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alice333
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03 Mar 2011, 4:18 pm

I have no religion but was brought up Roman Catholic and I recently came to realize that a lot of the stuff they do in the catholic church and other religions are like compulsions, having to do things a certain amount of times etc. Also, people from non western religions, when deep in meditation, often rock or kind of stim in some way.



Bayes_Freedom
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03 Mar 2011, 4:29 pm

Making them habits, things that you have to do each day, stops people from 'forgetting' the religion - and a couple days later going 'hey, I haven't done anything religious in the past few days.... and I'm fine'. It makes it part of the life, so they can't just 'gradually' get away from it, they need to make the commitment each day to do all those little things.

And if they do them, that confirms their belief that it's real and helps put away doubts. It's a method of control, basically; that's why all the big religions have them.


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Natty_Boh
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03 Mar 2011, 4:38 pm

'Scrupulosity' was around long before OCD was defined.


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03 Mar 2011, 5:37 pm

Let's see.

There is the repetition of modelled words and paradigms in language learning.
Alphabet, multiplication table.
Football practice.
The daily jog in the park.
Work routines, from filling the quiver with arroows to logging on to the workstation.
The exchange of grretings and news with the family.
Turning the lights off and locking the door at night.
Waiting for the bus and putting money in the fare box.
Going around the aisles at the store.
Brushing teeth at night.

And ON and ON - can you believe how all those religions have you brainwashed?

Everything you do, Religion have you doing these repetitive things to keep you believing in learning a language or going to work.

Or could it just be that this is a thing you do to learn or maintain something important to you?

Maybe that jog is not ACTUALLY part of a conspiracy on the part of the theocracy.



Bayes_Freedom
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03 Mar 2011, 6:29 pm

Philogos - I wasn't saying at all that all habits are methods of control. But those habits have purpose - you run daily to keep fit, you repeat learning to help remember etc. They do not just label you as 'someone who runs' or 'someone who likes learning'. They also have active benefits.

With larger religions, they have such daily things and label it necessary to stay religious, much as running is necessary to stay fit. It is a way of categorizing 'religious' as useful on that practical level. Is this an effective way of doing so? Is it easy to see for those within it? Does it have experimental evidence in it's favor, or rely on other tactics? These are the questions I am addressing.

Religions that have died out often had only sparse commitments, or less obvious ones.

What is the practical use of these habits? I believe they make them like habits, rather than one off oaths like doctor's take, in order to make it harder to leave - as I explained in my first post.

As one person put it, those quirky little habits and beliefs are the price for the 'payload' - the payload being that you can now identify as 'x' and xes are meant to be hard-working, or honest, or some other good trait.

I am not suggesting the world is out to get you. Everything effects everything and that isn't sinister or wrong. I'm suggesting that the fact that all established religions have daily rituals and habits - which are much less shakeable than a daily run (a larger excuse would be needed) etc and which serve no practical purpose other than the affirmation of belief, is something worth discussing and must have evolved for a reason. It does not increase the truth value of something, it does not bring on good effects, it only increases the commitment, and is almost certainly the product of some evolutionary bias that it has such effect on us. That interests me, and I think is worth considering.

I must say, I enjoy debate, but you could easily have phrased that without seeming so condescending. For instance, drop the all caps - they never make your argument seem more powerful, they just make it seem less professional.

Still, I look forward to your response.

Cheers,
Bayes


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03 Mar 2011, 6:59 pm

I'm going to say that I don't think "control" is the best word, because I think that religions don't usually intentionally arise in their final forms. Rather, instead of thinking "control", think "memetic evolution". If we use memetic evolution as the framework, we probably see religion in a much fairer light, and with the recognition that almost everybody in the religion likely is under the control of those memes, rather than just actively generating them for personal ends.



Idiotchief
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03 Mar 2011, 7:14 pm

I'd say it's more of a habit then a complusion. If you don't watch football you forget about it and end up losing your fantasy football league. When i don't go to church for a long period of time i feel like i'm forgetting God, and usually end up more grouchy and less willing to be helpful. Like Philologos said, Practice doesn't mean complusion.


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Philologos
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04 Mar 2011, 12:16 pm

Bayes_Freedom:

I will not deny that there are those for whom a "religious" practice is a conformity like wearing a particular type of shirt, or a habit like automatically folding your sheets the way mama taught you.

There are those for whom jogging is much the same. For some the raison d'etre of jogging is the endorphin rush - I had a colleague who was there.

And in the same way for some the "religious" practice is an opiate. In my youth when I had a long stretch redoing all my many fillings - ouch - I found I could calm myself in the dentist's waiting room, or any time I was nervous, scared, upset, by reciting a piece of Latin poetry I had memorized. Some would accomplish the asame goal telling their beads, or doing 50 rounds of the Jesus prayer, or assuming the Loyuis position and intoning Om - whatever.

As you say, jogging can have positive health benefits. Though I am no jogger, I will not bother to rehearse the various possible detrimental effects of jogging. Where did I put the liniment?

But you assume there are not positive - quantifiable, even - effects of religious practices. Quotes intentionally omitted hereinafter.

For very many people a large proportion of the time, religious exercises of the type complained of are not status symbols, nor habits. Certainly they are not now and never have been for me.

There may be psychic effects - the highs of ecstatic dancing, the lows of meditation. Certainly I gladly experience those effects. But for those for whom these are religious practices, not merely the practuices of a religion, the mentals are not what it is about.

For some time I have not been able to be part of a religious organization. There are just the two of us, and her nature and experience and predictably her beliefs and practice differ from mine in important ways.

When we individually or together indulge in religious practices, it does not define us as religious, or as part of this religion. If I pray or read or meditate or chant or light a candle or bow my head, it is as part of my communication with God, neither more nor less than the communication when I speak to my wife or read a WP posting to her or sit watching her or joke with her or clear her dishes or hug her.

And when she and I pray together or sing a hymn or talk about matters of life and faith, and on and on, then we have a three way communication going.

And the outcomes include increased understanding of the world, release of fears and doubts as well as tensions, and I suspect such physical things as improved digestion, but that is the least of it.

Of course a couple can jog together. And of course certain physical exercises at various times and places have been "religious" practices and may well be for some genuinely religious practices.