[ExI] The sky is falling!

Michael Miller ain_ani at yahoo.com
Sat Mar 28 13:54:15 UTC 2009

>>>Religion appears to fulfill some basic needs that
>>> many people feel, and their generosity is an expression of that.
>>> However, for the vast majority of religious people, it is a service
>>> they buy, not an investment made to increase their future earnings.
>>> Religion is in a similar infotainment category to romance novels, or
>>> ESPN subscriptions, and comparing it to oil futures investment would a
>>> be a category error.
>> It's an investment in time and money which people hope will pay off in
>> the afterlife. It is true that, as spike pointed out, for many church
>> is a pleasant social experience, but I doubt that attendance would be
>> as high if they really believed it was all a fantasy, like a romance
>> novel.
>### Of course most of them believe it's real but this is not the
>exclusive or main reason why they attend and pay. AFAIK (I may be
>wrong, since this is alien thought-space for me) they want a
>"spiritual experience", in addition to the social context. Also, the
>payoff is a matter of faith, as any real Christian would tell you, not
>a reasoned expectation, and this differs greatly from buying oil
>futures where expectations are based on previously gathered
>empirically observable data in the form of money in your account and
>in the accounts of other traders.

I'd have to side with Rafal on this one: Religion, from my own experience and studies, is less about the future and more about the now: it is the way it feels to participate which prompts people to continue. 'Religion' as we know it now has developed from several different roots, but a principal one is the way that ritual feels when performed: Mass is just as much participation in a spiritual event as an Amazonian tribe taking psychoactives and drumming or chanting themselves into another kind of consciousness. It makes reality seem 'more real', more powerful, more meaningful. And those experiences form part of a larger metaphysics of the meaning of life and one's own place in the grand scheme. 

However, I think very few religious people would articulate their faith as coldly as in terms of 'pay-off' as it really isn't about reward (except perhaps for conservative Christians), or about dying, it's about doing this business of 'living' in a meaningful way. And because of this, I think that perhaps this idea that the truth or falsehood of religion is the principal question is misleading: it's more to do with the framework it provides, than the actual beliefs it provides, which are more like tools for one's approach to life.

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