Author Topic: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?  (Read 1268 times)

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Offline John Albert

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #30 on: May 24, 2019, 07:11:33 AM »
Well, you can argue that since crime exists, then police forces and the judicial systems don’t work as ‘enforcers’ either.  But obviously, if the police and courts stop working, then crime would skyrocket.  In the same way that religion and its ‘moral’ code mightn’t stop activities it regards as immoral, but might reduce their prevalence markedly.

We have plenty of information showing that police forces and judicial systems do in fact reduce the incidence of crime. But despite the copious sociological research into the effectiveness of religion to reduce immorality, the data is all over the place.

Religion might reduce the prevalence of activities that it regards as immoral, or it might not. Some religions might give their followers the impression that all they have to do is beg a pardon from their imaginary friend, and all will be forgiven. We see that happening all the time, especially in the lack of practical accountability at the highest levels of power.


« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 07:18:50 AM by John Albert »

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #31 on: May 24, 2019, 12:45:34 PM »
[...] ‘way back when’ religion did enforce a moral code.  It was virtually the only thing doing it.

Did religion enforce a moral code, or did it just enforce servitude to the priestly class? And how would we even know what religion actually did "way back when"? And what actually constitutes a "moral code"? The "morals" of the Old Testament are not values I'd call moral. They were pretty nasty, and look to me like rules to help keep the already-powerful in power. That's what religion does today, and probably did "way back when" as well.
Daniel
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Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #32 on: May 24, 2019, 02:10:52 PM »
[...] ‘way back when’ religion did enforce a moral code.  It was virtually the only thing doing it.

Did religion enforce a moral code, or did it just enforce servitude to the priestly class? And how would we even know what religion actually did "way back when"? And what actually constitutes a "moral code"? The "morals" of the Old Testament are not values I'd call moral. They were pretty nasty, and look to me like rules to help keep the already-powerful in power. That's what religion does today, and probably did "way back when" as well.

Just because it isn't your moral code doesn't mean that it didn't enforce a moral code.
common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Offline John Albert

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #33 on: May 24, 2019, 08:22:48 PM »
The earliest known civic code is the Code of Hammurabi from ancient Babylonia.

Considering that the Babylonian culture revered its rulers as "god-kings" and the code itself was mythologized to have been delivered to Hammurabi direct from the Sun god Shamesh (who was also their god of justice), it seems appropriate to classify that system as religious.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #34 on: May 25, 2019, 11:55:46 AM »
[...] ‘way back when’ religion did enforce a moral code.  It was virtually the only thing doing it.

Did religion enforce a moral code, or did it just enforce servitude to the priestly class? And how would we even know what religion actually did "way back when"? And what actually constitutes a "moral code"? The "morals" of the Old Testament are not values I'd call moral. They were pretty nasty, and look to me like rules to help keep the already-powerful in power. That's what religion does today, and probably did "way back when" as well.

Just because it isn't your moral code doesn't mean that it didn't enforce a moral code.

Maybe this is just semantics, but I would say that a behavioral code is not necessarily a moral code. "Thou shalt worship this imaginary man in the sky and not that imaginary man in the sky" is not, IMO, a moral precept. it's just a behavioral one.
Daniel
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Offline AllanGuldager

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #35 on: May 25, 2019, 04:12:36 PM »
There has recently been some articles about religion at www.videnskab.dk (a Danish public funded, but independet science site, Videnskab is the Danish word for science).

Michael Rothstein, phD in religious history, argues that humans are a religious-producing animal, and that the every culture has some degree of religious beliefs. He says the evolution has made humans religious. Another phD in religious studies, Jesper Sørensen describes two hypotheses: 1) religion has an evolutionary advantage because it creates social cohesion, 2) religion is a biproduct of evolution. Humans have an intuitive sense of danger, but that intuition also makes us see things, that aren't there.

On the off-change someone can read Danish, here is the article: https://videnskab.dk/kultur-samfund/har-kulturer-uden-religion-nogensinde-eksisteret

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #36 on: May 25, 2019, 05:50:31 PM »
I'm Swedish, so I can read Danish and Norwegian reasonably well.

I think the two hypotheses are exactly what we are discussing and disputing.

I think we must also keep in mind that the way we construct "religion" is not universal. For example, if you asked the pre-Christian Norse what their religion was, they would not understand the question. I would think the same applies to hunter-gatherer peoples with animistic beliefs. The spirit in the tree is not a different kind of belief than the antelope.
"I’m a member of no party. I have no ideology. I’m a rationalist. I do what I can in the international struggle between science and reason and the barbarism, superstition and stupidity that’s all around us." - Christopher Hitchens

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #37 on: May 25, 2019, 07:33:45 PM »
... religion is a biproduct of evolution. Humans have an intuitive sense of danger, but that intuition also makes us see things, that aren't there.

^ This!
Daniel
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Offline Oh Henry

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #38 on: May 28, 2019, 12:49:00 PM »
... religion is a biproduct of evolution. Humans have an intuitive sense of danger, but that intuition also makes us see things, that aren't there.

^ This!

Meh, as do the squirrels that visit my bird feeder.  I'm not necessarily saying you're wrong, but "an intuitive sense of danger" is common among all higher order animals (maybe even plants if you consider deciduous dormancy to be "an intuitive" reaction to environmental stress), so why is it the primary driver of a uniquely human phenomenon?
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Offline SnarlPatrick

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #39 on: June 20, 2019, 05:46:13 PM »
I suspect that Judaism became the foundation for the modern West in large part because of the civilizing influence of replacing human sacrifice with animal sacrifice. Or at least, that was a valuable effect, if not a cause.
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SnarlPatrick, you are a nazi apologist piece of shit. You're a coward who hides behind the internet   ....   and I can only imagine it's a good thing your Jewish ancestors are dead so they don't have to watch you grow into the bigoted nazi creep you've become.

Offline John Albert

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #40 on: June 22, 2019, 10:03:30 AM »
I suspect that Judaism became the foundation for the modern West in large part because of the civilizing influence of replacing human sacrifice with animal sacrifice. Or at least, that was a valuable effect, if not a cause.

The Roman Empire was the foundation for the modern West.

Offline Fast Eddie B

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #41 on: June 22, 2019, 12:18:49 PM »
2) religion is a biproduct of evolution. Humans have an intuitive sense of danger, but that intuition also makes us see things, that aren't there.

That would be part of my guess.

The other is our brains grew complicated enough to employ analogy. It’s a short step from knowing and respecting a father figure - one who can both protect and punish you - to projecting an ultimate father figure. The language of Christianity certainly reinforces that. “Our father, who art in heaven...” etc.

Prior to such patriarchal religions, the multiple Gods of Roman, Greek and Hindu religions seem to have arisen as a means to explain things as yet unexplained. The source of thunder, for instance. Again, using analogies and giving human attributes to Gods.

I don’t think control of the masses was the initial impetus. But no doubt that became part and parcel of religion as some learned the power they could gain from it.

Offline SnarlPatrick

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #42 on: June 22, 2019, 01:28:55 PM »
I suspect that Judaism became the foundation for the modern West in large part because of the civilizing influence of replacing human sacrifice with animal sacrifice. Or at least, that was a valuable effect, if not a cause.

The Roman Empire was the foundation for the modern West.

Surely you've heard the "Athens and Jerusalem" take on the modern West.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #43 on: June 23, 2019, 08:20:27 AM »
Surely you've heard the "Athens and Jerusalem" take on the modern West.

Yeah I've heard of it, Athens is the city of Reason and Jerusalem is the city of Faith. I don't buy it.

Rome is the city of Imperialism, and that's what really drives Western civilization.

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Did religion arise as an enforcement mechanism for morality?
« Reply #44 on: June 24, 2019, 11:48:14 AM »
Come on John Albert and SnarlPatrick, you can do better than this. A most basic reading illustrates that Western culture is not reducible to "Athens", "Jerusalem", or "imperialism". That is almost like trying to reduce Chinese culture to "Confucius" or Japanese culture to "samurais".

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The earliest civilizations which influenced the development of Western culture were those of Mesopotamia; the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran: the cradle of civilization. Ancient Egypt similarly had a strong influence on Western culture.

The Greeks contrasted themselves with both their Eastern neighbours (such as the Trojans in Iliad) as well as their Western neighbours (who they considered barbarians). Concepts of what is the West arose out of legacies of the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. Later, ideas of the West were formed by the concepts of Latin Christendom and the Holy Roman Empire. What is thought of as Western thought today originates primarily from Greco-Roman and Germanic influences, and includes the ideals of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, as well as Christian culture.

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Western culture has developed many themes and traditions, the most significant of which are:

- Greco-Roman classic letters, arts, architecture, philosophical and cultural tradition, which include the influence of preeminent authors and philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, - Homer, Virgil, and Cicero, as well as a long mythologic tradition.
- Christian ethical, philosophical, and mythological tradition, stemming largely from the Christian Bible, particularly the New Testament Gospels.
- Monasteries, schools, libraries, books, book making, universities, teaching, education, and lecture halls.
- A tradition of the importance of the rule of law.
- Secular humanism, rationalism and Enlightenment thought. This set the basis for a new critical attitude and open questioning of religion, favouring freethinking and questioning of the church as an authority, which resulted in open-minded and reformist ideals inside, such as liberation theology, which partly adopted these currents, and secular and political tendencies such as laicism, agnosticism and atheism.
- Generalized usage of some form of the Latin or Greek alphabet, and derived forms, such as Cyrillic, used by those southern and eastern Slavic countries of Christian Orthodox tradition, historically under the Byzantine Empire and later within the Russian czarist or Soviet area of influence. Other variants of the Latin or Greek alphabets are found in the Gothic and Coptic alphabets, which historically superseded older scripts, such as runes, and the Egyptian Demotic and Hieroglyphic systems.
- Natural law, human rights, constitutionalism, parliamentarism (or presidentialism) and formal liberal democracy in recent times—prior to the 19th century, most Western governments were still monarchies.
- A large influence, in modern times, of many of the ideals and values developed and inherited from Romanticism.
- An emphasis on, and use of, science as a means of understanding the natural world and humanity's place in it.
- More pronounced use and application of innovation and scientific developments, as well as a more rational approach to scientific progress (what has been known as the scientific method), as opposed to more empiric discoveries in the Eastern world.
"I’m a member of no party. I have no ideology. I’m a rationalist. I do what I can in the international struggle between science and reason and the barbarism, superstition and stupidity that’s all around us." - Christopher Hitchens

 

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