Is there a New Secular Quasi-Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately "Religious" or Ideologically Tribal?

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Free Ranger
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Is there a New Secular Quasi-Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately "Religious" or Ideologically Tribal?

Post by Free Ranger »

This is my response to another poster on this thread: viewtopic.php?t=157779&start=30#p2838792

I thought it deserved its own topic for discussion, for as I answered the question it led to me realizing the topic further supports my contention that we may just be homoreligious or prone to metaphysical thinking and benefit from non-toxic beliefs, which was the point of the thread linked above that began with videos by atheists and scientists supporting non-toxic beliefs. So here is my response and I welcome all to respond and give their opinion:

To answer your curiosity as to these “supernatural” beliefs among some on the secular far-left. I would say that these atheists' reasons for rejecting what they see as supernaturalism on the far-left, is not because they reject the “Social Justice” movement, as you put it. Most atheists tend to lean politically Liberal or Left, and so I don't think the liberal atheists who are opposing what they see as supernaturalism on the far-left, are doing so because they reject social justice, when I see them actually supporting most social justice issues. And these same liberal atheists mentioned below, just 5 or 10 years ago, would be considered by people on the Right to be proponents of Social Justice. These atheists and liberals I will mention below, are simply critical of the new methodology being used to enforce social justice, which they see as a religious methodology.

To begin, the agnostic scientist Neil Degrass Tyson criticized non-scientific thinking (i.e. supernatural thinking) on the far-Left about seven years ago, see:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kEJqMTjYtU
https://gizmodo.com/neil-degrasse-tyson ... 1780648740

I do not like to use the term woke or wokeism because it triggers people on the political left and right, but unfortunately I have to use it for ease of communication. It's a complicated term as well and it's my understanding that woke's original meaning is that of being awakened to social injustices, to be woke to social injustice, in particular racial inequalities. I don't see any liberals or atheists rejecting this origional meaning of being woke. They are instead critical of what they see as an ideology and religious ideas that they see has been added onto this simpler definition.

One could argue that even focusing on social injustice, may involve a degree of supernatural/metaphysical thinking, a belief in Right and Wrong and Good and Evil. This is the argument of the atheist Nietzche who would have opposed wokeism, as he opposed the atheistic social justice warriors of his day, basically calling them pale atheists unable to embrace raw reality for instead supernatural thinking, and pity and piety inherited from Christianity. Nietzche would have said something like an ant colony enslaving another ant colony is not evil, it's part of amoral life, the strong overpowering the weak.

Since I am not ashamed to admit I am prone to metaphysical beliefs like an actual Right and Wrong or Good and Evil, I have no problem supporting the woke cause when it opposes racism and injustice.

From this perspective, that of the emphasis on social justice and equity, then Jesus himself, as depicted in the gospels, could be to a certain degree thought of as a kind of "woke" social justice warrior, beginning with his ministry by quoting from Isaiah, see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?s ... ersion=EXB

The Book of Mormon could be considered woke to some degree because after re-reading it recently I was actually surprised how many times it mentions equity and criticizes social injustice, class disparities and divisions, etc., and as I argued in this post, I believe the Book of Mormon is actually anti-racist. viewtopic.php?t=157731&start=10#p2837646

My talking to the missionaries recently could be interpreted as a woke activity, which I shared in this post: viewtopic.php?t=157731

So I'm personally not passing judgment on all forms of wokeism. I am merely reporting what I see as a divide in the atheist community and division among the politically Liberal, and I actually consider myself mostly a Liberal. But many atheists and liberals have recently begun to criticize wokeism because in their view, it is beginning to manifest the hallmarks of supernatural thinking and religiosity. If their criticisms have any validity, or even if five to ten percent of their criticisms has any accuracy, then this would support my view that we are innately homoreligious, see:
https://link.springer.com/referencework ... 0religious.

So, in my view, if we remove traditional religions and spirituality the vast majority of people will go seeking for an alternative, whether it's my Swedish ancestors and their elf beliefs or emperor worship in China, or the sects of wokeism.
Here are some examples of atheist and liberals who see extreme versions of wokeism (or some woke sects) as supernatural thinking and toxic forms of religiosity:

John Mcwhorter on The New Religion: https://johnmcwhorter.substack.com/p/th ... rogressive

Who is John Mcwhorter? See:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McWhorter

How Social Justice Became a New Religion: Our society is becoming less religious. Or is it? By Helen Lewis: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archi ... on/671172/

The Cult Dynamics of Wokeness by James Lindsey: https://newdiscourses.com/2020/06/cult- ... -wokeness/

The atheist exmormon at https://thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/ went from only criticizing Brighamite Mormonism to recently spending a lot of time criticizing what he considers something more harmful at this point than Mormonism, which is the secular far-left's "new religion," as he sees it. So his videos have gone from pointing out cultish thinking in Mormonism to cultish thinking among the some of secular far-left in his videos at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVTCFh ... Zlwl1JOoHQ

Again, even if only five or ten percent of what these authors say is true and are legitimate criticisms, then there is a "new religion" growing up among many on the secular far-left, and whether or not that is good or bad -- and one could even make the argument that it's good because the end result would be good (depending on your politics) -- in my view it proves or supports my point to a certain degree that we are by nature homoreligious.

This article https://americandreaming.substack.com/p ... e-wokeness points out that the atheism of the early 2000s created an existential vacuum.

The Atheist on this podcast explains the origins of wokeism and the resulting divide in the atheist community: https://youtu.be/Y61IPmUEfmo

Observing this clear divide among atheists and liberals is evidence to me that the atheist community was longing for a higher meaning, craving a moral purpose in life based on metaphysical beliefs like the inalienable Rights of the individual as if he is a soul, so that he should be treated fairly and justly and given a good quality of life, liberty, and the freedom to pursue happiness or well-being. And so the mechanistic deconstructionism of Dawkins and Hitchens and others, replacing religion with the Void, was just not satisfying existentially; and so there emerged atheism(+) which evolved into the various sects of wokeism. All because, again, in my view I think we are homoreligious.

Peter Boghossian, James A. Lindsay, and Helen Pluckrose attempted to basically highlight what they saw as bad scholarship in several academic fields by pointing out what they saw as religious thinking, or supernatural thinking, which led them to get published absurd ideas in academia, see:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVk9a5Jcd1k

https://newdiscourses.com/2020/01/acade ... holarship/

One could argue this was the equivalent of people on this board criticizing Mormon apologetics when it lacks scientific rigor and is too often couched in supernatural thinking.

Peter Boghossian, Richard Dawkins, and Steven Pinker, and many other atheists who were once revered and admired by nearly everyone in the atheist community just five years ago, are now often villainized by many or even most atheists who reject their perspectives on scientific issues. Richard Dawkins has written several massive books on evolution and biology, so it's interesting that he was once considered an authority but is now so easily vilified. I would argue that this phenomenon is because of growing religious sentiment and moralizing metaphysical thinking among some on the Left, which again can be interpreted as either good or bad depending on your political perspective.

Steven Pinker wrote The Blank Slate which was an early attempt to completely reject some views of the new-religious Left, as it's been described.

So whether you agree or disagree with these atheists, it is obvious there is division, and it's because one side sees the other side as embracing a religion.

These atheists, I have mentioned, are just a few as there is definitely a divide among atheists, which I believe comes down to those who are more mechanistic thinkers and focused on biological science and those who are more "right brain" thinkers seeking some form of meaning, spirituality and morality.

Even the atheist liberal Bill Maher, who produced the documentary Religulous, has compared the new religion on the left to Maoism, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yysKhJ1U-vM which was a secular religion in many ways as Maher explains.

This is not surprising to me that there's a divide because we are I think homoreligious, and thus as Nietzche put it, we need to feed both brain chambers, the one chamber that functions via the non-rational/"spiritual" and one for rational science. Or as he put it in Human, All Too Human, “A higher culture must give man a double brain, two brain chambers, as it were, one to experience science, and one to experience non-science. Lying next to one another, without confusion, separable, self-contained: our health demands this. In the one domain lies the source of strength, in the other the regulator. Illusions, biases, passions must give heat; with the help of scientific knowledge, the pernicious and dangerous consequences of overheating must be prevented.” Is wokeism feeding the non-rational "spiritual " brain chamber? Nietzche would have said yes it is, and he would say he has a better spirituality, what scholars call Dionysian Pantheism, that rejects social justice ideals.

I actually personally support most social justice ideals, but I will readily to admit that it is completely grounded in the metaphysics of Christian ethics, which was best pointed out to me by Tom Holland in his book Dominion, and by listening to his many debates and discussions on Youtube.

When I go back and read my Swedish ancestors' Norse religious writings and learn about their culture pre Christianity, I do not see anyone concerned with social justice or stoic cosmopolitanism, but instead there was tribal justice, concern for your tribal neighbor, and the military-like valor of the strong man on the battlefield and conquering and oppressing one's enemies. The concept of "love your enemy," and being "woke" to the unfair treatment of minorities would have been absurd to my Viking ancestors, just as much as the lion would ignore one's pleas to not mangle the cute baby deer and tear into it's throat with impunity. The Vikings saw it as their natural right to take from the weak who cannot defend their property or belongings. Now look at my Viking ancestors in Sweden after converting to Christianity, so that even though they now often describe themselves as atheist or agnostic, a deeper investigation reveals that they are still culturally Christian.

You wrote:
"Any claim that nature 'designed' The human brain for spirituality is based on a misconception of evolutionary science. There is no nature that designs. The existence of a specific human trait is not evidence that is, or has ever been, beneficial to survival of the human species."

No atheist who believes religion can be beneficial, thinks that there is a teleological direction or design in evolution to make us homoreligious, that is not their argument.

This site begs to differ with your last sentence above:

"Religion can be understood as a spandrel in the same way that Stephen Jay Gould claims the surface area between two adjacent arches are spandrels. In using natural selection we have chosen for traits that allowed for a strong foundation that has promoted human survival for thousands of years. Traits similar to behavioural and cognitive characteristics like cooperation, that allow for a more communal lifestyle that may boost one own fitness or increase inclusive fitness. Survival without religion is possible so it does not make this a vital component to survival, however it continues to be a inevitable by product of the things that do continue to promote fitness to our species."
Source: https://kpu.pressbooks.pub/evpsych/chap ... spandrels/

So if religion is possibly or likely a spandrel and the atheists in the videos I linked to here viewtopic.php?t=157779#p2838436 argue non-toxic religion or spiritual practices can be beneficial, and many atheists think there is a new secular religion to fill the existential Void caused by former versions of atheism, then is it not at least possible that non-toxic spiritual beliefs and religious ideas and practices are innate to our species and good for our mental health and social cohesion?
Last edited by Free Ranger on Mon Jul 31, 2023 4:53 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Is their a New Secular Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately Religious?

Post by huckelberry »

Free Ranger, Possible suggestion, focus to simplify.

I tried one link, McWhorter, he was focusing on the toxic dimension of religion. By that I mean the thought suppression for dogmatic uniformity and group control being the religious element. I think he and I both view that as a toxic dimension to seek protection from and escape from.

I think all directions on the political map may lead to extremes inhabited by control focused dogmatists. Such dogmatic control can be a method to focus political power. It is both practice and potentially dangerous. It might impede a positive movement by substituting force for creative cooperation.

There are human handles and links that a leader can seize upon to corral people into a following. Perhaps those could be called human inclinations towards religion. I think that inclination to religion needs repeating prophetic reform to make it conscious, thoughtful, honest, and cooperative. It is not that just based upon natural tendencies needs and desires.

...
I think left wing extremes in the late 1960s became grotesque. In the other direction Ayn Rand's atheist religion became dogmatic and controlling.
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Re: Is their a New Secular Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately Religious?

Post by Res Ipsa »

Thanks for the detailed post. I plan to go through It chunk by chunk, but I have a couple of general points to make first.

1. The post appears to make several fairly strong assertions, but the conclusion is so watered down that there’s not much there to dispute. I would have agreed with “It is possible that ….” without ever reading your post. It’s the same argument LDS apologists make — it’s possible that the Book of Mormon is a Bonaire historical record, etc. So, while I have some substantial criticisms of statements made and conclusions drawn in the post, my position is that there is not sufficient evidence to believe that Spirituality is an innate human trait that was selected for by natural selection.

2. Many atheists will use “religion” as a pejorative to describe a group that thinks or acts in a way they disapprove of. It’s an exercise in parallelomania, wherever religion is never defined. There is no attempt to identify the characteristics that make something a religion. It’s just a very sloppy set of analogies. To make any sort of convincing argument, one needs to start with a common understanding of what qualifies as a religion. It’s helpful to look at how cultural anthropologists go about distinguishing religion from other types of groups or beliefs.

3. A precise definition is also needed for spirituality. The different ways you’ve talked about it in various posts gives me the impression that I could call almost anything Spirituality if I put a little effort in it.

4. How is Spirituality any different than emotions? Emotions are brain signals that causes us feel a certain way. Why isn’t Spirituality just another brain signal that makes us feel a certain way. Why isn’t it just as “natural” as every other brain signal that causes to feel a certain way?

5. I think the scientific thinking/supernatural thinking dichotomy drawn in the post is a false dichotomy. Scientific thinking is simply a subset of logical thinking based on evidence. We have dozens of built-in biases that result in bad reasoning. Those have nothing to do with the supernatural. Bad reasoning is something people do, and atheists are no exception. If you want to distinguish “religious thinking” from “secular” thinking or draw some similar distinction, you’re going to need to define terms.
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Re: Is their a New Secular Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately Religious?

Post by Free Ranger »

huckelberry wrote:
Thu Jul 13, 2023 12:29 am
Free Ranger, Possible suggestion, focus to simplify. ...
... There are human handles and links that a leader can seize upon to corral people into a following. Perhaps those could be called human inclinations towards religion. I think that inclination to religion needs repeating prophetic reform to make it conscious, thoughtful, honest, and cooperative. It is not that just based upon natural tendencies needs and desires.

...
I think left wing extremes in the late 1960s became grotesque. In the other direction Ayn Rand's atheist religion became dogmatic and controlling.
I completely agree with you. In fact if we define religion etymologically as "from Old French, or from Latin religio(n- ) ‘obligation, bond, reverence’, perhaps based on Latin religare ‘to bind" (source Oxford languages), then religion becomes either toxic or tonic depending on how one wields it's binding effects on humans who seem innately prone to these levers of influence.
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Re: Is their a New Secular Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately Religious?

Post by Free Ranger »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Thu Jul 13, 2023 1:56 am
Thanks for the detailed post. I plan to go through It chunk by chunk, ...

... A precise definition is also needed for spirituality. The different ways you’ve talked about it in various posts gives me the impression that I could call almost anything Spirituality if I put a little effort in it.

.... How is Spirituality any different than emotions? Emotions are brain signals that causes us feel a certain way. Why isn’t Spirituality just another brain signal that makes us feel a certain way. Why isn’t it just as “natural” as every other brain signal that causes to feel a certain way?

... I think the scientific thinking/supernatural thinking dichotomy drawn in the post is a false dichotomy. Scientific thinking is simply a subset of logical thinking based on evidence. We have dozens of built-in biases that result in bad reasoning. Those have nothing to do with the supernatural. Bad reasoning is something people do, and atheists are no exception. If you want to distinguish “religious thinking” from “secular” thinking or draw some similar distinction, you’re going to need to define terms.
As to what I mean by "religion," I think the links I provided in the OP explain it. I also defined it's etymology in the post above.

You are correct that I am using the word "spirituality" broadly. It makes no difference to me personally if all so-called "spiritual" experiences are products of the brain. If what one experiences as a commonly defined "spiritual experience," like feeling a sense of calm or warmth and/or sensing an unseen caring "presence" when praying or feeling a sense of deep interconnectedness while singing or chanting with a religious group etc., I feel no need to disparage those experiences if it is healthy for the individual and harms no one; even if it could be proven these results from such practices was elavated emotion and brain firings, that would not change their practical utility in increasing well-being. I can know the ingredients of the chocolate cake and still enjoy the chocolate cake.

Scholars often speak of the transcendent and the numinous, or the sacred distinguished from the profane. Even Christopher Hitchens used this language on occasion and I know of many other atheists who describe this real psychological phenomena using the word "spiritual."

I have consistently argued not from dogmatism nor literal belief in supernaturalism or scripture fundamentalism, but I've always consistently argued I believe from a more heterdox position of humanistic religious pragmatism, similar to the position of Marcus Borg, who uses what he calls the historical-metaphorical lens; when that is combined with the philosophy of possibilibilianism (see: https://www.possibilian.com/) and Joseph Cambell's monomyth, then whether or not one literally believes in a non-toxic religious or spiritual idea or concept or entertains it nonliterally, the very holding of the idea could have positive emotional and psychological benefits, while providing existential meaning and value. This is what I experience while entertaining Marcus Borg's concepts and approaches, which has led me to experience similar benefits that he experienced even though he was a non-theist.
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Re: Is their a New Secular Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately Religious?

Post by Gadianton »

Free wrote:I actually personally support most social justice ideals, but I will readily to admit that it is completely grounded in the metaphysics of Christian ethics, which was best pointed out to me by Tom Holland in his book Dominion, and by listening to his many debates and discussions on Youtube.
So that's where this whole "I'm an atheist who believes in Christian ethics" thing comes from. After I watched one of your links, perhaps YouTube's algorithm knew what to send me because shortly thereafter, I watched one of the many entertaining clips with a rational liberal interviewing unhinged right-wingers at a Trump rally. And sure enough, there was a young MAGA guy talking calmly about how he is an atheist, but admits modern life as we know it is fundamentally Christian.

I remember learning of this book some time ago, actually, and it could be worth reading. My impression is that it's a book worth reading. However, I can assure you that "social justice" isn't "completely grounded in the metaphysics of Christian ethics". You may be thinking of metaethics, and there really isn't a whole lot to Christian metaethics aside from Divine Command Theory, which every single Christian at Trump rallies believes in. What Holland attempts to show is that the Christian theme of sympathy for the weak -- A twist on a Nietzschean theme itself -- culturally transmits to modern times and becomes social justice. It's an ambitious claim in its own right, but unless you can show me the passage from the book that says otherwise, it's not claiming that modern ideas of justice are metaphysically Christian. If he does claim that, I'd love to see how he argues for it because it sounds ridiculous to me.

metaethics is the grounding for ethics. If you say slapping a person in the face for no reason is bad, metaethics attempts to explain on what grounds it's bad. Two of the most common metaethical frameworks are consequentialism and Divine Command Theory. Consequentialism says broadly that slapping somebody brings about a terrible consequence for the person being slapped, and therefore its bad. Sure, we can split hairs, within consequentialism there would be an array of sub-positions at odds with each other. But we can see an obvious difference when compared to DCT, which hypothetically might say slapping someone for no reason is bad because God says its bad, or because it says so in the Bible. If God, or the Bible, ever said slapping someone is good, then slapping someone is good. Well it does, right, spanking, for instance, is justified by a verse in Proverbs or something; although it's for a reason.

And so, for your claim to be true that modern secularism gets its metaphysical grounding From Christianity, then secularism would base social justice on the Bible or new revelation from God. Just like Christianity's morals obviously don't come from their supposed metaethical source, God, secularism's morals may not have popped into existence for the first time with Jeremy Bentham.

And, to further weaken any "Christian" claims to undergird secularism, being the cultural transmitter for something doesn't make it the necessary cultural transmitter for something. Those of us who accept evolution understand convergent evolution means the same animal can get built through different genetic transmission paths. Just because "sympathy for the weak" came from Christianity doesn't mean history couldn't have been any other way. For God's sake, given all the borrowing Christianity did from Zoroarstrianism and other cults, the decent thing to do would be to contribute something original to humanity that benefits us.

And finally, there are competing ideas for how modern ideas of racial fairness arose. This author is no slouch, who argued that racial equality in modern academia paced the gradual acceptance of Darwinian evolution. Once there is scientific evidence for things like, everyone including white people having originated from black ancestors in Africa, it bursts some bubbles about race identity. He argues Lamarckism infected much of history's racial prejudice going all the way back to ancient Greece. I'm not saying he's right, it's an interesting idea, I'm just saying Holland's idea isn't the only game in town.

And there are some other potential issues too, like, the best Beatitudes for love and peace are later interpolations and didn't originate with Jesus. How much of the idea originated with Jesus verses originating from Christianity after the fact of his crucifixion.

To summarize:

1) "sympathy for the weak" ala Christianity is almost certainly not a metaethical claim; I need to see the argument from the book otherwise.
2) "sympathy for the weak" ala Christianity certainly wasn't the only possible way for the theme to originate or transmit, if in fact that's how we got it.
3) "sympathy for the weak" ala Christianity as the de facto source for secularism isn't the only game in town. A good book written for the public doesn't make for a peer-reviewed historical monograph.
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Re: Is their a New Secular Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately Religious?

Post by Free Ranger »

Gadianton wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2023 4:26 pm
Free wrote:I actually personally support most social justice ideals, but I will readily to admit that it is completely grounded in the metaphysics of Christian ethics, which was best pointed out to me by Tom Holland in his book Dominion, and by listening to his many debates and discussions on Youtube.
So that's where this whole "I'm an atheist who believes in Christian ethics" thing comes from. After I watched one of your links, perhaps YouTube's algorithm knew what to send me because shortly thereafter, I watched one of the many entertaining clips with a rational liberal interviewing unhinged right-wingers at a Trump rally. And sure enough, there was a young MAGA guy talking calmly about how he is an atheist, but admits modern life as we know it is fundamentally Christian.

I remember learning of this book some time ago, actually, and it could be worth reading. My impression is that it's a book worth reading. However, I can assure you that "social justice" isn't "completely grounded in the metaphysics of Christian ethics". You may be thinking of metaethics, and there really isn't a whole lot to Christian metaethics aside from Divine Command Theory, which every single Christian at Trump rallies believes in. What Holland attempts to show is that the Christian theme of sympathy for the weak -- A twist on a Nietzschean theme itself -- culturally transmits to modern times and becomes social justice. It's an ambitious claim in its own right, but unless you can show me the passage from the book that says otherwise, it's not claiming that modern ideas of justice are metaphysically Christian. If he does claim that, I'd love to see how he argues for it because it sounds ridiculous to me.

metaethics is the grounding for ethics. If you say slapping a person in the face for no reason is bad, metaethics attempts to explain on what grounds it's bad. Two of the most common metaethical frameworks are consequentialism and Divine Command Theory. Consequentialism says broadly that slapping somebody brings about a terrible consequence for the person being slapped, and therefore its bad. Sure, we can split hairs, within consequentialism there would be an array of sub-positions at odds with each other. But we can see an obvious difference when compared to DCT, which hypothetically might say slapping someone for no reason is bad because God says its bad, or because it says so in the Bible. If God, or the Bible, ever said slapping someone is good, then slapping someone is good. Well it does, right, spanking, for instance, is justified by a verse in Proverbs or something; although it's for a reason.

And so, for your claim to be true that modern secularism gets its metaphysical grounding From Christianity, then secularism would base social justice on the Bible or new revelation from God. Just like Christianity's morals obviously don't come from their supposed metaethical source, God, secularism's morals may not have popped into existence for the first time with Jeremy Bentham.

And, to further weaken any "Christian" claims to undergird secularism, being the cultural transmitter for something doesn't make it the necessary cultural transmitter for something. Those of us who accept evolution understand convergent evolution means the same animal can get built through different genetic transmission paths. Just because "sympathy for the weak" came from Christianity doesn't mean history couldn't have been any other way. For God's sake, given all the borrowing Christianity did from Zoroarstrianism and other cults, the decent thing to do would be to contribute something original to humanity that benefits us.

And finally, there are competing ideas for how modern ideas of racial fairness arose. This author is no slouch, who argued that racial equality in modern academia paced the gradual acceptance of Darwinian evolution. Once there is scientific evidence for things like, everyone including white people having originated from black ancestors in Africa, it bursts some bubbles about race identity. He argues Lamarckism infected much of history's racial prejudice going all the way back to ancient Greece. I'm not saying he's right, it's an interesting idea, I'm just saying Holland's idea isn't the only game in town.

And there are some other potential issues too, like, the best Beatitudes for love and peace are later interpolations and didn't originate with Jesus. How much of the idea originated with Jesus verses originating from Christianity after the fact of his crucifixion.

To summarize:

1) "sympathy for the weak" ala Christianity is almost certainly not a metaethical claim; I need to see the argument from the book otherwise.
2) "sympathy for the weak" ala Christianity certainly wasn't the only possible way for the theme to originate or transmit, if in fact that's how we got it.
3) "sympathy for the weak" ala Christianity as the de facto source for secularism isn't the only game in town. A good book written for the public doesn't make for a peer-reviewed historical monograph.
Just so you know, Tom Holland is just one source for my change of mind, which was a long process of contunual learning over ten years.

You wrote, "What Holland attempts to show is that the Christian theme of sympathy for the weak -- A twist on a Nietzschean theme itself -- culturally transmits to modern times and becomes social justice. It's an ambitious claim in its own right … convergent evolution means the same animal can get built through different genetic transmission paths. Just because 'sympathy for the weak' came from Christianity doesn't mean history couldn't have been any other way …"

Based on these comments, I think you actually might agree with me to a degree because in saying its "A twist on a Nietzschean theme itself" you seem aware that Nietzsche shows (or argues) that there was in fact a major cultural shift in ethics after Christianity; does he not?

To your points, Judeo-Christianity does not need to be the only way that this change in moral consciousness (and sympathy for the weak as you so aptly put it) occurred either. I just think it had a larger influence than you are willing to grant, it seems. We can agree to disagree on that.

You don't even need to ascribe supernaturalism to the process that led to greater sympathy for the weak. In fact, an atheist could argue that part of the shift in moral consciousness was due to the Jews being constantly oppressed and enslaved and thus their becoming more conscientious of being pushed around and this affected their conception of their Deity, and their developing an ethic of hospitality and perceiving of a God who cares about even those who are oppressed because of their experience. Thus a naturalistic view could be given for a kind of "psychology" that grew up among the Jews of caring for the less fortunate and the oppressed due to their own increased empathy because of their experiences; leading to a heavy emphasis on a deity that wants greater social hospitality. In fact, this led one author to write a book called Saved by Faith and Hospitality, see https://www.amazon.com/Saved-Faith-Hosp ... 080287505X ; as he wanted Christians to remember that a key feature of Judeo-Christianity is hospitality, not divine command theory or reciting creeds.

So one could argue naturalistically that the experiences of the Jews over centuries led to this ethic of hospitality and eventually more and more compassion for the weak. One could also argue that the Jewish Paul for example was then heavily influenced by Stoicism which contributed to his Body of Christ and the unifying pneuma. As Paul presents the idea of deity where Jesus as the divine Logos empties himself of his privilege and status and becomes weak in order to teach the doctrine of radical hospitality or what John Dominic Crossan calls Open Table Fellowship, see https://progressivechristianity.org/point3-study-guide/

I don't see it as either/or to how things developed, I can view it as complex yet still appreciate the impact that Judeo-Christianity did have on our current ethical culture.

I think one can even be an atheist and acknowledge that whereas gods like Zeus who raped and were in favor of humans who conquered others and oppressed the weak -- as the gods were a moral barometer of the ethical culture of a people -- Christianty radically shifted moral consciousness through embedding a new view of divinity: through for example parables like the prodigal son or the good samaritan, etc.; or the simple concept of whatever you do to the least of these (the weak), you do unto me, the Deity, as something that contributed to a shift in moral consciousness. We can at least acknowledge that, no?

I don't disagree with most of your assessment either, as I'm not arguing from Christian Fundamentalism. I especially agree wholeheartedly with your comments on Darwinian evolution and it being part of what led to the condemnation of racism and slavery. I came to that conclusion years ago after reading a book about Darwin and abolitionism, can't recall the name of it.

So to summarize, I don't think it was a linear trajectory but a complex interchange of ideas and cultural evolution. One can decide for themselves how much inspiration was involved in that. Or one can take a purely atheistic view of it was nothing but naturalistic cultural evolution. I'm only saying that I think a large contributing factor was in fact the scriptural artists of Judeo-Christianity and how their innovative ways of marketing a newer way of conceptualizing the Divine and telling stories about care for the weak, definitely helped shift moral consciousness.

So in my view, it's best to avoid two errors. One, the error of some Fundamentalist Christians wanting to attribute every moral change in consciousness to Judeo-Christianity; and the other error as I see it, of some (not all) atheists not wanting to appreciate any contribution in moral consciousness to Judeo-Christianity.
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Res Ipsa
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Re: Is their a New Secular Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately Religious?

Post by Res Ipsa »

Let me try again, Free Ranger.

My starting point when it comes to categories is: no categories are real; some categories are useful.

The usefulness of a category depends heavily on whether we can determine, on a consistent basis, which things are inside the category and which are not.

Your argument involves labeling things as a religion simply because they are similar in some way to religion. But, unless you have a rigorous definition of religion, that simply revolves into an ad hoc game of parallels.

For example, is capitalism a religion because some people worship money? How about football, where fans are devoted to a team and attend meeting to worship them?

Drawings parallels is meaningless unless you start with a solid definition of what qualifies anything as a religion. Referring me to the meaning in old French really doesn’t cut it, because we’re not old French. The question is how you are defining religion for the purpose of the question you are asking.

And that’s before you make the first move in the argument you’ve laid out: The one from “religion” to “secular religion.”
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Re: Is their a New Secular Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately Religious?

Post by Physics Guy »

I'm interested in this topic but I don't know where to start with it. I have the impression that there are plenty of answers lying around in plain sight but all the questions are obscure. It's like looking for a book in a library, when you don't remember the book's author or title. You could probably find the book, if you knew which book it was.

I'm drawn to the clearest and easiest question I see, even if it's not an important one. What is "scientific thinking"? It's probably closer to being a well-defined thing than "religion" is, but even it seems to dissolve on inspection. If there is any essential characteristic of thought that is to be found in all science, it's probably something like, "Try to be careful."

Or maybe it's something like being drawn to the easiest question, and then concluding that it will require much more study.
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Re: Is their a New Secular Religion, If So Does It Support We Are Innately Religious?

Post by Gadianton »

One of Free's videos contends "Song, dance, and trance" is the core of human culture that accounts for religion. If that guy is right, the answer is "no". We aren't innately religious. Religion and other facets of human culture do have a common cause though.

well, either way, so what if we're innately religious? I'm trying to think which atheists would say we absolutely aren't innately religious. I mean, religion is the biggest part of early human history and one of the biggest parts of all human history so why wouldn't we be innately religious? Even Christopher Hitchens overplayed, saying as he neared death not to be surprised if religious impulses led him to death-bed belief in God.

We're innately sexual also. That doesn't mean we have to **** every time we feel the urge.

Maybe the point is to one-up Freud. If we're innately religious, then everything we do becomes fatalistically religious rather than fatalistically sexual. What then would be the takeaway for atheists?
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