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  1. #1
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Default Religion as a coping mechanism, random thoughts

    Here is one of many articles that can be found about religious resistance to progress that would greatly and obviously reduce suffering. For those who don't care to click, it is about religious opposition in the 1840s to the introduction of anesthesia in surgery.

    It is astounding to think about getting a limb amputated, or even teeth pulled without anesthesia, and yet I guess it used to happen quite frequently. Religious opposition to this sort of thing is definitely a pattern rather than an isolated event, though. Religious voices spoke against the introduction of a smallpox vaccine in the 1700s, claiming that to interfere with smallpox would be to interfere with god's plan. Even today, I have had multiple friends who claimed that disasters such as tsunamis in Asia were meant to happen as part of god's plan and that those people must have deserved it somehow.

    I'm really not sure exactly how these sort of people go about their lives thinking they are living according to god's plan when it seems that they believe any act of apparent free will is to interfere. But that's beside the point I guess.

    I really have no idea how I would even want to live through having, say, my leg cut off at the thigh without anesthetic. This is where religion must come in. "Mind over matter" is definitely a real thing. If you believe something strongly enough, it will have effects on how you perceive. I suppose, then, that people believed in religion back in the day because, well, they kind of had to. Life was too ugly to live through without it. I definitely wouldn't be able to tolerate it myself.

    Another coping mechanism often coupled with religion seems to be thinking that pain is good for you and necessary for happiness. To not think that would be to admit the unbearable idea that pain is meaningless and undeserved, and life is unfair--some people live less painful lives than others.

    Which is all to say, I guess it is kind of understandable that people would resist advances that will obviously make this deeply flawed world better, but we need to start letting go of that resistance. I think it will be easier as there is less to cope with still in the future. The less we suffer, the less we need god. Kind of makes sense, really, considering the zeal that used to exist in the world compared to the lukewarm nature of today's religious. Sure, plenty of people still claim to be religious in the 21st century, but how important to them is it really? I would argue that it is far less important than it used to be.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Alea_iacta_est's Avatar
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    Religion is most definitely used as a coping mechanism for events that go awry in life. I am curious to see the statistics of Christians (or all theists grouped together), Atheists, and Secularists from war-time to peace-time; I would expect that the more peaceful an environment is and the less human suffering, the more secular society is.

    One thing that bothers me is when people say "Well I guess it was God's plan," as you mentioned, for it seems as if they are alright with what God has done. Why would it seem acceptable for a sadistic deity to give life to an entity and then end it with a traumatic event? If God is real, which I doubt more and more every day, then he is our enemy, subjecting us to cope and achieve some momentary happiness until something kills us or ruins us.

  3. #3
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alea_iacta_est View Post
    One thing that bothers me is when people say "Well I guess it was God's plan," as you mentioned, for it seems as if they are alright with what God has done. Why would it seem acceptable for a sadistic deity to give life to an entity and then end it with a traumatic event? If God is real, which I doubt more and more every day, then he is our enemy, subjecting us to cope and achieve some momentary happiness until something kills us or ruins us.
    I totally agree. I often debate the topic with my neighbor and say the same, using WWII as an example. I can't support a god that would allow such horrors to happen. Her response is usually "it's not god doing this, it's people" to which I have 2 standard replies: natural disasters being one, and the other that no good parent would let her child touch a hot stove if the child didn't know any better. In other words, why would god have made me ignorant enough to do the things I've done that have caused suffering? I sincerely didn't know any better at the time.

    Two other problems: god is usually used by the religious actually as a way to manipulate others toward their agenda, and they fancy themselves to be prophets who seem to have insight that I most certainly don't have about god's intentions.

    Delusion, religion, and ego are powerful things, though. If I got my leg amputated, I think I would just get this kind of existential resentment for it--this universe kind of sucks if that's a standard experience to be had in it. That kind of thinking causes lasting depression. On the other hand, religious people might concoct a story about the experience in which they were actually given some benefit from it, or they could use it as a point of pride - I've seen some shit. Nevertheless, the truth can't be unseen, and ultimately false thoughts create tons of unnecessary suffering. SO I still think an atheist world is way better and happier.

  4. #4
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Religion almost has a certain logic to it from one standpoint that I think a lot of Buddhist type leaders talk about. Omniscience, from our perspective, would almost be boring. Why not, if you're God, disguise yourself as someone who isn't omniscient? ...And that's why we're here!

    Still not quite buying it, though. The problem is still why would you subject yourself to intense misery?

  5. #5
    Senior Member Alea_iacta_est's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zago View Post
    I totally agree. I often debate the topic with my neighbor and say the same, using WWII as an example. I can't support a god that would allow such horrors to happen. Her response is usually "it's not god doing this, it's people" to which I have 2 standard replies: natural disasters being one, and the other that no good parent would let her child touch a hot stove if the child didn't know any better. In other words, why would god have made me ignorant enough to do the things I've done that have caused suffering? I sincerely didn't know any better at the time.

    Two other problems: god is usually used by the religious actually as a way to manipulate others toward their agenda, and they fancy themselves to be prophets who seem to have insight that I most certainly don't have about god's intentions.

    Delusion, religion, and ego are powerful things, though. If I got my leg amputated, I think I would just get this kind of existential resentment for it--this universe kind of sucks if that's a standard experience to be had in it. That kind of thinking causes lasting depression. On the other hand, religious people might concoct a story about the experience in which they were actually given some benefit from it, or they could use it as a point of pride - I've seen some shit. Nevertheless, the truth can't be unseen, and ultimately false thoughts create tons of unnecessary suffering. SO I still think an atheist world is way better and happier.
    I wonder if monotheistic religions with their elaborate and unambiguous stories were created by the first schizophrenics (most likely schizotypal for they can still be talked to) who claimed that they had seen the true path, the true deity, or the true enlightenment. Polytheistic religions seem to have arisen from a more sane perspective of naming deities that reign over certain things, such as Zeus and Thor's wrath/anger for lightning and thunder. However, pagan and polytheistic myths are just as assuming as their monotheistic counterparts. I would honestly prefer religions that were ambiguous and abstract rather than direct and concrete. For example, Christianity versus Judaism. Christianity is known for being an imposing religion, one that teaches its followers of the history of the world based on the perspective of a text that is deemed concrete, undoubtedly accurate, and paramount to society. Judaism on the other hand, actually encourages its followers to ask questions. For example, if a student of Judaism were to show his or her Rabbi a differing thesis on the plagues of Egypt, such as a volcanic eruption being the cause of the various plagues rather than God directly, the Rabbi would most likely agree with the student and conclude that perhaps (ambiguously) God caused the volcano to erupt to create the plagues of Egypt. Juxtaposing the Christian counterpart which is more inclined to debase external theorems rather than mold their framework to accept them (Not all Christians do this, but a majority do, and not all Jews conform to external information but a majority do).

  6. #6
    Senior Member Alea_iacta_est's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zago View Post
    Religion almost has a certain logic to it from one standpoint that I think a lot of Buddhist type leaders talk about. Omniscience, from our perspective, would almost be boring. Why not, if you're God, disguise yourself as someone who isn't omniscient? ...And that's why we're here!

    Still not quite buying it, though. The problem is still why would you subject yourself to intense misery?
    A favorite paradox of mine: If something omnipotent and omniscient decided to make something that it cannot possibly know or an obstacle it cannot surpass, does it cease to be omniscient or omnipotent?

  7. #7

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    I don't understand. That is not the God I have come to know. God works through us to help others. He can work through doctors and chemists:

    "I have filled you with the spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts." Exodus 31:3

  8. #8
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    As I move further away from my religion, I can see it takes us over.

    And it takes us over by entrancing us.

    Much of religious practice is trance induction that has been honed over the centuries.

    Many of us have been entranced by religion as small children.

    And many of us want to continue to be entranced as adults.

    There are substantial social and personal benefits to being entranced, but there is also a price to pay.

    And for many of us the benefits are worth the price.

  9. #9
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alea_iacta_est View Post
    A favorite paradox of mine: If something omnipotent and omniscient decided to make something that it cannot possibly know or an obstacle it cannot surpass, does it cease to be omniscient or omnipotent?
    Yeah I wondered that as I wrote the post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Skinny-Love View Post
    I don't understand. That is not the God I have come to know. God works through us to help others. He can work through doctors and chemists:

    "I have filled you with the spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts." Exodus 31:3
    This just raises more questions. God works through us to help others? Then why doesn't he just help them himself? Why did he make them need help in the first place? Why do some people get to be cool doctors and chemists and some people have to be sick and poor? And why do some people choose to hurt instead of help? Are they evil? Did they choose to be evil? Why would they do that? Why would god let them do that?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Alea_iacta_est's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zago View Post
    Yeah I wondered that as I wrote the post.



    This just raises more questions. God works through us to help others? Then why doesn't he just help them himself? Why did he make them need help in the first place? Why do some people get to be cool doctors and chemists and some people have to be sick and poor? And why do some people choose to hurt instead of help? Are they evil? Did they choose to be evil? Why would they do that? Why would god let them do that?
    An addition to your statement: Why are so many people gifted with these talents to help people set back by harsh circumstances, procrastination, or greed? Why would God give these skills to people that would not or could not use them?

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