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Leonardo

Religion vs Belief

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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?

...

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.

I would say that your phrase "at the expense of their own personal belief" is inaccurate, at least part of the time. Yes, free will allows the ability to choose one's own belief, and that is what I see in churches: people choose to believe what the congregation believes. There is a type of conformity, but it is a result of like-minded people and like-minded actions. (I do know that there are charlatans who mislead in order to build their own empire, but not all religious leaders are like that.)

As for the 'invention of Man', keep in mind that some Christians view the relationship (a better word than 'religion') as being established by God.

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Wonderful reply, thanks.

Thanks! You also Leonardo.

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?

But that happens with almost all beliefs. Yes, let's break this part down. Can't I also say that scientific belief is a belief that has become accepted as their own by the adherents at the expense of their own personal belief? There just aren't that many subjects on which people arrive at beliefs without any input from other people. Maybe more pertinently here, I disagree with you on how you phrased the last part of your sentence: it's not at the expense of their own 'personal belief', it's at the expense of their previous or former belief. You seem to discuss these as if they are separate things, like people have personal beliefs ("Jesus was just a man") and religious beliefs ("Jesus was the son of God") that are separate from each other; I don't think there are that many people like that. I'd answer your 'But why?' question with the answer I'd give for everyone who changes their belief: they received further information or re-evaluated their current belief and determined it required adjustment, and they thus arrived at a new/revised belief. I'm unfortunately not clear why you are singleing out religious beliefs. I believed by default that time was a constant everywhere; even though I have no personal experience of it, I now believe that it is not because of Einstein and the nature of science. How is that not also at the expense of my personal belief? One point that we may differ on in this analysis is that I'm purely speaking of 'belief' regardless of the validity of that belief, as I don't think the comparison you are making between individual and religious belief depends on that.

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?

But you seem to be presuming what is 'real and actual to oneself' for other people. People's epistemology are vastly different, I may think cold objective empiricism is the best foundation for a belief and others may prioritize their life experience. Regardless you seem to be saying that people are believing things merely because of the supposed benefits; I haven't heard anyone really say that. Again, I think I'm struggling because you seem to talk about people having two beliefs simultaneously. The reason I've always heard that people have religious beliefs is because they think they are true. If I'm to take them at their word, a lot of people don't forego what is real to them nor their personality and life experience, on the contrary they find that their religious beliefs perfectly fulfill and realize those.

"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.

I'm not sure what specifically we mean by 'life situation'. I don't know either in what way a person can possibly have a belief and have it not be their belief. I believe that humans are more closely related to cats, because they are both mammals, than we are related to spiders, but that is just another's belief actually. I was not the first person to believe that and the reason I believe it is because of the reasons that have been communicated to me by others who do believe it which matches my own personal observations. So then we should say that this is not my belief?

I think maybe your other sentence may help me understand what you are talking about though. I think I agree with what I believe (ha!) you are saying concerning deities and spirituality, that essentially it's anyone's guess. The problem is there are a lot of people who do not believe that, they think there are experts on spirituality/divinity and that we can determine some things definitively. Frankly, to flip your point around, it is exactly people's life experience that sometimes leads them to religious belief; there is no shortage of people who are willing to testify that they were fairly miserable until they were reborn, the belief that their life 'had led them to' they later determined was not true (to them). This is pretty much a built-in feature of Christianity, what your non-Christian life has led you to as far as your beliefs is specifically called out as not being true and as being sinful, it is not being enlightened by the divinity of God and it's only by (insert whatever the process is) that one can come to God and alter their belief.

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.

God wants us to have free will so that we can freely choose him, it obviously doesn't really mean anything if God is making us believe. If you would like to translate that fact to the idea that God wants a world of individuals, that's fair, but the message of scripture absolutely is not, 'believing whatever you want is fine with God'; 100% the opposite. We can take the logic that since God created beings to be individuals that it's part of the plan both ways; God also apparently made sure there was a Bible which pretty much states that the primary goal of his creation is to glorify Him, so that was part of the plan also.

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I would say that your phrase "at the expense of their own personal belief" is inaccurate, at least part of the time. Yes, free will allows the ability to choose one's own belief, and that is what I see in churches: people choose to believe what the congregation believes. There is a type of conformity, but it is a result of like-minded people and like-minded actions. (I do know that there are charlatans who mislead in order to build their own empire, but not all religious leaders are like that.)

As for the 'invention of Man', keep in mind that some Christians view the relationship (a better word than 'religion') as being established by God.

There are people with whom I am like-minded, yet we do not agree on all points of even what we agree upon!

Likewise, we would not, as individuals, necessarily be comfortable with the same rules and restrictions. And this point is exacerbated when we are speaking of rules and restrictions which are alleged to be divine commandments, and thus inviolate at risk of denial of "eternal resurrection". But how many who claim to be followers of a single religion today, actually either abide by, or even agree with, the rules supposedly set forth by someone speaking on behalf of their deity?

But if you don't follow, or agree with, those divine conditions, then why claim yourself as a member of that religion? Or even more to the point, why follow any of that religion's tenet whatsoever? For if even some of it does not tally with your own belief, then what convinces you that ANY of it should be true?

But if the religious adherent who does not necessarily believe a part of that religion's tenet to be true (or relevant) still 'goes along with' that religion, what does that say of that person? That they are naturally meek, or that they feel pressured into conforming for some reason more important than their own individuality?

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But that happens with almost all beliefs. Yes, let's break this part down. Can't I also say that scientific belief is a belief that has become accepted as their own by the adherents at the expense of their own personal belief?

Let me start by stating there is a difference in quality between scientific, and religious, beliefs (qualities such as evidence, demonstrability, reproducibility, etc.) So, using scientific beliefs in an analogy for what happens with religious belief is, imo, flawed.

There just aren't that many subjects on which people arrive at beliefs without any input from other people. Maybe more pertinently here, I disagree with you on how you phrased the last part of your sentence: it's not at the expense of their own 'personal belief', it's at the expense of their previous or former belief.

Personal beliefs evolve, and this is an important point that I haven't touched upon. Why I haven't touched upon them is because religious beliefs aren't supposed to evolve. If this belief really derives from the nature of an eternal, unlimited, deity, then such beliefs should not be able to evolve, but should remain constant through cultural, social or personal change. It is a fallacy that increasing cultural or social sophistication can naturally lead to an evolution of religious beliefs - because no matter how much we evolve in that manner, we cannot know any more about divinity than divinity chooses to reveal to us. And this revelation allegedly happened in the distant (to us) past and is non-continuous. If religions change, evolve, it is because human society evolves - not because we know more about God. And those rules which were set down in that distant past, no matter their cultural or social irrelevance or confliction today, should still be being applied - if those who adhere to that religion actually believed it was true.

So, these beliefs that are alleged to be religious, and born of divine inspiration, are not actually religious at all but purely personal beliefs evolved to the point of sophistication relevant to the cultural/social sophistication of the person who held them. And again, why let another's personal, non-empirical, beliefs either be your own, or even be the cause of the evolution of your own beliefs? The only reason is because those beliefs (or the evolution of your own) suit your evolving, personal situation - not because they agree with your actual belief regarding divinity or spirituality.

But you seem to be presuming what is 'real and actual to oneself' for other people.

No, I'm not. What I am saying is that each of us has a reality, and a set of beliefs, that is drawn from and relevant to our own personal life-situation. And to clarify that particular phrase, a 'life-situation' is the totality of one's life experiences that make that person who they are. So, I am not presuming "what is real and actual for other people", but what is real and actual for me has the same quality as what is real and actual for anyone.

Again, I think I'm struggling because you seem to talk about people having two beliefs simultaneously. The reason I've always heard that people have religious beliefs is because they think they are true. If I'm to take them at their word, a lot of people don't forego what is real to them nor their personality and life experience, on the contrary they find that their religious beliefs perfectly fulfill and realize those.

Religious beliefs are a special case because they generally come packaged with various rules and restrictions. They also demand a specific moral stance and provide guidance on such things as prejudices. Unlike many other 'beliefs' we may refer to, religious beliefs are much more a 'holistic, lifestyle package'. It is this which sets them apart, and why I started this topic because they demand so much more of the person's being to be accommodated.

Frankly, to flip your point around, it is exactly people's life experience that sometimes leads them to religious belief; there is no shortage of people who are willing to testify that they were fairly miserable until they were reborn, the belief that their life 'had led them to' they later determined was not true (to them). This is pretty much a built-in feature of Christianity, what your non-Christian life has led you to as far as your beliefs is specifically called out as not being true and as being sinful, it is not being enlightened by the divinity of God and it's only by (insert whatever the process is) that one can come to God and alter their belief.

I fully understand the 'carrot/stick approach' religions take to first gain adherents, and then keep them. My question is why a rational individual would simply fall for such a cheap trick? Even at one's lowest ebb - and I've been pretty low - I cannot comprehend how an individual would allow themself to be subsumed to another's belief simply for an improvisation to their life-situation? For me, what makes me who I am is far more important than the situation I may find myself in, and I can't see why others do not also understand that it is who you are that is the most important thing in your life.

God wants us to have free will so that we can freely choose him, it obviously doesn't really mean anything if God is making us believe. If you would like to translate that fact to the idea that God wants a world of individuals, that's fair, but the message of scripture absolutely is not, 'believing whatever you want is fine with God'; 100% the opposite. We can take the logic that since God created beings to be individuals that it's part of the plan both ways; God also apparently made sure there was a Bible which pretty much states that the primary goal of his creation is to glorify Him, so that was part of the plan also.

Well, that is the logic God uses. To allow us to choose him of our own free-will, God must allow us the free-will to believe what we want. I didn't say God liked it, I said it was what God desired through this grand design.

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Likewise, we would not, as individuals, necessarily be comfortable with the same rules and restrictions. And this point is exacerbated when we are speaking of rules and restrictions which are alleged to be divine commandments, and thus inviolate at risk of denial of "eternal resurrection". But how many who claim to be followers of a single religion today, actually either abide by, or even agree with, the rules supposedly set forth by someone speaking on behalf of their deity?

Keep in mind that we don't think of the rules as being of human origin. Instead, we consider them to be of divine origin, transcribed by humans.

But if you don't follow, or agree with, those divine conditions, then why claim yourself as a member of that religion? Or even more to the point, why follow any of that religion's tenet whatsoever? For if even some of it does not tally with your own belief, then what convinces you that ANY of it should be true?

What convinces us of its truth is the Spirit of God communicating to us. (Yes, I know, that's a whole 'nother question for discussion).

But if the religious adherent who does not necessarily believe a part of that religion's tenet to be true (or relevant) still 'goes along with' that religion, what does that say of that person? That they are naturally meek, or that they feel pressured into conforming for some reason more important than their own individuality?

I would call it a lack of confidence in one's own ability to understand what is being taught.

Edited by J. K.

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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.

Hey Leo, I know of people who call themselves Christian, go to church, read the bible, agree with the bible, proselytize the bible, and over ride the teachings in favor of their own personal experience/beliefs.

Of course their are those as you describe too.

.

I am an Atheist, almost without exception (not counting my mother) according to my Christian friends ( who are abundant) they insist I am more Christian then they are. The key points that have been spotlighted are my ability/capacity for "unconditional" and my lifestyle, I do not drink or do drugs etc etc. Are these the important/must follow bible based Christian teachings? .I would have to answer it depends on who you are talking too. If you were asking me I'd say no!

Edited by Sherapy

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Let me start by stating there is a difference in quality between scientific, and religious, beliefs (qualities such as evidence, demonstrability, reproducibility, etc.) So, using scientific beliefs in an analogy for what happens with religious belief is, imo, flawed.

My analogies to scientific beliefs were only intended to help illustrate what you mean by people 'subsuming' their beliefs to what others' believe, and I don't necessarily see what the differences between these beliefs from a rationality or empirical standpoint have to do with that, but that may well be because I'm not fully understanding your point. I'll try to use more appropriate analogies.

Personal beliefs evolve, and this is an important point that I haven't touched upon. Why I haven't touched upon them is because religious beliefs aren't supposed to evolve. If this belief really derives from the nature of an eternal, unlimited, deity, then such beliefs should not be able to evolve, but should remain constant through cultural, social or personal change. It is a fallacy that increasing cultural or social sophistication can naturally lead to an evolution of religious beliefs - because no matter how much we evolve in that manner, we cannot know any more about divinity than divinity chooses to reveal to us. And this revelation allegedly happened in the distant (to us) past and is non-continuous. If religions change, evolve, it is because human society evolves - not because we know more about God. And those rules which were set down in that distant past, no matter their cultural or social irrelevance or confliction today, should still be being applied - if those who adhere to that religion actually believed it was true.

I think it depends on what you mean by religious beliefs; are we talking about the religious beliefs that define a particular denomination or religious beliefs that people hold? I don't know why you don't think religious beliefs are supposed to evolve, they of course do in both of those senses. God never said or promised that he's explained everything to anyone, if anything I'd say that Christians are strictly on a need-to-know basis. This is also inherent, he's supreme and we are not, so we are necessarily limited in our comprehension. Christians take the core teachings of the Bible as true but it not uncommon for them to shift between denominations because those denominations view other tenets differently and have other values I guess I'd call it. God didn't promise that the Bible would be perfectly clear to everyone who read it, not even Christians I don't believe, so the differences in viewpoints is again part of the plan to some extent, or more likely a side effect of our sinful nature. I agree with you that religions change due to pressures from society, I think that's logical and reasonable and has evidence to support it; to Christians, these pressures are simply the lessons of God taught through our lives and through history. Thankfully some Christians are coming around on the subject of homosexuality; they aren't bashfully bowing their heads that God was wrong on this subject, instead they see how certain Christians have applied, evilly IMO, the teachings of their religion in their treatment of gays and it rightfully repels them and provides clarification on the nature of God and what it means to actually be good. They are seeing that the way they viewed God was incorrect, which him being defined as beyond us, is entirely expected.

And again, why let another's personal, non-empirical, beliefs either be your own, or even be the cause of the evolution of your own beliefs? The only reason is because those beliefs (or the evolution of your own) suit your evolving, personal situation - not because they agree with your actual belief regarding divinity or spirituality.

I don't know how you can know that last sentence. Let me try a better analogy, one that isn't complicated by being different in type. I believe it was Confucius who originally documented a similar version of the Golden Rule ("Do unto others..."), let's say that he actually did. That statement is non-empirical and subjective and should be closer to religious beliefs; there is no real objective way that the Golden Rule is 'better' than 'screw over others as much as you can'. So I go through life and hear the Golden Rule and believe that it is a good motto to live by. Do I and is it valid to call this belief my own? You ask why let another's personal, non-empirical belief 'be my own'? Because I agree with them. Not because of my personal situation, not because of the benefits or risks or drawbacks, because I, using whatever reasoning method I use, believe it to be true. I don't know why that quite common alternative to what you are suggesting, that somehow people's beliefs are subsumed, is not really being acknowledged as an alternative. I don't personally agree with the reasoning behind how many people arrive at their belief in God, I don't think it's consistent or valid, but just because I don't agree with their reasoning it does not follow that those people are letting another's beliefs be their own (even though I'm still not sure what that exactly means; if you believe something that is your 'own' belief by definition, no matter how you got there).

No, I'm not. What I am saying is that each of us has a reality, and a set of beliefs, that is drawn from and relevant to our own personal life-situation. And to clarify that particular phrase, a 'life-situation' is the totality of one's life experiences that make that person who they are.

Then life experiences includes encountering and delving into the idea of God, and in no way needs to be something separate from or in opposition to it.

Religious beliefs are a special case because they generally come packaged with various rules and restrictions. They also demand a specific moral stance and provide guidance on such things as prejudices. Unlike many other 'beliefs' we may refer to, religious beliefs are much more a 'holistic, lifestyle package'. It is this which sets them apart, and why I started this topic because they demand so much more of the person's being to be accommodated.

But 'demand so much more of a person's being' is really only relevant if the person doesn't actually agree with or want to live according to these rules and restrictions, otherwise it's not really a demand. What you call accommodation they can call 'the way I want to live', which is no accommodation at all.

I fully understand the 'carrot/stick approach' religions take to first gain adherents, and then keep them. My question is why a rational individual would simply fall for such a cheap trick? Even at one's lowest ebb - and I've been pretty low - I cannot comprehend how an individual would allow themself to be subsumed to another's belief simply for an improvisation to their life-situation? For me, what makes me who I am is far more important than the situation I may find myself in, and I can't see why others do not also understand that it is who you are that is the most important thing in your life.

They don't view it as being 'subsumed', they view it as changing their belief. I'm really having trouble understanding specifically the difference between a belief arrived at freely and a belief that is actually another person's and not your own, and again am not really sure how to even define the latter. What criteria are you using to differentiate them?

Edited by Liquid Gardens

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Hey Leo, I know of people who call themselves Christian, go to church, read the bible, agree with the bible, proselytize the bible, and over ride the teachings in favor of their own personal experience/beliefs.

Of course their are those as you describe too.

.

I am an Atheist, almost without exception (not counting my mother) according to my Christian friends ( who are abundant) they insist I am more Christian then they are. The key points that have been spotlighted are my ability/capacity for "unconditional" and my lifestyle, I do not drink or do drugs etc etc. Are these the important/must follow bible based Christian teachings? .I would have to answer it depends on who you are talking too. If you were asking me I'd say no!

Leo quotes:

"...[Leo Quotes] So, I am not presuming "what is real and actual for other people", but what is real and actual for me has the same quality as what is real and actual for anyone."

Can you clarify this please, thank you.

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My analogies to scientific beliefs were only intended to help illustrate what you mean by people 'subsuming' their beliefs to what others' believe, and I don't necessarily see what the differences between these beliefs from a rationality or empirical standpoint have to do with that, but that may well be because I'm not fully understanding your point. I'll try to use more appropriate analogies.

I think it depends on what you mean by religious beliefs; are we talking about the religious beliefs that define a particular denomination or religious beliefs that people hold? I don't know why you don't think religious beliefs are supposed to evolve, they of course do in both of those senses. God never said or promised that he's explained everything to anyone, if anything I'd say that Christians are strictly on a need-to-know basis. This is also inherent, he's supreme and we are not, so we are necessarily limited in our comprehension. Christians take the core teachings of the Bible as true but it not uncommon for them to shift between denominations because those denominations view other tenets differently and have other values I guess I'd call it. God didn't promise that the Bible would be perfectly clear to everyone who read it, not even Christians I don't believe, so the differences in viewpoints is again part of the plan to some extent, or more likely a side effect of our sinful nature. I agree with you that religions change due to pressures from society, I think that's logical and reasonable and has evidence to support it; to Christians, these pressures are simply the lessons of God taught through our lives and through history. Thankfully some Christians are coming around on the subject of homosexuality; they aren't bashfully bowing their heads that God was wrong on this subject, instead they see how certain Christians have applied, evilly IMO, the teachings of their religion in their treatment of gays and it rightfully repels them and provides clarification on the nature of God and what it means to actually be good. They are seeing that the way they viewed God was incorrect, which him being defined as beyond us, is entirely expected.

I don't know how you can know that last sentence. Let me try a better analogy, one that isn't complicated by being different in type. I believe it was Confucius who originally documented a similar version of the Golden Rule ("Do unto others..."), let's say that he actually did. That statement is non-empirical and subjective and should be closer to religious beliefs; there is no real objective way that the Golden Rule is 'better' than 'screw over others as much as you can'. So I go through life and hear the Golden Rule and believe that it is a good motto to live by. Do I and is it valid to call this belief my own? You ask why let another's personal, non-empirical belief 'be my own'? Because I agree with them. Not because of my personal situation, not because of the benefits or risks or drawbacks, because I, using whatever reasoning method I use, believe it to be true. I don't know why that quite common alternative to what you are suggesting, that somehow people's beliefs are subsumed, is not really being acknowledged as an alternative. I don't personally agree with the reasoning behind how many people arrive at their belief in God, I don't think it's consistent or valid, but just because I don't agree with their reasoning it does not follow that those people are letting another's beliefs be their own (even though I'm still not sure what that exactly means; if you believe something that is your 'own' belief by definition, no matter how you got there).

Then life experiences includes encountering and delving into the idea of God, and in no way needs to be something separate from or in opposition to it.

But 'demand so much more of a person's being' is really only relevant if the person doesn't actually agree with or want to live according to these rules and restrictions, otherwise it's not really a demand. What you call accommodation they can call 'the way I want to live', which is no accommodation at all.

They don't view it as being 'subsumed', they view it as changing their belief. I'm really having trouble understanding specifically the difference between a belief arrived at freely and a belief that is actually another person's and not your own, and again am not really sure how to even define the latter. What criteria are you using to differentiate them?

I am struggling too, borrowing from your golden rule line of thinking-- I think Leo is saying if I practice/apply ahimsa --a Buddhist belief whilst not Buddhist, or as a Buddhist-- there is a difference. This difference I am inferring is, if I am a practicing Buddhist I am automatically being dictated to and not thinking for myself, if I am not a Buddhist and choose Ahimsa then I am choosing to believe and think for myself.

Edited by Sherapy
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Leo quotes:

"...[Leo Quotes] So, I am not presuming "what is real and actual for other people", but what is real and actual for me has the same quality as what is real and actual for anyone."

Can you clarify this please, thank you.

I am a human being, alike in more ways than different to any other human being on the planet. I experience the world around me as a human being does - as does everyone else. All of us have the same quality of experiencing what is real and actual. While our personal experiences may differ, they differ in composition - not in quality.

It is essential, in my view, to think this way if one is to think of others as people and not objectify them.

I am struggling too, borrowing from your golden rule line of thinking-- I think Leo is saying if I practice/apply ahimsa --a Buddhist belief whilst not Buddhist, or as a Buddhist-- there is a difference. This difference I am inferring is, if I am a practicing Buddhist I am automatically being dictated to and not thinking for myself, if I am not a Buddhist and choose Ahimsa then I am choosing to believe and think for myself.

This is a much more succint explanation for my main line of argument, thank you. That a person can choose to believe something, or modify their own belief with another's, without becoming subject to the one who held the belief originally. Religion does not accommodate this, but the 'new' believer is expected to become subject to the authority of that original.

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