Dontaskme wrote: ↑Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:26 pm
A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.
Beliefs are thoughts.
Thoughts are expressions being perceived.
Perceptions are being expressed by nothing, for nothing, for there is no visible perceiver but the invisible thought.
The "universe" is a particular class of beliefs based on science that defines as best we can what is. Science makes no statement as to the cause of the universe and certainly, therefore, the set of beliefs that constitute what we think of when we think of the universe contains no statement as to its cause. To paraphrase Wald, a distinguished expert on the big bang: At 10^-nn seconds (a very small time very much smaller than a nano second - I think it was 10 ^ -43 but am not sure) the universe was the size of Planks constant and any statement made about a time prior to that is purely speculative". So the big bang does not "explain the origin of the universe" but it describes how it evolved from a very, very small object very close to the singularity, into what it is now. " (By the way it was radiation and matter in equilibrium at that early time). “The universe" as understood scientifically also does not contain anything about its purpose. It does not even make a statement that it has no purpose. It is silent on purpose. Primordial entropy or not. Goldilocks or not. It is silent on those matters.
Now "religion" must be disambiguated. Much of what we call "religion" is not a set of beliefs. In fact theology is the set of beliefs about religion. If you look at theology itself, there are many kinds. Some is based on religious experience. Some is not. Often a theology of religious experience is thought to give an answer that science cannot. For example the Catholic catechism starts with "Who made me?" "God made me." "Why did God make me?" "To know love and serve Him". This, at first blush seems and answer to the origin of the universe. If it is taken literally as in "There was this guy (or girl!) named God who once upon a time decided to make a universe" Then you could say that that is the cause. But that is a gross oversimplification for creation is eternal not temporal and it is impossible to speak intelligently about its origin as a moment in time. Rather it is the creation of time that is what is referred to quote..oh not sure who he was…some famous theologian…Jaques Charitan…bad with names. But even there, if you believe that there exists this other dimension in which some God factually exists you will be wrong theologically. The eternallity of God prohibits such a description. The best secular word for what is meant by God theologically is "Being" and the word is often captialized for the same reason God is spelled with a capital letter.
Now all of this comes from "religious experience" a scientific view of religious experience can be had by understanding how neurology creates experiencing in homo sapien sapien brains and correlating it with the religious experiencing that the brain is capable of. That experiencing is cognitive and is the source of the strange descriptions you hear of religion.
In some sense, religious experience allows one to experience the "cause of the universe" but it is not an experience of any factually existing entity. That is the strange thing. It rather is just the awareness of the superfluous nature of the universe and an awareness of how it is requiring (different from “does require” or “requires”) something beyond itself for its presence. In a sense it is an experience of causing itself. In a sense the phrase “It just is” is exactly what religious experience entails but the non-religious interpretation is a kind of dismissal and ridicule of any amazement. That is the function of the “just”, it’s a dismissal. The religious statement might be “It is!” but even that is wrong because it assumes something that is a mistake, namely that something once created stays in existence as an “it”. If I saw a cup on a table I might ask “Who made this?” and the answer would be someone who acted a while ago to manufacture it but now, once it is made, it needs no more making to stay in existence. But the religious experience of the same fact would be amazed that cups continue. It does not experience being as a set of things. That they have stability, that what is has these stabilities that we objectify, is seen as amazing and fundamentally unfounded in what these things are. And it is seen as a gift. A wonderful gift. Unfounded right now. That is why you get these references to “the now” in religious experience. It is all based on an awareness that there is no reason for what is to be being at all, even right now, never mind the fact that there is no reason for it to be the way it is and continues to be, there is not even a reason for it to be at all. Even if the universe was as science described it, it could cease to be that way in a moment. Science draws its data from the universe not the other way around.
Fact, always trumps theory. Einstein called it the homogeneity of time and realized it was an assumption of scientific theory, not something that could be proved, only disproved as Popper describes. It can always change and then we have to re-theorize.
Also, the religious experience is what is called sacred. My own scientific conjecture is that this is related to our survival and reproductive instincts and is mediated by our hormonal systems, that is religious experience is a kind of activation of our sexuality. The experience is one of infinite beauty. Its as if every desire you have becomes satisfied. The technical term is ecstasy. There is nothing like that in science – well not until the neurologists get to where they can see what is happening.
Oh yea, I forgot to say the “the universe” as thought of by most scientists is not a set of ideas. “The universe” contains in it a kind of negation described very well by Sartre in Being and Nothingness. That negation is that it is that the universe is “not” the thought of it, “nor” is it the sight or sound of it. The universe is in itself, independent of our experiencing it. But I digress….
Also, the religious experience is silent on what is. In other words it is something true of any possible world that becomes and is even true of the fact of possibility itself. Genuine religion is not a description of the nature of the universe. Nor even a description of which possible worlds should be called “universes”. Only fundamentalist “religions” are such descriptions. That is why they are inherently irreligious. They are in fact just bad science. That includes secular fundamentalism which is an interpretation of science as explanation and a “belief” in the power of the universe to sustain itself. Its not science it is secular fundamentalism or “scientism” as it is sometimes called. Both religious and not religious fundamentalism are irreligious and conversely the experience of the sacred in secular or in religious terms is inherently religious. Carl Sagan, in spite of his conceptual confusion, continually tried to inspire secular religious experience in his listeners. Why? Because they get off on that, ratings go up, and he could continue to ride the wave. Oh I am being too judgmental. He was just confused as hell!
I am afraid that I must also say that those who understand religion to give the purpose of the universe are mistaken. It can, through a relationship with God, establish something like a friendship with God, and can draw conclusions about “Gods will” or “Gods purpose” but that is Gods will or purpose “for me” Those who claim to know it, when you interrogate them as to how they know, have no foundation. That does not mean that religion cannot offer us something, or describe, our purpose as sentients and certainly as mammals. Whether insects or reptiles are religious and to what extent only science will tell and that in the distant future. No hope of it now. We know way too little. Insects and reptiles do have survival instincts and can track objects. To do this implies some ontological functioning. How that works? Do bees love their hive-mates etc?.. is yet to be determined.
So I think: “A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe” is very wrong.
Beliefs are thoughts? Well maybe some. But you again need to parse terms. Our minds are capable of thinking things without realizing what it is that we believe. There are what are called “hidden assumptions” and again the phrase “Beliefs are thoughts” is just so skeletally impoverished its – well as the saying goes – not even false. More like mostly meaningless as it stands.
Thoughts are expressions being perceived? Oh really? Well, there is a way that rhetoric takes hold doesn’t it. Rheos as opposed to Logos? Oh well, knock yourself out.
“Perceptions are being expressed by nothing, for nothing, for there is no visible perceiver but the invisible thought” Well, a fine attempt to communicate some of the mystical experience but…well… it fails as more than it succeeds. “Nothing” is non-being? It would be strange if thoughts were visible no? Then we could look around the room and find a thought to think. Oh I know what you mean but statements like this drive me crazy because they give mysticism such a bad name. No one can really get anything out of them. Yes the “expressor” is not any “thing”, and therefor *in* *a* *sense* not anything, and the “perceiver is not visible” – except as a brain but that is not a perceiver if conceived of in the normal way derived from mechanistic biology. And again true, thoughts are invisible…again caveated with the fact that we can see them occur in the brain in some ways. We can tell when a person is thinking vs anesthetized so *in* *a* *sense* we can actually see them again thanks to the science and to the fact of the universe being stable enough to give meaning to the terms.
Much better to find a better way to say all of this. The theology of the future will be very interesting. Those who see religion as a thing of the past are in for a rude awakening once the neurologists gain engineering control over religious experience. Then the real war will occur between those who insist in being dismissive and try to cure us of the sacred and those that revel in the fact of love. Will the powers of be try to eliminate the sacred in themselves and then try to instill it in others while associating its force of love on themselves so that they can exercise their own wills through the cooperative actions of others? Or will the engineering control finally give people like the bat faced president some taste of religious experience so he is at least a little knocked off of his high horse! Who knows? But for sure evil is a kind of genius. In Africa they were training child soldiers. Graduation was to take a woman, and restrain her so the graduates could each take her face off one bite at a time each “student” taking a bite out of her face as a kind of “graduation”. That my friends is pure evil genius It is that we are up against, not just the stupidity of fundamentalist interpretation but the reality of evil.