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Fri Jan 19, 2018, 08:59 PM

On religious vs. political divides

In the modern West, we tend to think of religion and politics as two different things. But this split only came about due to the decidely secular movement call the Enlightenment. That's when the idea of separation of church and state was born and enshrined in the Constitution.

But for the entire previous 4,800 years of history, church and state were one thing, even in the most tolerant of times. Egyptian Pharoahs were considered gods. Opposition to the Pharoah was to oppose the divine order of things. At the same time in Mesopotamia, with it's warring city-states and kingdoms, wars between cities were viewed as battles between the gods of each city. The victor's king had the stronger god, and the winning king was that god's appointed representative on earth.

Ancient Judiasm developed a new idea. Their god was not only more powerful than the others, their god was the only god. That idea had staying power because a defeat in battle was only a temporary punishment from the one true god, not a defeat by another god. Same idea was picked in Christianity and Islam. And in all three, opposition to the one true god was not just weak, but evil. And political.

But all through this time, even after the Enlightment, religion was never very far from politics. Political movements always had their religious versions. Religious movements had their political manifestations.

So to call religious persecutions "political" is to miss one of the key points of religion. It IS an instrument of political control, not a part that can be easily separated. That we've separated it at all and made room for a politics not entirely religious is a marvelous modern feat. But lets not forget how we got here. Why America is predominantly Christian and Iran predominantly Muslim. It was mostly due to war, persecution and politics, not the superiority of ideas or the people's spiritual feelings. And lets not look down our noses at those backward Muslim theocrats. We've got our wannabe theocrats here too. Only the ghosts of Voltaire and Madison hold them back.

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Arrow 59 replies Author Time Post
Reply On religious vs. political divides (Original post)
marylandblue Jan 2018 OP
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #1
marylandblue Jan 2018 #2
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #3
marylandblue Jan 2018 #5
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #6
Voltaire2 Jan 2018 #10
marylandblue Jan 2018 #13
Voltaire2 Jan 2018 #15
Act_of_Reparation Jan 2018 #8
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #16
Act_of_Reparation Jan 2018 #21
trotsky Jan 2018 #22
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #26
Act_of_Reparation Jan 2018 #32
trotsky Jan 2018 #33
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #36
trotsky Jan 2018 #38
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #39
trotsky Jan 2018 #42
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #25
Act_of_Reparation Jan 2018 #31
trotsky Jan 2018 #34
edhopper Jan 2018 #9
AtheistCrusader Jan 2018 #29
marylandblue Jan 2018 #4
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #7
MineralMan Jan 2018 #12
marylandblue Jan 2018 #14
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #17
marylandblue Jan 2018 #18
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #19
marylandblue Jan 2018 #20
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #27
marylandblue Jan 2018 #44
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #46
marylandblue Jan 2018 #47
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #48
marylandblue Jan 2018 #49
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #50
marylandblue Jan 2018 #51
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #52
Lordquinton Jan 2018 #53
Voltaire2 Jan 2018 #55
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #57
Voltaire2 Jan 2018 #59
Act_of_Reparation Jan 2018 #23
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #28
Act_of_Reparation Jan 2018 #30
trotsky Jan 2018 #35
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #37
trotsky Jan 2018 #40
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #41
trotsky Jan 2018 #43
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #45
trotsky Jan 2018 #54
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #56
trotsky Jan 2018 #58
trotsky Jan 2018 #24
MineralMan Jan 2018 #11

Response to marylandblue (Original post)

Fri Jan 19, 2018, 09:07 PM

1. The tenets of the Enlightenment in Europe arose from Christian thought.

A fact that is passed over in an ahistorical attempt to show the Enlightenment as a successor to Christian thought.

In the Maghreb and in the Middle East, of course, Islam was the basis of science and philosophy.

The reason that religion and politics are so intertwined is the same reason that religion and nationalism are intertwined. All are manifestations of tribalism and all are an essential part of the human experience. That which unites us also strengthens us.

Edited to add: even thought I disagree, the post is thought provoking.

Recommended.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 19, 2018, 09:11 PM

2. Of course the Enlightenment in Europe rose from Christian thought

Prior to the Enlightenment, all thinkers were Christian, except for a few Jews. But to not see it how it broke in many ways from prior Christian thought is itself ahistorical.

Thanks for the recommendation.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 19, 2018, 09:20 PM

3. Glad to recommend.

A thoughtful observation.

One might argue that the Enlightenment represented also an evolution in Christian thought, and a breaking from the dependence on a "Pope centered" or Vatican centered Christianity in favor of individual interpretation of the Bible that broke with the hierarchical pattern previously established.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 19, 2018, 09:46 PM

5. Breaking from the Pope is more of a Reformation thing

And the Reformation itself was a big break.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 19, 2018, 09:49 PM

6. The Reformation was huge.

It still is. And in breaking the monolith, progress was made. But the same patriarchy was kept. Another human trait.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 10:27 AM

10. It was more or less the end of more than 1000 years of intellectual stagnation.

The Christian philosophical tradition has been characterized, not entirely unfairly, as arguing over "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?".

The end of that stagnation is not the enlightenment itself, but the emergence of modernity, and its roots trace back to Erasmus and Spinoza, to the renaissance and the scientific revolution and the reformation, all of which dismantled the stifling stagnant system of christian medieval europe.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 12:42 PM

13. I think where the Enlightenment made the break

is that took all of these earlier trends and turned them into a complete and secular social movement.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #13)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 12:48 PM

15. Indeed.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 12:18 AM

8. "All are manifestations of tribalism and all are an essential part of the human experience"

Citation needed.

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #8)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 02:32 PM

16. Previously cited.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #16)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 03:10 PM

21. Where?

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #21)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 03:21 PM

22. You forgot.

If you state something, he demands you provide 15 links or else everything you post is a lie.

If he states something, he demands you look it up yourself.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #22)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 11:22 AM

26. Nice framing.

Not at all accurate, but I understand the need to say it.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #26)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 12:27 PM

32. Nice framing.

Not at all accurate, but I understand the need to say it.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #26)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 01:02 PM

33. Well when I so perfectly describe your hypocrisy,

yes, it deserves a pretty frame. Thanks!

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Response to trotsky (Reply #33)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 03:12 PM

36. You describe only your own narrative.

And many recognize that for what it is.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #36)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 03:15 PM

38. I will let you think that.

It is certainly your right to believe whatever you want, no matter how wrong you are.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #38)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 03:18 PM

39. Almost a royal answer.

Generous of you to allow me to think that.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #39)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 03:26 PM

42. Yes, I am feeling generous today.

I understand your limitations.

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #21)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 11:21 AM

25. Nice try.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #25)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 12:26 PM

31. As in a nice attempt to get you to justify your unqualified assertions?

Thanks!

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #25)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 01:02 PM

34. Nice attempt at framing.

I understand your need to do so.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 10:00 AM

9. Really?

Rousseau rejected most Christian thought in favor of a new Natural Deism. Voltaire was a straight up atheist.


This is like saying the Constitution is a Christian document because it's writers were mostly Christians.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 12:21 PM

29. So did the dark ages.

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Response to marylandblue (Original post)

Fri Jan 19, 2018, 09:22 PM

4. On the manifestation of tribalism thing

Yes, I suppose you could look at religion and politics as manifestations of tribalism, but tribalism is no more inevitable than any of our other instincts. But they are different. You can avoid religion if you want to. But you can't avoid politics. Even the smallest, most secular workplaces have politics.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 19, 2018, 09:52 PM

7. Tribalism is essential for a species that requires the group for survival.

Fragile humans literally need the tribe. And what is nationalism other than tribalism spread over a country?

I would argue that if humans could avoid religion it would not have lasted and been a feature of nearly every society.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #7)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 11:35 AM

12. Tribalism invented deities and religions to preserve itself.

In their own image, too.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #7)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 12:48 PM

14. Tribalism is no longer necessary and it is not necessarily instinctual

We are social beings, that's true. But tribalism is just one to run a society. Hunting was once an important tribal, religious and social activity. We may have a hunting instinct. We've been hunting even longer than we've had religion. But today many people have no desire at all to hunt.

Similarly, we have people today with no religion at all. We have even more people who are nominally religious but religion plays a negligible role in their lives.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #14)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 02:34 PM

17. Tribalism is one manifestation of society.

And Ayn Rand adherents aside, we all recognize that humans need society.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #17)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 02:36 PM

18. So you agree that tribalism is not essential?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #18)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 02:38 PM

19. Society is essential.

And tribalism has always been with us.

I see the nation as a much larger form of the tribe. So call it tribalism, or nationalism, but it serves the purpose of creating a group identity, and a means of dividing the us from the other.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #19)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 02:53 PM

20. Just because tribalism has always been with us, doesn't mean it always will be

And many people are not particularly tribal. They view themselves as citizens of the world, not as citizens of a particular country. We have always had these people as well, and as technology has made the world a smaller place, we have more now than ever before.

Nationalism has not always been with us either. In Medieval times, national borders were more fluid than they are today, and most people just worked the land. They did not care which particular king ruled them at any one time, it didn't change their lives one bit.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #20)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 11:24 AM

27. Tribalism is a manifestation of the group.

Like nationalism, or small feudal estates, or gangs, or any other social grouping. Unless one is a Libertarian, with the fantasy of the individual as all important, I cannot see a logical reason to assume that the human need for a group identity will disappear.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #27)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 07:40 PM

44. You have made your definition of tribalism so broad

that there is no social interaction that could not be considered a form of tribalism, which makes a sort of redundant concept.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #44)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 08:43 PM

46. Tribalism is one manifestation of human unity.

As is the family. Explain to me if you wish what a non-tribal society could look like. Without interaction and group identity, there would be no humanity.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #46)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 08:58 PM

47. Please provide a definition of tribalism

I can't figure out how you are using the term. You seem to be defining it as "any interaction between two or more people," but if so, then all of your discussions of nationalism, religion etc. being a form of tribalism become meaningless tautologies. Any interaction between two or more people such as nationalism, religion, family, economy etc. would in fact be interactions between two or more people.

Do you have some other definition in mind, such that tribalism is not just another name for "social interactions?"

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #47)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 09:00 PM

48. The family is the smallest social unit.

Larger is the village, or the tribe.
Larger still is the nation state.

So I am using the tribe as a social unit that provides identity and group support.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #48)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 09:19 PM

49. Fine, then circling back to religion

how is it then, that people exist for whom no part of their identity involves religion and/or get no support from any type of religious group?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #49)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 09:22 PM

50. Religion is one example of a social unit.

So are unions, and societies such as the Masons and the armed forces. Not all people belong to all societies, but it is exceedingly rare for a person to belong to no larger groups.

One example would be an atheist who is also a union member, and a member of a family as well.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #50)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 09:29 PM

51. if people may form bona fide group identities without religion

Then it is possible to imagine a future society in which worship of a god plays no role. This already exists as a subset of modern society, a situation which was itself almost inconceivable 500 years ago. Possible to imagine, therefore not essential. Possible to imagine, but not necessarily (in your opinion) likely.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #51)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 09:33 PM

52. I agree it is possible to imagine such a society.

And I agree that people have always formed group identities based on many things. And that is a good thing. we all have a need to belong, and a need for group affirmation and support.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #49)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 11:32 PM

53. He didn't define it

he made some comment that sounded deep, but just reinforced your comment that his definetion was merely interaction between two or more individuals.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #48)

Wed Jan 24, 2018, 09:37 AM

55. Your definition of "tribe" is "equivalent to a village"?

seriously? but then you redefine it as "a social unit that provides identity and group support" which one can't even squint at and get "village" out of. Please try again. maybe google it?

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #55)

Wed Jan 24, 2018, 11:07 AM

57. Keep trying.

Or reread the entire thread.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #57)

Wed Jan 24, 2018, 12:01 PM

59. Here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribe

That's a good start. It simply doesn't fit with your definition, as the concept of "tribe" is really quite complicated whereas you need a simplistic organizational unit (thus your attempt to equate tribe with village.)

When you argue using terms in your own idiosyncratic manner, as you do repeatedly, we just end up in these rat-holes. It is generally thought that inventing your own definitions for common terms is a very poor way to communicate.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #19)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 04:22 PM

23. If othering is so bad...

...why did God make us that way?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #23)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 11:26 AM

28. I did not say good or bad.

I observed what is apparent. Humans demonstrate a need for the group, a need linked to our literal dependence on the group.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #28)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 12:26 PM

30. No, you observe what you *think* is apparent.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #28)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 01:41 PM

35. Why did your creator make us that way?

So dependent on our group that we automatically distrust other groups. Seems odd to create beings out of love but then make them instinctively want to fight each other. How do you fit this in with your belief in a loving creator?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #35)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 03:14 PM

37. Why are humans interdependent?

As well ask why lizards are not. Perhaps it relates to our higher level of consciousness.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #37)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 03:19 PM

40. That is not what I asked.

We are dependent on our small groups, but belligerent toward different groups.

I fully understand if you are unwilling to answer. You never answer the tough questions about your beliefs. Almost like you are afraid to have them challenged, which is very typical for religionists.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #40)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 03:20 PM

41. So we apparently agree that humans are social creatures.

As to your last "question", that debate can never be settled. It is pointless to argue it.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #41)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 03:27 PM

43. You believe in a creator.

One that loves his creation, yes?

Yet here we humans have an innate desire to fight each other.

This does not fit with the idea of a loving creator.

I understand if you don't want to confront this. It is certainly upsetting to your beliefs.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #43)

Tue Jan 23, 2018, 08:40 PM

45. You are attempting to judge the Creator by your own incomplete

knowledge. And to assign motivation to the Creator based on your own incomplete knowledge.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #45)

Wed Jan 24, 2018, 09:29 AM

54. No, I'm just asking a question.

You have admitted you don't have an answer. You also admit that your creator does not look very moral by the best human standards.

Thank you.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #54)

Wed Jan 24, 2018, 11:06 AM

56. No, you were making a statement disguised as a question.

Again, demonstrating your position and misframing, or misreading, what I actually said.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #56)

Wed Jan 24, 2018, 11:31 AM

58. #35. "Why did your creator make us that way?" That's a question.

Quit making false statements.

There is no reason you have to take out your frustration of being unable to answer questions about your creator, on me.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #19)

Mon Jan 22, 2018, 04:29 PM

24. I'm glad you recognize belief in god as just another form of tribalism...

with no actual basis in reality outside a human mind.

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Response to marylandblue (Original post)

Sat Jan 20, 2018, 11:33 AM

11. And today, the religious right in this country is trying

it's very best to equate religion and politics. We must stop them from doing that.

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