Organized religion: Is it all bad?

Discussion in 'Extended Consciousness & Spirituality' started by perandre, Jul 20, 2014.

  1. perandre

    perandre Member

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    A common truism in here, is that organized religion is bad, and an enemy of the truth. While "organized" perhaps sounds ok, "religion" rings bad ...and together, it's more of a monster. Now, this thread is not for listing bad stuff done by, say, the Catholic church or radical Islam; not very interesting.

    If you've had a spiritual eureka moment, and share it with your neighbor, you might end up meeting up regularly to discuss it. Is it organized yet? No really. But a few years down the road, you might have put your teachings into a book (dogma!), and you find yourself being the leader of a small crowd (hierarchy!).

    We tend to hate on the big older players, while being more accepting with the smaller, newer crowds.

    About 10 years ago, when a small rural Swedish pentecostal church was all over the news; they had grown to adopt some weird teachings, and it culminated in murder++. Would it perhaps be a good idea if there was some level of leadership in the movement, overseeing each other a bit? For the movement as a whole (and the murdered and/or disillusioned people), a better organization would perhaps be helpful.

    TL;DR: Most spiritual ideas get "organized" at some point, and we should judge each idea by it's own merit, not by level of organization.
     
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  2. I have observed that Science is frequently abused by pepole with ulterior motives. For example twisting data to demonstrate global warming, or denial of psi, or persecution of scientists who would study intelligent design, faking data to support evolution. Most published research findings are false. If science can be perverted for ulterior motives, you can't blame it on Science you have to blame it on scientists. For this reason I also don't think you can say there is anything inherently wrong with Religion, you have to blame the problems on the people who abuse it.

    I know people who's religious beliefs are an asset, who have personality characteristics that I admire that are related to their religious beliefs. So I don't believe religion is inherently bad. Personally I don't believe in Christian dogma, I am a Buddhist, I took the five precepts at a Zen temple, but I don't believe in Buddhist dogma either (that you have to get enlightenment to stop the cycle of reincarnation) but I value the meditation and mindfulness practices. I am also a spiritualist, I've taken classes in mediumship and healing at a spiritualist church. However I don't agree with all the principles that the US churches espouse. I know lots of Catholics and Jews who don't follow their religion to the letter either. So I think the problems attributed to religion in general are really due to the problems of individual people who lack judgement or have ulterior motives and not something innate in religion in general.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2014
  3. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/10/01/a_response_to_richard_dawkins_120165.html
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
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  4. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I strongly agree with your entire list of abuses of science - I could add a few more!
    Well if science continues to deteriorate, there may come a time when people will withdraw their allegiance - perhaps that is already happening. You have chosen an excellent analogy here, and I think both kinds of human activity show the same problems - human beings gradually crud up the original ideals. The trouble is that you can't really get away from the way these institutions are now.
    One thing that is common to both science and religion (in slightly different forms) is a deference for those higher up. The problems seem to happen when that respect is abused.

    I can't see how the main religions we have around us can possibly be fixed. I mean I am sure many Muslims go along with their religion rather than really believing in it - just as you say - but that seems to let fanatics grab control from time to time - think of ISIS, Christian Crusades, Christian Witch burnings, etc.

    I hope that science will be deeply humbled before too long, because some of the ideas it has espoused will be shown to everyone to be false and hugely damaging. If not, it may simply decay into being another religion and probably create as much suffering as they have.

    David
     
  5. Obiwan

    Obiwan Member

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    Most published research findings are false.

    Really? What do you mean?
     
  6. BotchCat

    BotchCat New

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    Very interesting. I agree. In my opinion the degree of suffering materialist science has caused has not been widely discussed.
     
  7. JKMac

    JKMac New

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    I believe the roots of most religions were probably reasonably pure in intent and purpose when they began. However it doesn't take long for those with an agenda to screw things up, which has certainly been done with the major churches.

    Also from my experience very few religions preach that members should search and discover their own truth and seek their own proof. Spiritualism comes the closest in my experience.

    So where does that leave me in terms of whether religion is "all bad"?

    For starters I don't think that anything is "all" anything: everything is shades of gray. Having said that, I would say that good intentions aside, modern religion is nearly rotten to the core and does way more harm than good in the world. And further, any religion that suggests people should believe ANYTHING because "it is written" is in my mind, invalid.

    I disagree with those who say that moral code comes from, or is even proof of the existence of god. I think "do unto others" might just as easily be a human trait which is reflected in the mirror of the church, which at this point is much more a creation of man than God anyway.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
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  8. perandre

    perandre Member

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    I regret bringing up the word "religion", I really want to address all kinds of spirituality. I'm interested in the "organized" part too; can we have true spirituality without any organization in broad sense?

    Anything else sounds like relativism or wishful thinking ...most everyone who has found some truth of any value, wants to express their point of view. If it catches on, soon enough you have books, structure, leadership,
    etc.
     
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  9. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    Not everything is even capable of being expressed. At least not in words. That's one reason why there are so many forms of art. But without venturing into that territory, perhaps the only way to express spiritual vision is to stop talking about it, stop writing about it. Simply live it.
     
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  10. JKMac

    JKMac New

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    Yup. True there.

    For seekers there is a tendency to try and find a (the?) truth that resonates, which soon enough becomes their belief system to follow dogmatically.

    At one point I attended a Spiritualist church because it seemed to be a fit at the time, and I found the seeds of dogmatism and false certitude that pervades most churches. So I moved on.

    I've come to see that people seem to want to reach a destination and stop all the questioning. After all, it's fatiguing to have your answers always just beyond your reach and to have new questions constantly popping up just as you get your arms around the old ones. It's seems predictable that most people will at some point, find what feels like "the answer" and want to tell others, and there you go, a new cycle of belief has begun.
     
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  11. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    I should add that as a consequence of this, there may be many millions, perhaps billions who have sought and found their path. But they are not out there preaching, or joining or founding organisations. They may even appear invisible. Who are these people? Perhaps that garage mechanic, or the checkout assistant at the supermarket are among them. You may meet and interact with such people on a daily basis, and never know it, because these are the ones who are not shouting about their faith, or trying to convert anyone. They are just quietly living it.

    I think it's a mistake to assume that the voices we hear shouting the loudest represent the only truth which is out there. On the contrary, those whose voices aren't raised may represent a greater truth.
     
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  12. JKMac

    JKMac New

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    Easier said than done,,, because for many, perhaps the majority, reading about it, and talking about it is a huge part of discovering their path. Those who have had a transformative experience might not need any further assistance but I have found that even those people usually need some reassurance that they are not imagining it all. And that comes from reading and talking about it.

    For over 50 years I didn't consider that there was an alternative to scientific reductionism until I (quite by accident) took a closer look at the huge volume of literature, which until then had been transparent to me. It seems I was ready at that point to consider all of the available data.

    Without the material that others wrote, I would still be fumbling along in what I now consider to be an illusory existence. The illusory existence is still my primary reality, but at least I can feel the falsity of it, and slowly I feel like I am unwinding myself from the axle.
     
  13. Obiwan

    Obiwan Member

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    @JKMac
    I've never understood why spiritualism needs to ape churches. If it's true that mediums are acting as a simple bridge between the 'worlds' why does it need a church? To me it suggests using telephone exchanges as religous buildings. True some spiritualist churches also include philosophy but I don't see why that needs a church either.

    I've been to a few different spiritualist churches and they all felt like non-conformist chapels to me - an instant turn-off. The singing was dreadful too - mechanical, religious, dreadful. I guess if that's what people want fair enough.
     
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  14. JKMac

    JKMac New

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    I don't think "that's what people want",, at least initially.

    Not to belabor the point but here's my view,,,

    It starts with some people being on a similar path, and wanting to share information. When there are more people than would fit in my living room, I (as a favor to the group) find a bigger place where we can all meet. And we meet on the same day every week and it's probably Sat or Sun because that's when the most people are available to meet,, and we end up calling the place a "church" or assembly hall or whatever,,, but it sure feels like a church.

    Then we develop rules and structure so that we avoid anarchism,, after-all someone needs to bring some organization to the meeting or nobody gets heard. And we find that many in the group want to listen and not speak, because they haven't really formed any opinions on the matter, even though they feel somehow compelled to look for answers.

    And those that have developed an opinion, keep getting asked the same questions by those who are "the listeners", and after a time their answers become rote. And after giving the answers so many times, they write them down (sort of like an FAQ) so the questioners get access to all the standard answers without having to think up all the questions. And now you have religion...

    The progression/cycle is fairly predictable and unfortunate.

    Today, with the internet, the need for a physical meeting place is diminished. We can have access to the information and a sounding board for our experiences without "the church". We still however have the slowly developing dogma and hero worship, and apostles. Ever spend time at the Tom Campbell My Big Toe forum? You'll see all of this there,, especially the apostles, who defend Tom, and his gospel at every turn.
     
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  15. Obiwan

    Obiwan Member

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    There's a lot in what you say and there's a point where attendees turn from curiosity to belief. Belief often stifles enquiry IMHO. Along with belief comes compliance and the need to defend those beliefs.
     
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  16. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    Don't knock all non-conformist music, some of it will blow your socks off!
    I do take your point about spiritualism. As evidence that Uncle Frank is still with us, it may have its uses - though it's difficult to say how much is telepathy or universal mind - and mediumship certainly brings comfort to a lot of people in distress, but I expect more from religion than knowing the new baby has Grace's blue eyes, or the missing watch is behind the sofa. I desire meaning, truth and answers to big questions. Spiritism is fascinating, but it seems to be stuck on kind hearted banalities, and doesn't reflect the scope and wonder of NDE afterlife.
     
  17. Obiwan

    Obiwan Member

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    I think one needs to make a distinction between spiritism (to which you refer, and which is, I think, based on the teachings of Allan Kardec) and Spiritualism - they're not the same thing as I understand it.

    Without evidence of survival, Spiritualism doesn't have anything to offer beyond any other religion as far as I can see. Some of the philosophy is nice , and I particularly enjoy reading the teachings of Silver Birch however unless there is some way to provide evidence of survival or that ostensible communicators are who they say they are, then it's all a bit moot really it seems to me.
     
  18. JKMac

    JKMac New

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    There are many differences...

    Providing weekly demonstration of survival is non trivial... It is a huge differentiator.

    Also there is no doctrine regarding god or any other religious figure.

    There are no prayers. Just the statement specifying the nature of spiritualism.
     
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  19. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    Spiritualism emerged from protestant Christianity, but grew to differ from it in important ways. I view it as part of the "rationalist" evidential movement, and has much in common with non-conformism. Seen as part of the bigger picture of nineteenth century psi exploration of table turning, mind reading, seances, etc, it formed the roots of modern paranormal research, but on their own I believe both spiritism and Spiritualism to have contributed little in terms of hard evidence that would satisfy a skeptic. It has certainly been dogged by fraud and showmanship, which make talented mediums far from easy to discern.

    There is so much I don't understand about spiritualism, like why spirits do not describe the physics (or non-physics) of their environment. I'm aware there are exceptions, but generally speaking their communications are utterly mundane and have little or no connection with the sense of universal understanding NDErs undergo. None of the things near death experiencers want to relate are routinely described by mediums, and the explanations why, and why not, do not convince me. I'm biased towards mediumship being a form of telepathy that may be under the influence of discarnate entities and the medium's own psyche, but am far from convinced it's a direct connection with deceased family and friends. These are my best guess based on the literature and I'm happy with others arriving at different judgements.
     
  20. Obiwan

    Obiwan Member

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    It would be a huge differentiator if they did it (demonstrated survival that is) - in my experience they don't. I have yet to see one medium on a platform in a church who provided survival evidence of any quality. In fact I would say that none of the churches demonstrated even an understanding of what good evidence is.

    There were always prayers at spiritualist churches I attended.

    There is no doctrine but there are principles. I agree spiritualist churches are informal and there is no set dogma one must accept.

    The spiritualist churches I attended all addressed "the great spirit" or "father".

    From my own experience spiritualist churches (and the SNU in particular) strike me as diluted Anglicans.
     

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