[LMB] Religion question

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Sun Jul 11 23:48:28 BST 2021

On Sat, Jul 10, 2021 at 6:36 AM tidsel via Lois-Bujold <
lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk> wrote:

> Not sure about that. If we go back in time, it would be more like trying
> to understand the world and what happens,

Oh?  Name one example of classical religion that makes it easier to
understand the world.  One.

> and stay on the good side on the powers you believe is there (in the
> absence of other explanations)

Nope.  One of the other things religion does is provide people with the
illusion of being able to affect things.  Not being able to usefully
respond to stressors is itself a serious stressor, to the point that dogs
that had no way to avoid or respond to electrified cage floors in the
classic psychological experiment ultimately died.  Human beings, with a
much greater ability to conceptualize and foresee than dogs, are much more
vulnerable.  Thus, superstitions provide the illusion that the world is
knowable and known, and more importantly, that it can be influenced or

The greatest difference between superstition and religion is that the
latter exists on the level of society rather than an individual.

> and the way to survive in practical terms.

Nope.  Cultures have other ways to transmit useful information.
Admittedly, survival-oriented practices that don't have justifications that
individuals are likely to perceive and understand are often stored in
'religious' cultural practices, but generally someone involved knows the
practical reasons why.

You may find it informative to look up accounts of people maintaining and
even beginning 'cargo cults' in the modern-day South Pacific.  They people
involved aren't stupid or ignorant, and know perfectly well the practices
will not bring cargo; the reasons they give for continuing the religion are
quite germane to this discussion.

Morality is a society's collective standards about right and wrong.  No
more, no less.

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