Re: Religion: definition of

Gil Hardwick (
Mon, 17 Apr 1995 03:03:24 GMT

In article <>, Gerold Firl ( writes:
>Right. I wasn't suggesting that the birth of monotheism should be equated
>with the birth of religion. I was using the birth of monotheism as an example
>(and one with which there should be widespread familiarity) of how the
>material conditions of physical survival influenced the development of
>religion. Plus, this example serves as an excellent illustration of my main
>point regarding the question "what is religion": religion is a system for
>*organizing* society, for imposing a pattern of internal behavior on the
>constituent members of the culture so-as to regulate their interactions in a
>way which will be beneficial for the survival of the society.

No, religion is whatever binds communities. It has nothing whatever
to do with the "organising of society", or any such thing. Religion
is a personal experience among individuals who form relationships on
that basis (cf kinship), most frequently running counter to the idea
of survival.

Religious discourse is pursued consistently as a systematic critique
of the materialist, survivalist ideology which takes into account only
the most base forms of biological behaviour.

In modern times, as we have discussed here before, we have experienced
new forms of religious discourse emerging as scientific knowledge in
the wake of an active, evangelising historical protest against the
established institutions of the organised Church. It ought to be
noted here that such protest has been consistently directed at the
greed, decay and sexual promiscuity of said Church.

We have discussed these matters here before, Mr Firl, and it is a
tragedy that you yet refuse to study even the most basic fresher
texts in order to familiarise yourself with the material at hand
before sprouting your unrelenting drivel.

>Try this. Religion functions to create social organization. Our social
>instincts, easily recognizible as related to the other primates, are
>inadequate as guides when society is made up of more people than we know on a
>personal basis. Religion provides a set of guidelines which can be used to
>regulate our relations with other members of the culture *without* our having
>to know the other individual personally.

Nothing of the sort. State administration which appropriates unto
itself the means of violence is what provides the "guidelines" as
well as the practical regulation of mass society. Religion is a
critique of such administration, and always has been.

Read the *Dao-de Jing* of Lao-zi. Read the Bible if you will; the
first books of the New Testament in particular. At least endeavour to
study something on the topic . . .

>Think of any religion. It will be described by the description given above.
>And I maintain that this is indeed the primary function of religion, at least
>when viewed at the level of society as a whole. Of course, from the
>perspective of the individual the function of religion will be seen quite
>differently. But religion is a culture-wide phenomenon, and to be fully
>understood it must be viewed from this perspective.

Yes, religion can of course "be described by the description given
above". Anything at all can be described by any idiot sprouting their
usual gibberish without ever bothering to check their facts or study
their material beforehand, or even bothering to familiarise themselves
with the language.

Whether such description is valid, however, is another matter entirely.

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