Attack of the Fundamentalist Mormon mutants!

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/forbidden-fruit-6438448

I almost feel bad for the mutated children — almost.

However, assuming anything even resembling Calvinist “predestination”, they were predestined to be the degenerate mutant hell-spawn of polygamous cultists, and then to spend an eternity in Hell.

(Such is at least one variant of the “Good news” Fundies are always yawping about.)

 

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Great Huffpo article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-reiss/four-reasons-for-decline-_b_8778968.html

They site four primary reasons for the decline in “organized” religion:

1. Organized religion versus spirituality

2. Tribalism versus humanitarianism

3. Traditional versus nontraditional families

4. Trust versus loss of confidence in institutions

Quite frankly, from my perspective, all four of these reasons boil down to one basic issue:

mindlessness/conformity vs. rationality/independent thought

ALL of them:

For example: the fact that “organized” religion is prohibited (at least in the U.S. and Europe) from torturing/slaughtering “heretics” has resulted in something like 38,000 “denominations” (and a multitude of “non-denominational” groups) as well.

Most of these groups don’t even consider one another to be “True” Christians

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman

So, yeah: once people figure out that the truth-claims (“Beliefs”) and practices associated with their particular geographic/demographic “community” aren’t the only alternatives (and more importantly – that they probably won’t be murdered for deviating from them) – well, you’re bound to have a significant decrease in uncritical acquiescence to the diktats of whatever passes for “Clergy”.

Just to take Judaism as an example:

The three major factions nowadays are “Orthodox”/”Conservative” and “reformed”.  (“Humanistic” Judaism is more about providing a means for non-religious “jews” to continue to be involved with their paticular ethnic “identity”).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_Judaism

In other words: “Humanistic” Judaism is basically the dessicated husk of an increasingly impotent ethnoreligious subculture.

(Its adherents have loosened the strait-jacket somewhat, but they can’t quite bring themselves to remove it completely).

Same goes for the contentless “religion” of “Unitarian Universalism” (but that’s another post for another day).

But, yeah: you can’t perpetrate the sort of tribal exclusivity/mindless acquiescence (aping and parroting) which much of “organized” religion requires – without isolating yourselves from “the world” (and “othering”everybody else – including would-be dissenters within your own ranks).

Any attempt to do so eventually ends with your particular ethnoreligious subculture becoming an inbred mess.  (Examples; the Amish, the more degenerate/cultic variants of Mormonism, etc.)

Long term, that “strategy” isn’t viable.

 

 

An example of why “Organized” religion is already impotent/terrified for its very survival:

http://norse-mythology.org/

The above site bills itself as “Norse Mythology for smart people”.  Importantly, it demonstrates the fact that so-called “Organized” religion (read: Christianity/Judaism) has utterly lost anything even resembling hegemony, as far as the culture-at-large is concerned.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, “Christianity” has been in a slow (but steady – and inexorable) state of collapse since (at least) 1054 AD (the “East/West” schism between the Roman Catholic and “Orthodox” churches).

This fragmentation has been accelerating since the so-called “Protestant Reformation”.  “Organized” religion can only serve as a mechanism of control if it can manage to keep its victims from noticing that there are alternatives to whatever theological “product” it claims to offer.

This is one reason for the so-called “problem” of ever-emptier churches: “organized” religion can longer (openly) resort to physical brutality, so it has to depend on the rational assent of its victims, or “emotional blackmail” (for example: a stereotypical Jewish mother, “disappointed” that her son would cohabit with/marry a “Shiksa”).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interfaith_marriage_in_Judaism

Quite frankly, “organized” religion has exactly two means by which to propagate itself:

  1. Persuasion
  2. Physical force

The problem is: most religions make claims which are easily falsified (for example, any attempt to take the Noah’s Ark thing “literally”).  The failure of “literal” religious interpretation causes what passes for “religious intellectuals” to resort to the “metaphor” gambit.

THIS, in turn, leads to the following question: “IF our ‘sacred’ blather isn’t literally true, then in what way – if any – is it superior to the “sacred” blather of these cultures our Missionaries keep trying to destroy?”

To which (of course) “organized”  can offer no answer.

Throw in the fact that religious “beliefs” (and the practices associated with them) tend to be overwhelmingly correlated with “worldly” factors such as geography/Demography – and (as they say), the “Jig is up”.

Once even a small subset of any given population grasps the fact that their “religion” is merely an artifact of geography/demography (just another subcultural shibboleth no different in principle from the accent/dialect/jargon endemic to their region-of-birth (IE: whether they typically call soft-drinks “Soda” or “pop”) — at that point, the purveyors of “organized” religion will inevitably find themselves on the defensive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_for_soft_drinks_in_the_United_States

Does this mean that “organized” religion will  immediately atrophy completely, and the entire population will become Dawkins-type “New Atheists?”

No.  What it does mean, however, is (barring a few isolated – and most likely inbred – population-groups), “organized” religion (of whatever form) will continue losing ground.

This is a good thing, in that the increasingly disorganized wreckage of “organized” religion will have to invest most of their (ever-dwindling) resources and credibility into retaining their current “flocks” – leaving them little/no  opportunity to brainwash and brutalize their way to “power”.

 

 

The most probable “alaternative” to the pablum mentioned in the last post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_but_not_religious

If the “Therapeutic deism” pablum is what remains once “Abrahamic” Monotheism  dries to a crusty stain on our mass cultural bedsheets, then the question becomes: is there an “Eastern” equivalent (other than ISCKON, of course?)

The answer is: “yes”.

“Spiritual but not religious” is what you end up with, from somebody too anti-effort/simple-minded to eve manage the “Fluffy bunny” sort of “Wicca”:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluffy_bunny_(Wicca)

SMBR is basically a garbled melange of dumbed-down elements, cobbled together out of Hindu/Buddhist/”New Age”/Western Esotericism, etc. – mixed with a huge amount of “alternative medicine” quackery, and fad-dieting (vegetarian/veganism, etc.)

Again: more touch-feely, pseudo/anti-intellectual, low/no-effort crap, tailor-made for the sort of population where only 15% qualify as “fully literate”, and the “average” reading-level among “adults” is equivalent to first or second grade:

http://eserver.org/courses/spring97/76100o/readings/kozol

Interestingly, Europe has its own version of the two pablum-“faiths” I’ve been talking about:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ietsism

(Hint: even more nebulous and bromidic than all of the others I’ve mentioned.)

Yes well, at least none of those I’ve mentioned are particularly likely to torture and slaughter over matters of “unbelief”.  Moreover, none of them are likely to ever gel into anything even resembling “organized” religion.

 

The pathetic detritus that remains once “organized religion” has been neutered:

Some researchers did some (not extremely rigorous) “research” (IE: interviewing teen-agers), and then compiled their findings as to what those teens claimed to “believe” in terms of religion (if anything).

The results were basically as follows:

The authors find that many young people believed in several moral statutes not exclusive to any of the major world religions. It is this combination of beliefs that they label Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:

  1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

These points of belief were compiled from interviews with approximately 3,000 teenagers.[4]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moralistic_therapeutic_deism

I submit that this (or something very much like it) is what is most likely to remain as a “residue”, given the (inexorable) decline of so-called “organized” religion:

http://www.businessinsider.com/organized-religion-is-on-the-decline-in-america-2015-6

Several reasons:

  1. First, you’ll notice that thhe above is basically a “dumbed–down” version of monotheism.  This is to be expected, given that what we typically designate as the “West” was under the heel of various explicitly monotheistic regimes for approximately 1500 years (from the time when the first “Christian” roman emperors forcibly closed the “pagan” temples, right on up to the so-called Protestant “reformation” (when the Roman Catholic church failed to put down the various heresies  which now constitute “Protestantism”).
  2. The “Commandments” are basically the same sort of touch-feely crap we’ve been wallowing in since (at least) the “Summer of Love” (1967).
  3. Same goes for #3: their “god” basically amounts to an imaginary “self-esteem” coach.
  4. This is basically the “God of the Gaps” thing – a ‘religion” which only resorts to “God-talk” if reality-based solutions fail.
  5. An extremely nebulous “after-life” (with no particular content or promises)

So, yeah: this is basically what you end up with in a culture where “organized religion” is no longer in a position to “enforce” any kind of doctrinal/creedal orthodoxy by means of torture and slaughter of “unbelievers”.

Why isn’t it polytheistic/pantheistic?

Easy: As I’ve said elsewhere on the blog, the various “Abrahamic” religions have a tremendous advantage over Non-Abrahamic ones, here in the “West”: ingidenous non-Abrahamic religions (the various forms of “paganism”) were forcibly exterminated during the “Christianization” of Europe.  So-called “neoopaganism” (in all variants) doesn’t represent the re-awakening of any sort of “living tradition”, so much as an attempt to cobble together various Non-Abrahamic religions from whatever “The Church” couldn’t be bothered to burn.

(This is especially noticeable with stuff like Wicca).

Quite frankly, Monotheism is extremely “easy” (and comfortable) for “Westerners” – which also goes a long way toward explaining why something like ISCKON (The “Hare Krishna” thing) is the closest approximation of Hinduism most White folks would every contemplate joining):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Society_for_Krishna_Consciousness

(TL;DR: a “Hindu”-looking sort of Monotheism is relatively comfortable, for somebody raised by even “cultural” Christians).

At any rate, the above “beliefs” mentioned by the teens probably represent the vanguard of what is probably going to end up being the most common form of “religious” expression in a few decades –  a dumbed-down, touchy-feely, creedless, contentless Theological pablum which makes Unitarian Universalism’s 7 bromides look intellectually/spiritually rigorous by comparison.

*Yawn*.  At least the adherents of the above “belief-system” are unlikely to ever bother torturing/slaughtering dissidents.

 

 

A thoughtful comment deserves an equally-thoughtful response:

I’m bringing this into its own post, because this is a genuinely thoughtful response, and I don’t like doing this sort of thing in the “comments” section:

Original comment is still there (along with the poster’s handle, if you’re interested):

Assuming Reason to be a faculty present in most humans it is possible and appropriate for them when they reach suitable levels of maturity to interrogate their religious, and indeed philosophical, inherited first assumptions in a way that isn’t suitable to apply to language, clothing or local cuisine.

A few points:

To quote Dr. Nathaniel Branden:

Reason is at once a faculty and a process of identifying and integrating the data present or given in awareness. Reason means integration in accordance with the law of noncontradiction. If you think of it in these terms — as a process of noncontradictory integration — it’s difficult to imagine how anyone could be opposed to it.

Here is the problem: There is a difference between reason as a process and what any person or any group of people, at any time in history, may regard as “the reasonable.” This is a distinction that very few people are able to keep clear. We all exist in history, not just in some timeless vacuum, and probably none of us can entirely escape contemporary notions of “the reasonable.” It’s always important to remember that reason or rationality, on the one hand, and what people may regard as “the reasonable,” on the other hand, don’t mean the same thing.

http://www.starways.net/lisa/essays/benefits1.html

So, right from the beginning, you have to distinguish between “reason” as an abstract process/attribute of  (most) humans, and what any specific individual has been enabled/permitted to “interrogate”.

For example, someone “raised” in an Amish community has (for all intents and purposes) been essentially isolated from the “world”, at a very basic level:

They are more or less forced to interact with the “English” (IE: non-Amish) on a regular basis.  However, everything about their “community” is more or less explicitly designed to  prevent – or at least discourage – exactly the sort of “interrogation” of “inherited first assumptions” which you mention.

For example: how likely is it that our hypothetical “Jakie Stolzfus” would ever  even encounter (for example) even the kind of “general overview” texts marketed as examining the “religions of the world”?

Exceedingly unlikely (t0 say the least).

Further, even if he did happen to inadvertently stumble across such a text,  one of those “inherited first assumptions” you mention is the – implicit or explicit – assumption that the Amish are “right”, and thus, that all Non-Amish are “wrong”.

(This is reinforced via the “ordnung” (regulations)  – and backed up by their tendency toward ostracism of dissidents, via  shunning:)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordnung

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunning#In_religion

So, no. Our hypothetical Jakie Stolzfus will have been “raised” within a specific milieu, which (implicitly) treads all of the subcultural shibboleths – clothing, cuisine, religious indoctrination, “native” language, etc. – as equivalent – parts of a “whole”.

so, it’s a safe bet that (for example) if Jakie begins exhibiting curiosity about (say) Taoism, for example – he will be subjected to a great deal of emotional blackmail (from “mommy and Daddy”, as well as the rest of the “community”).  If he persists in such “deviance”, he will most likely end up being ostracized completely.

The whole subculture is EXPLICITLY DESIGNED to prevent such things from happening (so far as possible), and then to PENALIZE those who *do* dissent.

In other words, even reaching that “level of maturity” you mentioned where such interrogation of “inherited assumptions” becomes feasible involves a great deal of risk.

Now, multiply that to a situation where “unbelief” (or merely asking potentially heretical questions) could get you murdered.

To put it bluntly: too many subcultures are designed around preventing exactly the “level of maturity” (and resultant “interrogation of inherited first assumptions”) you mentioned.

Now, as to your second claim (that such interrogation isn’t “appropriate” in terms of clothing/cuisine, etc.?)

Why not?

For example: is it “inappropriate” for women “raised” Muslim to “interrogate” the “gender”-role (and attendant restrictions) foisted on them, simply because they happen to be female?

What exactly is “inappropriate” about (for example) a woman questioning – – or repudiating – the fact that failure to wear a Burqa in public could very well involve her being murdered – at least in some jurisdictions?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burqa

(Same general principle holds for the endless – and inane – “debate” over whether it is “Biblical” for Women to wear trousers, or the various religious head-coverings (such as those typically worn by Mennonite women, for example):

As to the food-thing?  I offer the following:

http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm

You get the idea.

I submit that it is entirely appropriate to “interrogate” all such things – especially when they are claimed to involve some sort of explicitly ‘religious” component.

Now, maybe I misunderstood your point.

Let’s continue:

That these views continue to be accepted means that individual reasoners haven’t encountered counter propositions of sufficient persuasive power to persuade them to break with their prevailing surroundings.

If your “community” has resorted to book-burning (or anything equivalent to it), you won’t be able to encounter such counter-propositons.

Moreover, even if individuals do encounter such counter-propositions, they are often met with anything from mere “emotional blackmail” (lip-quivering/”I’m so disappointed in you!!!”-type bullshit), right on up to death threats/being murdered for “heresy”, etc.

So, what’s your point, exactly?  That such emotional blackmail/coercion tactics “work” (IE: by breaking potential dissidents)?

Hell, even the Spanish inquisition knew THAT much:

http://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-figures/spanish-inquisition3.htm

Now, your next comment is particularly funny, on some level:

But that such a process of interrogation does take place can be inferred from the observable fact that children do not necessarily hold such views with precisely the same level of conviction as parents, grandparents or siblings. The fact of belief alone is an incomplete picture if considered apart from the equally important fact of strength of adherence to that belief.

…..which succinctly explains everything from “Lapsed” Catholics, and  “unobservant” Jews, right on down to “Jack Mormons”:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Mormon

I’m not exactly sure what point you were trying to make.

If you were trying to point out that many people essentially PRETEND – to themselves and their particular subcultural “community” – that they actually give a shit about the myriad of “subcultural shibboleths” associated with that “community” – then, yeah.  That’s a not much a “point” as a “truism”.

I still contend that the only ones who can genuinely be said to really “believe” a particular religion are individuals who explicitly converted to that religion.

Moreover, the likelihood that such “beliefs” are genuine is inversely proportional to how closely their “new”/current “beliefs”/practices mirror the subcultural shibboleths of their childhood.

In other words: if someone raised in a Hasidic Jewish family/community ends up being involved with “Humanistic Judaism” (for example) – there’s a good chance that the “attenuated” form of Judaism basically amounts to an attempt at the sort of “interrogation” you mentioned earlier, while still trying to retain at least some of the subcultural shibboleths associated with their upbringing.

However, if someone raised in a Hasidic jewish community ends up becoming a monk at a Buddhist temple – this is so far outside of his ethno-religious subcultural “Overton Window” that there’s a good chance that he actually believes in it

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Buddhist

 

The worst attempt at “counter-argument” against “religion as geography/demography”:

Hmmm, yes. Most people speak the language of their place of birth as well. And wear clothing familiar to the culture of their birth. And make almost all moral and ethical decisions based on assumptions ingrained in them before they could walk.

This does not, in my opinion speak positively or negatively toward truth value, or superiority of one idea or behavior over another. It’s just a fact of life that we are empathetic, imitative, cultural creatures, whose “self” never occurs in a vacuum.

https://www.secularcafe.org/showthread.php?t=19462

Actually, the above facts do (implicitly) speak volumes about the “truth value or superiority” of ideas and behaviors.

They do so in two (reinforcing) ways:

  1. First, if an individual’s (purported) “beliefs” are “based on assumptions ingrained in them before they could walk” – and are (in most cases) no different from other such accidents of birth (“native” language, familiar/socially-sanctioned clothing styles, etc.) – then nobody can be held responsible for the fact that they happen to ape and parrot in any particular way: they “can’t help it”.  it is all part and parcel of whatever “heritage” was perpetrated on them “before they could walk”.

So, for example,  that fact disqualifies  any and all yip-yap about against “pagans”/”unbelievers”.  Then again, it also flatly and unequivocally disqualifies the purported “believer”, as well – on the grounds that their “beliefs” are overwhelmingly likely to be nothing more/less/other than yet another artifact of their acculturation.

To paraphrase a Unitarian Universalist bromide, both the (supposed) “believer” and (supposed) “unbeliever” most likely operate from an unchosen “faith”.  It is unchosen, because it was perpetrated on them “from before they could walk” – along with a myriad of other demographic “shibboleths” of the same kind (language/dialect, clothing “choices”, “familiar” foods, etc.)

It is a “faith” in that there is no evidential basis which would allow them to evaluate whether or not their particular subcultural shibboleths are genuinely better than any other such tribal taboos.  Most people never even bother to question whichever “identity” was perpetrated on them “before the could walk”.

Nevertheless, they will hate and murder over such “shibboleths”.

Moreover, “missionaries” have no qualms destroying entire cultures (about which they typically know nothing), in order to “spread the good news” about a (most likely fictional) God-main in whom they can’t really be said to “believe” – merely because they happen to originate from an geographic region/ethnic group whose ancestors were (typically) “converted” at sword-point.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_conversion’

Now, what do I mean when I say that they don’t actually “believe” any of it?

Here’s a question: do children “believe” in Sant

a/the tooth fairy?

Typically, they ‘believe” in these things for two reasons:

  1. Mommy and Daddy said so
  2. Mommy/Daddy/Adults-in-general invest a great deal of effort into FAKING the existence of “Santa” (for example: innumerable fat guys in red suits at shopping malls, the weather service pretending to “track his sleigh”, etc. – right on down to parents partially eating the cookies/drinking the milk left out “for Santa”.)

In other words, one of the first lessons children (implicitly) learn is: a vitally-important aspect of the “innocence of childhood” involves adults systematically lying to children, and creating what amounts to an elaborate “false flag” operation, every Christmas Eve:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_flag

I’m somewhat off-topic.  However, my main point is: approximately 99% of the population (even those who pretend to most zealously “believe” in whichever religion happens to have been endemic to their birth-place/ethnicity) “believe” such things for the same reason that small children “believe in” Santa/the Tooth Fairy.

Admitting this fact would be deeply humiliating for any even halfway-honest adult, so they concoct  (flimsy) rationalizations – the Calvinist doctrine of “predestination”, for instance.

(This is convenient, because it gives them a convenient method of hand-waving away the whole issue: Yahweh has “predestined” specific individuals to be born into specific ethnic groups, some of he has predestined to “choose” to become ‘true’ Christians”.  Conveniently, “Pastor” BoBo just coincidentally happens to have been born into exactly that ethnoreligious subculture.) 🙂

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predestination_in_Calvinism

Interestingly, whichever of the two primary variants of Calvinist Predestination one “believes” also just happens to boil down to a mere accident of birth.