More Insight

Monday, September 17, 2007

Notes on Religion, Part 1

From DiploMattico:

John Dewey has finally cured me of God: The supernatural doesn't actually exist, even in religion, but is a tool or symbol used in religion to convey power and control over a human situation. The control and power created by the illusion of an all-powerful God can be likened to the idea of a conscience, always keeping in check the minds and decision-making tendencies of the subordinate members (of religion). But I didn’t write this to disprove the existence of the religion’s God, nor am I really concerned with those who love God and are still capable of making good decisions. You just better not give in to temptation. I am concerned, however, with the rest of us who don’t really believe in the supernatural but still miss a sense of religiosity in our lives. Hopefully this can shed some light on your disturbingly empty existences.

One of my religious friends, a tall, thin, Brunette girl, suggested to me that she can feel God everywhere she goes. I asked, "so when you turn to the right or make a decision, you're aware of God?" She said, yes, but that she needs to work on it more. I prompted, "you mean you need to fear more." Brunette, "Yah, but it's good fear." I smiled, knowing exactly what she meant. It's the same thing I feel before I turn to the right, or make any decision. It's the fear that this decision will go against my conscience, my principles, my reason (God). It's the fear that the decision will eventually illicit the wretched self-guilt (God-guilt) or that it will disrupt something that I didn't want changed. That includes knocking my camera off the couch, because I should be aware that it’s there.

(Smirking) So maybe they're the same thing:
1. Religion's God, and
2. My own desire to avoid mistakes
My own God is me. Jestem Bogiem (Polish). I am God, that's what my French millionaire Franky said about himself in broken English, and he seemed to be able to make decisions well.


DifferentiAtlas said...

This idea of fear as a primal motivating influence on human behavior is quite interesting. What evolutionary advantage might a cautious and fearful species have over careless ones?

A sharp distinction can be drawn between Religion's God and "the human instinct to avoid mistakes and succeed" as god. The consequences and judgements of God are accounted for in the afterlife, once one's terrestrial existence is terminated. Therefore, the fear and hesitation one may show regarding God's reaction to our behavior has no immediate ramifications. Any decision, good or bad, won't be accounted for in this lifetime. What freedom from the sequelae of accountability and fear this allows!
The god known as reason, however, is always watching, always judging, always evaluating. It's the here and now with immediate consequences, providing a more proximate, powerful, motivating fear to guide human behavior and thought.
Closely examining our own actions - as well as those of others - through the eyes of reason allows us to stimulate abundantly that sense of religiosity in our lives, perhaps even circumventing the need for Religion's God.

Matthew said...

First, being (more than) slightly biased towards reason myself, I want to Devil's advocate for a moment by suggesting that some God-fearing individuals must have good decision-making motivations equal to my own, even if their ramifications will be perceived in another lifetime, long after the moment of the decision. Maybe, if a faithful person believes in God enough, this person is so focused on decisions that the motivation to make God-approved decisions is as strong as my own motivation to make reason-approved decisions, such that they actually have no decision-making DISadvantage relative to me. At that point, the decisions we make just depend on what we think a God-approved or reason-approved decision is AND how in tune we are with these approved decision in the actual decision-making moment.

Second, I'm not completely convinced that a sense of religiosity arises from making a reason-approved decision. I feel smart and organized but I wouldn't necessarily say Religious. But, I'm looking forward to discovering exactly what types of moments or decisions really illicit that religious sensation.

DifferentiAtlas said...

We must first make note that there are myriad other elements influencing decision-making besides the dea prudentia and the God of Religion that can't be accounted for here. Needless to say, one can make perfectly rational decisions with any level of these fears just as easily as the wrong decisions.
As far as religiosity, that's a whole other topic for a different discussion - one worth examining in depth