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Huh. Via utforsker. Equally offensive to mainstream Monotheists and Pagans. Yet possessed of a very discomfiting bit of truth. Thoughts, anyone?

Also, today is the 7-year anniversary of my first day working at this organization. Why does this make me queasy?

Some people get motion-sick; I get inertia-sick.

Comments

chadu
Feb. 22nd, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC)
My particular situation is that I'm more-or-less agnostic: I believe in a god, but I don't think anyone or anything can state "this is how God is" without it being an opinion.

In reading city_of_dis' post, I did feel that my simple belief in some sort of God was being equated to my support of a system of "slavery."

CU
tripoli
Feb. 22nd, 2005 07:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I mean, I don't *think* there's a god, but I also don't think that can be proven. So I guess I'm either a dictionary-definition agnostic or a wishy-washy atheist.

As for Dis--if you (generic you) accept that religion is fundamentally a control system, then it follows that any product of religion (such as the belief in a vague form of deity) is a product of that system. Not the same, but not totally separate, either.
chadu
Feb. 22nd, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC)
I don't see religion as "dundamentally a control system." I see religion as "attempts to share individual gnosis that get co-opted into control systems."

A slim distinction, but one I'm pretty solid on making. I have a hard time believing that religions are founded to control some segment of the population. (However, "religions founded as a control system of information" -- Approved and Not Approved texts, for example -- is a much more arguable point.)

CU
tripoli
Feb. 22nd, 2005 08:51 pm (UTC)
No, I don't think religion is a big conspiracy either. In fact, I have a hard time with the idea that there was a single goal to the foundation of religions at all. But canonical texts--or religion as information--is such a late invention that the only major religion that explanation could apply to is Islam, and I don't buy that either.

Concepts of individual gnosis are, likewise, much younger than what we'd recognize as religion. Interesting idea, and probably a good way to start talking about all those "spiritualists", but I don't think it's applicable to the foundations of religion.
chadu
Feb. 22nd, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
Apologies -- I didn't mean actual physical printing on a page for "texts," but rather "orthodoxy/heterodoxy" (or, as some folks in the particular faith might call it, "truth/lies.")

"Og is sky god. Husband of Marga, earth goddess."
"No, Og married to Agram, lake goddess!"
"Heretic!"

Concepts of individual gnosis are, likewise, much younger than what we'd recognize as religion.

I think all religions started in a moment of individual gnosis, which was taken and systematized as the one single absolute truth.

CU
_blackjack_
Feb. 22nd, 2005 11:42 pm (UTC)
"Og is sky god. Husband of Marga, earth goddess."
"No, Og married to Agram, lake goddess!"
"Heretic!"


But that sort of thing was remarkably uncommon in the ancient world. Even early Judaism tended more towards "you're special, so don't do the things those nasty Canaanites do," rather than "those nasty Canaanites believe the wrong things." The idea that contradictory things could not simultaneously be true is a fairly recent one, explaining why the redactors of the Bible had not problem with including contradictory versions of the same stories. Ancient religions (and a few modern ones, like Hinduism) had a rather relaxed attitude towards religious "facts." They were open to new gods, or to identifying new gods with old ones, and saw no conflict in accepting contrary traditions.

One example that bugged me a lot as a kid was that Perseus was supposed to have turned Atlas to stone, but Herakles, a DESCENDANT of Perseus, meets up with a decidedly unpetrified Atlas later on. For that matter, nobody could seem to agree on the roster of the 12 Olympians. There were always 12, and stories where one god would give up their place to make room for another, but WHICH 12 gods was never consistent.

Some cultures had similar approaches to history, I might add. The Egyptians had no problem with attributing the same deeds to Pharaohs centuries apart.

So the idea of "you heretic, I kill you!" (as opposed to "you talk funny, I kill you!" or "I want you stuff, I kill you!") was not too common in antiquity. The only exception would be advocating PRACTICES which were disruptive to society. You didn't have to BELIEVE in Iuppiter, but you'd better not tell people not to give money to the state temple.
chadu
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:22 am (UTC)
Hmmm. So would you argue that monotheism supported the development of formal logic? Or that monotheism reinforces the concept of Platonic Ideals?

CU
(no subject) - _blackjack_ - Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chadu - Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:44 am (UTC) - Expand
_blackjack_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 12:16 am (UTC)
I think all religions started in a moment of individual gnosis, which was taken and systematized as the one single absolute truth.

Well, saying it don't make it so. The evidence shows very little emphasis on individual, as opposed to collective, religious experience until the 1st millennium BCE, and even then, it tended to quickly become a collective movement. Witness the emergence of Mahayana Buddhism. Arguably, the more individual aspects were simply not well-preserved in largely illiterate societies, but I'd say that the tendency for movement from individualism to collectivism argues that individual gnosis hasn't had a major part to play. Consider that Protestant Christianity, which ostensibly emphasizes personal experince of God and scripture, has become every bit as much a clergy-directed, church-focused affair as Catholicism.
tripoli
Feb. 23rd, 2005 01:34 am (UTC)
Blackjack, your posts just made my brain do a little happy-flippy thing. Let me sleep a few hours and I definitely want to get back to this,
chadu
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:24 am (UTC)
Wouldn't you consider the experiences of Abraham and Moses to fit the bill of individual gnosis, then formalized?

That's part of what I was thinking here.

CU
(no subject) - _blackjack_ - Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chadu - Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _blackjack_ - Feb. 23rd, 2005 03:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - splifford - Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chadu - Feb. 23rd, 2005 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _blackjack_ - Feb. 24th, 2005 01:07 am (UTC) - Expand
_blackjack_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 12:07 am (UTC)
So I guess I'm either a dictionary-definition agnostic or a wishy-washy atheist.

There's no reason you can't be both. Agnosticism is an epistemological position, and atheism an ontological one. One can admit that absolute objective knowledge is impossible, but still conclude that, within said limits of knowledge, that something does not exist. People rarely feel compelled to qualify themselves as agnostic towards the tooth fairy or the proverbial invisible purple unicorns. An agnostic atheist simple places gods among the very large set of things for which there is no evidence, and thus can be assumed not to be.

(There's a larger epistemological problem revolving around belief in something that operates independent of, and can alter, the basic criteria for knowledge, but I'll save that for later.)
chadu
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:33 am (UTC)
I thought the invisible unicorn was supposed to be pink.

Heretic.

CU
_blackjack_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:37 am (UTC)
That's part of the point; being invisible, it can't have a color, therefore it can't exist.
chadu
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:46 am (UTC)
Way to kill the joke, dead.

(Haven't you seen this and other such sites stemming from alt.atheism?)

CU
_blackjack_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 03:11 am (UTC)
Yeah, that was the reference, but I shouldn't be faulted for forgetting the color of something that's invisible.

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