1 PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION D A Y : N O S O U L, E X P L A N A T I O N S O F R E L I G I O N
2 REVIEW FROM LAST CLASS During our last class we looked at the following question concerning the soul, death, and human destiny: 1) What do people believe? 2) Is there evidence to support these beliefs? 3) Is life more or less meaningful if death is the end of all consciousness? I said there seems to be 5 possibilities pertaining to life after death.
3 REVIEW: SUMMARY SO FAR # 1. You will exist as an immaterial soul after death. # 2. You will exist as a soul in a different body after death. # 3. You will exist as a soul in the same body after death. # 4. There is no You that exists after death.
4 REVIEW: #4. THERE IS NO YOU THAT EXISTS AFTER DEATH Bertrand Russell ( ) British Philosopher, Mathematician So why belief in life after death? Because we fear it. So, we needed a psychological way to cope; to function. Life after death then is an assumed truth (Sound familiar?)
5 REVIEW: # 4. THERE IS NO YOU THAT EXISTS AFTER DEATH Epicurus ( BC) - Greek Philosopher Death is not the problem! Death, the most dreaded of evils, is of no concern to us, for while we exist death is not present, and when death is present, we no longer exist.
6 REVIEW: # 4. THERE IS NO YOU THAT EXISTS AFTER DEATH Epicurus ( BC) - Greek Philosopher Fear of death is the problem. Did you have any issues before you were born? No difference. Life after death is not the goal of life. A good life of moderation is the goal. a life that is happy is better than one that is merely long. Lucretius
7 #4. THERE IS NO YOU THAT EXISTS AFTER DEATH Purpose of life on Earth: Some say none. To live a good life in moderation. (Epicurus) Destiny: To no longer exist. To die? Is this a beneficial belief?
8 SUMMARY SO FAR # 1. You will exist as an immaterial soul after death. # 2. You will exist as a soul in a different body after death. # 3. You will exist as a soul in the same body after death. # 4. There is no You that exists after death. # 5?
9 THE BUDDHA Buddha is not a name! Buddha = enlightened one Siddhartha Gautama noble birth in India, 563 B.C.E.
10 #5. THERE NEVER WAS A YOU Buddha ( BC?) No permanent self. If you notice, I is always changing. Your sense of permanent, separate self is just a story the brain concocts to make sense of the world. PG 115: A child grows up to be a man of sixty. Certainly the man of sixty is not the same as the child of sixty years ago, nor is he another person. Root of suffering is the belief in a permanent/separate I Permanence: We cling & become attached to impermanent things. Separate: Fear others, selfish desires, anxiety over me & mine Best then not to think of an I that will exist after death. Perpetuates the problem. (not Tibetan, nor Pure Land) In contrast to Hinduism: Instead of trying to remember who you are, best to concentrate on the idea that there is no I that needs to remember.
11 SUMMARY SO FAR # 1. You will exist as an immaterial soul after death. # 2. You will exist as a soul in a different body after death. # 3. You will exist as a soul in the same body after death. # 4. There is no You that exists after death. # 5. There never was a you in the first place. Questions: 1. Out of the four options presented so far, which of them would you most like to be true and why? 2. What kind of proof would you require to convince you that it is true?
12 #5. THERE NEVER WAS A YOU Purpose of Life on Earth: To end suffering caused by false beliefs in permanence and separation. Destiny: Why occupy your thoughts about a future that never comes. Why not open your eyes and appreciate a present that s always here.
13 DEATH & THE AFTERLIFE Many explanations for what may happen after death. Many explanations why we believe these explanations. Can you name some? They are true. They are partially true. We want them to be true. We need them to be true. Is this the origin of all religions?
14 NATURALISTIC EXPLANATIONS OF RELIGION Attempts to naturally explain why religions exist beyond the possibility that they are literally true.
15 SOUL: IS THIS THE ORIGIN OF RELIGION? Sir Edward B. Tylor ( ) Social Evolutionist According to Tylor, ancient savage philosophers were impressed by two groups of biological problems: 1) What is it that makes the difference between a living body and a dead one: what causes sleep, trance, disease, and death? 2) What are these human shapes which appear in dreams and visions? Their Explanation: A spirit or soul, derived from the experience of human souls or spirits in dreams and waking hallucinations animates lifeless objects such as sticks or stones, trees, mountains, rivers, etc.
16 THEORY ONE: ANIMISM These spirits could be helpful or harmful to humans and had personalities that could be offended or flattered Therefore primitive societies would seek to appease these spirits, and avoid offending them, through prayer, ritual, and sacrifice Animism to animate
17 THEORY ONE: ANIMISM Religion Evolved from Primitive to Sophisticated Let s see the theoretical progression
18 THEORY ONE: ANIMISM RELIGION EVOLVED FROM PRIMITIVE TO SOPHISTICATED 1. Animistic Understanding of the World
19 THEORY ONE: ANIMISM RELIGION EVOLVED FROM PRIMITIVE TO SOPHISTICATED 2. Ancestor Worship
20 THEORY ONE: ANIMISM RELIGION EVOLVED FROM PRIMITIVE TO SOPHISTICATED 3. Worship of various aspects of nature
21 THEORY ONE: ANIMISM RELIGION EVOLVED FROM PRIMITIVE TO SOPHISTICATED 4. Polytheistic Religions worshiping Nature-inspired Dieties
22 THEORY ONE: ANIMISM RELIGION EVOLVED FROM PRIMITIVE TO SOPHISTICATED 5. Development of Monotheistic Religion
24 THEORY ONE: ANIMISM RELIGION EVOLVED FROM PRIMITIVE TO SOPHISTICATED Psychological Foundation For Animism: Human propensity to assume intention in both animate and inanimate objects for survival. Maybe then it is no wonder we attribute intention or cause to the world at large (Spirit, God, etc ) Strengths? Weaknesses?
25 THEORY #2: RELIGIONS FOR SOCIAL COHESION EMILE DURKHEIM ( ) FUNCTIONALIST THEORY OF RELIGION BELIEFS: All religious beliefs presuppose a classification of all things, real and ideal, into two opposed groups: The SACRED encompasses the social community. The PROFANE encompasses the personal and private. RITUALS: Rules of conduct that prescribe how people should behave in the presence of sacred things, and that reinforce social behaviors: POSITIVE: The individual renews her/his commitment to the community. NEGATIVE: Reinforces taboos to maintain communal order. THUS: For Durkheim, GOD and SOCIETY are the same. How? Both are superior to individuals Individuals depend on both All must submit to the rules Strengths? Weaknesses?
26 THEORY #2: RELIGIONS FOR SOCIAL COHESION The Argument: Many religious beliefs and traditions strengthen communities. The relationship between a person and a deity is very similar to the relationship between a person and their society. Therefore, religion must have naturally evolved within societies in order to maintain social cohesion and ensure the survival of a community.
27 THEORY #3: SOCIAL OPPRESSION Karl Marx ( ) Philosopher, Sociologist Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet found himself or has already lost himself again Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium (drug) of the people. What does he mean by opium of the people?
28 THEORY #3: SOCIAL OPPRESSION Religion is used by the ruling class to suppress the lower classes. The social principles of Christianity preach the necessity of a ruling and an oppressed class, and for the latter all they have to offer is the pious wish that the former may be charitable The social principles of Christianity declare all the vile acts of oppressors against the oppressed to be either just punishment for original sin and for other sins, or trials which the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, ordains for the redeemed. Strengths? Weaknesses?
29 THEORY #3: SOCIAL OPPRESSION The argument: Religion has been used by those in power to suppress the will of those without. Therefore, religion was created by man as a tool of suppression. Is this a valid argument? What is the implicit, unstated premise? That which is used by man was created by man. Sticks have been used by those in power to suppress the will of those without. Therefore, sticks was created by man as a tool of suppression.
30 THEORY #4: PROJECTION OF REPRESSED NEEDS (WISH FULFILLMENT) Sigmund Freud ( ) Psychologist Religion originated as guilt that men feel in hating their fathers. Saw the ancient Greek myth of Oedipus as a pattern of human experience
31 THEORY #4: PROJECTION OF REPRESSED NEEDS (WISH FULFILLMENT) Sigmund Freud ( ) Religious ideas are illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most urgent wishes of mankind. Are all religious ideas this way, or some? Expression of repressed guilt towards father (think Eucharist). What about those who never grew up with a father? The truly healthy and mature person is content to stand alone and face the problems of life without gods or religions. But don t we all stand with beliefs? Strengths? Weaknesses?
32 THEORY #4: PROJECTION OF REPRESSED NEEDS (WISH FULFILLMENT) Almost all evidence that Freud presented has been discredited in some way or another. (Michael Palmer) 1. The Historical and Anthropological Evidence 2. Malinowski and the Oedipus Complex Trobriands 3. Narrow Selection of Evidence 4. Negative bias towards religion Winnicott (religion helps humans adapt by offering comfort and familiarity), Rizzuto (religion no more of an illusion than science)
33 THEORY #5: BRAIN JUICE
34 THEORY #5: BRAIN JUICE Brain Juice Theory: We feel good when we have high levels of serotonin excreted in our brain. When they are low levels of serotonin, we don t feel good. When people participate in religious activities there is often an elevation in serotonin levels. Therefore, maybe human beings developed religion as a means of elevating their levels of serotonin. Strengths? Weaknesses?
35 BRAIN JUICE THEORY COMPARISON Brain Juice Theory: We feel good when we have high levels of serotonin excreted in our brain. When they are low levels of serotonin, we don t feel good. When people participate in physical activities (such as athletics, martial arts, and dance) there is often an elevation in serotonin levels. Therefore, maybe human beings developed physical activity as a means of elevating their levels of serotonin. Brain Juice Theory: We feel good when we have high levels of serotonin excreted in our brain. When they are low levels of serotonin, we don t feel good. When people participate in religious activities there is often an elevation in serotonin levels. Therefore, maybe human beings developed religion as a means of elevating their levels of serotonin. In fact, why did we develop physical activity?
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