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July 2017



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Some thoughts on religion

Over many years I had worked out a theory of religion that covered my experience and the work that is being done in the ares of Anthropology and Sociology. I remember writing it out, but now I can't find it.

Then wolfieboy asked a question about religion and I finally just sate down and wrote out my theory again.

So here it is.

A religion must have all these: a theory of causality (i.e. beliefs about the world, dogma, creed), a source of efficacy (i.e. gods, spirits, ancestors, human progress, human effort), a collection of stories explaining them (i.e. mythology, history), and a system of actions based on them (i.e. rituals, taboos).

Some religions also have specialist practitioners (i.e.shamans, medicine men, priests, magicians, doctors, scientists, editors). And most have so sort of role models of pious behavior (i.e. heroes, saints)

In addition religion is something that acts in all three levels of human society: Individual, Cultural/Tribal, and Institutional. All religions begin with individuals having beliefs about the world. Before the development of civilization religion was indistinguishable from culture or tribe. Modern churches are institutions whose purpose is to maintain a religion.

Spirituality is just that part of life that your theory of causality associates with "spirit".

Of course then there is the Emic/Etic issue. :-)


The martial arts school I went to had a guy give a talk about religion and the masses. His paper is supposed to be posted on the ModernWarrior website, which is www.modernwarrior.org. He brought up some very interesting points which make me think you may want to read his paper. He had to include at least one earth based religion (he chose two, the Lakota faith, and Wicca).(These are paraphrased and not in his words at ALL...it's what I can remember from the discussion)

1 - Religion often provides an external code of action, usually through fear of punishment or repercussions. Religion ALSO provides an INTERNAL code of action (things like honesty, integrity, sincerity, etc.) which affects how you deal with the outside world, but are not actual rules in the outside world.

2 - He chose 9 countries with different governmental structures, comparing their separation of church and state with incidences of hate crimes, women's rights, tolerance for other faiths, etc. (He mentioned that New Zealand, which has a complete separation of church and state, has the most thorough laws to protect abuse of women...the law differentiates between emotional abuse, psychological abuse, and physical abuse and punishes harshly) etc.

3 - That religion becomes most likely to be used for manipulation when it becomes least adaptable to an individuals needs.

All in all, it was very interesting. You may want to read it when it's posted.
And then there is the strong resemblance between organized fandom (particularly of Star Trek, though I'm sure there are other examples) and most Christian churches, in terms of both having a common text, discussions and disparate interpretations thereof, a sense of community and a top-down hierarchy.

Star Trek as religion

On long time ago I read an article in a sociology journal about Star Trek fandom as a religion. It had less to do with the organization structure than the belief structure, and the actions based on those beliefs.

Another of my sociology texts used Star Wars as the basis for a discussion of the future of religion.