Re: Religion and narcissism

From: Tonie Putter (t.putter@ecoport.org)
Date: Sun 22 Jan 2006 - 09:02:29 GMT

  • Next message: Jerry Bryson: "Re: Religion and narcissism"

    Circular argument:

    > <<The Divine forges the link; we just click on it. >>

    Kate revealed that the evidence she uses to 'prove' the existence of God/the divine, is whatever is convincing to her. Thus, God is created by each individual, there is no objective proof of His existence and He only reveals himself to those who create Him through their convictions. He is nowhere
    'out there' *only* a meme inside those who create Him in their minds and lives. Therefore the idea that The Divine can act as a primary agent, an independent link-forging entity, creates a conundrum.

    'Godness' comes into existence as a ubiquitous meme because form follows function: we all have certain psychological needs that make us wish for a God, The Divine, Miracles. Among other reasons, we 'need' / use this to:

    (i) explain things we cannot comprehend [in fear and ignorance and/or lack of mental capability or capacity];

    (ii) create Someone who will forgive us when our avarice gets so badly out of control that no other human will forgive us; and,

    (iii) to put bibles in courts to swear on as a means of invoking a level of testimony [Truth as Absolute; as abstract subsumer] larger than all involved.

    By Darwinian trial and error, these ubiquitous and functional psychological needs create a more or less similar, humanity-wide meme = [God x Religion x Miracles]. (To atheists, Buddhism, Christianity etc. are merely colour-variants of the same fridge its the principle of cooling we reject.)

    We have direct proof that some things we are inclined to do are 'bad', e.g. we don't need any external agent to tell us that sticking a knife into human flesh hurts and is life-threatening or that our neighbour's wives are often desirable. Ergo: (a) the memes 'sin' and 'do unto others' etc.; and (b), the 'agent meme' = God to forgive us when we go so far wrong that our despair might drive us to suicide unless a Higher Being; a Higher Authority that other humans have to accept, forgives us. (They have to accept the Higher Authority, because they *know* that they too will one day go too far and need to invoke it.) Hence, the power of Jesus, after much trial and error, about 200 years ago we arrived at a perfect fall-guy whom we murdered before he could quit so that he could take our sins unto Him. And, by making Him a *personal* God, we not only validate "Kate's way" of validating The Divine, but also made Him into a hand-maiden to take care of our personal venality and vices. Not for us an eternal Tao that cannot ever be put into words... *Our Good Trick* allows us to put *all* the words into the mouths of our personal, puppet gods.

    The pain and damage of sticking a knife into our own flesh not only tells us about right and wrong, but also has the similarly inescapable corollary that we can't lie to ourselves about its existence as a Bad Thing. Even Pooh Bear knows this. And, we know that deception is also a Bad Thing, and so we
    *emerge* (ontologically and not teleologically) as a Moral Animal, but one that is often tempted and frequently in a run-away pattern that plunges us into enough despair to make suicide or God the only ethical options. (I use
    'emerge' carefully and as an indicator of Darwinian selection: we are not designed and created in any god's image that's just self-glorification.)

    No sportsman wants to win because his opponent is injured: we do not need gods to tell us about the dangers of the unearned. There's a lot of stuff we know because we exist in communicative action.

    But, as Dan Dennet stated so eloquently, evolution equips us to deceive ourselves, not only because of our mortality and the difficulty of creating Life's meaning ourselves, but also because of the above, epistemology-driven possibility of suicide in despair and shame. And as Dan also pointed out, we either do the dirty work (self-delusion) ourselves, or we leave it to someone else, e.g. Pastors.

    While quoting Dan, I *love* his cleaver meme: "If prayer actually works, nobody would bother with 8-5 jobs" .... Or words to that effect. (Note prayer *and* work = confounding that doesn't hack it.)

    I experience atheism and agnosticism as harder work than faith, but regardless of this, these belief-systems pose many practical problems, e.g. what is the value of an atheist taking an oath on the bible in a court of law? Religion contains many, many useful, secularly-valuable sub-memes.
    (Religion is a 'smart' meme, it absorbs anything that enhances it this reifying absorption also makes the thing absorbed 'holy' and canonical.)

    What is more relevant to my argument, is that atheism and agnosticism has
    'external-to-me' referents, no matter how these are defined. Faith and God, in contrast, is constructed inside, and by, each individual. In this way, we can set *all* the standards, rules of evidence and validating indicators etc ourselves. Psychologically, this is much, much more manageable and it immediately sets a virtuous cycle in motion: we amplify and escalate it because it works for us. (How can it *not* work: it is a perfect self-satisficing algorithm [a motivating opiate] invented by the person who knows perfectly what is required. Besides, its *not* a delusion but a pious virtue and achievement right? ;-)

    (See also 'satisficing' and 'bounded rationality' in Wikipedia.... )

    Faith lived by self-created and self-convincing standards eliminates self-doubt and so we become more confident and happy. We perform better as individuals and consequently, society benefits, and so, yet again, Darwinian selection to optimise group-level altruism refines and entrenches the meme [religion - gods -miracles].

    And: Thank God for Religion, because I can live with the 10 Commandments and, so far, nobody has come walking on the water here where I am fishing.

    Tonie Putter

    > From: Richard Brodie <richard@brodietech.com>
    > Reply-To: <memetics@mmu.ac.uk>
    > Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 16:24:39 -0800
    > To: <memetics@mmu.ac.uk>
    > Subject: RE: Religion and narcissism
    >
    > <<The Divine forges the link; we just click on it. >>
    >
    > :)
    >
    > Richard Brodie
    > www.memecentral.com
    >
    >
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    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
    >

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit



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