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The Future of Religion

Religion Philosophy Theology Morality Artificial Intelligence

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#1
caltrek

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We probably have had a few of these type of threads started in the past, but I wanted to start another one with the slate wiped clean and a new thesis presented.  It will probably end up being a restatement of an older thesis, but I thought I would give it a try.

 

Many scientifically minder people believe that science and religion are not reconcilable.  This is a mistake. Religion is a matter of faith. It describes what you believe beyond what you can ascertain from your senses, senses that are common to most people.  (At least let us stipulate that is the case for the sake of argument).  So where science ends, faith can begin.

Now, many conclude that it is stupid or otherwise a sign of low intelligence when one believes in God.  This is also a mistake.  The existence of God is a binary type statement.  Either God exists, or He does not exist.  Because it is beyond our senses to know of God’s existence, it is more or less a fifty-fifty proposition as to whether He does exist.  Moreover, and this point is more telling, the definition of God varies from person to person and sect to sect.  Some state that God is the sum total of the natural laws that govern the universe.  It would be foolish indeed to argue against the existence of God defined in that manner.  Others equate God with love. Therefore, for such a believer  to hear that God does not exist is the equivalent of hearing that there is no love in the universe.  Once again, it would be foolish indeed to argue against the existence of a God that is defined in that manner.

 

A telling blow against the belief in God was made by Karl Marx.  Marx believed that society consisted of a material base and a political and cultural superstructure (I am paraphrasing here).  Orthodox Marxists thus conclude that religion is simply a cultural reflection of the material base at which a society exists.  This is all well and good except that most orthodox Marxists stop there.  No effort is made to analyze that cultural superstructure except to conclude that it simply automatically flows from the material base.   This is like concluding that there is a conscious and a subconscious mind, and then doing nothing to conclude how that subconscious mind might work. How does it produce that cultural superstructure?

 

Put another way, why is the idea that Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sins so powerful to the Christian mind?  How does that reflect the material base of our society?

 

How does receiving communion come to be a reflection of our material base?

Baptism?

 

The list of potential questions goes on and on.

 

A discussion of such questions is called theology.

 

So what will a theology of the future look like?

 

Judging from past discussions on this forum, it will probably have something to do with what folks are calling The Singularity. This, in turn, will be related to how we as a species relate to advanced artificial intelligence. Will we treat it as a deity, one we have created?

 

Or much like we treat humans, with allowances for it’s more advanced intelligence?

 

Mind you, some people seem willing to treat it as a deity even as they insist they would only treat it as a consciousness of higher intelligence.  They will ignore that a highly intelligent AI will not have a perfect understanding of the universe.  Only one that is more advanced than our own.  Moreover, since an advanced AI is part of our collective consciousness, even this is granting to AI too much credit.  It will understand the universe based on how we teach it to understand the universe.  This is the case even if it develops heuristic abilities of its own.  It will still rely on data we feed it, even if that data simply takes the form of such things as Hubble telescope images.

 

So, the knowledge it gains will be in partnership with humans.  Threats from advanced AI will come because powerful individuals will seek to dominate humans through cyberwarfare.  This will program AI to dominate humans through such cyberwarfare. Whether humans intend that to happen or not will be largely irrelevant.  It will simply happen as a consequence of such human actions.

 

Advanced AI will probably try to tackle the question of the existence of God.  My guess is that it will answer that question depending upon how we pose the question.  If we ask, is there love in the universe, what would it answer?

Probably yes, perhaps with some qualification as to how love is brought into the universe.

 

If we ask, are there physical laws that govern the universe, what would it answer?

 

Again, probably yes with a summary statement citing examples of such laws, at least as commonly understood by both computer and human minds.

 

Your questions (or comments)?

 

 

 


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
Sciencerocks

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I hope it becomes more accepting and more peaceful.

 

Right now religion is probably the number one reason for war, violence and repression on this planet. It isn't what Jesus christ wanted as he forgave people that weren't perfect and expected his children to care for their brothers. Just seems to me that American christians are some of the most cold hearted, hateful and nasty people in our society and they don't seem to give a shit about Jesus  message.



#3
As We Rise

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Jesus was dark-skinned. He was also a socialist.

The reality? There are millions of normal people who are starting to LIKE the idea of fascism BECAUSE there are literal bolsheviks flooding the streets and attacking people. I swear to God, when the Left actually gets the storm they've been preaching about, you won't even see it on the news. The population will just shrink from 330 million to 230 million overnight and nobody will ever speak of it again.


#4
BasilBerylium

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Jesus was dark-skinned. He was also a socialist.

*Conservative Theocratic Socialist (I haven't read the bible)


This website has a magic that makes people draw back here like moths to light.


#5
TheComrade

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In general, here i'm agree with Caltrek.

 

Many scientifically minder people believe that science and religion are not reconcilable.  This is a mistake. Religion is a matter of faith. It describes what you believe beyond what you can ascertain from your senses, senses that are common to most people.  (At least let us stipulate that is the case for the sake of argument).  So where science ends, faith can begin.

 

Yes. I can add that religion and religious mindset is based on idea that our whole Universe have some meaning and purpose. This holistic mindset is actually very attractive and can not be destroyed by new scientific facts.

 

Many scientifically minder people believe that science and religion are not reconcilable.  This is a mistake.

 

Now, many conclude that it is stupid or otherwise a sign of low intelligence when one believes in God.  This is also a mistake. 

 

Yes again. When i was younger, i was making this same mistake.

 

A telling blow against the belief in God was made by Karl Marx.  Marx believed that society consisted of a material base and a political and cultural superstructure (I am paraphrasing here).  Orthodox Marxists thus conclude that religion is simply a cultural reflection of the material base at which a society exists.  This is all well and good except that most orthodox Marxists stop there.

 

I still think here Marx meant not faith but exactly the organized religion as social force with its temples, priests, hierarchy, and so on. Of course, this organized religion reflects the "basis" of society and serve for someone's class interests (explanation and justification of inequality). But i'll too stop here.

 

Now about future of religions. This is, of course, depends of overall situation in the world. Let me rephrase the question to "what will happen to religion in mature and advanced civilization, when there will be no need to draw lines between "us" and "them", or comfort the unfortunates, or justify someone's poverty, and so on?"

 

First and foremost, religious mindset by itself WILL NOT fade away in any foreseeable future. And this mindset will still be embodied in already existing religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc). Other hand, these traditional religions will become more and more "blurred", so to say. They'll have to admit that their dogmas, though worth respect, but shouldn't be taken too literally, their "spirit" is more important than "letter". The complex set of restrictions will be eventually reduced to Golden Rule. Thus, perhaps the pious Christian of 3017 AD will not see anything wrong in having sex with collegues during a short working break, but will consider the killing of animal for food as horrible sin destroying his soul.


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#6
BarkEater93

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^^^ I couldn't have said it any better. And I think there's going to be a lot of internal religious conflict as this "blurring" happens.



#7
caltrek

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I still think here Marx meant not faith but exactly the organized religion as social force with its temples, priests, hierarchy, and so on. Of course, this organized religion reflects the "basis" of society and serve for someone's class interests (explanation and justification of inequality).

 

That is a very interesting way to look at the subject.  It has prompted me to review a little of the history of religion.

 

Priests were actually quite common in Judaism centuries before the birth of Christ.

 

 

 

Throughout the Hebrew Bible, the term priest (kōhēn) is commonly used to refer to an official who was set apart from the rest of the community in order to carry out certain duties associated with worship and sacrifice. As "ministers of the LORD" (Joel 1:9; 2:17), priests functioned as mediators of God's presence and were responsible for the day-to-day operation of cultic sites, whether the tabernacle, local shrines, or the Temple in Jerusalem

 

Source:

http://www.oxfordbib...e/priests.xhtml

 

Priests continued to have a role and authority in Christian times

 

 

The Old Testament describes how God made his people "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,"[9] and within the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi was chosen to be set apart for the liturgical service of offering sacrifice as priests.[10] The priest was understood as a mediator between God and human beings who offers sacrifices and intercedes for the people.

 

The New Testament depicts Jesus as the "great high priest" of the New Covenant who, instead of offering the ritual animal sacrifices prescribed by the Jewish Lawoffers himself on the cross as the true and perfect sacrifice.[11] The Catholic priesthood is a participation in this priesthood of Christ, and therefore traces its origins to Jesus Christ himself. Thus, the New Testament says that as high priest, Jesus has made the Church "a kingdom of priests for his God and Father."[12] All who are baptized are given a share in the priesthood of Christ; that is, they are conformed to Christ and made capable of offering true worship and praise to God as Christians. "The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly."[13]

 

The ministerial priesthood of Catholic priests and bishops — what most people think of as "the Catholic priesthood" — has a distinct history. This ministerial priesthood is at the service of the priesthood of all believers and involves the direct consecration of a man to Christ through the sacrament of orders, so that he can act in the person of Christ for the sake of the Christian faithful, above all in dispensing the sacraments. It is understood to have begun at the Last Supper, when Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist in the presence of the Twelve Apostles, commanding them to "do this in memory of me."

 

The Catholic priesthood, therefore, is a share in the priesthood of Christ and traces its historical origins to the Twelve Apostles appointed by Christ. Those apostles in turn selected other men to succeed them as the bishops (episkopoi, Greek for "overseers") of the Christian communities, with whom were associated presbyters (presbyteroi, Greek for "elders") and deacons (diakonoi, Greek for "servants"). As communities multiplied and grew in size, the bishops appointed more and more presbyters to preside at the Eucharist in place of the bishop in the multiple communities in each region. The diaconate evolved as the liturgical assistants of the bishop and his delegate for the administration of Church funds and programmes for the poor. Today, the rank of "presbyter" is typically what one thinks of as a priest, although technically both a bishop and a presbyter are "priests" in the sense that they share in Christ's ministerial priesthood and offer sacrifice to God in the person of Christ.[14]

 

Source: 

https://en.wikipedia...Catholic_Church

 

The institution of the Pope also traces its history to the apostles.

 

 

The pope (Latin: papa from Greek: πάππας pappas,[1] a child's word for "father"),[2] also known as the pontiff, is the Bishop of Rome, and therefore ex officio the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.[3] The primacy of the Roman bishop is largely derived from his role as the traditional successor to Saint Peter, to whom Jesus is supposed to have given the keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the church would be built. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.[4]

 

The office of the pope is the Papacy. His ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the Diocese of Rome, is often called "the Holy See"[5] or "the Apostolic See", the latter name being based upon the belief that the Bishop of Rome is the successor of Peter the Apostle.[6] The pope is considered one of the world's most powerful people because of his diplomatic and cultural influence.[7][8][9] He is also head of state of Vatican City,[10] a sovereign city-state entirely enclaved within the Italian capital city of Rome.

 

The papacy is one of the most enduring institutions in the world and has had a prominent part in world history.[11] The popes in ancient times helped in the spread of Christianity and the resolution of various doctrinal disputes.[12] In the Middle Ages, they played a role of secular importance in Western Europe, often acting as arbitrators between Christian monarchs.[13][14][15] Currently, in addition to the expansion of the Christian faith and doctrine, the popes are involved in ecumenism and interfaith dialogue, charitable work, and the defense of human rights.[16][17]

 

Popes, who originally had no temporal powers, in some periods of history accrued wide powers similar to those of temporal rulers. In recent centuries, popes were gradually forced give up temporal power, and papal authority is now once again almost exclusively restricted to matters of religion.[12]

 

Source:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope

 

As I mentioned in another thread, I have just recently completed a reading of The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  The origins of the text are explained as follows:

 

 

The book is written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon.

 

…After Moron completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the hill Cumorah.  On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.

 

In due course the plates were delivered to Jospeh Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God.

 

As far as I know, the plates are now nowhere to be found.  In this way, The Book of Mormon is claimed to a book of revelation.

 

In The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ is this discussion related to the role of priests.

 

 

The manner which the disciples, who were called the elders of the church, ordained priests and teachers –

 

After they had prayed unto the Father in the Name of Christ, they laid their hands upon them, and said:

 

In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest, (or, if he be a teacher) I ordain you to be a teacher, to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen.

 

And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of god unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them.  (Moroni 3:1 - 3:4).

 

In other Christian sects, priests are ordained involving a ceremony that entails the laying of hands.

 

In another thread, a question was posed regarding kings:

 

 

“In the Trew Law, King James I of Great Britain mentioned the divine right of kings. He explained that for biblical reasons kings are higher than other men. The document proposes an absolutist theory which states that a king may impose new laws by royal prerogative but must also pay heed to tradition and to God.   

   

King James I reigned from 1603 to 1625. He told Parliament in 1610: 'The state of monarchy is the supremest thing on earth.'    

 

Are kings higher than other men?

 

My response was as follows: “No.  However, elevating certain individuals to be kings did have a philosophical foundation championed by Thomas Hobbes. He reasoned that since all men were of roughly equal strength, intelligence, and ambition, society would be in a perpetual war of all against all unless somebody were given the authority of a king.  This assignment of authority could be arbitrary. The point was to assure peace and stability.  The monarch had this goal as his responsibility.  However, his subjects would have no say as to whether he had faithfully discharged his authority.  They were to obey the king even if he failed in his responsibilities.

 

Over time, the king's subjects did gain authority over the monarch.  This revolved around power struggles between the king and parliament. This was the development of constitutional monarchy. The king shared power with the parliament as put forth in a constitution that all respected. At least all respected during times of relative stability. This was especially the case with revenue raising measures and appropriations, over which parliament gained the greatest control. So these were the two forms of government developed as a result of contract theory. Eventually the king was nominally replaced by a president or prime minister.  We call this a democracy in that representatives in parliament (or congress) as well as the president were elected through democratic means.  Prime ministers were selected by parliament.”

 

In this review of history, we can see the relationship between the church and sovereignty. Separate and apart and yet also often entangled with each other.  Christian faith was something guided, but not absolutely controlled, by the church.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#8
Sciencerocks

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Jesus was dark-skinned. He was also a socialist.

 

Most likely...Middle eastern man that helped and cared for people.

 

Nothing like todays republican christians.



#9
Chesterton

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People like Jordan B. Peterson may revive religion, not as a social institution or as a cultural obligation, but for the psychological need for order. If we're going to be honest here, religion isn't just lore, ritual, and superstition in the hands of some opportunistic jerk like that militant atheist would have you believe. Religion, at least according to people of the likes of Peterson, exists to create a order through personal discipline, responsibility, and morality; it's a kind of personal-limiter to how much you allow yourself, and a personal-standard to how much is expected of you. Religion often uses archetypes from stories of people historical or otherwise to institute these standards you'd be expected to live by. 

 

Of course religion is never as ideal as this, much like how government is never the most ideal, but that doesn't mean to throw the baby out with the bathwater, necessarily. I can expect some sort of resurgence in religion some time in the future in the West out of the vacuum left by Christianity. Perhaps a Christian revival or some new religion, or even the rise of Islam, god forbid (no pun intended).

 

Dr. Peterson, if anyone is interested:

https://www.youtube....nPetersonVideos



#10
caltrek

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I am not familiar with Jordan B. Peterson, but I can relate to the concept of "need for order."  

 

After all, the reverse is a sort of schizophrenia or psychosis.  I should add that, for me at least, "order" should be loosely and broadly defined.  Order can include a sense of belonging. A sense of order can also flow from mystical revelation which in turn can be starkly similar to sudden insight that scientists some times gain.  

 

The educated person who clings to tradition may not be quite as irrational as nonbelievers make them out to be.  There can be a sense that the forms that traditional thought can take harbor a wisdom that should not be lightly discarded.  At the very least, it is desirable to understand the significance of certain rituals and the importance of certain symbols before finally putting them to one side.  Even Christianity itself contains ideas such as "when I was a child, I spoke as a child, and when I became and adult, I put away childish things."  

 

In a discussion group that I was active in back in Maine, a woman once remarked that she was an Episcopalian not a Christian.  Further, that to fully understand Christ, one had to be an atheist first.  These mystical formulations point to the idea of the value of understanding the ancients.  In understanding there way of looking at the world, we can better understand ourselves.  Which some would argue is vital to good mental health. 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#11
caltrek

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I was going to start a new thread entitled The Future of Tolerance, but then decided this article would work here as well.

 

Teaching Humility in an Age of Arrogance

 

http://www.chronicle...n-Age-of/240266

 

Introduction

 

Humility" isn’t a word that most academics — or Americans — identify with. Indeed, if there is a single attitude most closely associated with our culture, it’s the opposite of humility. The defining trait of the age seems to be arrogance — in particular, the kind of arrogance personified by our tweeter in chief; the arrogance of thinking that you know it all and that you don’t need to improve because you are just so great already.

 

But our culture’s infatuation with this kind of arrogance doesn’t come out of the blue. Trump is a symptom and not the cause of a larger trend, one that rewards dogmatic certainty and punishes those who acknowledge the possible limitations of their own point of view. Liberal white male professors like myself are hardly immune. And part of the academic culture we’ve helped to create — including the rise of aggressive "no platforming" tactics to prevent conservatives from speaking on some campuses — has only fed into the perception that academics are no more willing to engage in dialogue and debate than Trump supporters.

 

Fueling this trend of know-it-all arrogance is the oft-cited polarization of the American people, encouraged by our use of technology. The internet didn't create this polarization, but it does speed it up. That’s partly because the analytics that drive the internet don’t just get us more information; they get us more of the information we want.

 

Everything from the ads we read to the political news in our Facebook feed is tailored to our preferences. That’s incredibly useful for buying shoes and finding good restaurants. It is easier than ever to get and share information, but the information we get often reflects ourselves as much as it does anything else. Less noticed is that this has an effect not only on how we regard others, but on how we regard ourselves.

 

One way the internet distorts our picture of ourselves is by feeding the human tendency to overestimate our knowledge of how the world works. Most of us know what it’s like to think we remember more from high-school physics or history than we actually do. As the cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach have detailed recently, such overestimation extends farther than you might think. 

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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






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