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Thread: The Social Record of Religion

  1. #1 The Social Record of Religion 
    ox
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    Support for slavery, social exclusion, racism, child abuse and misogyny. These are some of the criticisms levelled against religion. But is there any evidence that these criticisms are the actions of a minority which affects a minority?
    The most quoted reference I have ever heard is 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself' (Matthew). Few people are aware that there is a corresponding older reference in the Maha-bharata: 'A man obtains a proper rule of action by looking on his neighbour as himself'. So do the acts of the faithful follow this guideline?
    Not with slavery. This is the last word that any religious apologist ought to mention. Slavery is not condemned by any holy man in any holy scripture. So around 100 million have suffered in the horrible history of Christianity and Islam.
    Early Christians collected unwanted infants and reared them for slavery and prostitution. Later, boys were raised as eunuch slaves by certain monasteries. Churches even promoted slavery and serfdom, by their own greedy justification.
    Not in the Hindu caste system of social exclusion. Hinduism and other religions of the Indian sub-continent, to include Sikkhism, Jainism, Buddhism and even Christianity have, and still contunue, to treat 'lesser' people as outcastes or untouchables. These Dalits are subjected to the most terrible treatment which in any civilised country should be outlawed. But where religion is concerned they have no chance. It was estimated that in 2003 there were 160 million Dalits in India. This figure is almost certainly higher as some have converted away from Hinduism to Buddhism and Christianity. But in Tamil Nadu, Dalit Christians still face discrimination and exclusion. Dalits are not allowed to drink from the same wells or attend some temples. They live in fear of humiliation, and are beaten and raped. They can't walk in an upper class neighbourhood. They have been paraded naked in the street and forced to eat faeces. They have been made landless and homeless. They are victims of a caste system started by Krishna to create divisions in society and based upon the doctrine of reincarnation, some millenia ago.
    If they have an occupation it is likely to be scavenging, or cleaning latrines and sewers. They live in a cycle of illiteracy, poverty and oppression. As many as 15 million Dalit children work like slaves for under a dollar a day. Dalit girls are forced into prostitution and spend their days in the seediest of brothels.
    So just how many untouchables have ever existed? Let's say that the figure of 160 million+ represents about 1/6 of India's population which in turn has about 1/6 of the earth's population, and this ratio has continued through history. The total number of people who have ever lived on earth is by some estimates is over 100 billion. We can assume that religion has been around for most of that time. This could potentially put the number of untouchables into the billions!
    When you consider that half of the earth's population is female, how have women fared under religion? Not too well it would appear. From the Muslim Tabari: 'Treat women well for they are like domestic animals' and 'Women are stupid'. From the Koran: 'Women should draw cloaks and veils all over their bodies'. 'Men can marry as many as 4 wives, but this provision does not apply for women'. 'If a woman misbehaves she should be beaten'.
    Now of course, women are treated better in Christianity. Or are they? 'If she is the daughter of a priest and a whore, then burn her' (Leviticus). 'The head of every man is Christ, and the head of a woman is man'. (Corinthians). Yes, women still face exclusion from office in the Catholic Church. No wonder. Religion gets away with misogyny because few politicians will argue against it. How lucky are some to be born male and of high class. The rest have been disadvantaged through all the generations of man by religion.
    And yet, what is the real truth? We are all born equal, but thanks to religion, not necessarily for long. Women are disempowered despite the fact that they are probably more valuable than men when it comes to evolution, as they are more selective in the mating process.
    How many millions more will be lured into faith by bigots who promise salvation and an afterlife? How many more will fall victim (and that appears to be the majority of the earth's population) to the horrible history of religion?


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    Sounds like the same old cognitive dissonance. People don't want to accept overpopulation as a reality that needs to be addressed. So, they fill their heads with religious jargon, and make believe the problem away.

    How do you solve overpopulation problems without admitting you're doing it? Answer: choose a group of people and marginalize them. Many of them will die due to the conditions you subject them to. Those who live will consume a minimal amount of resources.

    What do you do with those marginalized people if they don't feel like being marginalized? You can either A)- enslave them. Or B)- kill them all. Spain's approach to the indigenous population of Mexico was to enslave. The USA's approach to its own indigenous population was to kill them all. Both worked to some degree, but I think the second option lead to better final results. For the most part, the ones doing the killing and/or enslaving were the outcasts and/or lowest caste of their own respective societies (outcast English and Spanish), with a few ambitious lesser aristocrats mixed in. For them it was either marginalize others, or be marginalized.

    What religion does in a case like that is allow them to break the rules they're going to need to break, but still hold onto some portion of their humanity by adhering the rules they still can adhere to.


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    Please turn this into a science thread, or I'll get rid of it.
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    Okay. First of all let's distinguish between the creation of an idea which becomes the opening gambit for a religion and an organised religion which can claim millions of followers. Jesus (whoever he really was) or Mohammed might have expressed some amazement at what has happened to their original ideas and actions. Were they really intending to start off a global movement which up to the present has claimed the lives of millions and no doubt will continue to claim many more? All faith founders have certain things in common. They were either born princes and died paupers (eg. Buddha) or they were born paupers and died princes (eg. Christ, Mohammed). In between they wandered off alone, stayed awhile, and then came back to proclaim a new law. So what happened to them? Now I'm sure that if I were to wander off into the wasteland for a few weeks, I would be bored in no time at all. I could try and find what these faith heroes found. Maybe I would be visited by an angel of pity who would escort me up to the 7th Heaven. Unlikely though, don't you think? I could try meditation, but we know for sure that meditation does not really work. It's only a matter of time before the body becomes irritable (by bodily functions), and the mind becomes disturbed (by memes). I don't think that I would emerge from my retreat to preach a new law. So how did all these guys manage to fool the world into their own religious agenda? I think the answer to this has to lie in the use of hallucinatory drugs to pierce through what they describe as the veil of existence. Once the veil is removed then the universe is replete with spirits, angels and archangels, even to the meeting with God himself. That becomes the basis for the new law and it has been achieved through drugs!In 'The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross', John Allegro makes the point that the early Christians were a cult which made use of magic mushrooms for their divine inspiration.But all this is lost in the mists of time I agree. We will never really know what inspired Buddha, Christ and Mohammed. We can say that it was either the world's salvation or the world's tragedy, depending upon your point of view. But can we point to another potential faith founder in recent times who wanted followers just like the Big 3? Well, sort of. That man's name was Edward (Aleister) Crowley. He was born in central England. He inspired a new law (Thelema, which became the basis for the Hippy generation). He attempted to revitalize the Egyptian religion with its emphasis on the magical powers of its gods. For example, if you want to invoke the great Thoth (aka Hermes) you need to perform rituals sacred to Thoth. And how did he attempt to do all this? Through drugs of course!!!He failed in his lifetime quest for magical powers, and his end was spent in an old people's home in the south of England. His books are still in publication and continue to sell, but 'Crowleyanity' is dead. Shouldn't this now happen to all other faiths?
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    That last part is not unsimilar to what happened to Raj Tafari AKA "Haile Selassi" the last emperor of Ethiopia. He had a huge cult following around the world, while running one of the most corrupt dictatorships on Earth, and ultimately got overthrown by his own military after his underlings precipitated a huge, largely artificial, famine, and then died in exile.

    I think the key difference between corrupt cult leader and prophet is that either the prophet A) - Doesn't live long enough to come under enough scrutiny. or B)- He becomes a military leader. Mohammad and Moses fit into group B. With constant war and/or hardship, they look like great men no matter what happens because they can always blame the bad stuff on their foes. If either Raj Tafari, or Aleister Crowley could have had the fortune to die early, then probably their followers would have believed in them forever. Jesus died about 3 years into his ministry, so we'll never know what crazy stuff would have come to light had he reached old age. I don't know about Buddha, though. He doesn't fit either category. Maybe his was the true religion?
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    Still no science discussion going on, Ox. What branch science do you think this falls under? Do you think it is anthropology, archaeology, psychology, sociology, neurology, or what? Is there a hypothesis? Is there a way of testing your hypothesis? Do you even know what science is?
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    I might not have been clear about Raj Tafari's cult. It was called Rastifarianism. I think some people still practice it, but certainly Haile Selassie isn't the focus of it anymore if they do.

    Harold: I liked to hope this was a thread to examine the cause of religious hypocrisy, though admittedly the OP has not proposed any theory as to why so many religions are so corrupt and hypocritical. So, maybe it's just a rant.
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    though admittedly the OP has not proposed any theory as to why so many religions are so corrupt and hypocritical. So, maybe it's just a rant.
    The answer is obvious isn't it? Because humans are quite corrupt and hypocritical by nature anyway. The interesting thing might be contemplating how the various aspects of religion tie into that and springs from it like a weed with flowers.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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    I think Haile Selassie is a good case in point (thanks to Kojax for pointing that out). As I understand, he did not intend to found a new religion, but he is credited as such by the Rastafarians. Quite a lot of his life was spent outside of Ethiopia, in some luxury. He stayed in a luxury hotel for a long time in Malvern, England (a very wealthy town) away from the poverty in his own country. His followers use drugs as part of their culture.My main point is why people don't necessarily practice what they preach when it comes to religion. My original post was based on the book by Joseph McCabe (theist turned atheist) called 'The Social Record of Christianity'. Obviously this needs to be extended to all religion. We can use the scientific tools of logic, probability and evidence to find the difference between the faith leaders and the faithful. It is my contention that organised religion spread along the Silk Road. Ideas were transmitted which became rapidly incorporated into local tribal customs and beliefs. With these ideas also came the drug trade. There is no doubt that drugs were used to produce hallucinations, and in a time of existence by raw survival, it was a relatively minor step for a shamanistic belief to start a religion. But only the 3 great religions of the world are linked by the Silk Road. Northern Europe was not. So the Scandinavians had their own pagan gods (such as the sun god Baldur), but they probably did not have access to the sort of drugs which can only be grown in certain warm climates. So their pagan beliefs remained primitive.Now when some holy man proclaims that the unseen world is replete with angels and demons, and he is in direct communication with one God, he has to be taken seriously. All the better if he can produce 'miracles'. But Mohammed and his followers certainly had blood on his hands, and Jesus and his followers were not the kind people often believed. And so the social history of religion has continued through the ages, and it will still continue to incite wars. And no wonder if its basis is drug inspired mysticism with no foundation whatever in reality.
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    As nearly as I can tell, this discussion is not based on any scholarly studies, and contains some unusual ideas that are not part of any existing accepted science. Therefore I will move to New Hypotheses.
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    And no wonder if its basis is drug inspired mysticism with no foundation whatever in reality.
    That's probably true of many religions several of which are documented. For example some suggest the Oracle at Delphi might have been getting intoxicated in nearby caverns filled with Ethylene Gas. Others suggest that Moses might have been inhaling the smoke of Acacia, many species from the Sinai of which contain psychoactive drugs. I'm not sure these claims have been critically examined. Many religions still have drugs, for Christianity it's wine, for some SW Native Americans its mushrooms.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Many religions still have drugs, for Christianity it's wine, for some SW Native Americans its mushrooms.
    You honestly feel that Christians are getting drunk in church? Have you ever been in a church? Ridiculous.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Many religions still have drugs, for Christianity it's wine, for some SW Native Americans its mushrooms.
    You honestly feel that Christians are getting drunk in church? Have you ever been in a church? Ridiculous.
    I'm surprised anyone took offense, I certainly didn't intend any. But yes, I've been to services where I'm pretty sure the priest was drunk. (many are probably alcoholic but that's kept locked up with the Catholic church). Also, getting more to the heart of the thread, making lots of wine was Jesus' first miracle and there are MANY mentions of wine in the New Testament--it's very much a fabric of Christianity.
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    Wine is also what people drank with their meals and still drink in some parts of the world. Are you intending to imply there is some significance to the intoxicating qualities of wine in the development of Christianity? Where is this thread heading, anyway? It looks more like just a bullshit session than an attempt at scientific inquiry.
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  16. #15  
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    Maybe I should have called this thread 'The reason why no religious apologist ought to mention slavery'. It's not bullshit to discuss why an intoxicating drink is used in religious ceremony. There are different ways to meet your god. You can either rise up to meet him by the use of drugs, or you can bring him down to earth by the use of alcohol. The Christian Eucharist is predated by any number of similar rites. Even the Dalai Lama distributed the bread and wine to his followers. Alcohol-fuelled Popes were not uncommon in the Middle-Ages. But not only was wine used as an intoxicant. Drugs were obtained from plants, and in particular the sacred fungus Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscara), believed to be drug of the early Christians (John Allegro, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross). In its red and white spotted cap is a powerful hallucinatory poison which gives a temporary sense of power and exhilaration. The early Christian drug cult had its own community ethics. This is the reason why slavery was not condemned, because there was no need to. Instead these crazed cultic rogues indulged in superstition, practiced infanticide, cannibalism and incest (ref. Suetonius and Tertullian). They were born again when their god was invoked in a drug induced ecstasy.
    The identification of drug producing plants was the basis of early medicine as drugs were used to heal by the drawing out demons. So Jesus was able to banish unclean spirits into pigs (Mark 5:9) by the 'Christ Mushroom', for gods and demons controlled health and sickness. The pedlars of these, and other drugs and holy smokes such as incense were the Magi. It should also be noted that while Muslims abhor alcohol they do not condemn narcotic drugs.
    The sacred fungus gave them the key to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16-18). This key was apparently a reference to the shape of the mushroom. Mushrooms were the food provided by the gods because they could not be sown from seed.
    Further evidence comes from the devotees of Indian and Parsee religions who drink the juice of the Soma or Haoma plant and consider it to be a god as well as a plant, just as the Christian sacrament is believed to be the wine and blood of the Redeemer.
    So if you want to invoke your god you can do it more effectively by the use of alcohol and drugs. (QED).
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Maybe I should have called this thread 'The reason why no religious apologist ought to mention slavery'. It's not bullshit to discuss why an intoxicating drink is used in religious ceremony.
    I would love to see a thread discussing why an intoxicating drink is used in a religious ceremony, if it was backed up by any solid research. Can you cite any peer reviewed science articles to back up your hypothesis? Until you can, it's all bullshit.
    So if you want to invoke your god you can do it more effectively by the use of alcohol and drugs. (QED).
    If you actually think you have proven something you are seriously deluded.
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    I think Ox is just looking for causality in it all. However,new cults emerge even today, and I'm pretty sure that not all of them involve drugs of any kind. The leader just gets drunk on power, and his followers just get drunk on his charisma. Everyone just wants to belong to something, and crazy people do the best job of getting that ball rolling for them.

    Hallucinogens do have the advantage, however, of allowing a person to tell a preposterous story without contradicting themselves (because technically they're not lying about what they think they saw.) The stories of witches flying on their brooms is often attributed to housewives doing psychoactive drugs. If you showed up to an ancient village and lied on purpose about such experiences, I'm sure those people were not stupid, and they'd subject you to some kind of rigorous interrogation before believing you, an interrogation you're likely to pass if it "really happened".
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I think Ox is just looking for causality in it all.
    Yes, in a speculative, unscientific manner.
    However,new cults emerge even today, and I'm pretty sure that not all of them involve drugs of any kind. The leader just gets drunk on power, and his followers just get drunk on his charisma. Everyone just wants to belong to something, and crazy people do the best job of getting that ball rolling for them.
    More speculation.
    Hallucinogens do have the advantage, however, of allowing a person to tell a preposterous story without contradicting themselves (because technically they're not lying about what they think they saw.) The stories of witches flying on their brooms is often attributed to housewives doing psychoactive drugs.
    Attributed by whom and with what evidence?
    If you showed up to an ancient village and lied on purpose about such experiences, I'm sure those people were not stupid, and they'd subject you to some kind of rigorous interrogation before believing you, an interrogation you're likely to pass if it "really happened".
    More speculation.
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  20. #19  
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    The idea that drugs were not involved is not a "default position" in this case. There is no established scientific view about the origin of religion against which to posit a theory.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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