"The purpose of this article is simply to point out that there is a third option that many are not aware of, and that some may find attractive: religion without belief."
This is right up your alley, @skado.
And while not worded exactly as I would have, it is very much in line with my view of a third option, of a middle way.
I distrust arguments that assert there are only 3 ways to view a complex sociological phenomenon. Between truth and lies there is no middle ground.
There is an organization for secular people called Sunday Assembly if someone feels the need for connection. The idea of getting together with like minds for encouragement of better living, social connections, and volunteerism, etc., is a nice one for me.
The middle way is a good and time-honored description from a certain perspective, but what often gets lost is the fact that there is a way. It’s not this way or that way, it’s The Way.
It’s not the Christian way or the Buddhist way or the Hindu way, it’s the human way.
It’s not only not just about belief, it’s also not just about community and ritually marking special events. At its core, it’s about a particular kind of cognitive development which enables the achiever of this stage of development to experience every moment of life as perfect, no matter what is happening, and to thereby be maximally effective at contributing positively toward the harmonious survival of our species.
It’s not just a tasty soup. There’s some actual meat in that stew.
There is nothing to criticise or disapprove here. Belief, faith, trust, whatever have you, it is all personal and so it should be, like those personal cases in the article, and it's complicated! Unless you can open their sculls and see what is exactly going on in their brains (metaphorically speaking!), we can never know 100% what it is like to be them.
Much mental ado about basically nothing.
So how did that Muslim woman come up with a 50/50 probability of her religion being true? The possibility of 2 choices doesn't mean that the choices are equally probable. Her whole argument is based on this fallacy.
And there are more than just a 3rd option. One can, for example, totally disbelieve a religion yet follow its cultural practices for spiritual, community, and fellowship purposes. No mental gymnastics are needed...
Unitarian-Universalist for example.
The biggest problem I see with the logic of either of the people in the article is that their belief, or lack thereof, is still centered on the religion of their births. That seems like a pretty big disconnect to me. I also feel like holding oneself to traditions is like allowing your dead ancestors to control your life.
That said, I guess I belong to a religion now since I recently joined TST. I have been a supporter of their mission ever since I watched the documentary a few years ago. I never thought I would join another organization, even an atheistic one. But, with Roe being overturned, and the trigger law set to go in effect in AZ, I was looking for activists I could donate money to. They have a very strong stance on reproductive freedom and are quite active in AZ. I am still pretty loathe to participate in any of the ceremony of being a satanist, but would consider it in furtherance of the missions of church/state separation and reproductive freedom. They also have frequent get events in the area, and it might be a good opportunity to find like minded individuals.
So, I guess my point is that there could be some benefit to joining a religion, especially a fake one like in my case. But there are still a myriad of potential pitfalls that may outweigh any benefit.
Some people need the social and spiritual aspects of religion. I think many of my friends that participate in organized religion find their participation to be good for their psyche. I also believe that most of them think that the Christian myths are just that myths. I respect those people especially the ones that never push my joining them.
Do I believe there is a 50/50 chance that religion is true and gods are real? Hell no. I see it all as me being tricked as a teenager. But if i knew Zen maybe I could fix my motorcycle.
Actually, knowing Zen never helped that author fix his motorcycle. It definitely didn't help his marriage. And, according to my son, who years later met his daughter from a subsequent marriage, it certainly didn't help the author bond with his children.
From a negative view, it changes nothing. All of the evils of religion always stemmed from the exaggerated respect given to its cultural traditions, holy writings, hierarchical structures and rituals. If you take the literal belief in the non existent god, out of the equation, you take away a zero, nothing, but you still leave all of those things intact. So that all you do, in effect, is to change the name of god from the say singular Zeus or Odin, to the words tradition, holy book, priest and ritual.
It still remains by nature the worship of the ultra-traditional as a fake authority, and is only therefore useful to the ultra -conservative, and anti-progressive.
Moreover it opens the door even more to the metaphorical interpretation of myth, which is a gift to the criminally intended. Since the main use of religion by the criminally intended is as a source of fake authority, which they can interpret as they wish. That being, naturally, something which people with something dubious and selfish to promote, want more than anything. And the authority of religion, with an added almost total freedom of interpretation, is just such a wonderful gift. (Most, well intended people will usually despise fake authority, since they will tend to believe that good intentions can be supported by reason, and at least good sources of authority, and most well intended people have an attachment to honesty at an instinctive level anyway. )
I truly believe some of my friends can mourn the excesses and evils of their religion while continuing to look for the good from it for themselves.
Most of them also would like to by example negate the crazies who crave both power and control.
@Lorajay The dangers in trying to negate the crazies, by example from within, are manifold. Firstly that having moderates within religion tends to normalize it all, and make it seem respectable, which helps the crazies to justify it to themselves and others. Secondly it creates and recruiting ground and a retreat for them, even if the moderates don't intend that. Thirdly they may win and force the moderates into, leave or join us. ( Which is happening. ) Four, it still justifies anti-intellectual and anti-reason thinking, while setting low moral standards.
Read Sasha Sagan's book "For Small Creatures Such as We."
@TheMiddleWay Yes, she is his daughter, and a marvelous writer. To quote one review on the back of the book: "honoring the joy and significance of each experience without relying on religious framework." It's well worth reading.
@TheMiddleWay I know I might be gatekeeping agnosticism/atheism a bit. However, if your agnosticism/atheism is predicated on the views of a single religion, I honestly can't take it that seriously. Pascal's wager fails once you introduce multiple possible religions.