Amusingly one of the most popular posts ever around here was a two-liner entitled religion sucks. Its truth nonwithstanding, I doubt that its two lines were particularly relevant to the progress of global thinking. Yet, dumb search engines kept sending even more dumb people over who created an amazingly long collection of comments. At some stage I stopped being amused by that and banned the page from indexing. Sanity and quiet returned.
And yet I feel compelled to touch the issue again. Reading an article (
Neue Heiden hat das Land in Die Zeit 20/2008, p. 17 by Thomas Assheuer – it doesn’t seem to be available online) in the paper inside an interesting / depressing section on neo-nazism, the author states
Wenn nicht alles täuscht, dann steckt – im fast durchgängigen – Hass auf den Monotheismus der Schlüssel zum Verständnis des rechtsradikalen Weltbildes.
(~ It looks like the – almost complete – hate of monotheism contains the key to understanding the far-right-radicals’ world view).
I consider that statement to be utter bullshit. And the points made later in the article are mostly independent of it. In particular, the classification of things as ‘monotheism’ when one wants to talk about the christian and jewish religions seems mostly a bogus use of the word. Talking about religions which happen to have existed around here for a long time would seem more adequate. Who cares how many gods they have?
Even worse, I don’t think that disliking monotheist religions is a bad idea. Not all bad things that happen can be attributed to greed or politics. And it seems like the middle eastern monotheist religions are happy to fill the gap. There are more christian, muslim and jewish nutters than we need. And they’re happy to kill each other (plus bystanders) for whatever reason. That’s just a bad thing.
And of course it sheds a bad light on the ‘harmless’ practitioners of their religions. Of which I guess there exist many. While I don’t understand them, I don’t mind if people believe in some ‘higher being’ or whatever. And just like I can tolerate vegetarians and even serve them a meal, I am usually tolerant of people believing in some god or another.
The main problem with religion seems to come more from its practitioners starting to think that whatever ‘rules’ they want to follow should hold for everybody else as well. If we’re unlucky they’ll even be powerful enough to implement those rules as laws. And that’s where my tolerance stops. People can make up and follow whichever rules they want in private. But when it comes to the rules, or laws, that should hold for everybody, surely the process of finding them should be independent of what some random ancient (or new) book says. Some of the rules that come out of that process may also exist in some religious book, others won’t. Yet others might contradict such books. Unless you want to be a religious nutter coutry that’s how things should go.
And – coming back to the article mentioned at the beginning – in that respect I think that those right-wing or neo-nazi tendencies don’t differ too much from religious extremists. They don’t play the god card, but instead they play the ‘race’ card. But ultimately they just want to dominate the people of the other ‘races’, rule over them, ruin their lives – and self-righteously so.
I’m not even sure a reasonable discussion of these topics is possible as the terminology used is utterly vague / crap / useless. What would be a definition of the word ‘race’ to begin with? Biologists seem to have an idea about that. But quite likely racists use the word differently. And I suspect that their ‘theories’ will just fall apart when asked to clearly state what they mean and argue in favour of it.
And ‘religion’ is an equally fuzzy term. In my opinion it should be like a club or like being a vegetarian. You start liking the idea, you join up with other people liking it, you may follow some rules, play some games, pray some prayers, even pay membership fees. And if you stop liking the idea you just stop doing that and that’s that. But religious people don’t really share that view I think. At least one opinion seems to be that people need to be baptised to be christian. And apparently once you’ve been through that you can’t stop being a christian even if you start disliking the idea and would rather be something else – from their point of view anyway.
Likewise, in Nazi-Germany they didn’t give a shit about whether the people they killed considered themselves jewish. They just needed to be considered jewish by some administrative entity. As such I’d say that the Nazi ideology wasn’t against some religion but the religion served as a convenient label or ‘excuse’ to discriminate, hate and kill people. But there’s probably no point in trying to argue about the sense of things done by people who killed millions in pursuit of their own nutty ideas.
And while I haven’t tried to join a religion yet (I’m watiting for Arcade Fire to start one), I heard people say that in some religions you can’t just join up either, but that you may need to be in a family of other members or something like that. Another way in which my naïve idea about how religion should work would be wrong.
The bottom line here is that I apparently don’t even know what it means to belong to some religion. And that’s just on a formal level. How can one possibly argue about these things then? It doesn’t make any sense to me.
Off to listen to ‘Imagine’…
A well written article Sven. It position is one that gives little though, so I thought i’d reply. Its along the same lines of the common, ‘i’ll take a sane look at the present ‘religions’ debate, with same non-committed or loose leaning towards atheism or spirituality. All fine so far as the sentence construction goes. And all so reasonable in appearance.
As is so common in this debate, and its not really a debate more repetition, it makes the coomon errors. ‘Religion causes strife….not greed for money’ - that point of view fails in logic. Religion as a man-made enterprise, even a particular religion, is many-sided. It is not an entity or class of motivation like greed is. So it may be more correct to say it is people who , in the name if religion, society, your local council, government and nation, that create strife. Wars i the name of religion have produced far fewer crimes and mutilation than in the name of society reform communism, fascism and democracy. It would also be more fair to entertain notions of how cohesiveness through common religion has enabled peace, fulfilment’s and prosperity, as well as war. But proponents of the debate simply don’t do that. They have no idea of what they are talking about.
I hope you take that seriously, because i feel strong about this, even though i’m not a scholar of philosophy, I know it’s the correct view here, we’re talking about words as names and ideas.
Next, religion has the idea of god and gods: the idea of monotheism. You ask , rhetoricaly, who cares how many gods they have, as if it doesn’t matter. Well, it doesn’t in one sense, but it’s an important criteria, whether you talking about the ONE god or a particluar god of many gods. Here i”ll just point out that religions can have one and many gods at the same time..e.g the Hindu. Angels may be seen to be equivalent of gods - vedic and roman. So it’s important to specify, because lesser gods have different rituals and purposes behind them. I think monotheism is a focus joining all aspects of reality, transcendence and truth. Societies that don’t have an overiding god, have not really existed - anthropologists usually ignored the idea (word, logos) of the ‘Great Spirit’ and concentrated on the interesting lesser gods. And often from a christain perspective of superiority. Then again, societies that lose focus on the great unifying spirit, are in more conflict, with recourse to vengeance through the power of any particular local god.
why is this debate so poor? Because its an artifice: Hate of monotheism is taught via a propoganda machine, in the current times, and that is because that hegemony wishes to destroy opposition to totalitarianism or ‘control’…and opposes individual freedom, and cultural cohesion.
The people who join it don’t have a position or tongue of their own, they are parrots who wish to be seen to be in the right. It’s just like you buy what is advertised all day long. To have an another point of view means to really think freely, transcend, and reflect upon experience. THat means being quite, humble. disciplined and maturing before you speak on such matters.
They are joining the intolerants, who prosecute sick wars like Iraq. Which, note, is not a war in the name of religion, but in the name of so-called ‘democracy’. THen again they don’t like those wars, and get quite confused. WHat shall they blame, ‘told you’ it’s religion.! Actually the wars are against religion, particularly islam, which upholds individual freedom and dignity, whose businessmen are largely owner-family businesses etc.. (non-corporate wealth, in control of individuals - conscious and responsible entities).
All the pontificating about religious people wanting to follow rules, and being blind, is rubbish, and in fact narrow, and amazingly hypocritical.
Consciousness exists, even when you decide all is reducible to matter of even principle of electricity, a materialist and machine view of the life. It’s only relatively dumb, grey, all-the-sam, and stuck. It is possible to see that religious people have intelligent conscioussness, it moves along, like the many realities, stages and stations of life. BUt their voice isn’t even i this debate. The debate for its followers, is usually for self-satisfaction of those who cannot expand consciousness. BUt also, because as is so human, it is the very opinion we proclaim, that we wish to have changed, and needs to be, because the old schema just don’t fit with experience.
Religion: (not church, or what people mean when they say religion) means ‘recall the logos’ . I shant’ speak of logos, because it takes off from this debate, or should do, if you are philosophically still inclined, as lively people, lively writers included, are. Briefly, it means to recall or relate to one’s true nature, father, conscientiously. I imagine most proponents knocking religion wholesale, are confused at that point, or grasp at ‘my own spirituality’ - like they are a separate god. That’s because educing everything to the material world is baffling even to the intelligence of a child, which knows only life, and cannot understand only matter.
My point of view, both religion and communion (observing in the community) are necessary for human society to flourish and fulfill twin needs, individual and social. Any form, within the basic law is welcome.
We could also talk about the burk. BUt I’d rtaher report that my brother, a consultant surgeon, has been disciplined for refusing to NOT wear a tie. The government management saw fit to ban them in order to ‘appear more patient friendly’ MY brother is not yet fifty, has children, and is very popular with patients, even though he wears a tie. Perhaps its all down to the choice of tie, and not the spirit?
Take care, John
Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.