Previous posts in this discussion:
PostReligion, the "Common Masses," and "God the Universe"; Response to Richard Hancock (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 08/29/16 8:35 am)
Richard Hancock (26 August) thinks that my definition of God as the Universe enables a religion which may "be fine for elite, educated people, but ... will [not] attract the common masses. Christianity has grown so rapidly because people found a leader who identified with them, the common people. ... People need a model to pattern their behavior on, and Christ is unexcelled for this purpose."
Contrary to all organized religions, mine does not have an "establishment" supporting priests and organizations to run the religion as a business. Thus, it is not important to me if the "common masses" believe as I do. It took more than fifty years for me to arrive at what I think is the most spiritually fulfilling, intellectually stable, explanation for God and the universe. Without a relatively deep understanding of science and the wide use of scientific methods to discover new knowledge about God the Universe, such a religion is not possible. Thus, it would be too much for me to expect that uneducated people without even a minimum knowledge of science to embrace a religion which proposes "a God for Atheists and Scientists," the title for my book.
As discussed in the book, even though I think all organized religions are detrimental to mankind's long-term well-being, I refuse to pick anyone's specific religion for criticism. People must be allowed to believe whatever they want, from voodoo and black magic to the most sanctimonious socially politically well-established religions. Thus it is with interest and respect that I read Richard's story.
As commented by John Eipper, "sometimes you want your religion to be tangible and immediate. Latin America, with its ubiquitous religious imagery, fits the bill." No one can deny that any religion can provide immediate solace to believers under pain and stress; indeed I have seen a person's faith in a specific religion save him or her from the ravages of drugs, crime, or probable suicide. Nevertheless, besides the increasing problem of interreligious violence, the biggest problem with organized religions is that they have led mankind nowhere as a whole. Without science, mankind would still live in caves eating raw meat despite following their religions over the centuries.
To understand the real world we need scientific knowledge. We need to educate the masses, not condemn them to embrace superstition for lack of understanding about what is real, what may be real, and what is not possible based on scientific knowledge which over time has expanded and become immutable like God, the Truth. Another important benefit from shared scientific knowledge that works in everyday practice is improved communication between individuals, organizations, and nations. Science is a common denominator for all civilizations. Yes, one can use science to build weapons of war, but mostly science has been a source of good technology and innovation capable of improving mankind's quality of life. The definition of God as the Universe which has created itself provides the basis for more emphasis on scientific development. For ethical behavior, all we need is to jealously enforce democratically the Golden Rule: Don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you.
In view of the obvious necessity for increasing scientific knowledge, a disturbing sign is that, perhaps in frustration, religious leaders increasingly show disrespect for scientific knowledge; to them incredibly and incorrectly faith should trump science. This blindness to scientific facts underlies much of the social, economic, and political behavior which has brought us to today's reality: a world incapable of living without very destructive wars, massive flows of refugees, growing poverty, environment pollution, increasing scarcity of fresh water, increasing encounters with microorganisms capable of defeating our most powerful antibiotics, etc. A religion based on science hopefully provides the way to reverse all these negative trends, lest mankind destroy itself by default while indulging in mysticism and the adoration of false gods.
JE comments: Tor Guimaraes calls for uplifting the masses, not "dumbing down" to them with pageantry and myth. But how do you satisfy the seemingly universal thirst for spirituality with a religion based on the scientific method?
Talking Religion with a Friend; from Ric Mauricio
(John Eipper, USA
08/30/16 1:17 PM)
Ric Mauricio writes:
I was having a discussion about religion with a friend (one of many over the years) and he lamented that he seemed to be losing his faith (in religion). I countered that he was instead becoming more enlightened, breaking the bindings of religious teachings that depended on him believing in unsubstantiated and doubtful beliefs.
When people ask me if I am religious, I counter that I am not, that I am more spiritual. Indeed, if one studies the teachings of Jesus, one will find that he was antagonistic against the religious and focused more on spirituality. But the apostle Paul (a Pharisee background), brought the Church back into the mainline religious thought process, because he knew that in order to grow the church, he would need to gather the non-thinkers into the fold.
When I read Richard Hancock's posting of August 26th, my thinking was he was saying is that the rise of any religion depends on the oratorical skills of its evangelists and the willingness of its adherents to believe in anything without much thought. Therefore, the more educated thinkers would turn more towards an elitist viewpoint. Thus, it is much easier to gather religious adherents because the majority of people would rather be spoon-fed beliefs than (as Hercule Poirot would say), use their little gray cells.
Couple this thought with Constantine I's ambition to solidify his political power in the Roman Empire. It is said that Constantine's model was that political power grows out of the point of a sword ... a religious sword. Who was it who said that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun? Ah yes, Mao. Communism, though it deems itself to be anti-religious, is a religion, a forced belief that the human gods of the Party will take care of you.
Yes, I agree that Tor's spirituality would be challenging to gather adherents, because the majority mankind have all have been brainwashed since birth. It would be challenging to break free of that brainwashing. But I do not believe that Tor has the ambition to become the Pope of a new religion. To do so would only contradict the essence of his spirituality.
JE comments: I don't know as much as I should about the early expansion of Christianity. What evidence do we have that Constantine converted for political expediency?
- Reason, Faith, and Sor Juana (John Heelan, UK 08/30/16 2:41 PM)
John E responded to Tor Guimaraes on August 29th: "How do you satisfy the seemingly universal thirst for spirituality with a religion based on the scientific method?"
Good point! How could one meld science (rational) with religious faith (mainly irrational)?
JE comments: There it is, in a nutshell. Tor has sent further thoughts on his religious thought, which I'll post by tomorrow. (A fairly large backlog has built up at WAIS Central.) For now, I'll sign off with Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz's 17th-century description of theology as the "Madre de las Ciencias." Was Juana a precursor of Guimaraesism?
- Further Reflections on My Religious Belief (Tor Guimaraes, USA 08/31/16 9:06 AM)
I summarize my thoughts on religion as follows: 1. The biggest problem with organized religions (including voodoo, black magic, etc.) is that they have led mankind nowhere as a whole. Without science, humans would still be living in caves and eating raw meat despite following their religions over the centuries. 2. In view of the obvious necessity for increasing scientific knowledge, a disturbing sign is that, perhaps in frustration, religious leaders increasingly show disrespect for scientific knowledge; to them incredibly and incorrectly faith should trump science. This blindness to scientific facts underlies much of the social, economic, and political behavior which has brought us to today's reality: a world incapable of living without very destructive wars, massive flows of refugees, growing poverty, environment pollution, increasing scarcity of fresh water, increasing encounters with microorganisms capable of defeating our most powerful antibiotics, etc. 3. A religion based on science hopefully provides the way to reverse all these negative trends, lest mankind destroy itself by default while indulging in mysticism and the adoration of false gods.
To that John Eipper commented: "Tor Guimaraes calls for uplifting the masses, not 'dumbing down' to them with pageantry and myth. But how do you satisfy the seemingly universal thirst for spirituality with a religion based on the scientific method?" Subsequently John Heelan in a 30 August post stated: "Good point! How could one meld science (rational) with religious faith (mainly irrational)?"
First, I would hope by now that John E understood that the scientific methods devised by researchers to learn about God the Universe are merely important man-made tools but not part of the religion. Only thoroughly validated and stable scientific knowledge (Science) accumulated over time is knowledge about God.
To answer John's question, the definition for spirituality has changed dramatically over time but I believe that in any case there is nothing more spiritual than the truth about God the Universe. How anyone would not feel the spirit while contemplating some of the images of the Universe is beyond my understanding. Could anyone actually prefer some man-made religious ritual? Maybe so. Anyone can believe whatever they want, and they do. Some people may find scientific knowledge boring, and might prefer black magic or some other religion, or hallucinogenic drugs. Just remember the three items enumerated above and that there is a heavy price to pay for our stupidity and ignorance. The Universe owes us nothing, we owe It everything.
Furthermore, if we all agree that science is rational and religious faith is mainly irrational. that science has been the only saving endeavor of mankind, how can we allow the madness to continue without resistance? Why do we say that education is important but we do a poor job at it for the masses? Why do we not seriously fight to control the obviously devastating problems for mankind enumerated above? Why do we seem to say one thing but behave as if we don't mean it?
As I re-read my own book I keep learning new things. My latest lesson learned is that our personal definition of God, whether we like it or not, whether we are aware of it not, is the most important thing in our lives. It determines who we are, how we feel, our attitude about life, and what we do. A person can say they belong to religion X and believe god Y but often are fooling themselves and those who listen to them. Look at the person and their behavior, and if they are different from what they are saying, they actually follow a different god and it could be anything: anger, hate, violence, money, power, sex, drugs, icons, etc. I believe that is why the world is increasingly such a mess. We live in a real Universe but we behave as if we live in an irrational one.
JE comments: Tor Guimaraes has resisted the labeling of his religious belief as "Deism," although to my mind it has much in common with the Jeffersonian concept of God. When commenting John Heelan's post of 30 August, I called Tor's religious "Guimaraesism." I hope Tor doesn't mind the neologism.
Tor: keep us updated on your book, and let us know when it becomes available.
- Reason, Faith, and Sor Juana (John Heelan, UK 08/30/16 2:41 PM)