@lightweight Religion is related to what we value as a collective. If we drop the religion that got us here, I'm afraid that we have a long way to fall. How can we tell what we should value other than from the accumilated learning of the past?

@liamdiprose I think it's a mistake to think that religion has ever reflected our values or our direction. It has, at best, followed very very slowly. I'd argue it only had relevance when we were desperately ignorant of the world in which we exist. It is increasingly at odds with everything we're learning about the world, and its credibility among the incredulous drops with every new verified scientific discovery. I don't think religion offers society anything of real value.

@lightweight The Bible is showing its age and perhaps some passages could be retired. But I don't think the message is at odds with Science. Science tells us where we are, but doesn't provide any guidance as to how we should grow. Picture a tree, science can tell us where the tree is, but religion is the sun that guides its growth.

@liamdiprose I don't agree that the Bible offers anything of value. I think it's just one of millions of other philosophical/moral/ethical treatises, and it's extraordinarily inconsistent and self-contradictory as well. I'd suggest that many of the others are written by more thoughtful, insightful, and coherent people. Also, I think that society leads human morals which in turn are eventually (but very reluctantly) adopted by religions. They're the laggard, not the leader.

@lightweight The Bible is really really old, copied from stories even older. The refinement of time those stories went through is much more insightful than one mind, and tell us more about what proporous societies valued as they grew to what we have today. If you need something extremely reliable, like a society, would you pick the newest tech, or the laggard tech?

@liamdiprose I'm afraid I have zero admiration or sentimental attachment to the Bible. I consider it to be largely noise, its internal contradictions plus the calculated edits (removing many/most of its narratives) by past despots for their own benefits rendering it entirely untrustworthy. I think it's not worth reading except as an anachronistic curiosity. It's *definitely* nothing to base a society on.

@liamdiprose The only way to get direction from the Bible is to read it selectively and subjectively. You bring your existing values, also known as guidance by the Holy Ghost, and you interpret.

Matching parts form the essence and the concrete message of the Bible. Contradicting parts are symbolic or part of a specific story for historical illustration rather than direct philosophical guidance.

We can see that from the 3000 denominations that disagree on everything. Some of them do very nice things, provide community and a sense of belonging, and improve society. Some of them ruin society and harm people.

They all think the reason they do it is because they're good Christians and have "Christian values".

@lightweight @liamdiprose

@clacke @liamdiprose heh - of course, knowing which is which seems quite arbitrary depending on who one talks to. I think it's better to just leave it on the shelf.

@lightweight My definition for religion is more general than the traditional ones. Humans need to have meaning/values and will organise around them. It's not whether religion is good or bad, but a choice of which one (or "ones" - provided they are compatible).

@liamdiprose I tend to think that religion is organised for the purpose of controlling large numbers of people. Really insightful, dedicated thinkers tend to eschew religions, although historically, they were forced by religious theocracies & general religious prejudice to claim affiliation to the prevalent religion of the day where ever they were. I personally have no inherent respect for religion, nor do I think it particularly useful or necessary for 'social direction' or cultural coherence.

@liamdiprose to clarify - I think religion is used by small numbers of people to control large numbers. In some cases, their exploitation of the masses is unintentional, but I think generally, those who "control" a religion (e.g. L Ron Hubbard) are doing it for their own power/gain.

@lightweight Yes, I hate the control that had as well. It's a defilement of what is supposed to be good and true. It happens, no matter what religion. Socialism, Capitalism. A good question is how do we engineer a religion that is good and incorruptible?

@liamdiprose we don't. We recognise that religion is entirely unnecessary. Government is bad enough but at least it can, in theory, be based on scientific methods and evidence. It's clear that religion is not required for a "good" society (in fact, the evidence is clear: religion is contra-indicated on that score!). Without religion, people can be 'spiritual' if they want, but humanity has definitely proven itself incapable of handling religion. It's 'proprietary software for the mind'.

@liamdiprose also, I think it's important to be clear on this: I think that blind faith (and lack of skepticism) cannot be held as a virtue, as it is in many societies (including the one in which I was raised). I see it as a fundamental character flaw.

@lightweight I don't think those people could be saved from the start. You cant force them to be intelligent, you just have to hope they adopt a religion that leads them to be a good citizen.

@lightweight Re: blind faith. Every step into the future is blind, and hope gives a reason to be happy.

@lightweight I agree that the smaller the better, but none just can't exist. If we want a society that gets along, we need at least the 10 commandments. You can't scientifically derive them, you need to choose and agree on some values. Religion is just software for the mind, since even open source is controlled by someone. (And a "fork" in this case means war)

@liamdiprose Look carefully at the 10 commandments. How many are even relevant today? Societies have arrived at the crucial substance of the commandments independently in every case. The Bible is nothing special - and it clouds the waters at every turn with irrelevancies. As I see it, the only ones who benefit from religion are those who are completely at odds with society, and are unable to think rationally. That is, I hope, a very small (and shrinking) segment of society.

@lightweight When I brought up the 10, I was really thinking of the don't kill, don't steal, and don't commit adultery. They are (some of) the minimum laws for a society to perpetuate. They're rational, but there is no scientific method that can tell you that life is better than death, ownership and stable marriage are good things, because science has no bias by design. These are values that we all must agree to together.

@liamdiprose Yes, and nearly all societies, regardless of prevalent religion (or non), has arrived at those rules independently. As such, it's rational to suggest that those rules are sensible without needing to resort to religion. On the contrary, when societies reject those values, it's generally because of/justified by their religion.

@lightweight What I'm saying is that these shared values *is* the religion - albeit a very basic one. Society and religion go hand in hand. Without a religion, you have no society.

I very much agree that our values should be based off rational thought and use science where we can. But there are some questions that science can't answer, and they are very hard to answer.

I believe we need to rely on the documented past in order to know what works for us. Ages of trial and error.

@liamdiprose ok, I guess then that we have different definitions of 'religion'. For me, in general, religion means 'theism" (yes, there're notable exceptions, but that's what most people imply)... which implies blind faith. That's where I diverge (and withhold respect) from the idea of religion. There are cultures, social mores, morals, ethics, and those have nothing to do with religion inherently, although some people think religion determines them. I think it's the other way around.

@lightweight So religion for you is strictly the worship of God. Ok.

Gods come in many forms: Money, social power, technology; pretty much anything you can dedicate your life to. The reason people worship "the one true God who is in heaven" is because it sets them free of the man-made Gods, which are traps and unreliable. The true God is maximally Good, and abstract beyond our understanding - by definition. Even "concept" falls short.

How do we know if a certain moral or ethic is good?

@liamdiprose we don't know if a certain moral or ethic is good, except by testing it. The same as with all human cultural. Gods are all invented by people to, in effect, win arguments. All 'their' morals and ethics are the inventions of people in any case. The idea of God is great but painfully simplistic and uncompelling for those not indoctrinated into it, and/or with a little imagination or analytical nous.

@lightweight I picture society as a tree, and God as the sun that guides its growth. We, the tree, learn goodness by testing and remember goodness by writing it down. If we can't trust what is written down, the tree shrinks, falls away from God, possibly dies.

This God is not man made, he's part of the spiritual framing of the world. He is who our spirits want to be, personally.


I read the bible with skepticism, because I don't believe it is perfect. Testing and discussions are how we improve it. A lot of the books are actually letters to other people. Who knows, maybe we will make the cut? 😆

@liamdiprose make the cut? As letters? I'm pretty sure the Bible's closed for new submissions, especially from the fediverse 😂

@liamdiprose wow, I think then, that you and I have entirely different world-views (and, I guess, impressions of what constitutes reality)... I think this concept you're referring to as "God" is not a thing. Like, it's entirely made up and an unnecessary (and often extremely destructive) bug in many human brains.

@liamdiprose I do, however, believe that the sun (Sol, our star) can play such a role. For trees and (to some extent) for us. But it exists. And it doesn't offer moral guidance or a definition of goodness.

@lightweight It's an analogy: plants don't understand the sun, only that sunlight provides growth.

We are the plants, and goodness is the sunlight. We don't understand how it works, only when it works.

@liamdiprose heh - I realise that. :) I just don't agree with it.

I have read swaths of the Bible over the years, and have been largely repulsed by it and the idea that so many people put so much store in it.

@lightweight Yes, but not unnecessary. He's the direction that we want to grow in. What he is for you is different than what he is for me. Although, since we're both open-source advocates, I really think we can agree on a lot of his features.

@liamdiprose I just don't there there's any "Him" or "Her" or a"It". There's no need for agency or personification. Humanity and the world we live in with all its creatures and mysteries is plenty. Where I feel nameless awe, others ascribe it to "God". I think that's an invalid leap.

@lightweight There's mostly likely an "it", at least. Do you subscribe to string theory or something like that?

I choose "him", because we are born to become our fathers.

God is huge, but he is framed as a personal friend who has introduced himself to you. This is about feeling spiritually connected to the universe, not about society building, imo.

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@liamdiprose @lightweight > A good question is how do we engineer a religion that is good and incorruptible?

There's a book for that. I haven't read it.…
@lightweight @liamdiprose Religion is also a very personal thing, and teaching it at school has a high risk of causing discrimination and triggering issues with peer pressure that are probably not helpful for one's faith.
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