Class Warfare Blog

April 28, 2019

The Purpose of Religion: A Follow-up

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:03 am
Tags: , , , ,

Salon.com recently re-published an article that originally appeared on Raw Story. Here is a taste of that article:

Scientists establish a link between religious fundamentalism and brain damage
Religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be
by Bobby Azarian

study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.

Religious beliefs can be thought of as socially transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. Religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge. On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations, and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. They are fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.

Now, before all of you snarkmeisters (My people, my people!) jump on the obvious points, the point I want to address is not that. It is “They are fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.” And it is not the “fixed and rigid” part but the “promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group” part.

When humans gathered together into larger than family groups, society was formed in a process I am sure took some time to hammer out. In all herd animals there are behaviors of both the individual and the group that promote survival. Sometimes they clash but if they clash too much, neither the herd nor the individuals survive. We are not herd animals but we are social animals. “Society” exists to get us to conform to rules that result in greater survivability of both us as a group and us as individuals. Once a society is formed, it is not hard to see that it can be hijacked by individuals who mold society more to their advantage, survivability be damned. Books and movies are rife with such scenarios, where groups are betrayed by individuals to their benefit. These betrayals can be direct or through changing the societal rules to benefit just themselves.

Currently there is a subset of very wealthy U.S. individuals who are reshaping our society for their benefit and their benefit alone, the rest of society left to suck eggs. Religion is a major tool in creating and maintaining a “stable” society. It has lost much of its power in this country over the years and since a power vacuum doesn’t exist long, that power has been sucked up, in this case by wealthy financial types with their own priesthood (economists).

In any society there are those who produce the needs for direct survival (food, water supply, housing, transportation, etc.) and those who produce “other things” (art, politics, music, books, etc.). Those who produce the food, etc. need to have the respect of those who do not and vice versa. In this country, this mutual respect has been lost (not by accident, mind you) as it has been elsewhere around the world. In powerful church hierarchies, the elites offer little in the way of respect for the masses as they “manage their brands” and, they think, husband their power. The same goes on in centers of political power. Studies indicate that a prerequisite for getting any idea through Congress is being rich. If you are poor or middle class your ideas and opinions will be ignored. (Polls? What polls? Polls are “fake news.”) And, monumental issues like climate change are ignored because the wealthy do not want to accept any uncertainty in their wealth accumulation schemes (business opportunities my ass!).

As a consequence, ordinary people, who are engaged in serving the needs of these elites are in various states of rebellion. They are attending church services less. They are voting less. They are paying less attention to those who pay no attention to them or they are attending but responding with anger and resentment.

I thought if we could revive labor unions that they could apply some leverage in the interests of ordinary people, but unions have powerful opponents who have shut that door.

So, what is the way out of this existential problem?

Really, do you see a way out?

10 Comments »

  1. The solution is a violent one imo. The trash dump baboons showed the way, but we are brainwashed into thinking we need these people.

    Like

    Comment by jim- — April 28, 2019 @ 9:37 am | Reply

    • If only we were as smart as baboons! In this country we don’t even view successful programs from other countries as being worth emulating. Pathetic!

      On Sun, Apr 28, 2019 at 9:37 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — April 28, 2019 @ 10:33 am | Reply

  2. Liked by 1 person

    Comment by jim- — April 28, 2019 @ 9:38 am | Reply

  3. One way out of this problem would be for individuals to put the interest of others before themselves. Selfishness always degrades society.

    Like

    Comment by John Branyan — April 28, 2019 @ 3:13 pm | Reply

    • Current economic ideas are based upon the selfishness of individuals … alone. which shows how off the mark they are.

      I think putting others before oneself is a non-starter but is in the right direction. Elevating others in our hierarchy of concern would be good. Currently people say that “children are precious” when they mean their children are, your children are less so, and children far away, well, meh. Expanding the circle of people we care about would be a good thing. How to do that is another question.

      On Sun, Apr 28, 2019 at 3:13 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — April 29, 2019 @ 8:35 am | Reply

  4. Interesting read

    Like

    Comment by maryplumbago — April 28, 2019 @ 5:20 pm | Reply


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