Re: Religion and narcissism

From: Jerry Bryson (
Date: Sun 22 Jan 2006 - 14:39:37 GMT

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    On Jan 22, 2006, at 4:02 AM, Tonie Putter wrote:

    > 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.

    Isn't that what evidence of anything is? Unconvincing evidence is scarcely evidence.

    > 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.

    Existentialist theologians like Tillich differentiate between being and existence. Thus God *is*, but doesn't *exist.*
    > '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];

    Nowadays, "God did it" is not a sufficient explanation.
    > (ii) create Someone who will forgive us when our avarice gets so badly
    > out
    > of control that no other human will forgive us; and,

    We all screw up other people, and most of all, ourselves. Granted, some don't think they can ever be forgiven, but most aren't that bad. The McGuffin is to unite with the Divine.
    > (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.

    So, some say atheists can't testify in court because they have no eternal reason to tell the truth. Yet because it is a net disadvantage to admit to being an atheist, a declared atheist is at least honest.
    > 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.

    In short, life informs religion, not the other way around. I see God behind that; most of us don't need a burning bush.
    > 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.

    Evolution equips us to form and test hypotheses. It seem this is the way God wants us to figure out the Universe. Religion just boils down the experience of many people.
    > 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.)

    God is under no obligation to give us what we ask for.
    > 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?

    Stated religious opinion is no guarantee the witness will be truthful.

    > 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.)

    For the most part, this is ecclesiastical politics
    > 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? ;-)

    Right! So what's the problem?
    > (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.

    How would this cause you trouble?
    > Tonie Putter
    >> From: Richard Brodie <>
    >> Reply-To: <>
    >> Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 16:24:39 -0800
    >> To: <>
    >> Subject: RE: Religion and narcissism
    >> <<The Divine forges the link; we just click on it. >>
    >> :)
    >> Richard Brodie
    >> ===============================================================
    >> 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:
    > ===============================================================
    > 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:

    "In theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice, they're different."

    =============================================================== 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:

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