Evidence Religion is of the Mind.

To me, the social sciences make the best case religion is a phenomenon of the mind.  Were that not the case, we would see consistent religious behavior across the world.

Instead, we see religious behavior changing as society changes.  For evidence, I’d suggest this week’s Time magazine.

Time’s article traces carefully a demographic change and the religious change that follows it.  The change is Hispanic people moving from areas where they were in the majority, Mexico and southwestern U. S., to other areas where they are a minority.

In their religious life, they leave behind the Catholic version of Christianity and adopt Pentecostalism at their new location.  Hispanic pentecostal mega churches are thriving across the U. S.

While both of these branches are called Christian, their theology and worship practices are as different as night and day.  To move from one to the other is like changing religions.

The article suggests these migrating Hispanic people need to feel they are in circumstances where they “belong”.  For a variety of reasons, Hispanic pentecostal churches provide fill this need better than Catholic churches.

If theology had powerful substance, this change would not be happening.  People would feel they knew “the truth” and would stay in the Church that provided it.

But, they don’t do this.  Hispanic people are finding a different version of worship and a different perspective of the god as their socio-economic circumstances change.

It is illustrative of a god of the mind.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2140207,00.html

 

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Evidence Religion is of the Mind.

  1. entech says:

    It is illustrative of a god of the mind. While it is possible that there is a God of reality, it is true that the only one we know is the god of the mind.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      entech 12:34 “While it is possible there is a God of reality, it is true the only one we know is the god of the mind.”

      Excellent conclusion. The god that makes itself know is the one of the mind. The other one does not reveal its existence.

      • entech says:

        One of the characteristics of the living god is the refusal to prove itself, you must freely and willingly accept the existence.

        This is one of the characteristics of the greatest con game ever, universal and with little change anywhere, I represent this god and to question me is to question god. So there it is, gods representatives, from the ones that made up the commands all those thousands of years ago, to the ones that wrote them down a couple or more thousand years ago to the ones of today. God is real god is self evident (the universe, Moses and the prophets etc) god will not be questioned by a worm like you – did you witness the creation (actually know one did, two reasons if you believe then the creation came before people, if you don’t believe then there was no creation story among the many that is any more valid than any other).

        • Wolfy32 says:

          Entech 1:17

          I agree that many of the religious precepts are circular in nature. If God would just come to earth announce that he’s God this discussion could be resolved.. heh.

          However, let us take this to a different perspective. Hypothetically speaking. What if, a few thousand or a few hundred million years ago, I don’t feel the time matters much, a group of beings like us, but way more intellectually / scientifically advanced, decided to go on a mission to seed the universe. They decided that they wanted to branch out colonize a new home, or they themselves wanted to colonize a new planet. But realized it would be too far, they had to start from scratch either with seeding the planet or colonizing it themselves.

          So, they searched for a planet or had the technology to push the planet into the proper orbit. Or had scanners that identified the most ideal planet capable of sustaining life.

          They seeded this planet with bacteria hoping to make it a home for themselves. They left for a few million years, numerous generations later they came back and said, oh.. crap… their’s sentient life on the planet. “Who let the sentient life dna out into the ooze? ” ” GEORGE did you let sentient DNA OUT???”

          In their fury of OMG we screwed up. They relocated the humans out of their controlled biosphere or whatever. And said good luck, don’t come back. HOping the humans would just die out and they could come back and colonize the nice bacteria and life filled planet again..

          They left again, came back a few hundred years later only to discover that humans had taken over and were like OMG, what have we done? And decide to send one of their represenatives to see what it’s like to be human, hoping that somehow they could fix what they’ve created. They send Jesus down to mingle and try to figure things out.

          between the beginning and Jesus they sent probes / satellites (the north star? The “cloud” in the sky that rained “mana” food down on the Israelites, the burning bush? etc. ) to direct human development. They become more and more accepting of us as they work with our society and decide to help us a little. Or theirs a disagreement within their own ranks and they go to war over what to do with us. Kinda like an experiment gone wrong…

          One group fell in love with their little guinea pigs, and the other group felt we were just to be a lab test and should be exterminated. And so they went to war over us.

          One side trying to get us to destroy ourselves and the other trying to help us become whatever it is we can become.

          Maybe they never meant to present themselves as God’s initially, why Genesis has many strange references to their blending in with humans. They thought maybe they could live with us. And realized that wouldn’t work.

          As a result, they left.. Supposedly, Christ said as he left “I go to prepare a place for you.”

          Well, if they started setting up a new planet for us and this one took a few hundred million years, that one may too… So, it could be another few hundred million years before its ready. Given that it’s only been 2000 at best since they started. :)

          Just saying that maybe, yes, humans created religion to answer their questions, but, maybe as with many things, we trying to explain that which we don’t fully understand, but may really be simple. There is actually beings out there that care about us, accidently created us and they’re trying to help us in some way.

          It’s not so much that God is false or not real, yet, it’s not so much that God is real. Maybe there are many beings that tried living with us, and we tried to explain their significant difference by escalating them to Godhood..

          Imagine if we came to someone 2000 years ago with a car, and guns, and explosives and all our current medical technology, they’d think we’re near Gods too.

          • entech says:

            Who would know? The true believers say that with God all things are possible!

            Is that supposed to be science fiction or scientology :lol:

          • entech says:

            PS. a line in your first paragraph reminded me of a popular song when I was a lot younger.
            If God would just come to earth announce that he’s God this discussion could be resolved.. heh.

            I thought … was only true in fairy tales
            Meant for someone else but not for me


            And then I saw her HIS face
            Now I’m a believer

            So yes, bring him home for a beer and a chat and I would have no choice. Wouldn’t even need faith, I would have knowledge and evidence ..heh.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            Who would know?

            Exactly! The bible has numerous “prophecies”, “signs”, and indications. Daniel is told “write these down and put them aside for such a time that transportation and communication are greatly improved.”

            This implies that “God” is expecting humans to greatly advance scientifically. Or … Wants us to advance scientifically.

            Revelations makes many references to what could be considered both technological advances and many sci-fi indicators. Like the size of God’s “Temple” Which is described more as a “GARGANTUAN” space ship. (Several miles wide by several miles tall.)

            But, if God can speak telepathically, and has “Angels” or diplomants, army members, and other represenatives throughout our entire civilization then yes he is “everywhere”.

            Or if he can communicate via telepathy then prayer could possibly be a form of primitive telepathy.

            If something is out there, who is to say that religion is Humanity’s attempt at trying to make sense of it, and in the process decided to cash in on Humanity’s predisposition to it.

            Revelations says that there will be a time when the society becomes Godless and the leader will be the antichrist. What better “antichrist” than than a person that simply enacts Atheism as the “religion” and completely makes belief illegal. Then when “God” does come back.. (In his temple), the armies of earth will be directed to stop their in-fighting and point their weapons at “God”.

            So, what if he did come back?? possibly in a very judgemental militaristic way? heh. Coffee or beer might be out of the question. :)

          • entech says:

            OK. my giveup :roll:

      • Matt says:

        jon, you suggested i read “the god delusion”. interestingly i stumbled across this article.(stumbled across by random chance of course….) honestly it realy makes me doubt the credibility of the book you suggested. what do you think? i think its a good thing i read this article before i read your book….

        http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/who%E2%80%99s-deluded

        • entech says:

          Matt, would you expect anything different from Catholic theologians? Dawkins writes a book suggesting as the title says belief in God is a delusion, now where would we go to look for a favorable review and where for a derogatory one?

          I could suggest a few books critical of the Bible, some by Biblical scholars. Much more qualified than Dawkins when it comes to writing about the Bible in particular and religion in general. Would any of them discourage you from reading the Bible? By the logic you are using you should never read the Bible again!

          Now to put my head on the chopping block, I would not really recommend The God Delusion, it is a well written book and I really enjoyed it, but I do not think Dawkins makes his case very well at all. On the other hand, I would highly recommend the Greatest Show on Earth, a polemic, an apologetic for evolution if you like. This is his subject and the book is brilliant, I would recommend it to any creationist, I would not, however, place much credence on a review of the book by Dembski.

          You need to know the background ideas of the writer and the critic when considering content rather than style

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Matt 6:23 I would agree with entech Dawkins does not spend my effort on philosophers. I haven’t read the book he reccommended, but I would take his word for it as being better.

          That Dawkins spent only four pages on Acquias indicates his lack of interest in philosophy. As I understood the aricle by the Catholic philosopher, he said Acquines admitted there are mysteries beyond our comprehension and Dawkins did not acknowledge that Acquines did this.

          It seems to me, all religious philosophers argue the same thing, there are unanswered questions about where the universe came from, thus, they have to come from a god. Nonbelievers are more rational, they admit all the answers are not known yet and, thus, we don’t know it was a god either. If one can twist Acquines’ case to agree with Dawkins, we’re left without knowing anything anyway.

      • Matt says:

        here are some books on the topic if you are interested. i would recommend the one by scott hahn and benjamin wiker.(pretty much anything by dr. hahn will be great)

        http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/dawkins%E2%80%99-debunkers

  2. S.K. Haugen says:

    I go back to my college Philosophy classes and paraphrasing Voltaire: “if God did not exist, people would still invent one.”

    • entech says:

      True, although a deist not believing in any particular faith or creed in common with a lot of the enlightenment period that atheism as such was not possible, which probably accounts for the thoughts of many of Americas founding fathers.
      More telling of human weakness he actually said something like we would need to invent one.

  3. Henry says:

    Jon: “Evidence Religion is of the Mind.”

    Correlation does not imply causation. Again, the atheist sets aside his supposed skepticism. It requires a lot of belief to be an atheist.

    • entech says:

      Correlation does not imply causationcum hoc ergo propter hoc is a sound principle in logic, maths and science, Pretty dumb in your usage.
      In this case the denomination change is happening not only in America but also in Latin America.
      Jon says, based on the Time article The article suggests these migrating Hispanic people need to feel they are in circumstances where they “belong”. For a variety of reasons, Hispanic Pentecostal churches provide fill this need better than Catholic churches. . The correlation is suggested by Time Magazine . Given that it is a trans-national phenomenon it would be better to imply that change of residence and the need and desire to fit in are large contributing factors, not necessarily self contained causes. For an honest assessment of correlation it would be interesting to see some statistics on families which emigrate to America and convert and their influence on the conversion of friends and relatives left at home.

      If, instead, you are trying to say that Jon’s relating the change of denomination to illustrating that there is no actual god, only a mental construct, you may, perhaps, with a lot of invention and hard work, make a weak case. However, your next sentence, Again, the atheist sets aside his supposed skepticism. makes the whole thing ludicrous, the statement that it is a god of the mind, an illusion, is hardly ‘setting aside’ any scepticism it is actually an affirmation, a strong declaration of scepticism.

      It requires a lot of belief to be an atheist. You keep coming up with BS like this, by definition it is a lack of belief, a rejection of your belief. Now if I may paraphrase, It requires a lot of belief to be a cretinist, literal six day creation, 6000 or more years ago, that takes more belief than I would believe exists, while you are circumspect about confessing to this you give a good imitation of a believer, and as you say “if it walks like duck … ”

      I would suggest that you quit while ahead, but with every post you get further behind. Perhaps the confusion and vitriol is the result of your beginning to think, beginning to free think.

      • Henry says:

        entech: “is a sound principle in logic, maths and science, Pretty dumb in your usage.”

        Now the atheist is distancing themselves from science and logic when their argument is found to be unsound. We find out that logic and science supposedly does not apply to Jon’s claim in this article. I guess they will say anything to make their argument. With those rules, they always “win”.

        • entech says:

          I would suggest that you quit while ahead, but with every post you get further behind. Perhaps the confusion and vitriol is the result of your beginning to think, beginning to free think.

      • entech says:

        I thought it was simple repetition, almost an argumentum ad nauseam. Nauseam would be write, it must make you feel sick to be so consistently wrong and desperately trying to defend it. Typically of the Creationist you seem to think that because you said it, it is true.

        Try again, perhaps we could have a new term Argumentum futilitatum, because it will be futile trying get any sense out of you once you have decided:
        Correlation does not imply causation.
        True but what is the supposed correlation and by whom is it proposed. Jon is quoting from the article about people changing denomination. Using this example to support a previously held belief: there I said it “belief”, the belief that God is an imaginary construct. Could be right could be wrong, there is no way you could say that people changing the way that they worship God is in any way related to thinking that the God they worship is all in the imagination. Jon thinks it is imaginary, the believers think it is very real. You try to be clever but the only fallacy here is that of your non sequitur.
        Again, the atheist sets aside his supposed skepticism.
        Ok, from “a god of the mind.” how do you manage to turn a skeptical statement into setting aside skepticism. Put it another way:
        a. When it comes to the existence of a god (supernatural creator, whatever) I am very skeptical, the possible existence is extremely doubtful.
        b. I do not believe that there is a supernatural creator of the universe.
        Do you really intend to suggest that either statement, a. or b., is stepping away from, abrogating, a skeptical position.
        It requires a lot of belief to be an atheist. This is simply another lie, typical of what is expected from a cretinist.

        Give up for once, it was a desperate attempted attack purely on the fact that Jon is an atheist, it was total fail and any continuation would involve you making yourself look like a cretinous cretinist.

        Hey my spell check says cretinist is wrongly spelt and it should be creationist.
        A good case for computer artificial intelligence, but even here I don’t think use it to imply any cause

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Henry 2:44 “Correlation does not imply causation.”

      When one has only one variable, it is not unusual to attribute casusation, even though it is always possible there are other variables not known. If you want to be helpful in the argument, you might suggest another reason Hispanics are leaving the Catholic church for the Pentacostals. Or, maybe you deny it it happeneing.

  4. Michael Ross says:

    ” religion is a phenomenon of the mind.”
    ~Jon Lingren

    “Religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand.”
    ~Karl Marx

    • entech says:

      Michael well done, two appropriate and correct quotes. While I would not and could not agree with everything these two scholars say, I do applaud them on these two.

      Popular quoted against Marxism; but quoted in a much abbreviated form is :
      Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.
      Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

      At this time Marx had completed his doctoral thesis, ‘The Difference between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophies of Nature’ in which he was critical of Hegel. In this thesis he said some things that might find acceptance in America today, Marx did not think religious belief is just an illusion, he wrote All gods, the pagan as well as the Christian ones, have possessed a real existence. Did not the ancient Moloch reign? Was not the Delphic Apollo a real power in the life of the Greeks? .
      You could interpret this as saying the beliefs were real but not the thing believed, or you could say it was polytheism, like the Bible itself so many writings can be interpreted in so many ways.

      At the time Opiate was used more as in reference 2
      opiate (plural opiates)
      1. A drug, hormone or other substance derived from or related to opium.
      2. Something that dulls the senses and induces a false and unrealistic sense of contentment.

      Read in full the quote is not so negative as people with an agenda would make out:
      “Religion is the heart of a heartless world”, isn’t this the basis of charity?
      “Religion is the spirit in a spiritless situation”, perhaps another way to say faith?
      “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature”, isn’t this the basis of hope?

      Instead of cherry picking to find the worst interpretations for so many people, take a look at this cherry picked and interpreted to offer faith, hope and charity.

  5. Wanna B Sure says:

    Jon; Your topic from Time today with the subject of Catholics trending to evangelicalism: In today’s Huffpost, the same topic is posted. An interesting quote from that article is; “Catholicism is still the dominent group among Hispanics. Then why are they trending? Simply put, because we’re growing and we are politically active.” Evidently the Catholic Church isn’t political enough for them, and they enjoy the activism within the Neo Evangelicals. The article goes on to give examples of this activism within the body politic. There is a hazard for the more liberal side of politics with the inclusion of these culturally conservative democrats. Once they get fed properly, housed, cars, and citizenship, they just may bite the liberal hand that feeds them. If they cross from one Christian tradition to another, (still Christian by the way,), They could just as easily (if not more so), change their political allegiance/tendency. Beware of what you appear to applaud. It may sneak up behind you like a fart in church.

  6. Wanna B Sure says:

    Jon; is there a problem with area voices? I did a post and it is waiting moderation. I know it was very slow this morning.

  7. Wolfy32 says:

    There is evidence that suggests the brain is innately wired by “default” to believe in something more. What I find amusing about the articles is that belief in something greater does help people cope with stress / deal with socio moral issues. Things deemed bad by ones sphere of influence can be made worse or better through believing in something greater.

    One of the articles I found amusing though, pointed out that societies appear (in the short term) to improve under Atheistic models. Less moralistic issues all around, teen pregnancy, drinking, drugs, etc. I would guess this is tied to shame. If one has little modesty / shame / moral direction telling them things are bad, then, they would feel less stressed about things and would need to cope less.

    I find it intriguing that by default we’re born to believe in something. Why is that? If not to give us the chance to believe. If by default we didn’t believe, then why would we look for anything outside ourselves (in the universe or in that which is around us.)

    I also found it amusing that the brain has a “circuit” that defines our boundary of existence.. Where “we stop” and the world begins. What’s amusing about this, is this boundary exists beyond our bodies… We can sense beyond what is beyond our physical limitation of touch / smell. We can sense if we’re blind folded and someone is standing right in front of us. I beleive there’s a lot more to these studies than what can “tangibly” extracted from them. A lot of intriguing results.

    One thing I would note is the mention of long term impact to Atheistic socio models. Short term results look promising. We don’t know possibly long term what happens to people’s moral compasses and their ability to decide what is right or wrong.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/08/12/un-wired-for-god.html
    http://philosophypress.co.uk/?p=981&wb48617274=AC19D02E

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wolfy32 2:15 “I find it intgrguing that by default we’re born to believe in something.”

      The stardard science-like explanation is it would have something to do with finding food or reproducing.

      “We don’t know ..long term what happens to people’s moral compasses and their ability to decide …right and wrong.”

      In my own thinking, it seems obvious we have always been on our own to decide what’s right or wrong. Societies who did what was not in their long term interest just died out–those who made the right choices, and were lucky with the weather and in war, survived. The only role of religion was to use it as a source even though the religion itself was made up in peoples’ minds.

      • Wolfy32 says:

        That’s precisely what I was getting at Jon, I don’t know of any ancient civilizations (still around and active) that went without religion. Archeologists almost always look at culture and religious practices when investigating a dig. Though, that’s not my expertise so, i’ll bow out of archeology and just say, that’s all I’ve, read, seen, or understood. I could be way off.

        Either way, with my limited knowledge, I am unaware of a thriving civilization that has done away with religion / God belief, completely. The closest I can think of is China has tried to eliminate religion by making most illegal, same was true in communist Russia 20 years ago maybe.

        I would consider China thriving in terms of much of its general population living in poverty, and Russia has been plagued with so many issues trying to redo its government I can’t see its general population doing really awesome… yet.

        Not saying religion or the lack of religion is to blame, just saying I don’t know of a thriving city, state, country or land mass that is 100% free from religious belief of any type.

        • entech says:

          How far would you take cultural practises and call them religion? When you say religious belief of any type.

          Ancestor worship? religion or respect for the past
          The Arunta people in Australia have no concept of God and no ancestor worship, they do have a strict totemic culture, a group thing that binds them together would this be an actual religion.

          Some Hindus are atheists and find no contradiction, are they still part of a religion if they deny the existence of a god.
          Buddha apparently answered questions about god in a dismissive way, is it still a religion? Some forms of Buddhism do have a supernatural teaching others don’t, are both religions?

          Definitions are so important, we need to be sure we are talking about the same thing.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Wolfy32 1:49 “That’s precisely what I was getting at Jon. I don’t know of any ancient civilzations (still around and active) that went without religion.”

          Adding to entech’s question about culture, I would add it would be more accurate to say their are not nor never have been cultures completely void of myths. There are myths about religion and many other things. Mostly, human groups like to think they came into being in some special way from some special place and remain a special and superior group. Thus, instead of saying there have been no groups w/o religion, I would say there have been no groups w/o this view of themselves being superior or special and religion was a way of supporting that myth.

          Having said that, what would happen if an entire society was void of this superiority myth–thought it was about the same as all other societies–it didn’t need to go to war against their inferior neighbors? It seems like thing would be better, but we’ve never tried it.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            Exactly, and I’m not sure it’s possible to achieve. At least not at the moment. Homosexual people want to be treated differently than single people in relationships. They think they’re special. When in reality, married people think they’re special.. (And maybe most married people may be jealous of single people..)

            The answer doesn’t lie in trying to make everyone special. It lies in making everyone the same. Single / divorced people currently in relationships get no tax brakes, no Federal special treatment whatsoever.

            In fact, I pretty much gets crewed on taxes… I took a position with around a 25% pay increase, after seeing what my taxes took I’ll be lucky if I actually have a net increase at all. Because Its wrong of me to not be married (financially).

            I don’t agree that gay people should get the benefits of married people.. Because well, I’m special as a single person and get no special treatment!!!! Gay, hetero, or not, is irrelevent.. I get screwed.. no matter what, and not in a good way!!

            I agree, on paper, treating everyone the same is a great idea. It’s impossible though. Everyone innately wants to be special and if religion answers that for them, or if being gay, or being gay and married answers that for them, then so be it. But, it all leads to wanting to be treated differently… Not the same.. If we all wanted to be treated the same, then it would be much easier to all be treated as single people in relationships or not in relationships. Period. Regardless of race,religion, gender, and /or preference.

            Eliminate marriage, and everyone becomes equal..

            As to defining religion, that’s a tough one. I heard of someone that believed in Isis, I believe a roman goddess if memory serves. So, Is that a religion or just a crazy person? LOL. I don’t know, nor can I answer that for everyone.

          • entech says:

            Isis was an Egyptian whose cult spread throughout the Greek and Roman Empire, up to the 2nd century CE. Parallel with the early Jesus movement and worshipers were just as convinced she was real as Jesus worshipers were that he was.

  8. Wanna B Sure says:

    Does anyone have an opinion on the tonal properties of a plastic Kazoo verses a metal one, and the people who love them?

  9. Avatar of Hexum Hexum says:

    Jon, I think you make a great point regarding the lack of consistency in religious behavior. It is clear to me that God does not actually exist but does exist in the minds of religious followers. This belief is a belief in an ideal; and this delusion is reinforced by other followers around a person. A belief system can provide the mind with many things. My hope is that more and more people will realize that they no longer need that belief in a higher power.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>