The Persistence of Religion
in the Modern World

T   
his subject in naturally intriguing to anyone interested in philosophy.

Why is it that so anachronistic an endeavor as religious worship still finds adherents in a world filled with televisions, lightbulbs, automobiles, computers, skyscrapers, Hoover dams and other such deposits of science? Certainly, the fact that religion has produced nothing to make life better for man has not escaped the notice of perhaps six billion people. Hence, the question devolves to ... what is the nature and cause of self-inflicted blindness? Whence the monkey on the world's back?

Or ... why doesn't it ... just go away?

The answer lies in the dereliction of philosophy itself

The original concern of philosophy was the "meaning of life". For that matter so was the original concern of religion (I mean here after the initial "con") ... philosophy being the more secular (i.e. read morally cleaner).

What has happened to these two potential antagonists?

Religion has more or less kept its direction and still informs you that your life has meaning and value and everything fits into God's inscrutable plan.

"All is well in this best of all possible worlds."
Philosophy's answer to questions of meaning is
"... see entry under science" ...
and when you look it up you get ...
"Life has no intrinsic meaning. You are just atoms arranged in such fashion as to produce consciousness (soon to be quantified and thus explained by implanted electrodes and due process of experimentation). When you die, there is nothing ... of course (You idiot)."

In other words, philosophy does not deal with the subject of "intrinsic meaning" since it has been watching the progress of science with extreme envy (it produces results) ... and therefore seeks to hide its collective head in the sands of linguistics and other such prattle.

Since every individual senses some sort of meaning (or meaninglessness) in his own life, the proper question of rational philosophy would be ... why do we sense meaning to life? And the question cannot be put off in the scientific way by stating that we simply "imagine it".

A "reason" must be discovered for the benefit those who are satisfied with automatic knowledge that such meaning is real as well as for those who "reason" their way to it. I mean here reason ... by way of "non-rational induction".

Whhhooooaaaa .... wait a minute ... NON-rational reasoning?

Yup. Now we get to the meat of this piece.

There are three ways to go here ...

1) Reason - the rational way of thinking
2) Feeling - the non-rational mode
3) Madness - the irrational

#3 --- Now, we all know what madness is. It is complete incoherence. "Irrational" means not sensible or "orderly" ... essentially a random way of interacting with the universe. Since the universe is governed by immutable rules, this method is guaranteed to spur you to the "slab" toot sweet. Hence, we discount it as a viable way to approach existence (unless one has a death wish).

#1 -- The "scientific way" ... approved by all. It produces results - visible, useful, lifesustaining results. Who can argue with that? It must be basically true if it gives true output, right? Of course! Then, what's the matter with the second alternative? Why does it "stick around"? Is there some unstated, unknown underpinnings to it?

Indeed, there is ...

#2 Feeling ...

Science encompasses all the material world. It's success lies only in that world. It is not the world of "meaning" ... only of physical existence.

Then ... is there another kind of existence ... a non-physical one?

Yes ... you deal with it every day. Let Liebniz describe the animal ...

"If one could see the workings of the brain, it would look like a mill"

This is perhaps the most trenchant statement ever made concerning the limits of science. I'm sure Liebniz knew that as well. For where might we look to see a thought? Certainly, we cannot look at atoms. We should see only atoms. Such as they are, atoms correspond to thought ... but they are not thought. They are not color or taste or smell or sound. They correspond to, but are not - the thing itself.

Hence, when I read that someone thinks a computer cannot be made to "think", I must object. If the arrangement is true, then Logic (or God) is compelled to supply the ingredient of consciousness to the "atoms" thus outputting a true value to the properly constructed machine. If not, an inconsistency is generated ... if you will ... a contradiction. Impossible.

So there are exactly two ingredients to existence. One is the stuff of matter. The second is (in the case of animated beings at least) a "meaning" ascribed to that arrangement of matter known as "being".

Science can give us but one insight into the nature of this half of existence. It can state with confidence that the "non-rational" half of existence exists in correspondence with the rational half and causes no discernible contradictions. That is all. The why and how of it are forever unknowable in principle.

We have then the basis of Non-Rational Thought.

If a non-rational meaning is ascribed to matter in living beings, where is the line drawn between living and non-living?

A fair example:
Suppose we examine a single nerve cell. Certainly, it is part of the "consciousness". What part? What part of a single cell is alive enough to take its allotment of this form of "meaning". You see what I am getting at? There is no discernible and absolute distinction between animate and inanimate.

Perhaps then all atoms of any structure partake of a "consciousness". What is the "thought" lying behind a rock rolling down a hill? Certainly it cannot be complex ... but ... is it part of a larger whole? Such questions cannot be answered by any form of experiment. They lie in the realm of non-rational reason. They are not irrational, rather they are coherent ideas and therefore require the new distinction of "non-rational".

Should we use non-rational reasoning to build a car? ... Of course not.

Should we use rational reasoning to supply us with meaning in our lives? ... Of course not.

Here then lies the error of philosophy

It has left 50% of existence without a reasoning voice (only irrational religionists speak to it). Philosophy has abandoned the "meaning of life" to irrational con-men because it is blinded by the success of science and wishes to partake of similar ... when such success in the realm of meaning is impossible in principle. Success here is measured in the contentment of those who hear its orations not in machines that assist bodies in the maintenance of physical of life.

Man longs to hear a sermon stating that his life is meaningful ... intrinsically ... not just by his own declaration. And the rub is that this may well be the case. We simply cannot prove it ... scientifically.

In science there is analysis followed by experimental "proof".

In philosophy there must be contemplation followed by "faith" in the place of proof. That is the nature of the beast here. The removal of religion is impossible except by a philosophy which recognizes this other half of existence and makes use of it to give people what they need as conscious entities ... a meaning to their lives not of their own making.


Philosophy ought properly to fix its sight here ............

Existence cannot be less than the sum of its parts. Therefore, we surmise a greater consciousness associated with existence as a whole and from this proposition draw precious meaning.





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