• m-theory
    1.1k
    Can you give an example of a religion (not people who claim to be followers) that doesn't include supernatural beliefs?anonymous66

    lol
    Scientology?
  • anonymous66
    331
    There are no disembodied institutions or belief systems apart from people. No matter the institution or the belief system, it is always peopled (or it is dead).Bitter Crank

    My point is that if it is the case that a religion includes supernatural beliefs, the fact that some people who follow said religion (or claim to be followers) don't take the supernatural beliefs seriously, it doesn't change the fact that a religion includes supernatural beliefs.

    It's a good question. If someone like De Botton succeeds in creating something (Religion for Atheists) that looks a lot like a religion, but that thing doesn't include supernatural beliefs, should it be considered a religion?
  • Lower Case NUMBERS
    46
    I think religion is the application of philosophy itself.
  • Jeremiah
    206


    I don't think your statement is accurate.

    I think the main difference between the two is that philosophy is grounded in human wisdom, while religion is framed in a supposed transcendent wisdom.

    Philosophy comes from humans, while religion supposedly comes from some higher source.
  • R-13
    83
    Philosophy comes from humans, while religion supposedly comes from some higher source.Jeremiah



    I think this sums it up. If we look to something higher than ourselves, that's religion. If we see our humans selves as the highest thing, that's philosophy. (Of course this is an opinion, an option offered for consideration.)
  • Bitter Crank
    2.1k
    What is it about them that makes you consider them to be religions?

    I've been impressed by Alain De Botton. He's written Religion for Atheists, but the gist of his book is that religions have great qualities (like traditions that remind us what is important), he just rejects the idea that God exists.
    anonymous66

    I consider them "religious" because they seem to think they are practicing a religion. I attended socialist meetings for a long time, which had a similar feel to them, but we explicitly did not think we were practicing a religion. We thought we were practicing politics. Maybe we were mostly whistling dixie, but that's another story.

    I like this: "religions have great qualities (like traditions that remind us what is important)".

    Religion provides useful services that are not provided by secular society -- not just in the present era, but in past times as well. Society is usually composed of competing interests, some of which--if unchallenged--have the capacity to totally degrade society. Nazi Germany is a prime example. Catholic and Protestant organizations in Germany by and large failed to challenge Nazi ideology early on, when a vigorous challenge might have had more consequence.

    Religion, of course, can have deleterious effects on society too. Fundamentalist Christianity is a prime example. So also is the equivalent strains in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion. In these cases, it is secularists who must do the challenging.
  • anonymous66
    331
    I was thinking of some very small groups like 'ethical societies', secular humanist organizations, some unitarian groups that are just about free of supernaturalism, and the like.Bitter Crank

    What is it about them that makes you consider them to be religions?anonymous66

    I consider them "religious" because they seem to think they are practicing a religion.Bitter Crank


    The UU's definitely think of themselves as a practicing a religion, the history includes supernatural beliefs, and they don't currently deny the supernatural (even if many atheists feel comfortable attending- I know this from first hand experience). So they fit my definition of a religion And there has been a call to return to these original beliefs...
    Language of reverence
    During the presidency of the Rev. William Sinkford, debate within the UU movement has roiled over his call to return to or create an authentic UU "language of reverence." Sinkford has suggested that UUs have abandoned traditional religious language, thereby abandoning words with potential power to others who will then dictate their meanings in the public sphere. He has suggested that Unitarian Universalists regain their proper seat at the interfaith table by making this language their own. Others have reacted to this call by believing it to be part of an effort to return UU congregations to more orthodox Christian worship patterns. Sinkford has denied this, citing the words of UU humanists as examples of what he means by the "language of reverence." The debate seems[original research?] part and parcel of an attendant effort at increasing biblical literacy among Unitarian Universalists, including the publication of a book by the UUA's Beacon Press written by former UUA President John Buehrens.[70] The book is titled Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals,[71] and is meant as a kind of handbook to be read alongside the Bible itself. It provides interpretative strategies, so that UUs (among others) might be able to engage in public debate about what the Bible says from a liberal religious perspective, rather than relinquishing to religious conservatives, and other more literal interpretations, all control over the book's contents and significance in matters of public and civic import. Also an important work by Rev. Buehrens, along with Forrest Church, is A Chosen Faith: An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism,[72] in which the authors explore the many sources of the living tradition of their chosen faith.

    But, do "ethical societies" and secular humanist organizations think of themselves as practicing a religion?

    If anything, De Botton is making my point for me. He also thinks of religions as including a belief in the supernatural... he is making it clear that he is doing something very different by suggesting that atheists can benefit from specific practices/traditions of religions w/o giving up their atheism.
  • mcdoodle
    511
    Perhaps we should hesitate before being so sure we can divide beliefs between the natural and supernatural. Are they alternatives? Or might they belong to different discourses? I am reading Wittgensteins notes on Culture and Value. Page 3, from 1929: 'What is good is also divine. Queer as it sounds, that sums up my ethics. Only something supernatural can express the Supernatural.'
  • anonymous66
    331
    I am operating under the assumption that supernatural beliefs are what differentiate religions from philosophy. But, I'm open to other possibilities.
  • Lower Case NUMBERS
    46
    So you doubt the fact that philosophy is subjective and speculative while religion is objective and participatory? YES or NO.
  • Bitter Crank
    2.1k
    OK, I'll drop the claim about UUs. I'll also back off my assertion about ethical societies, since my actual experience with them is pretty limited. Maybe there are religious groups sans supernatural, maybe not.

    But I'll hold onto this: Whether an attendee of explicitly religious or explicitly secular organizations, what people actually believe does vary. There are people who attend religious services who don't, in fact, believe in supernatural stuff. There are very secular atheists who hold onto some supernaturalistic ideas. Why? Because people just aren't 100% consistent in what they think, or 100% consistent between what they do and think. People waffle, slip and slide, and sneak in the back door of all sorts of things, including belief and disbelief.

    Under the best of circumstances, we are not entirely rational beings. What we rationally think doesn't strictly govern what we feel, and what we feel can alter what we think -- round and round we go.
  • anonymous66
    331
    @Bittercrank
    I'm still thinking about the way people categorize systems like religions and philosophy. People think of religions as being about supernatural beliefs, and people think of philosophy as not necessarily including supernatural beliefs.

    So, I see no reason to argue with this observation
    There are people who attend religious services who don't, in fact, believe in supernatural stuff.Bitter Crank
  • anonymous66
    331
    @Bittercrank
    I'm still thinking about this topic in relation to the way people categorize systems like religions and philosophy. It seems to me that people think of religions as being about supernatural beliefs, and people think of philosophy as not necessarily including supernatural beliefs.

    So, I see no reason to argue with this observation
    There are people who attend religious services who don't, in fact, believe in supernatural stuff.Bitter Crank
  • Noble Dust
    148


    I guess it's pretty tangengial, but what about movements like gnosticism and theosophy?
  • Wayfarer
    2.1k
    Perhaps we should hesitate before being so sure we can divide beliefs between the natural and supernatural.mcdoodle

    On the other forum, Mariner often used to remind us that 'metaphysical' and 'supernatural' are basically synonymous, the first derived from Greek, the second from Latin.

    I think 'supernatural' has become a 'boo word', because of the inherent naturalism of today's culture. We instinctively want to believe in only those things for which there is, or might be, a scientific account. And culturally, it's not too hard to draw the line; there are ideas and beliefs that will be generally regard as being outside the bounds of naturalistic explanation. So in that sense, much of the debate is shaped by about what to include, and what to keep out, of what might constitute 'a naturalistic account'.

    But then I often reflect that we still don't know enough about nature to know what is 'super' to it. Much of what we do every day would have seemed supernatural to our forbears.

    There are very secular atheists who hold onto some supernaturalistic ideas.Bitter Crank

    I recall reading in one of those Pew research reports that a significant proportion of self-described atheists still believe that there is a higher intelligence. (Just don't call it 'God'!)
  • Thorongil
    1.2k
    I recall reading in one of those Pew research reports that a significant proportion of self-described atheists still believe that there is a higher intelligence. (Just don't call it 'God'!)Wayfarer

    Indeed, I find that the main belief of most people is ietsism.
  • jkop
    330
    To believe in something is to believe, for example, that for every effect there must be a cause. But is that ietsism? Or is ietsism to be covertly religious/mystic?
  • anonymous66
    331
    Indeed, I find that the main belief of most people is ietsism.Thorongil

    Ietsism (Dutch: ietsisme (pronounced [itsˈɪsmə]) – "somethingism") is an unspecified belief in an undetermined transcendent force. It is a Dutch term for a range of beliefs held by people who, on the one hand, inwardly suspect – or indeed believe – that "there must be something undefined beyond the material and that which can be known” than we know about, but on the other hand do not necessarily accept or subscribe to the established belief system, dogma or view of the nature of a Deity offered by any particular religion.

    Yeah, I can buy into that. But, I wonder what distinguishes ietsism from deism or a belief in Logos or some kind of pantheism or panentheism (Stoic theology has qualities of both pantheism and panentheism)?

    Perhaps deism, pantheism, panentheism, and Logos could be seen as forms of ietsism?
  • hunterkf5732
    73


    Religion, in general, has the feature of there being some ancient doctrine according to which adherents are expected to think and behave.

    This doctrine may perhaps discreetly be changed by the religious leaders of the day, but remains generally constant.

    Along with this doctrine comes a multitude of traditions,etc picked up over time and constricting the followers of the religion into some specific frame of life.

    Philosophy on the other hand, is a lot less fixed and indeed quite visibly changes and develops as time passes.

    Although some common culture may naturally form around philosophers of some particular school of thought, this is entirely accidental and not something promoted by the philosophy itself, although that may of course differ according to the focus of the philosophy in question.

    There are however, entities such as buddhism, which straddle the line between philosophy and religion.
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