Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

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Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#1  Postby archibald » Jan 10, 2019 11:41 pm

“The highest ideal that a person holds - either consciously or subconsciously - that is their god”

Discuss.

To get the ball rolling, consider.......rationality. Let's say a lot of people do (and have, perhaps especially many philosophers) considered this as something of an ideal, the idea of a rational man (person, obviously). Many atheists may be included here, I'm suggesting.

Of course, by 'god' we don't mean a supernatural, controlling entity, we mean something which might be called a 'drive' or a psychological force. Perhaps those aren't even the right words. But something that effectively acts in many of the same ways (perhaps not all) as a god, or indeed, in some ways, as a religion, as something...dare I say...revered, possibly even sacred (in a secular sense). Possibly even worshipped, no matter how controversial that may sound (and I'm sure it will, to some, it does even to me).

Now consider this. There is no such thing as a rational human. It does not exist.

Further, as Voltaire said, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him". Well, what have some people been doing these last few centuries, if not trying to invent perfectly rational entities? Ok, perhaps machines and then computers are not exactly that, but virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa go a bit further than a computer. And then there's robots. How long have we been trying to create those? Heck, a lot of them even look like us.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#2  Postby archibald » Jan 10, 2019 11:41 pm

Error. Double post.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#3  Postby felltoearth » Jan 10, 2019 11:54 pm

archibald wrote:
Of course, by 'god' we don't mean a supernatural, controlling entity, we mean something which might be called a 'drive' or a psychological force. Perhaps those aren't even the right words. But something that effectively acts in many of the same ways (perhaps not all) as a god, or indeed, in some ways, as a religion, as something...dare I say...revered, possibly even sacred (in a secular sense). Possibly even worshipped, no matter how controversial that may sound (and I'm sure it will, to some, it does even to me).


I agree. There is no need to call your highest ideal a god. It’s an ideal, simple as that.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#4  Postby archibald » Jan 11, 2019 12:08 am

felltoearth wrote:I agree. There is no need to call your highest ideal a god. It’s an ideal, simple as that.


I agree. There is no need to call it a god. And because of the baggage associated with that word, it might be counter-productive, or even arguably wrong.

On the other hand, if we are prepared to accept the word nonetheless (as it often colloquially is accepted) then we can still discuss it.

Did someone once say something about money being 'god'? I seem to recall. There's also 'shopping is the new religion'.

I also do agree with some of the things Émile Durkheim said about non-supernatural religion, and that people can be religious in the non-theistic, non-supernatural sense.

Or, if you prefer sticking to the word ideal, then how close does that come to being like the psychological/cultural role a 'god' plays? Or by saying 'I agree' to the part of my post you quoted, are you already agreeing that it's 'a lot like a god', in the ways I suggested? If you had said, 'I agree (with the above)... but ....there is no need to call it a god....' I would be clearer on what you meant.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#5  Postby felltoearth » Jan 11, 2019 1:11 am

I think as you are finding, this is a difficult question to answer mainly because the concept of god is incoherent, and inconsistent from person to person.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#6  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Jan 11, 2019 2:07 am

The definition of "god" is not "ones highest ideal".

Ones highest ideal could certainly have the attributes of a god and be one. It isn't necessarily though.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#7  Postby Fenrir » Jan 11, 2019 2:36 am

“The highest ideal that a person holds - either consciously or subconsciously - that is their god”

Discuss.


self-serving bullshit with no intrinsic meaning

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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#8  Postby Thommo » Jan 11, 2019 5:14 am

It's meaningless to me as well. By "god" someone means a divine, intelligent, conscious agent, with powers unimaginably far beyond those of mortal man that is an object of worship.

So if we talk about some value (and there isn't necessarily a highest one at all, maybe my desire for oxygen? For the right temperature? Those are the things that if absent would give me the most rapid and immediate directive to act.), thought, feeling, philosophy or other mental structure (and again, we're playing fast and loose here, those are words we assign to form categories that are just representations, not the things themselves) then it corresponds with not a single one of the key defining features of a god.

So why call it a god? Why not a tax return, an interesting piece of musical theatre, that feeling you get when you wake up 13 minutes before the alarm goes off and you try and decide whether you'll feel better or worse if you go back to sleep?
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#9  Postby Hermit » Jan 11, 2019 6:48 am

archibald wrote:“The highest ideal that a person holds - either consciously or subconsciously - that is their god”

No, it's not. The highest ideal that a person holds is their highest ideal.

Can you point out a practical use for this simile? Until you convince me that there is one, it flies exactly, as Douglas Adams quipped, like a brick doesn't.

Also, what is the subconscious? Is it the missing link between the conscious and the unconscious? Once you've explained that to me, please prove to me that since I do not consciously hold my highest ideal to be my god, I do so subconsciously.

archibald wrote:There is no need to call it a god. And because of the baggage associated with that word, it might be counter-productive, or even arguably wrong.

Cool. That's settled then. We shall now leave the simile in the colloquial sphere, which is exactly where it belongs, and turn to more important matters. I, for one, shall head for the bathroom and brush my teeth. Very, very important. I do that at least twice a day. Religiously. :P
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#10  Postby archibald » Jan 11, 2019 10:46 am

Rachel Bronwyn wrote:The definition of "god" is not "ones highest ideal".

Ones highest ideal could certainly have the attributes of a god and be one. It isn't necessarily though.


Yes, the former is not being suggested. It's more about the latter. And as you say, it's not likely to be a 1-on-1 comparison. The OP quote could be changed to, 'whatever is your ideal (if you have one), that which you believe in most strongly, it is in some ways the nearest thing to being your god'. For some people, it might be very close to being like a god, to others it might not be so close.

Personally, I do think there's interesting mileage in the idea. Possibly even room for common ground between 'believers' of...all sorts. :)
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#11  Postby archibald » Jan 11, 2019 10:50 am

felltoearth wrote:I think as you are finding, this is a difficult question to answer mainly because the concept of god is incoherent, and inconsistent from person to person.


It is a difficult (though imo interesting) question, partly as you say because there is variegation, but variegation does not (I'm thinking) imply incoherence. Lots of things are variegated and complex. Arguably all human thinking and behaviour in fact.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#12  Postby archibald » Jan 11, 2019 10:55 am

Hermit wrote:
archibald wrote:“The highest ideal that a person holds - either consciously or subconsciously - that is their god”

No, it's not. The highest ideal that a person holds is their highest ideal.

Can you point out a practical use for this simile? Until you convince me that there is one, it flies exactly, as Douglas Adams quipped, like a brick doesn't.

Also, what is the subconscious? Is it the missing link between the conscious and the unconscious? Once you've explained that to me, please prove to me that since I do not consciously hold my highest ideal to be my god, I do so subconsciously.

archibald wrote:There is no need to call it a god. And because of the baggage associated with that word, it might be counter-productive, or even arguably wrong.

Cool. That's settled then. We shall now leave the simile in the colloquial sphere, which is exactly where it belongs, and turn to more important matters. I, for one, shall head for the bathroom and brush my teeth. Very, very important. I do that at least twice a day. Religiously. :P


I'm not going to try to convince you to take the idea seriously. :)

That said, maybe look at it this way....lol (after me just saying I'm not going to try to convince you). God is (imo) almost certainly just an idea in our head, and religion just the communal/institutional manifestation of such a thing. Now, as far as I know, there is no neural correlate for god or religion that has been found to be present in the ('normal') brains of theists that is absent in the ('normal') brains of atheists. As such, it seems plausible that most people's brains are operating in similar fashion, but that different modes are labelled and expressed and conceived of differently. Theists and atheists are really 'just people' after all.

As to subconsciousness, yes, that may not be the best word. Maybe non-consciousness is better. Either way, I'm not seeing it as central.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#13  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 11, 2019 10:57 am

archibald wrote:
felltoearth wrote:I think as you are finding, this is a difficult question to answer mainly because the concept of god is incoherent, and inconsistent from person to person.


It is a difficult (though imo interesting) question, partly as you say because there is variegation, but variegation does not (I'm thinking) imply incoherence. Lots of things are variegated and complex. Arguably all human thinking and behaviour in fact.


Ah, well. People have deeply personal excuses for some of their "thinking". Let's strike a blow for tolerance, paradoxical as it may seem.
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Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#14  Postby archibald » Jan 11, 2019 11:05 am

Thommo wrote:It's meaningless to me as well. By "god" someone means a divine, intelligent, conscious agent, with powers unimaginably far beyond those of mortal man that is an object of worship.


That is what is often or commonly meant, yes, but that is not what is being suggested. There is no suggestion that this has anything at all to do with that sort of god.

Thommo wrote:So if we talk about some value (and there isn't necessarily a highest one at all, maybe my desire for oxygen? For the right temperature? Those are the things that if absent would give me the most rapid and immediate directive to act.), thought, feeling, philosophy or other mental structure (and again, we're playing fast and loose here, those are words we assign to form categories that are just representations, not the things themselves) then it corresponds with not a single one of the key defining features of a god.


I can't say what your highest ideal is, or even if you have one. I'm not sure I have one. I'm not much of a 'believer' in anything, in some ways, at least in some ways (I'm actually curious as to what my highest ideal, the thing I believe in the most, actually is, though I am accepting that belief will be involved).

Thommo wrote:So why call it a god? Why not a tax return, an interesting piece of musical theatre, that feeling you get when you wake up 13 minutes before the alarm goes off and you try and decide whether you'll feel better or worse if you go back to sleep?


I don't understand the question. Why not call it god? Or if you like the nearest equivalent thing to god?

I'm also not sure what you mean by for example tax return. Do you mean why not call a tax return god (in which case the answer would be that a tax return is not a belief) or do you mean why not say that belief in the importance of filling in a tax return is like believing in a god (in which case the answer might be that you theoretically could, if the importance of filling in a tax return was the most important thing that you believed in, your highest ideal, but I'm not sure if it is for anyone I know).

This topic is essentially about what you believe in, the most. As such, that feeling you get when you wake up 13 minutes before the alarm goes off, might not qualify, even if it involves a belief or beliefs.

Now, you personally might not have such a belief. But I think may do.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#15  Postby surreptitious57 » Jan 12, 2019 12:07 pm

The most important part of a word is the definition because without that it is entirely meaningless
You can call your highest ideal whatever you want as long as the definition is sufficiently rigorous

God = highest possible ideal is therefore absolutely fine as long as you only use this definition and no others
Once others are introduced this muddies the waters with metaphysics and ambiguity and blah blah blah blah

There should be a universal rule for all languages which should be : one word / one definition
Of course the real problem here is with human beings rather than with any language they use

The ambiguity in communication is a consequence of the ambiguity of our psychological existence and the human condition
We are not always precise and clear in our thinking and understanding of our selves so naturally it is reflected in our words
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#16  Postby Thommo » Jan 12, 2019 12:08 pm

archibald wrote:I don't understand the question. Why not call it god? Or if you like the nearest equivalent thing to god?


Because words have meanings, if one intends to communicate. There's no point in calling someone's highest ideal "god", it's 100% guaranteed to mislead people, and I just don't see the point in that any more than calling my highest ideal a "tax return" or a "syringe".

Now fair enough, if that was just a comment you added for flavour and what you actually want to talk about is what people's highest ideal is. I guess I wouldn't say I have one. It's not a concept I identify with.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#17  Postby Fallible » Jan 12, 2019 12:14 pm

Well, yes. How about if I don't want to call anything god? It's not like we have all these words in our language and each one has to be ascribed a meaning. Don't need a word, don't use a word. Need a word, use the word that describes what you need it for.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#18  Postby archibald » Jan 12, 2019 3:15 pm

Thommo wrote:... and what you actually want to talk about is what people's highest ideal is.


Sort of. What interested me were the ways in which having a highest ideal might be, psychologically, like having a god.
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#19  Postby Thommo » Jan 12, 2019 3:40 pm

Fair enough. I don't think I have anything useful to add then, never having had what I'd call either.

I'll let the better situated continue the discussion!
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Re: Non-supernatural 'religion' and 'god'

#20  Postby CdesignProponentsist » Jan 12, 2019 5:27 pm

Calling a 'drive' or 'psychological force' force a 'god' is giving it too much credit. By that same criteria I could call my dick 'god'.

As for a religion without the super natural, all you have left is ritual and philosophy. Arguably the best parts of any religion.
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