The Difference Between Philosophy And Religion
I am calling myself atheistic as a part of being apistic. But there are many people, who call themselves atheists in spite of being religious. They do not consider this as a contradiction, as long as their preferred religion does not include personalized deities. Buddhism is an example, which is wrongly defined as a philosophy by those alleged atheists.
There is a fallacy, when the decisive distinctions between philosophies and religions are underestimated or ignored.
1. Philosophies are thoughts. These thoughts can exist only in one person's head, they can be taught, shared and talked about, they can be preserved on media and read or listened to.
The philosophies are immaterial, they have no impact upon the material world. Whenever people's actions are influenced by a philosophy, this is an independent consequence, not a part of it. The behavior following a philosophy can be determined by it, but the philosophy can exist without causing any behavior.
As an example, Epicureanism is a philosophy. Living in the garden of Epicurus was some people's individual choice. But one can be an Epicurean without living in the garden.
Discussing, teaching or learning about a specific philosophy is independent of agreeing with it.
2. Religions are more than just irrational and delusional beliefs and claims in people's heads. Material and physical expressions are an intrinsic constituent of all religions. Participation is the expression of conscious genuine or faked agreement with the beliefs.
I mentioned before, how the behavior of christians in Lourdes is a weird spectacle. when seen from my mental distance. But Lourdes is only an example, which can be generalized, based upon what I have either observed in real live or watched as documentaries of what is offered as spectacles by christianity, islam, judaism, hinduism, sikhism, buddhism and a few other creeds.
Each of these religions is defined by the display of certain behaviors, both ritualistic as scripts learned by rote and more flexible reactions to situations, which all appear more or less weird, hilarious, ludicrous and senseless to any person not sharing the belief.
Each of these religions is materialized by buildings and objects, which are useless without the belief, not serving any non-religious purpose, except those of amusing and entertaining tourists.
- Buildings for public religious behaviors like temples, churches, sanctuaries
- Furniture like altars, shrines, confessionals
- Objects like wands, statues, vessels
- Alleged special immaterial values of redefined simple objects like bones, pieces of textile, splinters of wood
- Conformity like prescribed attires and body modifications
- Noises not qualifying as enjoyable music, like chanting, screaming, bells, drums, gongs
- Non-communicative body movements like prostrating, bowing, gestures and gesticulations
- Chemical hazing of the brain like by incense, scents or drugs
- Abandoning and wasting goods like food on altars, candles or material sacrifices for the embellishment of the religion's material environment
All of these observable expressions of religion are driven by the motivation to obtain benefits. They have also a perpetuating effect upon the mind.
When a christian prays for the fulfillment of a wish, this is implicitly the expectation of starting a sequence of two steps of causation. The deity is a black box containing a kind of a relay, which, when activated, has the alleged power to fulfill the need. The praying person believes, that the prayer presses a button on the black box, which in turn then activates the relay and causes the wish to be granted, even though the fulfillment of the wish is not considered to be in the realm of own direct action.
This pattern is not restricted to black boxes imagined as deities. All religious behaviors are the attempt to activate some fuzzy black box, which as a consequence would then cause something beneficial for the believers. This is a general part of all religious beliefs, that irrational behavior, which makes no sense to apistics, is expected to be sufficiently effective to obtain benefits.
An example: When a buddhist chants, which means him to be positioned in front of a shrine, swaying some parts of his body and producing weird, funny and to the bystanders annoying noises, this is essentially the same pattern as the christian praying. The buddhist's black box is not a personalized deity, but he too does something, which has no direct benefits whatsoever, but is based upon the mere belief of causing indirect benefits.
Religious behaviors, especially rituals following a routine learned by rote, have a strong effect upon the brain, which is enhanced by the presence of olfactory, auditive and visual stimuli. Thus the cognition gets temporarily blurred, blunted, dulled and hazed. The sense for the own individuality is diminished, rationality reduced and the reason disabled.
This enhances gullibility freeing it from rational control. The hierarchy instinct to submit and be humble and the gregarious instinct to feel as a particle of some vague entity are also relieved from cognitive control. This temporary heightened gullibility reinforces the religious beliefs and gets the person even more entangled.
Along with mistaking religions like buddhism for a philosophy, people also confound it as a method of self-improvement. This is a fallacy. Self-improvement requires insights and introspection, which are best gained in a state of the most undisturbed and undistorted faculty for reasoning. Self-improvement cannot be any better than the ability to be rational and the knowledge of scientific psychology and neuroscience.
Dimmed cognition as a result of religious behavior is certainly counterproductive to self-improvement.
This is a copy from my ERCP-blog: