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Posts: 111/117
(30-Jul-2009 at 03:48)
Religion vs. Fiction

I have struggled with the following for a while. I dont say it as an offensive statement, but as a real question I have been mulling over.

Why is religion any different from any other fiction?

I know you could get into the function of religion, the legacy through human history, purpose of theology, social stigma surrounding it, ect... but there seems to be a big divide between, for example, the story of Jesus vs. the story of Neo in the Matrix.

Why does religion receive absolute clout and fiction is understood to be fiction?



I can sit here and think about many different points of view, but it always returns to me being at a loss for a real answer. Any ideas?

Only the ignorant have the capacity to be offended.
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(30-Jul-2009 at 13:28)


Simple: belief.

Reading or watching fiction was described by Coleridge as "that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment", while the whole point of religion is belief. We all know that Neo is not real; the religious believe that their deity is real.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
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Posts: 2523/2825
(30-Jul-2009 at 14:44)


Simple. Society. It makes a clear distinction between fiction and religion. We are raised to beleif one is simple entertainment while the other is truth or at least enough people consier it truth to desrve a special place and respect

The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common; they don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit the views
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(31-Jul-2009 at 02:40)


Religion commands obedience in ingenious ways; It's a closed mythological thought system with a monopoly on value- and truth-claims. Any critical (self-)questioning is by (subconscious) definition pride and heresy against the Almighty and his Community. Any non-scriptural counter-evidence is by definition not allowed onto the table as evidence. Most personal - and any 'trans-rational' - experience is automatically subsumed by and interpreted through the orienting framework of the myths, further reinforcing it.

Now the Wachowski brothers certainly got game too, and you'll even find some people that genuinely believe Neo is the messiah and the Matrix contains a hidden new Gospel if you look hard enough, but it's not the type of fiction that has evolved a bastion of non-falsifiability over thousands of years just yet..

Your brain is unique in the history of the universe. Use it wisely.
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(31-Jul-2009 at 08:42)


Because people want to believe they won't just happen to rot in the ground and want to continue to exist. Most are told that's what God does for them from a very young age, and some eventually grow up to think that they know specifically what God would want. God is passed on from generation to generation, Neo is in a movie...

If all else fails, call someone a troll.
that can be fixed... / Æ
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(31-Jul-2009 at 16:27)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Greeney: View Post
Because people want to believe they won't just happen to rot in the ground and want to continue to exist. Most are told that's what God does for them from a very young age, and some eventually grow up to think that they know specifically what God would want. God is passed on from generation to generation, Neo is in a movie...
There is probably some of that in it. I think people also want their lives to have some meaning or purpose. Existing for no particular reason reduces us to being pointless, and some people can't cope with that.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
#6  
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Posts: 8113/8194
(31-Jul-2009 at 17:33)
Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Voice of Reason: View Post
There is probably some of that in it. I think people also want their lives to have some meaning or purpose. Existing for no particular reason reduces us to being pointless, and some people can't cope with that.
You often hear that argument, but I have exactly the opposite opinion. If God created us according to some great plan that we are just acting out, then it's all pointless, we are just puppets in a play. If there is no God and no plan, then what we do makes a real difference.
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(01-Aug-2009 at 15:47)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Bernel: View Post
You often hear that argument, but I have exactly the opposite opinion. If God created us according to some great plan that we are just acting out, then it's all pointless, we are just puppets in a play. If there is no God and no plan, then what we do makes a real difference.
So either way we are pointless? Man - that sucks!

I think the theory is that we are fulfilling Gods purpose or plan or whatever, while retaining free will in some freaky way. I have never worked out how that bit works...

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
#8  
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(01-Aug-2009 at 19:41)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Voice of Reason: View Post
So either way we are pointless? Man - that sucks!

I think the theory is that we are fulfilling Gods purpose or plan or whatever, while retaining free will in some freaky way. I have never worked out how that bit works...
If we assume that there is a God who knows what happens no matter what we choose, it doesn't exactly mean that this God is interfering in our choices.

If all else fails, call someone a troll.
that can be fixed... / Æ

Last edited by Greeney, 01-Aug-2009 at 19:42.
#9  
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Posts: 2428/2678
(01-Aug-2009 at 21:17)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Greeney: View Post
If we assume that there is a God who knows what happens no matter what we choose, it doesn't exactly mean that this God is interfering in our choices.
He doesn't have to if he had intent when putting us here knowing how we are going to act.....

"I KEEK A TOUCHDOWN!" - Garo Yepremian
#10  
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Posts: 3150/3642
(01-Aug-2009 at 21:37)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Sister Klon: View Post
He doesn't have to if he had intent when putting us here knowing how we are going to act.....
Just because you know what someone will choose doesn't mean you have taken away their choice. Using the Matrix as an example, what choice did the Oracle make for Neo that he didn't choose for himself? Just because she knew what he would choose, doesn't mean he did it against his will. The idea that a God knows what choices you'll make is nothing more than being able to see the future before it happens.

If all else fails, call someone a troll.
that can be fixed... / Æ

Last edited by Greeney, 01-Aug-2009 at 21:38.
#11  
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Posts: 45/55
(02-Aug-2009 at 05:57)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by IctouCE: View Post
I have struggled with the following for a while. I dont say it as an offensive statement, but as a real question I have been mulling over.

Why is religion any different from any other fiction?
I have thought upon this for much of my life as well. My answer, and this is my personal opinion, is that there isn't any difference between any culture's (past or present) sacred narratives and fiction. There are several examples I would like to reference to discuss this further.

I doubt there is anyone today that when presented a collection of Mesopotamian myth would claim that it is not fiction. But yet, to the people that lived thousands of years ago when these stories emerged on clay tablets in the earliest part of the historical record, the gods and godesses were very real. They had temples erected to worship them and entire legions of priesthoods that dedicated their lives into the appeasement of them with rites and ritual. Yet, can anyone here say they believe in the god Enki or Enlil or Ishtar or Marduk?

We have witnessed in our lifetime a religion created out of fiction called Scientology. Somehow the writings of the renowned science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard was perceived as sacred and indisputable fact and generated a following.

So stories that were once a religion, we now call fiction; and stories that were once fiction we now call religion. To me, it's all fiction. Does this mean that there isn't any historical truth to sacred narratives at all? Of course not but that doesn't make it ALL true. I read a historical fiction not that long ago set in Oxford in the 1660's where some of the characters were based on real people but others were completely created. So while there is some historical truth embedded into this novel, that doesn't alter that it is fiction by its very nature.

“Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood” ~ William Shakespeare
#12  
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(02-Aug-2009 at 09:35)
Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Greeney: View Post
The idea that a God knows what choices you'll make is nothing more than being able to see the future before it happens.
If God hadn't created the world it would make sense to see him as just an all knowing observer, but according to religions he did, and thus he decided exactly what would happen. By changing what the universe looked like at creation he could change the outcome of history and of your decisions. Maybe if he had moved that atom one micron to the west at the start subtle changes would have cascaded through time making you not write the message you just did. Being omniscient God would know.

Originally Posted by Lilydaze:
Somehow the writings of the renowned science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard was perceived as sacred and indisputable fact and generated a following.
It happened because Hubbard wrote them as a new religion. You make it sound as if it was some kind of accident, but Hubbard knew very well what he was doing. BTW, does anyone know how scientologists view Hubbards secular books? Shouldn't those be something of an embarrassment?
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(02-Aug-2009 at 10:18)


Quote:
Just because you know what someone will choose doesn't mean you have taken away their choice.
If the outcome is already known, then there is only one possible outcome, and if there is only one possible outcome there is no choice.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
#14  
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Posts: 633/742
(02-Aug-2009 at 15:21)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Bernel: View Post
You often hear that argument, but I have exactly the opposite opinion. If God created us according to some great plan that we are just acting out, then it's all pointless, we are just puppets in a play. If there is no God and no plan, then what we do makes a real difference.
It works in two directions; if we believe ourselves God's children then our sense of autonomy/freedom ("I am my own whole") is curtailed but our sense of communion/belonging ("I am a part of a bigger whole")is heightened, while if we believe ourselves Godless our experience of autonomy is greatly increased (ex: Enlightenment), but our sense of meaningful belonging, being a part of a greater whole, is diminished.

Humans require both (for their psychological health): to be their own autonomous person, as well as to be part of a meaningful community. Your point of view emphasizes the former need ('what I do can make a difference; membership of a myth-based community makes us into puppets'). It represents the triumph of Rationality over communal Dogma. VoR's comment touches on the latter: without the feeling of being embedded in a greater whole, that same rational Ego drifts towards feelings of atomism. It's not so much being unable to cope with a purposeless existence, as it is the need to also find purpose outside the confines of the individual self. Church is just one
solution to that need, and a by now antiquated one, but believing that removing the religious institutions will not leave a void regarding the essential human need they fulfill, that is a disastrous mistake. One of the downsides of modernity you might say.

I guess what i'm pointing out is, really making a difference requires balancing both an I that understands its own freedom, and a We in which the I can co-realize it and find mutual understanding. Community at the cost of the individual makes us puppets in a play indeed, but individuality at the cost of communion is equally insulting to human nature.

Your brain is unique in the history of the universe. Use it wisely.
#15  
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(02-Aug-2009 at 18:41)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Bernel: View Post
It happened because Hubbard wrote them as a new religion. You make it sound as if it was some kind of accident, but Hubbard knew very well what he was doing. BTW, does anyone know how scientologists view Hubbards secular books? Shouldn't those be something of an embarrassment?
I don't know much about the intent behind the writings of Scientology to be honest, but the point I was trying to make is that we have seen a religion emerge from nothing more than the written text within our lifetime...regardless of what the initial intent of that text was.

Originally Posted by Dusk Illz:
while if we believe ourselves Godless our experience of autonomy is greatly increased (ex: Enlightenment), but our sense of meaningful belonging, being a part of a greater whole, is diminished.
You bring up good reasoning for why religion exists and why people practice religion but I disagree with this statement in particular. I would argue that you don't need to believe in a "God" to feel a sense of belonging with the greater whole of the entire world. Eastern philosophies are based on the primary tenant of oneness with all that is living. Those that feel that segregation based upon specific belief systems achieves a sense of community are missing out on accepting being part of the ultimate community of living beings.

Is it just me, or have we gone a bit off topic here?

“Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood” ~ William Shakespeare
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(03-Aug-2009 at 01:36)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Lilydaze: View Post
You bring up good reasoning for why religion exists and why people practice religion but I disagree with this statement in particular. I would argue that you don't need to believe in a "God" to feel a sense of belonging with the greater whole of the entire world. Eastern philosophies are based on the primary tenant of oneness with all that is living. Those that feel that segregation based upon specific belief systems achieves a sense of community are missing out on accepting being part of the ultimate community of living beings.
That is actually pretty much my point exactly: the basic need we feel isn't to believe in a God, it is to figure out a way of understanding our place in the cosmos and how we relate to other beings. The question of in what way we are part of a greater whole, so to say. Mythic Gods are just one of the answers, as articulated through the worldview of around 2000 years ago, with its corresponding prejudices and blindspots. When we slowly realized those answers didn't suffice, people started becoming less religious, but still no less needy. The question was still as strong as ever. Many Eastern philosophies attempt to offer answers to that same question (some of them while nobly attempting to sidestep the pitfalls of positing a Creator, but many with their own dogmatic metaphysics nonetheless). That to a large extent is why they are so steadily on the rise in popularity in the West; us atheists may have finally thrown off the yoke of the mythological answer, but we still feel the need to come up with an equally integrative rational one..

Quote:
Is it just me, or have we gone a bit off topic here?
Just a tiny bit, but this is still on the topic of how religions differ from other fictions

Your brain is unique in the history of the universe. Use it wisely.
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(03-Aug-2009 at 07:14)


Re: Religion vs. Fiction

Originally Posted by Voice of Reason: View Post
If the outcome is already known, then there is only one possible outcome, and if there is only one possible outcome there is no choice.
That's on the assumption that each and every one of our choices are necessary to effect some final plan, assuming there is also some final plan.

If you alone were able to time travel and be invisible, and you decide to go back and do nothing to affect time at all, you simply wish to observe your past. Since it will always make the same choices you make, you're saying you never really had those choices in the first place? If you watch a recording of yourself, would you still say you had free will when you now know the choices you made? Who says we're anything more than a recording to some God?

What choices of yours have been choices you didn't make or accept yourself, regardless of there being a God? If you choose to eat a slice of pizza, who besides you, stopped yourself from eating a sandwich instead? I highly doubt some omniscient being would care about the heavy majority of our choices.


Originally Posted by Bernel:
If God hadn't created the world it would make sense to see him as just an all knowing observer, but according to religions he did, and thus he decided exactly what would happen. By changing what the universe looked like at creation he could change the outcome of history and of your decisions. Maybe if he had moved that atom one micron to the west at the start subtle changes would have cascaded through time making you not write the message you just did. Being omniscient God would know.
And yet not being omniscient we still think we know as well, always.

If things were different someone else might be alive instead of me, humans might be completely different creatures, we might be the same with thoughts we don't have now. However, we always make the decision to act and say how we prefer.

If all else fails, call someone a troll.
that can be fixed... / Æ

Last edited by Greeney, 03-Aug-2009 at 07:24.
#18  
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(03-Aug-2009 at 07:26)


To late to edit to put this at the end,,,

Perhaps some ultimate plan is only known because it has been seen before we have seen it and not because each of our insignificant choices are made for us to make it happen. Hence, I don't believe the notion of a God affects our free will one way or another.

If all else fails, call someone a troll.
that can be fixed... / Æ
#19  
View Public Profile Find more posts by Greeney Add Greeney to your Buddy List Reply with Quote
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(03-Aug-2009 at 10:27)


Quote:
If you alone were able to time travel and be invisible, and you decide to go back and do nothing to affect time at all, you simply wish to observe your past. Since it will always make the same choices you make, you're saying you never really had those choices in the first place?
No, because I would be replaying choices I had already made. When I first nade them it was a choice, watching the replay via a time machine it is not a choice.


Quote:
What choices of yours have been choices you didn't make or accept yourself, regardless of there being a God?
As I don't believe in a god, every single one of them was my choice, depending on how you define 'choice'. As there are always cases where there is only one sensible, viable option you could argue that I had no choice in some circumstances, but that has little to do with this discussion.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
#20  
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