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Getting Religion

Nontheists understand that religion is wrong. We discuss religions, rant about them, and fight them. Do we understand them? The goal of here is to learn about religions, how they developed, what they beleive, what makes them tick.

Location: Global
Members: 53
Latest Activity: Mar 15

"Getting Religion" means understanding religions.

 

File:Stonehenge Closeup.jpg

Like the air we breathe, religion is everywhere.  As far back as we have studied, probably to paleolithic times and our Neanderthal relatives, religion is part of the human consciousness, government, family, medicine, and human understanding of nature.

 

Religion dominates politics and governments in most the world in our time and all times in the past.  Many of our families and workplaces and towns are saturated with religion.  The better we understand religion, the better we know our world.

 

Discussions.

Intro to "Getting Religion" - what the group is about.

Paleolithic origins of religion.

Religion in the Neolithic Age.

Hell.

Zoroastrianism.

 

Here is a link that summarizes the 43 biggest religious or religious belief systems, in the world today.  This is the "Big Religion Chart".

 

To me, religions are like science fiction.  I like the worlds of Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek, and X-Files, and I like reading about Zoroastrianism, Aztec cosmology, and Catholic papal  intrigues.

-Sentient Biped 5/29/2013

-www-

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Comment by Daniel W on January 17, 2010 at 4:50pm
Carli,
Thanks for joining. The major goal is to develop a type of "religious literacy". Very few people know much about religions, even the ones that are common in their community and sometimes, their family. By learning about religion, we better understand our families and neighbors, we better understand the news and history, and we arm ourselves against becoming indoctrinated ourselves.
Comment by William Hopper on January 7, 2010 at 9:08pm
Jerome: Take the anthro degree if you want it, but definitely not for job prospects. Trust me on this one... I went to university for a Ba.H in World Religions and a Minors in Classics. Great for your perspective, but not longon jobs out there for anthro/history stuff.
Comment by Jo Jerome on January 7, 2010 at 8:19pm
Daniel: ((( Hugs ))) Glad my 'getting it' gives you the warm fuzzies! This is such an awesome site, with so many awesome people, and here I find one more awesome idea for group discussion.

William: I think you're right. We seem to be hard wired to put things we don't understand into familiar references. Most importantly, we seem hard wired at the most basic level to ask not 'what' made that noise, caused that rock to fall, rattled that tree, caused the sun to go dark midday, but rather 'who' made/caused/rattled these things. I wonder if it's part of the caveman fight-or-flight instinct; we hear/see something strange and as a survival instinct the first thing we're on the lookout for is a 'who' rather than an innocuous 'what.' From there, our higher imaginations take over and poof - religion.

All: I'm thoroughly inspired. Next few hundred spare bucks I have goes into a couple of online courses, inching towards that Anthro degree. ;-)
Comment by Daniel W on January 6, 2010 at 10:46pm
Jo Jerome,

You don't know how good your comment made me feel. I worried that people might either think this group was stealth-apologist, or religion bashing. You completely "get" the idea. Thank you so much.

Bill
Thing is, I am currently of the opinion that much of religious belief is physiological, not cultural.In medicine, they teach a "bio-psycho-social" model of disease. The development of many illnesses, and the treatment of many diseases, involves aspects that are biological, psychological, and sociological. In different examples, this is weighted more toward one than the others, but often all 3 have signicant roles. It's kind of live the "nature/nurture" arguments. The real answer is "both".

I'm very glad you're in this group as well. This is great!
Comment by William Hopper on January 6, 2010 at 7:00pm
(I'm a religious history guy by trade... the antho is just a curiosity.)
Comment by William Hopper on January 6, 2010 at 6:49pm
Jo Jerome: I've been working on exactly that sort of thing of late... religious antho. I'm a bit stymied in my thought process atm though. Thing is, I am currently of the opinion that much of religious belief is physiological, not cultural. I think it's a sort of replacement for parental nurturing that we're hardwired to need. Mommy and Daddy become God Almighty as we get older, basically. Like Mommy and Daddy, God has all the answers, knows what is good and bad, and will punish or reward you based on your behavior.

Just throwing that thought out there for discussion...
Comment by Jo Jerome on January 6, 2010 at 6:11pm
I just keep finding cool groups on this site!

While on one side of it I'm very angry at the religious 'indoctrination' of mainstream society, of institutions that exploit people and religion for political gain, and of the general ignorance of the supposedly educated ...

On the other side of it, we learn a lot about a culture from its religion. It is my geeky dream to study cultural anthropology (and that dream is very soon, if gradually, to become reality). My emphasis will be on religion and mythology and how they play in to a society's dynamics. How we can extrapolate that from scraps of text, artifacts, where and when the people lived. In short, I dream of being the one on the Discovery Channel at the dig site saying, "This is what we think a day in the life of this ancient village was, and here's how we came to those theories..."

Atheist Nexus continues to be such an awesome site to bounce ideas off of people. Lots of inspiration for me to start those online courses and doggie paddle ever so slowly towards my Discovery Channel dream!
Comment by Daniel W on December 27, 2009 at 6:20am
Fred,

Sorry about the title change on the other thread. I second guess myself all of the time. It's just part of my nature.

I read the Paul Bloom interview in the article below. It makes sense to me that humans are "hard wired" to be religious. Of course, that doesn't make religion beneficial in the modern age - but understanding that it is "hard wired" might help us learn how to deal with that aspect of our characters.
Comment by Daniel W on December 26, 2009 at 8:41pm
Fred,
Taking from your comment, I googled on Pascal Boyer, got his website here. and the following comment on his site: "N a t u r a l n e s s o f R e l i g i o n

This cognitive framework was developed to account for the recurrent properties of religious concepts and norms in different cultures. The latter are parasitic upon standard cognitive systems that evolved outside of religion, such as agency-detection, moral intuition, coalitional psychology and contagion-avoidance. Religious concepts and norms can be explained as a by-product of standard cognitive architecture." This looks like "meme" theory, am I correct?

So this would be his book, "ReligionExplained

The Evolutionary Foundations of Religious Belief
Random House (UK) and Basic Books (USA), 2001". It looks like it examines the idea of religion, rather than specific religions. Is that correct? SHould it be a recommendation for our reading list?

I did find this Atlantic article about Paul Bloom. "Wired for Creationism". Does he have a web page or particular book that you are referring to?
Comment by Daniel W on November 30, 2009 at 8:57pm
This discussion group is new and will probably take some time to get off the ground. If nothing else, it will give me a more focused effort into looking at religions.

I'm not much into arguing with theists, but it would be interesting to comment to someone, for example, "I think christmas is a really interesting holiday. I like the way that it echos the birth stories of Osiris, with the divine son coming down from heaven. And the story of Attis, a Phrygian god from Asia Minor, who was Born on December 25 to a virgin mother, later sacrificed his life so he could save all humanity from eternal torment, and died at Easter of acute crucifixion, and descended for three days into the underworld. On Easter Sunday, he rose again. and And Mithra, the Unconquerable Sun, who did battle on behalf of humanity, died a martyr, and rose again.

It's so cool how the same stories echo, and sometimes are derived from one another. I think they tell about universal needs of humanity, at a point in our social evolution.

I don't like fighting with people. I would rather leave them thinking - "he knows some interesting stuff'' and maybe plant a seed of critical thinking.

I agree with you that religious people probably think they are doing good.
 

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