[ExI] Ants for spike! Dawkins and Wilson

Emlyn emlynoregan at gmail.com
Mon Nov 16 03:45:50 UTC 2009

2009/11/16 Mike Dougherty <msd001 at gmail.com>:
> On Sun, Nov 15, 2009 at 3:14 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
>> I can see that and raise you one.  My own experience in that area is with
>> a
>> particular religion that is not only a belief system but also very much a
>> culture.  When one is immersed in that culture, it soon becomes apparent
>> to
>> the analytical type, that acceptance of the culture is actually more
>> important than actual belief in, or worship of, the particular higher
>> power.
>> [snip]
>> Observations or questions welcome on these comments.

Absolutely. I doubt that most "believers" *really* believe. Instead,
religion is conflated with culture & community. The special days on
the calendar, the rituals, the traditions? That's all culture. The
people, the connections, the support? That's all community.

I think the religion part, the actual profession of belief in
irrational stuff, is partly about group bonding (it shows you are
committed to the group, to prefer it over rationality, to show you
wont be a stick in the mud about odd stuff), and also just a
convenient focus for building culture and community.

I've noticed that religious groups only need one focus. The old
churches (*) that focus on ritual and tradition, can be loose with
everything else, so gays, women priests, social justice, all good. The
evangelicals, otoh, throw out all that stuff, and base their identity
on being, well, rigid closed minded bastards really.

(*) Except the catholics. They are a world unto themselves. My theory
is firstly that they aim at a generally lower socio-economic group,
and so they base identity around simple rules with thick black lines
(eg: No Condoms!). Secondly, they really do seem to be about
persistent institution; so much they (the institution) do is about
continuing the church, regardless of anything else. Mostly you can
pick a catholic pretty much immediately on meeting them; it seems to
grind in deep.

> My wife asked me to join her for church today.  I'm not sure what value she
> finds- possibly a place to socialize with a closed-network of friends.
> Whatever.  I find it an interesting hour to speculate about why people feel
> compelled to congregate in the name of *whoever's-name-they-congregate-in*.
> Seems like there should be a reason for it.  I find myself thinking
> hyperrationally about evolutionary psychology (thanks to Keith for the
> introduction) and church politics and group dynamics and mathematics.
> During all this thought about others, I realized there is another
> observation in my mind about my own thinking.  Am I incapable of the kinds
> of emotional investment of the people around me?  They're jumping up and
> down and earnestly singing praise to someone I am unable to see.  I wondered
> if others on this list experience the same sense of disconnect from "fellow"
> humans while immersed in this type of gathering.  Then I started on a
> feedback process imagining that maybe others in the room have a similar
> sense of disconnect and that they each manifest it differently - perhaps I
> am simply unaware of their internal state and am mis-perceiving the
> situation.  Then I started to imagine that it doesn't really matter what
> they're doing, because this is time for me to be myself and think whatever I
> want - so I imagined why this deity stuff matters to so many people in so
> many cultures...

Regular services are actually damned cool if you can look past the
religion stuff. These people get together once a week for an hour or
two to think & talk about deeper issues of what it is to be human. If
you did that right, well, it could be a really good thing.


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