What Religion Is Not

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26 Jun 2019 22:43 #340053 by Br. John
WHAT RELIGION IS NOT ~ John Gray. Seven Types of Atheism

The idea that religion is a matter of belief is parochial. What did Homer ‘believe’? Or the authors of the Bhagavad-Gita? The web of traditions that western scholars have described as ‘Hinduism’ comes with no prescribed creed, any more than does the mixture of folk religion with mysticism that western scholars call ‘Taoism’.

The notion that religions are creeds – lists of propositions or doctrines that everyone must accept or reject – emerged only with Christianity. Belief was never as important as observance in Jewish religion. In its earliest biblical forms, the religion practised by the Jewish people was a type not of monotheism – the assertion that there is only one God – but of henotheism, the exclusive worship of their own God. Worshipping foreign gods was condemned as disloyalty, not as unbelief. It was only some time around the sixth century bc, during the period when the Israelites returned from exile to Jerusalem, that the idea that there is only one God emerged in Jewish religion. Even then the heart of Judaism continued to be practice, not belief.

Christianity has been a religion of belief from the time it was invented. But there have been Christian traditions in which belief is not central. Eastern Orthodoxy holds that God is beyond any human conception – a view fleshed out in what is known as negative or apophatic theology. Even in western Christianity, ‘believing in God’ has not always meant asserting the existence of a supernatural being. The thirteenth-century Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225–74) was explicit that God does not exist in the same way that any particular thing exists.

In most religions, debates about belief are unimportant. Belief was irrelevant in pagan religion and continues to be unimportant in the religions of India and China. When they declare themselves unbelievers, atheists are invoking an understanding of religion that has been unthinkingly inherited from monotheism.

Many religions that feature a creator-god have imagined it very differently from the God that has been worshipped in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Since the rise of Christianity the divine mind that is supposed to have created the world has often been conceived as being perfectly good. However, Gnostic traditions have envisioned a supreme God that created the universe and then withdrew into itself, leaving the world to be ruled by a lesser god, or Demiurge, which might be indifferent or hostile to humankind. Such Gnostic ideas may seem to us far-fetched. But they have some advantages over more traditional conceptions of a Supreme Being. For one thing, they resolve the ‘problem of evil’. If God is all powerful and all good, why is there evil in the world? A familiar response has it that evil is required by free will, without which there can be no true goodness. This is the central claim of Christian theodicy (in Greek, ‘justifying God’) – the attempt to explain evil as part of a divine design. An entire tradition of atheism has developed against theodicy, memorably articulated by Ivan Karamazov, who in Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov declares that if a tortured child is the price of goodness then he will hand back to God his entry ticket to the world. I consider this type of atheism – sometimes called misotheism, or God-hatred – in Chapter 5.

Taking monotheism as a model for religion is misleading. It is not only animism and polytheism that are left out of the picture. Non-theist religions are ignored as well. Buddhism says nothing of any divine mind and rejects any idea of the soul. The world consists of processes and events. The human sense of self is an illusion; freedom is found in ridding oneself of this illusion. Popular Buddhism has retained ideas of the transmigration of souls that were current in India at the time when the Buddha lived, along with the belief that merits accumulated in one life can be passed on to another. But the idea of karma, which underpins these beliefs, denotes an impersonal process of cause and effect rather than reward or punishment by a Supreme Being. Nowhere does Buddhism speak of such a Being, and it is in fact an atheist religion. The smears and fulminations of the ‘new atheists’ make sense only in a specifically Christian context, and even then only within a few subsets of the Christian religion.

John Gray. Seven Types of Atheism (Kindle Locations 118-149). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

John Gray. Seven Types of Atheism (Kindle Locations 149-150). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

According to the Arabic proverb, there are no such things as a Phoenix, a Ghoul, or a True Bosom Friend, but I say to you that I found them all among my neighbors. ~ Kahlil Gibran
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27 Jun 2019 00:42 #340054 by Carlos.Martinez3
en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gray_(philosopher)


I would love to be googled and have (philosopher) to my name on Wikipedia.

I had to google him to make sure he wasn’t the preacher who bought his wife a sports car from the church. Interesting find - I WILL look this through - May buy it if it’s worth it

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27 Jun 2019 06:48 #340059 by Gisteron
Replied by Gisteron on topic What Religion Is Not
Seeing as Dr. Gray is not here to present or defend his position, is there anyone else among us willing to speak in his stead? Or generally, is there something to discuss in this open discussion?

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27 Jun 2019 07:33 #340060 by Carlos.Martinez3
Do people need to be present to discuss their books or ideas or even their articles - their ways - YouTube’s -magazine essays - audio -... ?

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27 Jun 2019 08:19 #340061 by Gisteron
Replied by Gisteron on topic What Religion Is Not
No, they don't, of course. That's why I asked if anyone else was willing to start a conversation, because a blanket quote with no commentary doesn't quite get things rolling, I find, aside from perhaps the occasional vapid "thanks for sharing" or so...

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27 Jun 2019 14:19 #340064 by Manu
Replied by Manu on topic What Religion Is Not
The excerpt from the book is very interesting, an a definite must read for the young "new atheist" that is born from a rejection of mainstream Christianity.

The title of the thread, however, is a bit misleading. "What religion is not" seems to imply a misunderstanding of all religion, when it simply is an overgeneralization. Yes, there is more than one "type" of religion, but the type of religion most of us have grown up to know (montheistic brands of Christianity and Islam) account for over 50% of all the world population's religions, so to dismiss it as "what religion is not" seems counterproductive, given its massive hold on world events: politics, terrorism, and the way people interact with each other is all influenced by these prevalent brands of religion.

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.

TM: Bruno Moreira (Kyber) | Public Journal

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27 Jun 2019 15:08 - 27 Jun 2019 15:18 #340067 by Carlos.Martinez3
To me : religion is man made. Every part about it. The “periscope” or “tunnel vision “ effect happens any and everywhere. Often for me in my real circle, with religion and things I was/ spoon fed/ A belief to me is sacred and just and tall and strong and able to fall upon when needed - and also changeable and pliable... even make - able. It’s easy to fall into arguments and traps. The ol green eyed monster is everywhere - some times behind pulpits and loving hearts. I often say “if you put all religions in a room you will get no argument only happy people... the only argument is who gets the credit.” In my life and practice, actions are often like character and and seeking and tools - not really sided or viewed or referenced to one singular place or person. We can claim it’s “______ blank “religion or idea or way but then we often forget that the path that actually got us to the point of receiving that was all —-us. Our choices can often create or not so create. I say - regardless of beliefs it’s usually the action that makes or has a hand in making things or making them new and different. I personally subscribe to the “All Myth” every myth for every man. EM4EM lol ( I call dibs on that coined phrase lol)
When the action is the results of a thoughtful heart - regardless of who or what it believes in ... we see grace. Forgiveness - Grace - mercy - all these things - arnt religious. Nope they are character. Subjective character if you find them in certain lights and led by examples in certain ways but nevertheless - just character. I guess even definitions of the word or practice of “ faith and religion “ can vary too.


Edit : Arnt ain’t ’ a word but it is when ya spell it . ( Texas joke )

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Last edit: 27 Jun 2019 15:18 by Carlos.Martinez3.
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27 Jun 2019 15:23 #340068 by Athena_Undomiel
Typically it is the practice that should be the focus, not necessarily the belief. If a person is being a "good" human being, what does it matter where the credit goes? I think that some people get hung up on the belief aspect, and lose sight of the action, where religion is concerned. If a person does good deeds and is truly selfless, does it matter what they believe or who's name they are committing these acts in? Can we not give credit where credit is due? To the individual? I think that's what draws some to Jediism, why does someone else need credit for my deeds, for my selflessness, why can I not have the credit for being a good person? Jediism allows for the individual to accept and acknowledge their individual choices.
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27 Jun 2019 16:08 #340070 by Manu
Replied by Manu on topic What Religion Is Not

Athena_Undomiel wrote: Typically it is the practice that should be the focus, not necessarily the belief. If a person is being a "good" human being, what does it matter where the credit goes? I think that some people get hung up on the belief aspect, and lose sight of the action, where religion is concerned. If a person does good deeds and is truly selfless, does it matter what they believe or who's name they are committing these acts in? Can we not give credit where credit is due? To the individual? I think that's what draws some to Jediism, why does someone else need credit for my deeds, for my selflessness, why can I not have the credit for being a good person? Jediism allows for the individual to accept and acknowledge their individual choices.


Considering that mainstream Christianity teaches us that we can only be saved through God's Grace, and that heaven is not bought with good deeds but through faith, what you or I think the focus should be is irrelevant when some fanatic who takes the Bible literally wants to condemn someone for thinking differently. That certainly isn't the ideal of what Jesus meant his followers to be, but it is the reality of what those followers are nowadays.

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.

TM: Bruno Moreira (Kyber) | Public Journal

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27 Jun 2019 17:23 #340074 by Carlos.Martinez3

Manu wrote:

Athena_Undomiel wrote: Typically it is the practice that should be the focus, not necessarily the belief. If a person is being a "good" human being, what does it matter where the credit goes? I think that some people get hung up on the belief aspect, and lose sight of the action, where religion is concerned. If a person does good deeds and is truly selfless, does it matter what they believe or who's name they are committing these acts in? Can we not give credit where credit is due? To the individual? I think that's what draws some to Jediism, why does someone else need credit for my deeds, for my selflessness, why can I not have the credit for being a good person? Jediism allows for the individual to accept and acknowledge their individual choices.


Considering that mainstream Christianity teaches us that we can only be saved through God's Grace, and that heaven is not bought with good deeds but through faith, what you or I think the focus should be is irrelevant when some fanatic who takes the Bible literally wants to condemn someone for thinking differently. That certainly isn't the ideal of what Jesus meant his followers to be, but it is the reality of what those followers are nowadays.



Not intended to argue only noticing the words we use ...
Who is this “us” you speak of ? You and some one else ? You and me ? What I myself got from my study in the Abrahamic faith may differ from what any one has gotten. Are you for certain every one is taught that by Christianity and what type ? I know several denominations who teach salvation by works. Are they wrong ? Who’s right ? The Abrahamic faith has tons of variations - if it has taught “us” all anything is that there can be a vast array of .... selfless versions as there are denominations.

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