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Thread: The Christmas discussion

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    Supporting Member spot's Avatar
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    The Christmas discussion

    If I may be allowed a brief moment, and given that I presently have a few spare minutes of silence in which to put my thoughts on paper (this being 2pm on Christmas Day), I have an observation to make.

    The entire point of metaphor is that it is not truth. In this respect I would agree entirely with the evangelical Frodo elsewhere on this forum. Truth is what is, metaphor is necessarily not truth or it would, instead, be truth. No amount of bogus "higher order" waffle is going to turn a metaphor into a truth. If it were true it would not be in any sense metaphoric.

    I thought it necessary over the last few weeks to introduce my current youngest, he being now eight, to the underlying principles of magic. Frazer, in his Golden Bough, categorizes the subject as imitative (by which like causes like) or contagious, both invoking action at a distance. Both forms are reliant for their credibility on coincidence and a lack of statistical awareness among their adherents. We are at present inside Chapter 4 of the abridged one-volume edition and riveting stuff it is too, I commend it to those present.

    By contrast, reality requires repeatability. Topics which fail this necessary test of repeatability include astrology, practical occult invocation of powers, foreseeing by means of runes, entrails or the flight patterns of birds, the expulsion of scapegoats, placatory sacrifice for the remission of sins and God only knows what else. And, of course, God, which leads me to my next point.

    I have no criticism to make of the clergy other than their weak-willed fudging over metaphor. It is technically possible, though unutterably silly and wicked, to believe omnipotence exists. In order for religion to operate, it needs either a complete credulous suspension of reason or it needs an abusive acceptance of metaphor as truth. Neither lie is valuable when the price is delusion.

    People in general think they would be happy to see a worldwide recognition and cure of mental illnesses. "There is no health without mental health", for instance. If I quote a bit from an article in The Atlantic I can immediately show that it's a two-edged idea:

    The difference between disease and disorder is an attempt on the part of psychiatry to evade the problem they're presented with. Disease is a kind of suffering that's caused by a bio-chemical pathology. Something that can be discovered and targeted with magic bullets. But in many cases our suffering can't be diagnosed that way. Psychiatry was in a crisis in the 1970s over questions like "what is a mental illness?" and "what mental illnesses exist?" One of the first things they did was try to finesse the problem that no mental illness met that definition of a disease. They had yet to identify what the pathogen was, what the disease process consisted of, and how to cure it. So they created a category called "disorder." It's a rhetorical device. It's saying "it's sort of like a disease," but not calling it a disease because all the other doctors will jump down their throats asking, "where's your blood test?"

    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/a...hiatry/275371/
    ... and indeed commending the history of psychiatry itself would be a bit like admiring the Third Reich. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-psychiatry#1960s was a reaction to the whole organized outrage which constituted the American Psychiatric Association. But I digress.

    For some reason, belief in religion has escaped any designation as a mental disorder. I think that's timidity on the part of the listers of diseases, and "metaphor" is the modesty cover which provides the required distance. My own conclusion is that there is so much negative consequence dependent on religious belief that the bull should be seized and the diagnosis made. Religious practise is, quite simply, an abuse of power and should be criminalized.

    Perhaps I may be excused for a while, I'm summoned to a Christmas Dinner. By all means tease the post apart in my absence, I would like nothing more than to see my errors brought to light.

    "Brought to light" is, of course, metaphoric.

    A bit like Christmas Dinner.
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    Cardi Goddess!! Betty Boop's Avatar
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    Re: The Christmas discussion

    I'll happily go back to more Pagan ways, in fact I am doing so now as the children get older and they move away from peer pressure. I'll teach them all the old ways and give them all wands and altars and we'll go tree hugging.

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    Re: The Christmas discussion

    This is still an interesting subject. There are threads and posts in this forum that snip around the edges of the difference between a disease and a disorder. I've thought about those differences often.

    A disease, as you point out, is easily (these days) diagnosed by comparing, say, organs of a sick person to those of healthy ones so malfunctions may be addressed.

    If "disorder" is to be comparable to "disease" it too must have something to be compared to that represents a "healthy?" example. This is where God or any image of the perfect being comes from. Psychiatry's problem, since it's viewed as "medical" and therefore secular, tries to achieve this without any named representative which leaves the practice languishing.

    "Counseling" as both a practical guide and a discipline is much better suited for addressing inconsistencies in behavior because it teaches managing life's necessities. These are not "disorders" as much as they are ignorances.

    So, like religion, psychiatry is highly reliant on metaphors, just not quite as transparent about it.

    Does any of that make sense to anyone?
    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities,”
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    Supporting Member tabby's Avatar
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    Re: The Christmas discussion

    Spot, you just accurately described how I perceive politics. Are politics & religion all that much different? They spring from different sources certainly but converge into parallel paths and use much the same methodology more often than not. Hocus Pocus ... Smoke and Mirrors ... Blind Faith ... Exalted Leaders ... Fanaticism ... Brow Beating ... Control.

    I see little difference.

    Are either one mental disorders? I'm not sure that I think they are although many people with existing mental disorders do seem to be attracted to extremes in both religion & politics.

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    Re: The Christmas discussion

    I'm thinking democratic politics is a necessity for social organization and civility whereas religion is merely the illusion of such...and much more.

    In politics, laws codified through (mostly) general consensus are used as a guide to civility while religion employs obedience to ritual and the use of top-down morality.

    Politics is certainly liable to cross into a religious dogma if diligence is not kept. We're constantly flirting with that in America. Fascism would be the main thing to watch out for, I think. As it has been in the US, anyone can participate in politics without having to practice any defined ritual or belief in any imagined entity.
    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities,”
    Voltaire

    I have only one thing to do and that's
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    Sink back into the ocean

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    Supporting Member tabby's Avatar
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    Re: The Christmas discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahso! View Post
    I'm thinking democratic politics is a necessity for social organization and civility whereas religion is merely the illusion of such...and much more.

    In politics, laws codified through (mostly) general consensus are used as a guide to civility while religion employs obedience to ritual and the use of top-down morality.

    Politics is certainly liable to cross into a religious dogma if diligence is not kept. We're constantly flirting with that in America. Fascism would be the main thing to watch out for, I think. As it has been in the US, anyone can participate in politics without having to practice any defined ritual or belief in any imagined entity.
    I'm not referring to the matter of politics touching upon religion but that the tactics in both arenas are much the same. I think that people want to believe in something bigger and better than themselves to give life more meaning and balance. Both politics and religion provide that. I think many people turn politics into a sort of religion. Many people turn religion into politics.

    Are they mentally ill? Only if they disagree with me!

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    Proudly humble LarsMac's Avatar
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    Re: The Christmas discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahso! View Post
    I'm thinking democratic politics is a necessity for social organization and civility whereas religion is merely the illusion of such...and much more.

    In politics, laws codified through (mostly) general consensus are used as a guide to civility while religion employs obedience to ritual and the use of top-down morality.

    Politics is certainly liable to cross into a religious dogma if diligence is not kept. We're constantly flirting with that in America. Fascism would be the main thing to watch out for, I think. As it has been in the US, anyone can participate in politics without having to practice any defined ritual or belief in any imagined entity.
    I think that I agree with Tabby. It seems that the same thought process is involved in both, these days.

    Sure, there is, in many civilized countries a valid political process that allows "the People" to practice self governance, but in today's political arena, the whole conservative/Liberal contest really has taken on a religious undertone.
    Politics as a process depends on free-thinking people taking part in weighing their options, forming valid, defensible positions on how the nation as a whole should operate.
    I don't see that working so well in the US, today, and from what I can see of the recent events in the UK, it seems the same.

    People listen to the hucksters and follow the most colorful banners.
    Or follow the guy who tells them what they want to hear, and feeds their personal preconceptions.

    One of the strongest unifying points of the Republicans these days is the desire to outlaw abortion, and ignore any attempts at sex education, and reproductive planning.
    Religion an Politics have become so entwined one can hardly find their way through the forest.
    And this is in countries who claim to put their highest value on religious and Political Freedom.

    What hope does the rest of the world have?
    “The reality we can put into words is never reality itself.”
    ― Werner Heisenberg
    "The trouble with people isn't that they don't know, but that they know so much that ain't so."
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    Proudly humble LarsMac's Avatar
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    Re: The Christmas discussion

    I reject the idea that religious beliefs have anything at all to do with a disorder or disease.
    Religion is just one of the societal aspects of being part of a social species that can comprehend and communicate complex thought.

    With even some of the more simple species of Mammalian life, but especially Primates, it is quite natural to learn and understand the behavior patterns that will secure a place in the pack/clan/troop/tribe.
    Social order is important for group existence. Religion is just one of those factors that have evolved to secure a sense of belonging. In most cases, it is harmless.
    In many societies, dozens, and perhaps hundreds of "Gods" and their followers have coexisted for millennia.
    only a subset of the followers of a few "select" deities have evolved to insist that their deity is THE ONE TRUE Deity of all deities.
    And even most of the followers of those have learned to live within the larger extant society without causing much heartburn to the "non-believers." At least until recently. The problem seems to be when those believers decide that they must mix the internal politics of their chosen social order with that of the greater National Political "Universe"
    “The reality we can put into words is never reality itself.”
    ― Werner Heisenberg
    "The trouble with people isn't that they don't know, but that they know so much that ain't so."
    - Will Rogers
    "Truth isn't Truth"
    - Rudy Giuliani

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    Re: The Christmas discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by LarsMac View Post
    And even most of the followers of those have learned to live within the larger extant society without causing much heartburn to the "non-believers." At least until recently. The problem seems to be when those believers decide that they must mix the internal politics of their chosen social order with that of the greater National Political "Universe"
    Should some other behavior be expected for a species that has an internal nomadic drive? That's the trap. Everything has the potential to spread throughout the group because the group is incapable of remaining stagnant in its existence, so it would seem to me to be wise to carfully select that which is least destructive to the individual and the group at large in the long run. Religion may have had its usefulness, I don't know, but whatever that usefulness was, it appears to have passed.
    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities,”
    Voltaire

    I have only one thing to do and that's
    Be the wave that I am and then
    Sink back into the ocean

    Fiona Apple

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    Re: The Christmas discussion

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    Quote Originally Posted by tabby View Post
    I'm not referring to the matter of politics touching upon religion but that the tactics in both arenas are much the same.
    Ideas are not limitless. I think it might be a matter of which ones to apply, and that, I agree, is open to much error.
    Quote Originally Posted by tabby View Post
    I think that people want to believe in something bigger and better than themselves
    I used to agree with this until I began huddling with atheists. Most atheists I've met have no such desire or need to believe this. I found that quite odd and empty feeling until it settled in and was a normal daily existence for me. After a while I found this to be very comforting as there was no arguing over spiritual or religious matters. Consequently, my life became less stressful and easier to manage. My thoughts became more clear because there was now more in the way of practical thought as opposed to what happens when reality is replaced by metaphor
    Quote Originally Posted by tabby View Post
    to give life more meaning and balance.
    I've come to understand that life has plenty of meaning in its reality and that balance comes with that. But that's just me.
    Quote Originally Posted by tabby View Post
    Both politics and religion provide that.
    I suppose that's true for some. Either can work as a favorite type of morphine to deal with life's difficulties, though i tend to think people today get involved in politics for the money and social reward and religion to ease their conscience.
    Quote Originally Posted by tabby View Post
    I think many people turn politics into a sort of religion. Many people turn religion into politics.
    Some might like to experiment even haphazardly.
    Quote Originally Posted by tabby View Post

    Are they mentally ill? Only if they disagree with me!
    No! Me!
    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities,”
    Voltaire

    I have only one thing to do and that's
    Be the wave that I am and then
    Sink back into the ocean

    Fiona Apple

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