All you need to know about religion

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BWV 1080
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All you need to know about religion

Post by BWV 1080 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:35 am

Well maybe not, but this is a good overall description of the competitive dynamics among religions

COSTLY SIGNALING THEORY AND RELIGIOUS BEHAVIOR
Scholars of religion have described a range of somatic, reproductive, and
psychological benefits that religious communities offer. These benefits include
improved health, survivorship, economic opportunities, sense of
community, psychological well-being, assistance during crises, mating opportunities,
and fertility (see Reynolds and Tanner 1995 for a review). Religion's
ability to promote group solidarity and cooperation underlies its
capacity to offer many of these benefits. Irons (2001; also see Cronk 1994a;
Sosis 2000) suggests that religion can promote intra-group cooperation by
increasing trust among adherents. Various authors have argued that religion
facilitates intra-group cooperation, most notably Durkheim (1995
[1912]); however, Irons's work posits a plausible adaptive explanation for
why it occurs. He argues that in human history the adaptive advantage of
group living was the benefits that individuals attained through intra-group
cooperation such as cooperative hunting, food sharing, defense, and warfare.
However, despite the potential for individual gains through cooperation,
these collective pursuits are often difficult to achieve. Intra-group
cooperation is typically characterized by conditions in which individuals
can maximize their gains by refraining from cooperation when others invest
in the cooperative activity. Thus, although everyone may gain if all
group members invest in the cooperative goal, attaining such large-scale
cooperation is often difficult to achieve without social mechanisms limiting
the potential to free-ride on the efforts of others (Dawes 1980; Olson
1965).
The potential for collective action is confronted with problems of trust
and commitment (Frank 1988; Schelling 1960). When individuals can
guarantee their participation in a cooperative pursuit, intra-group cooperation
is more likely to emerge. However, in most human social interactions
it is impossible to guarantee a commitment to cooperate. Those who interact
can advertise a willingness to cooperate, although this strategy is
not stable. When faced with the conditions of collective action, the incentive
to falsely claim that one will cooperate is especially high since individuals
can achieve their greatest gains by refraining from cooperation
when others cooperate. Therefore, whenever an individual can achieve net
benefits from defection, the only credible signals of cooperative intentions
are those that are "costly-to-fake." If commitment signals are not costly-tofake,
they can easily be imitated by free-riders who do not intend to invest
in the cooperative pursuit. Several researchers (Berman 2000; Cronk 1994a;
Irons 1996a, 1996b, 1996c, 2001; Iannaccone 1992, 1994) have suggested
that religious behaviors are costly-to-fake signals of commitment.
Communities that share a religious identity require a host of ritual obligations
and expected behavioral patterns. For example, many populations
require males and females to undergo initiation rites that include beatings,
genital mutilations, exposure to extreme temperatures, tattooing, isolation,
food and water deprivation, consumption of toxic substances, and
death threats (e.g., Tuzin 1982; Whiting et al. 1958; Young 1965). In literate
societies, religious legal codes (e.g., Laws of Manu, Talmud, etc.) outlining
appropriate behavior tend to be formalized and regulate a wide range of
activities, including food consumption, work, charitable commitments,
and dress, as well as defining the frequency and structure of ritual ceremony
and prayer. Although there may be physical or mental health benefits
associated with some ritual practices (see Levin 1994; Reynolds and
Tanner 1995), the significant time, energy, and material costs involved in
imitating such behavior serve as effective deterrents for anyone who does
not accept the teachings of a particular religion. Therefore, religions often
group members. Religious beliefs appear to be well suited to solve collective
action problems by increasing commitment and loyalty to others who
share these beliefs. By increasing trust among group members, religious
groups avoid or minimize costly monitoring mechanisms that are otherwise
necessary to overcome free-rider problems that typically plague communal
pursuits.
By way of example, consider Ensminger's (1997) argument that the
spread of Islam throughout Africa resulted from the economic advantages
of religious conversion. Ensminger claims "Islam was a powerful ideology
with built-in sanctions which contributed to considerable self-enforcement
of contracts. True believers had a non-material interest in holding to the
terms of contracts even if the opportunity presented itself to shirk" (1997:.
Thus, Islam provided a mechanism to overcome the collective action problems
of long-distance commerce. Conversion to Islam increased trust
among traders, which reduced transaction costs, making trade more profitable.
In addition, high levels of trust among Muslim coreligionists allowed
for greater credit to be extended, facilitating further trade expansion.
Ensminger contends that the steep initiation costs of entry into Islam, such
as daily prayer, abstaining from alcohol, fasting during Ramadan, and the
pilgrimage to Mecca, served as the means for establishing a reputation
among traders for trustworthiness. In other words, these rituals and taboos
are costly signals of commitment that served to prevent free-riders from
achieving the benefits of more efficient trade.
Irons's theory may provide insights into the adaptive functions of a
wide range of religious rituals, including subincision rites, mourning practices,
and even prayer. It may also explain a variety of secular rituals (cf.
Sosis and Bressler 2003). For example, army boot camp and fraternity hell
week can both be interpreted as necessary rites that signal commitment to
other group members. Nevertheless, there are several issues in the argument
that need clarification.



Some Predictions of the Model
Irons (2001) has discussed a variety of hypotheses generated by his theory
of religion as a hard-to-fake sign of commitment. The model presented
here suggests several additional hypotheses and directions for future
research.
Risk of Free-riders. In environments where the risk of potential free-riders
is low, there will be few costly signals. There are at least three conditions
where the risk of potential free-riders is low: groups are isolated and members
do not have the opportunity to join alternative groups, populations
are distinguished by inherent physical characteristics, such as skin color,
and the net benefit offered by a group is low in comparison to the net benefits
offered by alternative groups. Under each of these conditions, groups
are not expected to exhibit costly signals, or at least the level of costly signaling
should be relatively low. Conversely, when the potential benefits of
group membership are high, morphological traits are unrelated to group
composition, and many groups are in close proximity; groups are expected
to exhibit many costly signals. This may explain the frequent observation
that religious diversity in a population increases religious participation
(e.g., Finke and Stark 1988; Finke et al. 1996; Hamberg and Petersson 1994).
For example, Iannaccone (1991) shows that church attendance among
Protestants is positively correlated with religious diversity across a sample
of European countries, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. If
costly signals are a function of the alternative opportunities available for
group members, we may also expect that minority groups, whose members
are at higher risk of being influenced by ideologies and practices of
the majority group (Latane 1997), will exhibit more costly signals than majority
groups.
Early Indoctrination. Early indoctrination will be important for groups
with many costly signals. Early indoctrination minimizes the opportunity
costs perceived by group members, increasing their ability to tolerate
costly constraints on their lives. As a Hutterite man from Montana commented,
"It seems you have to be born with the Hutterite way, to be
brought up from childhood on, to abide by these rules. . . . If you are
brought up like this, you're not used to all these things you see in town"
(Wilson 2000:22). The Talmud, the vast compendium of Jewish law, also
recognizes the importance of early indoctrination in decreasing opportunity
costs. Jews who "return" to traditional Judaism are known as ba'alei
teshuva (literally "owners of return"). In a well-known Talmudic statement
the sages claim, "in the place where a penitent Jew-a ba'al teshuva-
stands, even a perfectly righteous person cannot stand" (Berakhot 34b). The
Rabbis suggest that those who have sinned can achieve a higher level of
spirituality than those who have been righteous all their life. Without having
ever tasted sin, the temptation to transgress is not as great as for those
who have. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, who was raised in an Orthodox household,
states this clearly:
The apparent rationale of the rabbis for holding the ba'al teshuva in such high
esteem was their belief that it is a much greater struggle for a nonreligious
person to become religious and to give up formerly permitted practices, than
it is for a religious person to remain religious. More than a few ba'alei teshuva
(plural of ba'al teshuva) have told me that they desperately miss lobster or
shrimp. As a Jew who was raised in a kosher home, I confess that these foods
have never tempted me (Telushkin 1991:433).
Converts. As a result of the importance of early indoctrination for minimizing
opportunity costs, converts may be trusted less than those who
were raised within a community. This is especially likely amongst groups
that maintain high levels of costly signaling. Converts will perceive higher
opportunity costs than members by birth; thus the willingness to pay the
high cost of membership may be viewed with skepticism about the intentions
of the convert.9 For example, it has been well documented that ba'alei
teshuva who enter the Ultra-Orthodox or haredi community are unlikely to
be welcomed as equals (e.g., Levin 1986). In his book on haredi life David
Landau writes,
Haredism's celebration and absorption of the teshuva movement is not necessarily
matched by a wholehearted acceptance of the individual ba'al or
ba'alat teshuva into the haredi family. The litmus test is marriage, and here
ba'alei teshuva often find their paths blocked by an informal but strongly entrenched
discrimination. . . . The whispered assumption in haredi circles is
that if a haredi-born boy or girl marries a ba'al teshuva, there must be "something
wrong" with him or her: either they are poor, or they have a health disability
. . . (Landau 1993:248-249).
This bias against ba'alei teshuva occurs despite a recurring emphasis in Jewish
liturgy and law on accepting the proselytite as a full member of the
community. It appears that those born into the haredi community recognize
that the costs of membership are too high to be paid without early indoctrination.
The devotion of the ba'alei teshuva is not doubted by the
haredi-born; ironically it is their rationality that seems to be in question
(Levin 1986).
Apostasy. Across religious groups, the costliness of ritual requirements
should be positively correlated with apostasy rates among newcomers. In
other words, groups with the highest levels of costly signaling will also exhibit
the highest rates of defection among their new members, since costly
rituals operate as a sorting mechanism that removes those who are not fully
committed to the group. Indeed, although most cults are successful at attracting
members, it has been estimated that up to 90% of all new members
leave cults in the first several years (Robbins 1988). Data among Shakers
also show that neophytes were about twice as likely to defect as veteran
members (Bainbridge 1984). Despite these losses, groups with costly requirements
probably possess the highest retention rates of members raised
in the community, since these in-born members are likely to have lower potential
success in alternative groups. Groups with significant ritual demands
tend to be closed communities that are isolated from other segments
of society. Thus, their members generally have less knowledge about alternative
groups, face higher socialization costs if they were to join another
group, and have fewer kin and non-kin relations in alternative groups that
could assist in a transition. In addition, as a consequence of the necessary
investment in learning and performing rituals during childhood, comparatively
less time and energy is invested acquiring the skills that are often
important to compete economically in other communities. The remarkable
retention rates among Hutterites, who only lose about 2% of their members
(almost all Hutterites are in-born;10 Peter 1987), appear to support these
claims. In addition to the difficulty in adapting to a radically different way
of life, the formal English education of Hutterite children ends at eighth
grade, making them underqualified for most jobs outside of their colonies.
Van den Berghe and Peter note, "adolescent Hutterites frequently explore
the outside world, especially boys, but nearly all return to the fold"
(1988:527). Among groups less extreme than Hutterites, data are also suggestive.
Catholicism and Judaism in the U.S. have higher retention rates
than liberal Protestant denominations (Roof and McKinney 1987).
It should be noted that the costly signaling theory of ritual does not predict
that in-born members will never leave their community. The model
presented above assumes that as a result of the gains achieved from intragroup
cooperation, religious groups offer higher benefits to their members
than non-religious groups. When this condition is not met, we expect religious
groups to fail or at least face increasing rates of defection. Economic
changes, either economic difficulties within the group or improved economic
conditions in other groups, are likely to have a significant impact on
membership retention rates. For example, Murray (1995a) has documented
how Shaker populations grew during economic recessions and
declined during times of prosperity. Other factors, such as changes in the
sex ratio (in- and out-group), increased religious persecution, and changing
membership skills, are all expected to alter the cost-benefit equation
and impact decisions about whether to remain within a particular group.
It should also be emphasized that the model focuses on individual decision-
making, and thus membership decisions should vary predictably
with individual phenotypic quality. Across religious groups there is wide
variance in the phenotypic traits that are valued and rewarded. These include
such traits as diligence, manual skills, scholarship, spirituality,
courage, and fierceness. Within religious communities, those who are
comparatively deficient in the venerated traits are most likely to defect
and seek opportunities in groups that value other characteristics. For example,
male Ultra-Orthodox Jewish life revolves around continual study
of traditional texts. Scholars are sought after for marriage and attain the
highest prestige within the community. Not surprisingly, within these
communities defection rates appear to be highest among those who are
less intellectually oriented (Landau 1993). Apostasy is also most likely to
occur among individuals with the greatest potential success in alternative
groups. For example, Murray (1995b) found that as new members increased
the illiteracy rate among the Shakers, the defection rate among literate
veteran members increased. He comments that those who departed
"proved to be skilled craftspeople, astute business executives, creative
theologians, and, not least, able leaders" (1995b:231-232).
Proselytization. Proselytization should be less frequent amongst religious
groups that offer greater in-group benefits since proselytization increases
the risk of invasion by free-riders. A glance across the religious landscape
suggests that without refinement, this hypothesis will not be supported.Although
proselytization is absent amongst some groups that engage in high
levels of costly signaling (and presumably offer significant in-group benefits),
such as Jews and Hutterites, for other groups that engage in similar
levels of costly signaling, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints, missionary work is a central element of religious practice. Indeed,
the two-year mission required of Mormons can be understood as a costly
signal of commitment to the church. Proselytization is likely to be not only
a function of absolute levels of in-group benefits, but also a function of the
value of increased membership for a group. Proselytizing religions may
face increasing marginal gains as membership increases; in other words,
per capita benefits of group membership may increase as the number of
members grows. A variety of factors could contribute to this economy of
scale, such as increased political clout or lowered costs of purchasing religious
material culture (via increased supply). Increasing benefits with increasing
membership size may characterize The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints, which is currently among the fastest growing religions
in the world (Stark 1994). Hutterites, on the other hand, may not be able to
realize these benefits. Indeed, Hutterites divide their colonies when they
reach 100 members since social control is apparently more difficult to maintain
in larger communities (Hostetler 1997). Judaism was not always a nonproselytizing
religion. Jews regularly proselytized prior to the first and
second centuries c.e., and possibly later (Baron 1952:171-183). Eventually,
the benefits that accrued to Jews through increasing membership were
outweighed by the costs, typically death, for missionary activity imposed
by Christian authorities, such as emperors Hadrian, Severus, and Constantine.
Interestingly, in the U.S., where Jews have achieved unprecedented acceptance
into mainstream society, there have been renewed discussions
about proselytizing (Epstein 1994) and currently various Jewish organizations
and congregations actively seek converts.
Thwe
http://www.anth.uconn.edu/faculty/sosis ... Nature.pdf

Brendan

Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by Brendan » Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:38 pm

Interesting, but hardly comprehensive. As is depressingly typical in such pieces, it ignores the experiential dimernsion, both individually and communally, effected by prayer/meditation and religious ritual.

Ultimate Sacred postulates cannot be derived from ordinary experience. The notion of the triune nature of God, for example, or of God’s Oneness are not ideas that would emerge out of anyone’s daily life, nor even from extrapolations from it. Indeed, if sacred postulates are without material significata and are in contradiction of ordinary logic, they stand in opposition to ordinary experience. . . . Ultimate Sacred Postulates not only stand beyond the reach of falsification by the rigorous procedures of logic or science, but are also impervious to disproof by the less formal but more compelling rigors of daily life. Their independence from ordinary experience, moreover, makes it possible for people of widely divergent experience to accept them. This is important in all societies, but is especially important in those which are highly differentiated.

If they are not learned from the context of ordinary experience they must be learned in experience which is out of the ordinary. The extraordinary context fundamental to their learning is that of ritual.

Rappaport, Roy A. – Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity [Cambridge 1999 p 309]

The truths of sanctity can seldom refute directly the experiential truths entertained by individuals, but they may counteract them in at least two ways. First, they set limits on the deutero-truths upon which it is permissible or acceptable to act. Even if experience has taught the deutero-truth that crime does in fact pay, sanctified truth may forbid such activity. Secondly, and more important, the truths of sanctity set limits, albeit not always effectively, on the deutero-truths that are learned. Existing before the birth of the individual, the truths of sanctity guide his or her socialization and experience generally, and guide his or her interpretation of it in ways which tend to inhibit the development of anti-social deutero-truths.
Rappaport, Roy A. – Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity [Cambridge 1999 p 310]


To perform a liturgical order is to participate in it, act as part of it; and where the ritual is public, it is to join with others in this participation. Strong emotions may be engendered and consciousness altered in ritual and, as we have reiterated, not infrequently there is a feeling of “loss of self” – that is, a loss of the sense of separation – and a feeling of union with the other members of the congregation and even more embracing entities, a sense of grace, and of being “claimed” by the Logos. As we have seen, it is obviously important that singing, dancing, and speaking in unison are common features of public rituals. To sing or dance in concert or in unison with others, to move as they move and speak as they speak is, literally, to act as part of a larger entity, to participate in it; and as the radical separation of the everyday self dissolves in the communitas of participation – as it sometimes does – the larger entity becomes palpable. Such extraordinary or even mystical experiences seem to be profoundly satisfying but, more important here, they may provide deeper and more compelling understandings of perfectly natural and extremely powerful aspects of the physical and social worlds than can be provided by reason alone. In sum, ritual in general, and religious experience in particular, do not always hide the world from conscious reason behind a veil of supernatural illusions. Rather, they may pierce the veil of illusions behind which unaided reason hides the world from comprehensive human understanding.
Rappaport, Roy A. – Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity [Cambridge 1999 p 403-404]

Key characteristics of sacred postulates and numinous experiences are the inverse of each other. Ultimate Sacred Postulates are discursive but their significata are not material. Numinous experiences are immediately material (they are actual physical and psychic states) but they are not discursive. Ultimate Sacred Postulates are not falsifiable; numinous experiences are (because directly sensed) not merely unfalsifiable but undeniable. In rituals, union Ultimate Sacred Postulates thus seem to partake of the immediately known and undeniable quality of the numinous. That this is logically unsound should not trouble us for, although it may make problems for logicians, it does not trouble the faithful. In the Holy – the union of the sacred and the numinous – the most abstract of conceptions are bound to make the most immediate and substantial of experiences. We are confronted, finally, with a remarkable spectacle:

The unfalsifiable supported by the undeniable yields the unquestionable, which transforms the dubious, the arbitrary, and the conventional into the correct, the necessary, and the natural.

This structure is the foundation upon which the human way of life stands, and is realized in ritual. At the heart of ritual – its “atom” so to speak – is the relationship of performers to their own performances or invariant sequences or acts and utterances which they did not encode.

Rappaport, Roy A. – Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity [Cambridge 1999 p 404-405]

BWV 1080
Posts: 4451
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 10:05 pm

Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by BWV 1080 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:15 am

Brendan wrote:Interesting, but hardly comprehensive. As is depressingly typical in such pieces, it ignores the experiential dimernsion, both individually and communally, effected by prayer/meditation and religious ritual.

Ultimate Sacred postulates cannot be derived from ordinary experience. The notion of the triune nature of God, for example, or of God’s Oneness are not ideas that would emerge out of anyone’s daily life, nor even from extrapolations from it. Indeed, if sacred postulates are without material significata and are in contradiction of ordinary logic, they stand in opposition to ordinary experience. . . . Ultimate Sacred Postulates not only stand beyond the reach of falsification by the rigorous procedures of logic or science, but are also impervious to disproof by the less formal but more compelling rigors of daily life. Their independence from ordinary experience, moreover, makes it possible for people of widely divergent experience to accept them. This is important in all societies, but is especially important in those which are highly differentiated.

If they are not learned from the context of ordinary experience they must be learned in experience which is out of the ordinary. The extraordinary context fundamental to their learning is that of ritual.

Rappaport, Roy A. – Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity [Cambridge 1999 p 309]

The truths of sanctity can seldom refute directly the experiential truths entertained by individuals, but they may counteract them in at least two ways. First, they set limits on the deutero-truths upon which it is permissible or acceptable to act. Even if experience has taught the deutero-truth that crime does in fact pay, sanctified truth may forbid such activity. Secondly, and more important, the truths of sanctity set limits, albeit not always effectively, on the deutero-truths that are learned. Existing before the birth of the individual, the truths of sanctity guide his or her socialization and experience generally, and guide his or her interpretation of it in ways which tend to inhibit the development of anti-social deutero-truths.
Rappaport, Roy A. – Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity [Cambridge 1999 p 310]


To perform a liturgical order is to participate in it, act as part of it; and where the ritual is public, it is to join with others in this participation. Strong emotions may be engendered and consciousness altered in ritual and, as we have reiterated, not infrequently there is a feeling of “loss of self” – that is, a loss of the sense of separation – and a feeling of union with the other members of the congregation and even more embracing entities, a sense of grace, and of being “claimed” by the Logos. As we have seen, it is obviously important that singing, dancing, and speaking in unison are common features of public rituals. To sing or dance in concert or in unison with others, to move as they move and speak as they speak is, literally, to act as part of a larger entity, to participate in it; and as the radical separation of the everyday self dissolves in the communitas of participation – as it sometimes does – the larger entity becomes palpable. Such extraordinary or even mystical experiences seem to be profoundly satisfying but, more important here, they may provide deeper and more compelling understandings of perfectly natural and extremely powerful aspects of the physical and social worlds than can be provided by reason alone. In sum, ritual in general, and religious experience in particular, do not always hide the world from conscious reason behind a veil of supernatural illusions. Rather, they may pierce the veil of illusions behind which unaided reason hides the world from comprehensive human understanding.
Rappaport, Roy A. – Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity [Cambridge 1999 p 403-404]

Key characteristics of sacred postulates and numinous experiences are the inverse of each other. Ultimate Sacred Postulates are discursive but their significata are not material. Numinous experiences are immediately material (they are actual physical and psychic states) but they are not discursive. Ultimate Sacred Postulates are not falsifiable; numinous experiences are (because directly sensed) not merely unfalsifiable but undeniable. In rituals, union Ultimate Sacred Postulates thus seem to partake of the immediately known and undeniable quality of the numinous. That this is logically unsound should not trouble us for, although it may make problems for logicians, it does not trouble the faithful. In the Holy – the union of the sacred and the numinous – the most abstract of conceptions are bound to make the most immediate and substantial of experiences. We are confronted, finally, with a remarkable spectacle:

The unfalsifiable supported by the undeniable yields the unquestionable, which transforms the dubious, the arbitrary, and the conventional into the correct, the necessary, and the natural.

This structure is the foundation upon which the human way of life stands, and is realized in ritual. At the heart of ritual – its “atom” so to speak – is the relationship of performers to their own performances or invariant sequences or acts and utterances which they did not encode.

Rappaport, Roy A. – Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity [Cambridge 1999 p 404-405]

But granting all of that, you still have to question which dominates in the minds of most people - the theological ones, or the socioeconomic issues in the piece I posted.
Last edited by BWV 1080 on Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Corlyss_D
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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:46 pm

All you need to know about Steve's posts on religion: he don't like it, and he don't want you to like it, either.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

BWV 1080
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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by BWV 1080 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 2:24 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:All you need to know about Steve's posts on religion: he don't like it, and he don't want you to like it, either.
How do you get that? Religions have had the practical advantage of increasing the competitive fitness of groups by furthering cooperation among individuals - i.e. the basis of civilized society. There is much to be learned from how these social structures emerged and adapted over time.

jbuck919
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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:41 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:All you need to know about Steve's posts on religion: he don't like it, and he don't want you to like it, either.
How do you get that? Religions have had the practical advantage of increasing the competitive fitness of groups by furthering cooperation among individuals - i.e. the basis of civilized society. There is much to be learned from how these social structures emerged and adapted over time.
Corlyss is just afraid that we're so close to reducing human experience to what can be asserted in scientific, quasi-scientific, and perhaps pseudo-scientific terms that pretty soon we'll be able to explain things down to the individual level. Then we'll finally know what makes her tick. :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

SaulChanukah

Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by SaulChanukah » Sat Sep 05, 2009 7:38 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:All you need to know about Steve's posts on religion: he don't like it, and he don't want you to like it, either.
Corlyss, all we need to do is call the rubbish remover.

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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by lmpower » Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:35 am

The article rang all too true to me. It leaves me feeling rather depressed, because it takes a reductionist approach to religion. This is the way sociologists think. I would like to mention that a few Muslims convert to Christinaity, because they perceive Jesus to be a kinder, better and wiser person than Mohammed. They are rare and risk their lives by such a conversion. Another interesting phenomenon is how much less zealous Mormon missionaries are than Jehovah's Witnesses. Mormon youth are doing time as a prerequisite for acceptance in the group. Jehovah's Witnesses have all the characteristics of true believers. I have only encountered one Mormon missionary with the same zeal as a Witness and was very impressed by the experience. We should also consider the Darwinian validity of religion. Extremely religious groups procreate at an expansive rate, while secular people do not replace their numbers. Finally we should not that there are people who don't exactly dislike religion. They dislike the way religious people fall short of their ideals. History contains many idealists who have turned anti-religious.

Brendan

Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by Brendan » Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:21 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:But granting all of that, you still have to question which dominates in the minds of most people - the theological ones, or the socioeconomic issues in the piece I posted.
When thinking about religion religiously (not in a sociological fashion that ignores the very experience of religion within that religion and/or religion in toto, as well as ignoring the moral values inherent/taught within) the main socioeconomic issue is charity. When folk preach (except with the distinctly American phenomenon of the new Gospel of Prosperity) about religion, it is usually about salvation, prayer, selflessness, care and compassion for others, the value of the immaterial and stuff like "what profits a man to gain the world and lose his soul?" etc etc.

Try Rodney Stark's The Rise of Christianity. It may have had more to with health care (Christians would nurse anyone and everyone in times of plague) than any socioeconomic issues whatsoever, although they no doubt also had/have their place. Donald M Broom's The Evolution of Morality and Religion is also excellent, if somewhat limited in scope.

May main point, however, was that interesting as the article may be, there is a lot more to know about religion than such a narrow view provides, and gave an obvious example. There are many more.

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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by david johnson » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:30 am

It's more like some of us have decided we are probably going to sin a bunch and are not interested in goin' to hell when we die. The Lord frowns upon those who do not try to mend their own ways and help others.

dj

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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by living_stradivarius » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:27 am

BWV 1080 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:All you need to know about Steve's posts on religion: he don't like it, and he don't want you to like it, either.
How do you get that? Religions have had the practical advantage of increasing the competitive fitness of groups by furthering cooperation among individuals - i.e. the basis of civilized society. There is much to be learned from how these social structures emerged and adapted over time.

Yes, it's an interesting dynamic. But with every advantage comes a tradeoff ;)
Brendan wrote:Interesting, but hardly comprehensive. As is depressingly typical in such pieces, it ignores the experiential dimernsion, both individually and communally, effected by prayer/meditation and religious ritual.
The only access the experiential dimension has to the socioeconomic one is through what Steve mentioned above ;). The specific qualitative aspects of experience are significant in this regard only to the extent in which they modify human behavior... This is an extension of in-groups vs. out-groups.
Last edited by living_stradivarius on Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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BWV 1080
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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:38 am

The vitrolic comments here are quite interesting. For anyone with a brain, it should be obvious that the article is neither an argument for or against any specific beliefs, rather its an empirical observation of the sociodynamics of religious groups that have emerged over the centuries. But I guess I'm a hopeless sinner & reprobate according to DJ above, so what would I know?

living_stradivarius
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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by living_stradivarius » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:21 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:The vitrolic comments here are quite interesting.
Sad, aren't they? They probably didn't even bother to read the post (even if they did, it's highly doubtful they could understand it).
I love how "interesting" is such a useful euphemism. ;) Discussions on religion in the Pub are such a waste of time. And time is money.
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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by david johnson » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:47 pm

'But I guess I'm a hopeless sinner & reprobate according to DJ above, so what would I know?'

'tis an ungainly stretch to get that out of what i said, and you know it :D
...but your confession is duly noted.

dj

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Re: All you need to know about religion

Post by living_stradivarius » Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:21 pm

david johnson wrote:'But I guess I'm a hopeless sinner & reprobate according to DJ above, so what would I know?'

'tis an ungainly stretch to get that out of what i said, and you know it :D
...but your confession is duly noted.

dj
:roll:
"Can I confess that I have no desire to confess to a boy who's just out of the seminary." -- Clint Eastwood
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