A response to: It's necessary in the second half of life to develop a religious attitude

By Not the Territory · May 6, 2022 · ·
  1. This was going to be a comment but it kept going and going, so it gets its own blog post.

    Groundwork: I want to be clear that I'm not hatin' on @Xoic or the video's creator. I think ideas are good, period. People should have more ideas and think more in general, and both Xoic and the creator are very smart people who have lots of ideas. That said, I wholly disagree with the video.

    The video in question: . Good for context.

    Problem 1: You cannot take Jesus out of the Church.
    Sorry Jehova's, but there is no virginal scripture. The essayist suggests people not learn from organized religion, but mysticism/spirituality derived from source texts. It's a Martin Luther appeal. However, books like the various bibles and koran have only proliferated and lasted generations due to organization. The best that essayist can say is for people not to look to recent organized religion.

    Problem 2: Paraphrase: "Meaning requires religion, and lack of meaning makes people abuse substances and seek shallow pleasures, therefore a lack of religion is an illness to the individual."
    That's a hard beg. "Meaning requires religion" is the lynch pin of the entire argument, and it's scrawny. Meaning can be something as universal as trying to improve health. Health is a real thing; you don't have to adopt any religion to recognize it and there is nothing supernatural about it. Meaning requires only requires its observation and a personal sense of agency. That will involve philosophy, yes, but certainly does not require the religion aspect of philosophy. Matter matters, we perceive matter, and we already have emotions (short and long-term) hard-coded into us to know what materials and matters mean to us.

    My thoughts:
    Humanity into its nihilistic adolescent stage. It isn't just religion people don't believe in anymore, everything else has been torn to shreds. We're taught to dismiss a good chunk of our history, our ancestors, our parents, our nations, to accuse entire sexes of transgression—of course it's hard to find meaning! Everything is bad, unworthy. The only thing that is sacred anymore is groups (they are liquid, you can retroactively join and remove members), which is why everyone tries to join one kind of category or other.

    Jesus is the training wheels. He's perfect and he's dead. Dead people stay perfect. You strive to be like Jesus and perfect, but of course never attain it. The human psyche has to learn that a person's failings don't limit his successes, that you can strive strictly for someone's positive qualities. Humanity has to outgrow Jesus (and the other analogues) and find ironclad meaning by accepting the imperfection of self and heroes while still working to reduce said imperfection.

    True strength comes not when your idol can't be torn down, but when you have the constitution to independently maintain a drive for good even when your best idol has been rightfully torn down. Humanity isn't there yet. It needs to learn.

    If this is offensive to anyone please note that I accept your offence as fully justified. I also have no credentials or authority. I might not even have an education, and am merely a random person soapboxing that has no effect on anything.


  1. Foxxx
    Well said.

    You might be right that you can't take Jesus out of the church, if our concept of Jesus comes from scripture that was essentially created by the original church. I agree that one need not look to contemporary organized religion; I think, especially in the context of humanity's "nihilistic adolescent stage" that this is important. I wish more people would read the scripture itself, hear what their priest or religious leader has to say, read what philosophers like Kierkegaard had to say, or more modern thinkers / apologists like C.S. Lewis, and come to their own individualized, nuanced, complex, and work-in-progress belief.

    Alas, that is not what most people look for.

    I think meaning requires some level of faith and agency. Faith because our knowledge and awareness is limited, and because we are also limited by mortality. Agency for the simple fact that we give things meaning, or at least meaning is only found/discovered because of us.

    To me, I tend to understand religiosity and faith synonymously as the capacity for navigating the unknown. A capacity for belief. But I am a mere layman.
      Not the Territory likes this.
  2. Not the Territory
    You're definitely on a smart track. I think the most highly regarded philosophers, religious or otherwise, are constantly re-evaluating, learning, reinforcing their own complex foundations.

    The definition of faith is interesting.

    1st on google dictionary: complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
    2nd: strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

    I don't see as strong a link between faith and religion as others do. I lean towards the first listed definition. We apply faith to not only axioms, little things like the ability to manipulate objects (science builds a massive wobbling tower out of them), but also things that are unknowable without even thinking about it.

    The confidence that you'll still be breathing for the next thirty seconds, or that your car will start in the morning, or that being envious/dick-ish/lazy will likely lead to poor outcomes, does not require religious faith. (Okay sometimes I pray my wagon will start on cold mornings) Those have too much causal complexity to be as blatant as axioms (axioms require no faith) and so they require faith, but are also not spiritual in the slightest IMO. The relationships are clear in spite of having slightly unpredictable outcomes; they don't require mysticism for us to use them in everyday life (again, the '97 wagon being an exception :D).

    I want to be clear that I don't think religion is bad, either. In fact it is still proven to help many people in this era and is likely heavily responsible for civilization today. I just think the claim of necessity, and religion's increasingly blurry definition are both a bit off.
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    1. Foxxx
      Likewise, my own understanding of faith is more in keeping with the first definition, rather than the second definition which is almost more like *a* faith imo.

      I do have a question though: you say that we apply faith to not only axioms, and refer to science, but especially that which is unknowable (even without thinking).

      Later though you say that axioms require no faith.

      I'm not sure if both can be true at the same time, and I was wondering what you think?

      EDIT: also, your point about civilization I think is the very same point Jordan Peterson has tried to make about the inherent Christianity in western culture. At the end of the day, its foundation was simply not laid by science. But the rejection of the religious history, for lack of a better term, has led to a neglect and a jeopardization of the entire jenga tower from the bottom up. We have these principles or ideas that come from somewhere, like the divinity of the individual let's say, but now they're taken for granted and people often can't really articulate why they're important.

      I find it very strange now (moreso than I did as a rebellious teen), the guys like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris who will, justifiably, harangue about Islamic extremism or idiot Creationists or the lowest hanging fruit in the Garden, but say nothing of the ethical and moral disaster that science all too often has been. They make Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park look smart.
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    2. Not the Territory
      Good point.

      We have completely justified faith in axioms, and they don't require the same kind of chance-based faith that we use to navigate life. So I guess the second faith I was referring to was more of a probability faith.

      The example in my mind is that you don't ever have to wonder if a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. We live in a pretty Euclidian world. No reliance on the supernatural or chance is required for that faith. That's a boon for science... at least when science is rigorous enough and interpreted properly.

      On the other hand, a belief in chance (which come from observing evidence and weighing past outcomes) is required to navigate the more complex parts of life. It can be partially substituted with spiritual faith, and it usually is.

      I don't see why the divinity of the individual cannot be substituted with the empathetic realisation of the second person's mind. When the notion is steeped in either ethics or religion, you'd better hope the civilization counts you as an individual, lol.

      Science and religion are such broad topics. To be honest, I'm not even sure they are sisterly enough in their set to even be compared to each other. Science is just method to reach objectivity. Bad people can misuse that. Bad people can find a way to just about misuse everything. Religious faith leads to organization, because unity is one of its prime goals, and unity will always be potential for exploitation. This is the downside of nations and parties, too; more a human problem than a religion one.
      Foxxx likes this.
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