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Religion vs Belief


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#1    Leonardo

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 12:05 PM

These two terms are so very often confused, and many people who believe in some form of 'higher consciousness/power' by default fall into a religion.

Here's my take on what these are:

Religion - this is when you accept what another believes, sometimes overriding your own belief, and you therefore allow that other to dictate much of your life pov, from morality to prejudices.

Belief - this is your personal pov on the topic of spirituality. It is not a pov you force upon others, or let dictate how you behave to others with respect their own, personal belief.

I can fully understand why a person holds to a belief, and respect that about them. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why someone would surrender themselves as a person to a religion - and simply become the tool of another. Don't get me wrong, intellectually I know there are various reasons - such as the comfort of being a part of a community, etc - but to give up yourself for that?

Perhaps I am merely selfish and a bit sociopathic in comparison to those who elect to join a religion, but it seems to me that if there was a 'creator', that creator would want us to be who we are - not become a reflection of another.

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"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them."  - J. Robert Oppenheimer; Scientific Director; The Manhattan Project

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#2    Ryu

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 01:02 PM

I think it goes both ways when it comes to beliefs.
Our beliefs are influenced by our culture and family upbringing, in that sense we are still being told what to think or "believe" and religion fits that bill perfectly. It is a sysyem that dictates to you what to think or respectively, NOT think, what to feel and what conclusions you adhere to.

People love being told what to think which is why religon, ANY religion, is so popular. Why bother researching or coming to your own conclusions and refining them when you have a organized system that orders you to accept what a book and its preachers tell you?

So I do not think religion and beliefs are always a separate concept.


#3    Leonardo

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 01:14 PM

Thanks for your thoughts, Ryu.

All of the institutions with which we govern society have been invented by individuals. There is an obvious paradox there, as any system of governing a community (and this is what religion is) cannot allow for individualism to be expressed fully, yet was invented by an individual expressing their own individuality to formulate that system.

Belief, however, is a purely individual expression. As someone who is an avid individualist, I can empathise with belief, but cannot sympathise with those who choose religion.

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"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them."  - J. Robert Oppenheimer; Scientific Director; The Manhattan Project

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#4    Ryu

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 01:23 PM

View PostLeonardo, on 21 August 2013 - 01:14 PM, said:

Belief, however, is a purely individual expression. As someone who is an avid individualist, I can empathise with belief, but cannot sympathise with those who choose religion.

I don't know. All beliefs come from somewhere, don't they?
It just seems that beliefs are imposed on you at some point and in some form be it from parent, society or religion but I do understand how you separate the two.


#5    Zaphod222

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 01:50 PM

View PostRyu, on 21 August 2013 - 01:23 PM, said:

I don't know. All beliefs come from somewhere, don't they?
It just seems that beliefs are imposed on you at some point and in some form be it from parent, society or religion but I do understand how you separate the two.

Beliefs can come from reason. I believe in science, because science is a reasonable way to address issues. I don´t believe in science because some medieval crackpot had a dream in cave and declared his word divine.

Maybe you are confusing the concepts of "belief" and "faith"? "Faith" is an irrational belief, and religions fall into that category.

There is nothing wrong with "beliefs" based on reason and open to revision. Everyone has those in order to address reality.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." (Salman Rushdie)

#6    Leonardo

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 03:43 PM

Belief may be rational or irrational, but the major point I guess I am making is that my opinion of belief is that it is personal and non-intrusive, while religion is intrusive and impersonal. While I believe adherence to a benign system of law is necessary for the proper function of a society in which individual expression is the primary goal, such a system would not require the subjugation of that individualism - as religion does.

It is this open-armed acceptance of subjugation, the suppression of individual belief, that confounds me regarding why people choose religion. It seems antithetical to us as individuals to willingly and rationally choose to subjugate our reason to another's beliefs. Reasons such as the "comfort effect" appear to me to be facades, as one can still find such community comfort in a society of free-willed individuals - provided one accepts those individuals as having free-will equal to your own.

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them."  - J. Robert Oppenheimer; Scientific Director; The Manhattan Project

"talking bull**** is not a victimless crime" - Marina Hyde, author.

#7    J. K.

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 04:05 PM

View PostLeonardo, on 21 August 2013 - 03:43 PM, said:

It is this open-armed acceptance of subjugation, the suppression of individual belief, that confounds me regarding why people choose religion. It seems antithetical to us as individuals to willingly and rationally choose to subjugate our reason to another's beliefs.

Whether subjugation or not, the individual chooses to believe a set of ideas.  For me, I choose to believe, not because the ideas were forced on me, but because the ideas make sense to me.  I am free to make adjustments in my thinking based on my growing understanding of those ideas.  Yes, I know there are groups that do force their ideas on individuals, but not all groups are like that.

One's reality is another's nightmare.

#8    Leonardo

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 04:09 PM

View PostJ. K., on 21 August 2013 - 04:05 PM, said:

Whether subjugation or not, the individual chooses to believe a set of ideas.  For me, I choose to believe, not because the ideas were forced on me, but because the ideas make sense to me.  I am free to make adjustments in my thinking based on my growing understanding of those ideas.  Yes, I know there are groups that do force their ideas on individuals, but not all groups are like that.

Fair enough about 'making adjustments', but what if those 'adjustments' contradict the fundamental tenet of the religion? Are you then really 'free to choose'? Or is there coercion to conform based on some sort of reward/punishment system?

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them."  - J. Robert Oppenheimer; Scientific Director; The Manhattan Project

"talking bull**** is not a victimless crime" - Marina Hyde, author.

#9    J. K.

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 04:25 PM

View PostLeonardo, on 21 August 2013 - 04:09 PM, said:

Fair enough about 'making adjustments', but what if those 'adjustments' contradict the fundamental tenet of the religion? Are you then really 'free to choose'? Or is there coercion to conform based on some sort of reward/punishment system?

If an adjustment means I no longer accept one of the tenets of the religion, then I simply choose to leave that religion.  Or more accurately phrased, I would leave that specific church.  I do believe that there is such coercion in some churches, but not all.

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#10    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 04:53 PM

View PostLeonardo, on 21 August 2013 - 12:05 PM, said:

Religion - this is when you accept what another believes, sometimes overriding your own belief, and you therefore allow that other to dictate much of your life pov, from morality to prejudices.

Belief - this is your personal pov on the topic of spirituality. It is not a pov you force upon others, or let dictate how you behave to others with respect their own, personal belief.

I can fully understand why a person holds to a belief, and respect that about them. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why someone would surrender themselves as a person to a religion - and simply become the tool of another.

I don't know that I really agree with how you are defining 'Religion' here, I don't see it really at all as 'becoming a tool of another'.  Your definition and comments to me seem to only apply to that subset of people you mention, those who let religious beliefs 'override their own belief', and I don't know how numerous those people are.  You differentiate and contrast 'belief' and 'religion', but I think there's a large set of people who aren't really accounted for: the people whose personal belief has a large amount of overlap with specific religious beliefs, who believe things that other people happen to also believe (not, 'accepting what other people believe'), but who arrived at that belief on their own, which you do say you respect.

I'm probably referring to groups of religious believers that you weren't specifically talking about though, as your post seems to imply that people get locked in somehow to a certain religion; that's reasonable, not all places actually have religious freedom.  Like J.K., I agree that there is pressure to conform, but to some extent that's just an attribute of choosing to belong to any group or club, or in this case religion or church.

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#11    GreenmansGod

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:00 PM

I follow a Druid path.  It is an Earth base "religion" "philosophy" depending on what kind you are and whether or not you have an indoctrinated religion in the mix. Most modern Druids are their own guru. There is no sacred text, no guru telling you what to think.  There is a lot of reading in it.  I think of Universe as my library and there are a lot of books.   Far as an actual revealed religion, where you have one source book or guy, nope, nor I have need of one.
Neo Pagan paths are mystery religions.    They  must be  experienced.  I had to find like minded people to play and share with, Spirituality by yourself is like playing baseball by yourself, you can throw the ball up and catch it, but that is about it.  That is when I stumbled on Paganism and its many branches.  It was the close as I could find to my world view.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." Salman Rushdie

#12    Leonardo

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:15 PM

View PostLiquid Gardens, on 21 August 2013 - 04:53 PM, said:

I don't know that I really agree with how you are defining 'Religion' here, I don't see it really at all as 'becoming a tool of another'.  Your definition and comments to me seem to only apply to that subset of people you mention, those who let religious beliefs 'override their own belief', and I don't know how numerous those people are.

Let us use Christianity as an example. Many people possibly believe in a 'christian-like deity' - call it God. Does that make those people Christian?

No. They may have belief, but not religion.

It is the words written in the bible which defines what makes a person a 'Christian'. But that bible was written by another (or several others) who had a specific notion regarding the nature of this 'christian-like deity'. So, should those people who believe in a 'God', then accept the rules laid out for them by this individual - who had their own, slightly different, perspective on what 'God' was - as being their own?

Again, no they shouldn't - but they do. This may be down to tradition, familial or peer-pressure, or a simple desire to 'belong'. Regardless, it is religion which conforms all those similar, but slightly different, beliefs. Over the longer term, people stop using their minds to reflect on their personal beliefs - simply coming to accept the belief of another that has been impressed upon generation after generation. Individual thought and expression withers and the masses become incapable of thinking any other way than that which has been indoctrinated into them.

Instead of a wonderful world of individuals - surely the goal of any unlimited creator - we get world of a billion shadows cast by some person from ancient history who just happened to either be very persuasive, educated, lucky, well-connected or a combination of those.

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

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"talking bull**** is not a victimless crime" - Marina Hyde, author.

#13    Frank Merton

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:54 PM

I think it's best to avoid "belief" and stick to opinions that one holds with varying degrees of assurance.  "Faith" is made a virtue by some religions in order to help adherents deal with doubt, and when they resort to such mental trickery it makes me doubt even more.


#14    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 06:36 PM

View PostLeonardo, on 21 August 2013 - 05:15 PM, said:

Let us use Christianity as an example. Many people possibly believe in a 'christian-like deity' - call it God. Does that make those people Christian?

No. They may have belief, but not religion.

It is the words written in the bible which defines what makes a person a 'Christian'. But that bible was written by another (or several others) who had a specific notion regarding the nature of this 'christian-like deity'. So, should those people who believe in a 'God', then accept the rules laid out for them by this individual - who had their own, slightly different, perspective on what 'God' was - as being their own?

Again, no they shouldn't - but they do.

I think that conclusion depends.  They should accept these beliefs and 'rules' that may go with them if that is what they actually believe; just because someone or something else convinced them to change their individual beliefs doesn't invalidate it, everyone does that.  Yes, people believe things and follow rules based on an interpretation of the Bible, but that is largely because they believe the Bible to be divinely inspired or what-not.  From the perspective of the believer, they are not subjugating their belief to another anymore than you and I are in our belief in atoms (assuming you are not a physicist or something); my belief in atoms is not at all from my personal experience with them, it has been learned from others who possess expertise (and differs from religious belief in that the nature of the scientific method/enterprise provides logical reasons to give scientific findings more weight).  I went from some point, probably when I was young, to being oblivious to atoms existence to understanding that they do exist, I changed my individual belief.  But you seem to say that individual beliefs are superior or more valid than those that correspond to religious beliefs, even in the case where a person's individual belief largely matches a specific religion's belief.

Quote

This may be down to tradition, familial or peer-pressure, or a simple desire to 'belong'. Regardless, it is religion which conforms all those similar, but slightly different, beliefs.

I don't think that any two people are 100% in alignment on their religious beliefs, but some differences are more pertinent than others.  Like you said, if you just believe in a 'christian-like' deity but not necessarily in the divinity, "sacrifice", resurrection, et al, of Jesus, it's questionable, no matter how you refer to yourself, whether you are accurately termed a 'Christian'.  If you believe in Christ but don't believe in a literal Noah's Ark then depending on your denomination, you are probably still accurately called a Christian.

Quote

Over the longer term, people stop using their minds to reflect on their personal beliefs - simply coming to accept the belief of another that has been impressed upon generation after generation. Individual thought and expression withers and the masses become incapable of thinking any other way than that which has been indoctrinated into them.

Instead of a wonderful world of individuals - surely the goal of any unlimited creator - we get world of a billion shadows cast by some person from ancient history who just happened to either be very persuasive, educated, lucky, well-connected or a combination of those.

That's fine, but let's be clear that this is just opinion here (some of which I agree with to an extent).  I tend to shy away from referring to 'the masses' as it always seems to carry along the idea that you or I are not part of the 'masses' and may be superior to them.  And it is entirely conjecture to me that, "a wonderful world of individuals", is the goal of an unlimited creator; he may be entirely happy with the extent of individuality that currently exists, we have no data or evidence concerning that.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into"
"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" - C. Hitchens
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" - Richard Feynman

#15    Leonardo

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 07:02 PM

View PostLiquid Gardens, on 21 August 2013 - 06:36 PM, said:

But you seem to say that individual beliefs are superior or more valid than those that correspond to religious beliefs,

Wonderful reply, thanks. Let's break it down a bit...

I am not at all saying that individual beliefs are "superior or more valid" than religion or religious beliefs. What I am saying is that religion, or religious belief, IS an individual's belief (and ONLY an individual's belief) that has become accepted as their own by the adherents - at the expense of their own personal belief. But why?

Sure, I can understand agreeing with another on points of belief - but the totality of that belief is determined also by an individual's personality and life-experience. To forego that, forego what is real and actual to oneself, for the imagined benefits promised by another's belief? How can anyone make that decision rationally? And if the decision is not made rationally, then what does that say of religion?

"Largely matches" is not good enough, to be frank. As I said, it's fine to have agreement on some points of principle between individual beliefs. Believing a creator deity, for example, and believing that deity is benevolent, or 'controls' access to an afterlife, etc. But past that there are the details of the belief which can only be explained by that individuals specific life-situation. If that is what life (and therefore, presumably, this deity) has led you to, why give that up to subsume yourself in another's belief (and the 'rules' pertaining to that) which is only relevant to, and drawn from, that other's life-situation? It's not your belief.

Quote

I tend to shy away from referring to 'the masses' as it always seems to carry along the idea that you or I are not part of the 'masses' and may be superior to them.  And it is entirely conjecture to me that, "a wonderful world of individuals", is the goal of an unlimited creator; he may be entirely happy with the extent of individuality that currently exists, we have no data or evidence concerning that.

Fair point about "the masses". I only meant it as a point of differentiation, but I can see where it can be construed as derogatory. As for the second, the "conjecture" that a creator deity - unlimited and with some grand design we are not privy to - desires a world of individuals, that "conjecture" is derived from the very nature this deity is said to express, and from the scripture describing that. As I said, unlimited and has a grand design. Therefore anything in our lives, including our individuality, could be ascribed to being part of this grand plan. As the scripture from which this religion derives does not describe religion itself as being part of that plan, but that this deity created beings to be indidivuals and have 'free-will', it is reasonable to conclude that individuality is part of that plan - and religion, which suppresses individuality but promotes conformity - is not. Indeed, the very same scripture has religion being an invention of Man, not God.

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them."  - J. Robert Oppenheimer; Scientific Director; The Manhattan Project

"talking bull**** is not a victimless crime" - Marina Hyde, author.




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