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Take Two...

I am recycling my reply to another thread here as a stand-alone post, as requested by @bingst . All the secular movement needs to do to flourish is to meet people’s needs better than the competition does. Religious people are not opposed to science. They are opposed to having the only worldview they know taken away from them, the way science is slowly and painfully doing. Science itself however, is not a worldview; it’s a method of describing the natural world in objective terms. That’s useful as far as it goes, but humans also have a subjective experience of life which objectivity alone does not address. A worldview must be more than a basketful of unrelated facts, no matter how accurate. It must also guide people in how to live, how to reconcile their differences, and how to find peace of mind in a world of heartless competition and material hardship. It must show people how to reconnect with meaning, rather than telling them that there isn’t any, and they don’t need it.

The general public will not soon, in any great numbers, exchange their security blanket for the absence of a security blanket, but they would make the exchange in droves if they could turn in their tattered, two thousand year old security blanket for a fresh 2018 model that worked better. Think about this. The competition has brick and mortar training centers in every town with a population greater than a hundred people, and one on practically every corner in large cities. People don’t go to those places because they don’t have anything else to do on Sunday morning. They go because they have a deep human need that is not only not being met by science, but is being actively (in their perception) threatened by science. Secularism currently has nothing to offer those people except the absence of a philosophy, the absence of training, and the absence of any real understanding of their needs.

And why? It’s not because science doesn’t contain all the necessary ingredients for such a philosophy; it most certainly does. It’s because science isn’t in the business of generating philosophy, or taking care of people’s emotional needs preemptively, or instructing people on how to live wisely. Science has left that to the churches.

Secularism doesn’t need to go to war with religion, or with Republicans. It needs to outperform them in the competitive marketplace. It needs to understand the customer better and meet their needs better. If we really believe science is superior to superstition we need to demonstrate it, not just declare it louder. There is nothing scientific about pretending we are purely rational creatures. Science has long known that we have a complex emotional nature. There is nothing contrary to scientific principle about recognizing our whole nature. We don’t need to destroy the church. We need to bring it into the 21st century. Science alone is not equipped to do that, but an astute philosophy that adheres to science while understanding the broadest scope of human nature is.

People are really tired of superstition, and hungry for truth. But modern humans don’t even cook their own meals let alone build their own philosophies. The members here are exceptions; they are all DIY philosophers, but the general public, by and large, are not. An establishment that could assist them with that chore would not need to beg or cajole them for their patronage.

Science has long since overtaken superstition as a means of explaining natural phenomena, but Religion is still kicking Science's butt in marketing and service. Their product is a fully assembled worldview. Ours is a bucket of parts.

skado 8 Jan 24

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And thus, rationality fails to trump religion. Religion isn't going away, but we can go away from religion.


Great idea!
Some atheists are already doing that, in a way:

Atheist 'mega-churches' look for nonbelievers [] via @usatoday

Very interesting. Thanks.


So the corollary question is then: HOW do we create this ‘establishment’ to assist them with a better worldview with better marketing and service?

That is indeed the question, and I don't yet know the whole answer, but I do think, for starters, it would involve learning to see religious people as allies instead of enemies.

@skado Interesting idea.


Something to think about for sure!

Donna Level 6 Jan 25, 2018

The proof of this well-reasoned post is the zeal with which Believers attempt to convert...they want you to be as full of joy as they are at "belonging". No amount of dry reasoning can replace that. We need tochange our outlook and aim if we hope to ever prevail! Can you communicate the freedom and happiness that comes when you live without feeling like every move is being watched & judged? THAT is what will set people free!

I agree that would have a very liberating effect.


I agree with you to a LIMITED extent. Religion succeeds best in times and places of uncertainty. I think that places that offer services that provide for stability in needs such as housing, food, transportation, and medical care have a much lesser degree of religiosity than those that do not. When these are met, then the higher needs of socialization tend to be addressed and met in non-radical means. This is why you see the rise of type of Christianity we get here in the States, as opposed to that of that found in Europe. Much different social conditions. (Sounds simplistic, sorry. I won't go on.)
But I don't think they are selling a worldview, per se. They are selling STABILITY in the form of Jesus or God or a specific minister or even Trump (shudder). But this is just my hypothesis.

Thanks, I don't disagree with your comments about times of uncertainty. Instead of retyping I'll just invite you to check out my responses to VictoriaNotes below.


I am constantly explaining to people that science doesn't try to disclaim religion. It simply doesn't care. It is interested in explaining what we can observe in the world and how it works that is all. It doesn't care what direction it takes them as long as we understand how the world does work. If that conflicts with religious thinking "just the facts ma'am".


they are all DIY philosophers, but the general public, by and large, are not. An establishment that could assist them with that chore would not need to beg or cajole them for their patronage.

That is one of the most profound statements I have read recently. Now the question is; "What kind of establishment could assist them?" I don't have a clue. Maybe you do. I would like to hear it and any discussion on that topic.

One thing I’ve learned from evolution is that sometimes traits that were evolved in one environment are co-opted for other purposes when the environment changes. This is especially useful when the environment changes more rapidly than physiological evolution can keep up. The agricultural revolution some 10 to 12 thousand years ago precipitated one such rapid change. Organized religion arose at about the same time, and I suspect, partly to help compensate for this abrupt lifestyle shift. I think of it as the time in our history when we really committed to taking our destiny in our own hands, unlike any other species. It required a counter balance; an artificial shoring up, or taming, of certain animal instincts. We’ll need that counter balance until we have time to physiologically evolve away from those instincts (hundreds of thousands of years) or until we get a lot better at genetic manipulation. Meanwhile, since it kept us upright, it became regarded as sacred and not to be tampered with. It stagnated while all secular culture progressed. The counter balancing qualities need to be examined scientifically, secularized, and brought up to date. Not abandoned.

I don’t know what the establishment would look like, but it might be more efficient to co-opt the existing system than to start from scratch. Momentum isn’t easy to replace. Replacing obsolete belief systems with science-based cognitive exercises might be easier if done from inside the church than from outside. Our big brains are prone to glitches and self inflicted suffering like finicky, expensive sports cars. Meditation, for example, is one of the exercises that have been put to this rebalancing task. I have developed a broader program that is working well for me, but quite lengthy to communicate.


Well put. Idk, but does the Universal Life Church fill this void? I cringe at anything that has the word church in it.

I'm not familiar with that church. Old associations are hard to shake, and honestly, we should do so only with the greatest of caution. But that caution should include a willingness to look at the deepest essence of the problem, no matter what we find there.

@skado The etylogical meaning of church is "from Greek kuriakon (d?ma ) ‘Lord's (house),’ from kurios ‘master or lord."

Cool, thanks. Yes, words are powerful imagery. A lot of religious imagery is decipherable in more than one way. A literal interpretation for the general population, and a symbolic one for initiates. @EllenDale


This is even more evident when our science rank fell to about 10 on the academic scale. There needs to be a grater push for curiosity and understand of how complex things operate. Religion has an objective to raise membership because it raises the amount of money in the collection plate. Where science just expands your mind to be more creative to solve the big problems.


That's in America, perhaps. I know people from all over the world, but especially in Europe (I.e. Nordic/Scandinavia) and Australia and religion is not the mainstay. It's not necessary to meet the needs of people. The most secular countries don't seem to have this problem that you speak of, and they are very social and community oriented. Most believers in the U.S. don't go to church anyway. They don't consider it important for their well being.

When we talk about its destructive effects, it's a force to be reckoned with. When we talk about the human needs that call it into being, it becomes insignificant.

@skado I think it depends on the culture. Generally speaking, cultures that have their basic necessities met don't need religion, and these are the countries that tend to be the happiest and have the highest well being according to studies I've read. The most religious countries (and states in the U.S.) tend to have the lowest well being. You and I live in states ranked with the lowest well being and yet we're ranked the most religious.


@VictoriaNotes The conversation my reply was pulled from was about how best to help the “secular movement” flourish. If I understand correctly, that’s the basic aim of this website. If you want to say the best way to spread secularism is to reduce poverty, I won’t argue. I’m all for it. But I’m not sure if that is nourishing the need or just pacifying it. It looks like Whac-A-Mole to me.

"With the trend of an increasingly religious youth globally, we can assume that the number of people who consider themselves religious will only continue to increase," Jean-Marc Leger, president of Win/Gallup International, was quoted as saying by the British Guardian newspaper.


“We are living through a period of rapid global poverty reduction. According to recent estimates, high, sustained growth across most of the developing world has helped nearly half a billion people escape $1.25-a-day poverty between 2005 and 2010. Never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period.
While the overall prevalence of poverty is in retreat, the global poverty landscape is changing. This transformation is captured by two distinct trends: poor people are increasingly found in middle-income countries and in fragile states. Both trends – and their intersection – present important new questions for how the international community tackles global poverty reduction.”
“Contrary to expectations, rising incomes do not appear to be associated with increasing levels of stability. Indeed, in many cases, the level of fragility is also on the rise. Taken together, the result is a non-uniform but discernible shift in the global poverty landscape away from stable, low-income environments.”
“Committed to seeing success in these countries, many donors are working through these difficulties, adapting their strategies to the challenges posed by these environments and experimenting with new approaches. Yet a broader understanding of what tools are available to external actors seeking to promote pro-poor policy reforms in fragile middle-income countries remains elusive and presents an important area for new research.”

Whether poverty reduction is a final solution or not may remain to be seen, but in any case all effective solutions should be welcomed. Encouraging the practice of science-based cognitive development in place of superstition-based belief systems can’t hurt. The original question was essentially only about whether to compete with the traditional system of internal development or to improve it. In either case, external conditions (local economy, etc.) would be a common denominator.

When you create a vacuum, something is going to fill it, and often something worse. Better to have a replacement in mind before we go tampering.

@skado Meeting people's basic needs aren't just about income. Notice the article mention well-being -- quality of life. It's social support, too. We have models, like the Nordic/Scandinavian countries which consistently ranked at the top as the happiest countries in the world. If we want to fill a void then it's smart to look for examples that do that. Their focus is on self-care and taking care of each other. Those provide meaning and purpose. They believe in investing in their society, so they don't mind paying higher taxes because everyone benefits. They have a balanced work/family life, too.

The problem we have in the U.S., for example, is that being a nonbeliever is stigmatized, and therefore people are isolated. Until this is resolved (which religion exacerbates) we will continue to have issues. Most of us are not free to be fully open without repercussions. How many people have you seen in the Welcome section come here and say they are so happy to have found this place because they have felt isolated? Why did they feel isolated? Because they have been stigmatized, unwelcomed by their communities.

So, yes, we can provide more secular venues, but the stigmatizing has to be significantly curtailed like it has in the happiest countries in the world. Then people can be free to be true to themselves, follow their bliss, and be supported by their community.

I can't see that we have any disagreement about any of that. I think we may envision somewhat different things when we hear the word religion. Yours, admittedly more in sync with the real world perhaps, and mine, more reduced to barest abstract ideals. All I'm really talking about is wholistic health practices which include mental disciplines as well as physical. These practices have been a part of virtually all world religions whether they personified some of their principles as gods, or were godless like Taoism. I claim that, historically, whether accompanied by colorful mythology or focused more on learning and skill-building, these practices rightly fall under the greater family of religious practices.

I'd be quite happy to use a different word if it contained the same number or fewer keystrokes, and had equal or greater historical recognition. I'd love some suggestions.

I suspect that one contributor to the well-being experienced in Scandinavian culture is that they have already accomplished what I am advocating: the secularization of religion.

Check out links below...






@skado Thanks for the links. The culture trip link is the one that is the most common in these countries. Americans complicate stuff because it tends to be tainted with religious rituals. No wonder people are leaving the churches in droves, and who can blame them?

'Hygge' & 'Friluftsliv'



In other words ---> KISS -- keep it simple stupid. Lol


Ours is composed of many parts, many ideas and many philosophies. Not a finished product like theirs.

I'm with you. I don't want the package deal, but we are a minority.


Wow... powerful stuff...


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