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Thread: Belief in supernatural prerequisite for religion?

  1. #1 Belief in supernatural prerequisite for religion? 
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
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    If you go here; http://www.e-booksdirectory.com/details.php?ebook=6117
    You can download a free PDF of an interesting book.
    At the bottom of page 3 of the book proper is a statement which inspired the following question.
    Is belief in the supernatural a prerequisite for religion?
    Of course an individuals answer to this question will depend on their semantic definition of religion.
    But if we apply a loose semantic to the idea of religion, can there be an intersection of science and religion without appealing to the concept of the supernatural or separation of magestria?


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  3. #2  
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    I personally don't see the distinction as necessary.

    Remember http://www.thescienceforum.com/Empir...ism-29564t.php ?

    However, many religious people i speak to take the counter position, that even in the face of incontrovertible evidence (if such can even exist), they would put their faith first. Faith before evidence seems to be the requirement.


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  4. #3  
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    The problem is often our definition of religion is too broad. Some forms of Buddhism, for example, don't require any faith in superstition yet most consider a religion when it's more of a life philosophy.
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  5. #4  
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    you should make it clear whether you equate 'supernatural' with 'mystical'.

    there could be parallel universe out there that could be considered to be 'supernatural' because they follow rules of physics different from ours yet not be mystical in any way.
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    For the term "religion" to have any utility for those who study the human propensity to congregate in common practices of worship, there has to be a distinction between those "religious" activities that are supernatural and those that are not.

    One can easily say, "for him, baseball is a religion," or "he religiously buys lotto tickets." And we instantly understand the meaning of these tropes. But these are tropes because they draw a very useful comparison between activities that for many are common but infrequent to those activities which self-proclaim to be religion. But to study those activities that lend them so readily to metaphor, we have to have a separate, clear definition that delineates them from those activities that are religious-like.

    I've always favored Daniel Dennett's definition, which he outlined in Breaking Spells: "...social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought" (2006).

    This is inclusive enough that it covers all modern religions that are affecting the vast majority of human populace on the planet, both past and present. And it usefully separates these activities -these beliefs- from other human activities that have certain levels of compulsion and ritualistic participation. It does, however, exclude a small number of Buddhists. But I think this, too, is a useful distinction. Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists both believe in the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path, but they differ when it comes to their beliefs in the supernatural. The Truths and Path contain nothing supernatural -just philosophical opinion. But its the Mahayana's that begin to find need to worship deities -indeed, they deify Buddha and worship him. Much of their doctrine is influenced by local cultures and customs.

    So, even here, a definition of religion that provides a supernatural element has great utility. It allows us to study two practices of Buddhism in different lights: one largely theistic, the other largely atheistic. In this way, belief in the supernatural is a prerequisite to be considered religious.


    Reference:

    Dennett, Daniel (2006). Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. New York: Penquin, p. 9.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by granpa
    you should make it clear whether you equate 'supernatural' with 'mystical'.

    there could be parallel universe out there that could be considered to be 'supernatural' because they follow rules of physics different from ours yet not be mystical in any way.
    There's no need for distinction. Supernatural refers to those non-existent qualities of nature that humans have a tendency to believe in spite of no evidence or even evidence to the contrary. I parallel universes are ever discovered and investigated enough to test empirically, their physics wouldn't be supernatural. They'd be natural to their respective universes.

    But since such discussions have little -probably no- bearing on our investigations of our own universe, we have no need to consider them in discourse. Supernatural equals those qualities that are non-existent to the laws of physics in the universe.
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