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Substitutes for Religious Practices (1)

Why wait for religions to decline more ? Why not start thinking hard to start finding alternatives to religious practice? Such a happening may encourage more people to convert to our way of thinking. An important point is to realise that there must have been a human need for each practice and we as non religionists should not contemplate leaving a hole in anyones’ life. 

Some will be relatively easy. Hymns just need their words changing [start with the favourite tunes] to relate to words of purely non religious experiences avoiding worship and promises that cannot be fulfilled or wishful thinking. Not that I have this skill - but songwriters of the world - now is your chance of fame.

The challenge for this posting is to find something to substitute for prayer - instead of asking for a favour from a thing which does not exist, devise a mental activity that would actually improve someone’s real life especially in times of trouble.

My suggestion would be to mentally devise a plan that would show that you are acting as friend and using what positive things you know about your friend or acquaintance . Plan how to communicate it effectively and with compassion.

Mcflewster 7 May 3

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Yes, anything that has to do with enhancing compassion would be great. Meditation works well, I think, as a form of "prayer", that actually contributes to cognitive development. But a viable substitute will need a heaven surrogate too; a holy grail, an eternal salvation, a nirvana, a spiritual liberation. Plug that in, and voilà! Religion 2.0

skado Level 8 May 7, 2018

Meditation is good. I am only thinking of substituting for the things that are part of human nature which happen to get redirected to mythical roots. So holy grail, salvation, nirvana and spiritual liberation have to go. Heaven is something we just have to create here on earth.

You sound pretty certain there’s no natural correlate to nirvana.

If we create heaven on earth it's still heaven, right? I'm just saying you can't remove the prime reward from a system and expect people to accept it as a substitute.

@skado I am just unsure about Nirvana. I agree we should all strive to obtain better minds but to say that we have reached the top of all states of minds would I think be impossible to achieve and prove for a human who has striven for it, making plenty of mistakes on the way. I do not think it could be achieved just by rituals. Keep trying though!.

I think there’s a lot of popular misunderstanding about what nirvana actually is. I don’t think it’s about perfection or rituals. I think it is just another stage of cognitive development that can be achieved by learning and practice. The first step is to be open to fresh ways of seeing old ideas.


My three things that as a human you cannot escape, no matter how much you try (except perhaps by being a hermit) are Politics, Religion and Science. They are built in to society. Like most people here I am tired of what religions have been pedalling and this is why I am asking for better substitutes NOW.


We are away from religion for so many reasons, one of them is too much freaking work !!!!!!!!.... Do you realize you're kind of asking the same?????

I am asking the opposite. If you deny the human need for something religious then they will be with us for ever.

@Mcflewster Not sure I understand your proposal yet. Its not about denying or encouraging the human need for something religious. It must be a personal choice that has to be discover by the individual. The enlighten happens when a person becomes aware that they have a choice. If its indoctrinated away from religion, isn't that the very same thing we all have been victims of? Anyhow, you think you are on to something then don't let my comment stop you. Not my intent. I am expressing what your thought triggered on me. As I see it, that is the purpose of an open discussion. Regards


A little more independent critical thinking would substitute the bs that is referred to as prayer.


Ok. Have fun.

I'm not a substituter. I'm a smash-the-paradigm-that-says-we-need-to-do-this-thing-in-the-first-place-er.

But whatevs. IDC what anyone does as long as they're not being a jerk.

This is about "If you are just a jerk see where it has got you , Try a different apoproach.

@Mcflewster I don't understand what you're trying to say there. What I'm saying is I don't think a substition for prayer is necessary, but I don't care what other people do--generally.

@stinkeye_a Perhaps I am just studying Human nature. I just pain when I think of all those people asking impossible things from something that is not there when they could be talking to real people about possible practical things that would benefit everyone.


Am I the only one who is fine believing or not believing, and doesn’t much care what others believe or have any inclination to try to change minds?

Fine if you want religions to carry on forever.

@indirect76 Nope, you are not the only one


In times of trouble or having worries that might keep me awake at night, I learned to place my mind in a state of thankfulness by remembering so many good times, nice people, and things Life blessed me with. So many times camping, wandering along the seashore, or through quiet forests, and even recalling past challenges that I managed to survive and deal with and to learn things from. Do this for 10 minutes or so and the brain chemistry gets more positive to help think up options that might not have come to mind when in a depressed state.


Thank you for this post. The thought has occurred to me a couple of times, but I never remembered to put it out there. We have habits here that may come close to rituals, such as observing the sunrise over the ocean as often as possible but certainly on particular days. Staying out all night watching the stars and discussing rambling thoughts of existense. Yet I would like more.


Scandinavia (the most secular) has good models. They are very community oriented and religion doesn't come into the equation.They show up to help others without the motivation of a future reward.

I think a lot of people are still of the opinion that prosocial behavior can't exist without religion. Some of the most peaceful and happiest countries in the world have shown otherwise.


Someone who was a member here has started his own Humanism Movement as a substitute for religion.


There are many sympathy and get well cards that are non-religious. I generally use those as well as generic ones for the winter and spring holiday seasons.

Let's hear some of the wording?

@Mcflewster Example: May warm memories of ... comfort you in this time of sorrow.


I appreciate your thought and some people may want substitutes. I went from Catholic School, mass in the morning and church with family to Unitarian Youth Group (no rituals). Later Volley ball at the Unitarian CHurch might have been a ritual substitute. A few years ago someone tried to start a UU congregation here. WHen they started lighting candles and ringing bells I left


Mountains are my sanctuary. Hiking is a transcendent, uplifting experience for me.

From left: Olympic Mountains from the summit of Mt. Townsend, beautiful Spider Meadows, and Pacific Crest Trail above Stevens Pass. Washington State.

They certainly evoke thought. A friend's young son was a mountain guide and tragically committed suicide . He left a collection of wonderful poems about outdoor life which we are trying to get published.

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