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You're doing it wrong! - Ed's journal
You're doing it wrong!
So how do you tell the religions of the world that they've got it all wrong?

Here is the problem - a religion is a structure built by men. It's using 'access to divinity' as a basis for assertion of power. The clergy are no more holy than you are. Or anyone else for that matter. They have no special insight in to the mind of God.

Perhaps they're better educated than average - less the case now, but certainly in the past this was so - and thus worth listing to for the sake of their knowledge and wisdom. But the whole thing built on the false pretence that God cares about your individual destiny.

We have this conceit, humankind, that God loves us. That the world is ordered, and layed out with a plan, and God orchestrates it all. And conceit it is - there is nothing in the way of proof that this is the case.

It's based on this assumption of control. That the universe itself is controlled and orchestrated. This I believe, is grounded in the fact that we're all ... well, a bit unprepared for the concept that there might be nothing else. That this might be our only shot at existance, and there really is no one holding our hand.

But it's not. The Universe is more a work of art, than a planned mechanism. Complicated and intricate, with much beauty at all scales, from the intergalactic, down to the fantasically fascinating interactions at the subatomic scale. This work of art unfolds, evolves and shifts. Maybe it's for a reason, but ... art has no need for a purposes - that it exists is enough.

So for all your prayers, remember this. A prayer doesn't change anything. There is no one listening, no one caring about how sad you are. A prayer is meditation. It's focussing _your_ mind on the things at hand - what is important, what is not. And that's good. Just don't go thinking there's any intervention coming, because there isn't.

There is something that set the Universe in motion. There's something that gives us all the ability to think for ourselves. There's something that set in motion the seeds of life itself. Now stop being sheep, and use that gift. Choose to be yourself, not part of the flock.
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jorune From: jorune Date: October 3rd, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Beliefs are awkward, if only there was some way that you could prove something in a rational and logical manner. If only we had that then mothers could prove to daughters that their new boyfriend was bad for them, that football team A was better than team B and that cats are superior to dogs.
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serpentstar From: serpentstar Date: October 3rd, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Suspect you're preaching to the choir, here. :)

I like the old Gnostic idea -- there's no need for priests and popes as intercessors between humans and the Divine (whatever that might be -- and "the observable Universe" is as good an idea as any, and better than most). Everyone can do it.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: October 5th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've quite liked that thought too, ever since I started reading up on Taoism.

It's particularly tough to explain, because it's just so very simple and elegant. And as such, if you get it, you get it, there is no massive journey into the priesthood and enlightement. But there's a struggle to hold onto a simple and ephemeral concept that is 'Tao is'.

mcnazgul From: mcnazgul Date: October 3rd, 2008 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
You don't because they aren't.

Believing everyone in all organised religions have got it wrong pre-supposes you know what's right? If you did then things would be very different, not only for you but for everyone else in the immediate area.

Your argument is flawed on the following points:

This is a universe with structure; thermodynamics does not allow for cellular existence in all it's imperfections; evolution of organ development (such as that found in the bombadier beetle) is ridiculously against the odds. The mere fact your grandmothers and grandfathers met, married and produced your parents who in turn did the same for you is based on a series of events that defies probability. Alan Moore says this eloquently in Watchmen.

On an subjective level, prayer changes perception. Even the act of cognition of a situation alters it at a subjective level; by surrendering your need for control over that situation to a higher power, you've acknowledged the presence of a higher power and your need for something to intervene.

If it happens is another matter (you still have a say in how it turns out even if you've relinquished control) which means you can still make a difference. However, you changed your perception of the situation at a subjective level. And if the universe agrees with you - great!

To believe the universe is art presupposes the existence of an artist; presupposes a message to be interpreted (even if it's nothing more than a doodle indicating 'God I'm bored') by those who can understand such subtleties. To believe that it is a series of random events collaged together with elements thrown in according to blind circumstance cheapens the whole experience.

This world, this life is much more than sound & fury, signifying nothing. How would Newton have stood on the shoulders of giants if those giants had been scrawling doggerel in taverns or laying in the arms of their lovers instead of following the inspiration that there was an order to such things and laying down a trail for others to follow.

Yes there have been evils worked in the name of divinity; there has also been considerable good done in the same names. Do we therefore condemn the whole structure? Do we throw out the care shown to the injured, the advancement of academic sciences by forming universities to lament fallen soldiers or food brought to the starving because people have been people?

Being able to think independently does not lessen your ability to be part of something greater. That choice is always up to you and if you prefer to stand apart, that's your decision. Even if you're a wolf, you know what a pack is...

Though life is rarely easy, I know I am loved.
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elrohana From: elrohana Date: October 3rd, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I stand somewhere between the rock and the hard place.

I loathe organised religion in the same way I loathe labels and pigeonholes. However I do have my own belief system that is based partially on physics, chemistry, biology, and maths, and partially on my own ideas of why the world is. I DO think most organised religions have got it wrong, because the Universe is an entirely subjective experience, and any organisation, religious or otherwise, that tells you how the Universe IS, cannot be right for every single person on the planet. It just can't work. People are too different.

So whilst I don't believe in gods of any sort, I do believe other people do, and that gods therefore exist in the subjective version of the Universe that those god-fearing folk live in - in my Universe they don't exist and I therefore don't worry about them.

I do not, however, believe that this is the first and last time this particular energy form, currently known as Elrohana, has existed, because science tells me energy cannot be destroyed, it can only change state, and thus I have high hopes of finding a new form after this one wears out, perhaps as a speck of dust or maybe even a seed, an amoeba, an embryo, a cloud formation. Wouldn't that be wonderful, to have the cloud's view of the Earth, assuming we arrogant currently-human energy packages haven't ravaged it beyond beauty by the time I change state?
sobrique From: sobrique Date: October 5th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm leaning more to the Taoist view myself - that there is 'something' that meshes it all together. That's as simple, and as wonderful as the fact that the air I breath comes from the plants across the road, and as complicated as saying that 'everything is'.

Divinity is just a label, and a meaningless distinction - things just are, and we all have an opportunity to contribute in our own little way, to the majestic work of art that is the universe itself.
mister_jack From: mister_jack Date: October 4th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, Ed, the bridge doesn't suit you.
purp1e_magic From: purp1e_magic Date: October 4th, 2008 07:49 am (UTC) (Link)
The clergy are no more holy than you are. Or anyone else for that matter. They have no special insight in to the mind of God.

Islam is based on just that. The imam (in theory, at least) is elected by the people as being the most suitable for the job based on their knowledge of religious matters. Their purpose is to lead prayer. There are a few other functions, such as being the official to perform the marriage rite, but this is more on the same grounds as a registrar.

Quakerism is even closer to what you've just said. Quakers have very wide-ranging beliefs, although the faith is historically rooted in Christianity. Some Quakers don't even believe in god. The difference between a prayer and a meditation is that meditation is an isolating thing, with a self-focus. A prayer is a connection to something, be it the people in your thoughts, the people in the room or a higher being or holy spirit. A Quaker meeting is an interesting thing, because it's like meditation, but with a few words now and then from other people's deepest thoughts.

Based on comments you've made here and in the past, I think you'd find it an interesting thing to learn more about.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: October 5th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
That sounds interesting, and something I'll make a point of following up. Do you have possible suggestions as to start points?
From: dj_rws Date: October 4th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your rant seems all too nihilistic too me, and that's exactly how I should feel about it as a scientist. But I don't.

Going back on one of your previous posts, to me god does exist and it is a question of faith and to me God leaves clues that only mean something to me. Those little co-incidences as if "by magic" or divine intervention seem to be targetted directly at me for the purpose of occasionally saying "something is watching".

For example, the last post I was thinking about, you said something about the Mandlebrot set and I wonder if it really was by sheer co-incidence or some kind of divine intervention that I happened to be thinking about the Mandlebrot set at work, for no particular reason other than trying to think up of names for characters in an RP game, and then logged into LJ to find the notion of religious faith and the Mandlebrot set mentioned in the same post. To anyone else a spooky co-incidence, to me, the sort of message I'd leave myself in order to convey enough of a hint without leaving any evidence. This is enough for me to reinforce my faith but as for the rest of you I don't really care what you think which I guess means that I agree with your doubts on what I call "organised religion". To me organised religion is in the same league as organised crime. Most atheists probably think they are the same. But I shall leave you with this nugget: It is your God given right to be an atheist ;)
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sobrique From: sobrique Date: October 5th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, it's perhaps a bit. But only in the sense that I put forth that there's no celestial grader, declaring 'pass/fail' or fudging the results if we pray hard enough.

So in a sense, yes, there's no _meaning_ to being, beyond ... existing for it's own sake.

The M-Set is beautiful, complicated and fascinating. It doesn't have a reason to be, it just is. Life 'just is'. The puddle doesn't wonder why it's in exactly the right place for a puddle to form, but perhaps it appreciates it's 'puddleness'.

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