfort where there is fear, we create guidance where there is waywardness. Religion is there to give us structure in a chaotic world.

    Personally, I see it as a weakness. An inability to accept that we are on our own in a vast universe which does not share our human emotions. If we cannot anthropomorphize something, we seem to struggle with understanding it. So, we give a human face and mind to the whole of the universe.

    It's a pretty clever coping mechanism. Beyond that, I see no use for it.
    God seems to be the weight of the past. Darkmatter2525 had a nice sketch about the origin of religion.

    It started with fear of the unknown.. Which is a realistic fear.

    Then one man, claiming to know everything, said to be guided and adviced by a supernatural being, knows the answers you want to hear.. Basically telling you all is well, you will live forever and you will be happy forever..

    Then something happens to you which contradicts this.. The liar who claims to be guided by god, tells you it is the wrath of god for not doing what he wants you to.. So you start doing whatever it is he tells you to do.. Like sacrificing wealth, food, or just your time for the good of this god, which in turn will all be pocketed by this liar.

    In the sketch from darkmatter2525 they started with a cave, of which a god lived, but nobody but the leader was allowed to enter, or bad things would happen. This went well until someone actually went inside, saw it was empty, and the liar needed to think of something else to embody god, like on top of a mountain, the clouds, the sun, or the stars, or a whole god dimension which is unenterable altogether (last place god will end up).

    So i would say, it began as a child story of dealing with the unknown, to killing your neighbor for thinking creation took 7 days, instead of 6.

    I also believe that most people just say they believe, not because they believe, but because they believe they must believe, because they think everybody does. Psychological bullshit.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    God seems to be the weight of the past. Darkmatter2525 had a nice sketch about the origin of religion.

    It started with fear of the unknown.. Which is a realistic fear.

    Then one man, claiming to know everything, said to be guided and adviced by a supernatural being, knows the answers you want to hear.. Basically telling you all is well, you will live forever and you will be happy forever..

    Then something happens to you which contradicts this.. The liar who claims to be guided by god, tells you it is the wrath of god for not doing what he wants you to.. So you start doing whatever it is he tells you to do.. Like sacrificing wealth, food, or just your time for the good of this god, which in turn will all be pocketed by this liar.

    In the sketch from darkmatter2525 they started with a cave, of which a god lived, but nobody but the leader was allowed to enter, or bad things would happen. This went well until someone actually went inside, saw it was empty, and the liar needed to think of something else to embody god, like on top of a mountain, the clouds, the sun, or the stars, or a whole god dimension which is unenterable altogether (last place god will end up).

    So i would say, it began as a child story of dealing with the unknown, to killing your neighbor for thinking creation took 7 days, instead of 6.

    I also believe that most people just say they believe, not because they believe, but because they believe they must believe, because they think everybody does. Psychological bullshit.
    This seems highly speculative. Do you have any evidence for this story?
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    Speculative, but sensible and believable.

    Tracking this would be like asking who first used fire, and if i have proof of this.

    If you mean the last sentence, then no, i don't have proof, just personal experience. Most people i know believe, not because they see evidence for or against, but because they do not understand how evolution works. But believing was rammed in since birth. And what they believe is not in a god like in the old testament, but a belief in something.. something beyond, because something must have created all of this.

    People i know aren't simplistic religious nuts, and i do respect their doubt in what they have been thought. But they fear saying they do not believe, or they have doubts. I don't know anyone who actually believes the bible, but i don't know anyone who doesn't believe in anything supernatural. They still call themselves christians, and still wedd in front of the church, because they believe they must. Also they baptize their children, even though they don't believe in a god anymore. I think this is psychological bullshit, baptizing your children, just in case they are wrong, or they may not be buried in a graveyard by a church.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    Speculative, but sensible and believable.

    Tracking this would be like asking who first used fire, and if i have proof of this.
    If you made up a story about how fire was first used, I would ask the same question.
    If you mean the last sentence, then no, i don't have proof, just personal experience.
    That is known as an anecdote. It doesn't carry much weight in a scientific discussion.
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    To me Religion was and I guess still is a way for people to explain what they didn't understand. Its a way of giving people comfort.

    Organised Religion is something completely different. It's all about money and control. It's an excuse for starting wars, something to hide behind when people do something wrong.
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