Definitions of religion

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This was a session at Sol 2012.

Brandon: What are the various definitions of the word "religion?"

  • Ben: Supernatural: a system that includes a supernatural entity that provides absolute meaning
    • Hank: Lets you explain things that you can't explain with science
  • Brandon: People: ex. cultural/ethnic Jews
  • Brandon: Calling: anything that drives us powerfully to value something
    • Science itself doesn't say to value science ... the drive to value science is a religious impulse
    • Eric: The practice of art can be an expression of a sort of religion of art
    • Lion: It should be possible for people with different callings to connect religiously ... they may be expressions of higher levels: truth, love, caring
    • Eric: What distinguishes a fetish from a religious calling is whether it's about self-gratification or about reaching for something higher
      • Brandon: Selflessness (even if it's not about other people) ... there may be a fuzzy line between the two
      • Lion: Carl Sagan had a genuine concern for other people as well as truth, but was unable to identify that
      • Eric: I used to think caring about other people was a kind of fetish, a form of selfishness, to make you feel good
        • Brandon: There's some truth to that, but there's more to it
        • Eric: Like Paul Krafel's two levels of thermodynamics/flow
        • Brandon: Or more like the first and second solutions to the problem of the Second Law
  • Lion: Opiate (Napoleon's view)
    • Brandon: About controlling people ... but Hell is also used that way
      • Lion: Some people find enormous comfort in the concept of Hell
    • Eric: Using comfort
    • Brandon: Jonathan Haidt quote: "Religion blinds and binds"
      • Hank: A kid asked whether I really believed the scientific story of the origin of Crater Lake, and I described the Native American version ... the kid didn't get any of it because he was taught young-Earth creationism
  • Eric: Theocracy: uses both carrot and stick ... Opiate is a subset of this
  • Ben: Moral Compass
  • Brandon: Aspiration: Conservatives believe we need practice to push ourselves to overcome our baser nature and realize our aspirations
    • Hank: I debated "are humans naturally good or bad" once, saying that society has degraded our natural goodness
  • Eric: Choice of Goal: covers the whole gamut, distinguishes from philosophy, science, art, politics
    • The choice may be made by theocrats
    • SolSeed chooses respect for life and the Destiny ... not all religions need these
  • Brandon: Ritual, Language, Metaphors and Stories
  • Lion: Lineage: Project that is carried across generations
    • Maybe not really a religion in itself
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