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Old 08-20-2018, 04:14 PM   #1
Original Position
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A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

Suppose you value moral qualities like compassion and mercy. For consequentialists, this typically implies that you want future generations to also value compassion and mercy. It's possible there are natural pressures inclining humans to value these things and so we don't need to worry too much. However, it is also possible that compassion and mercy values are random cultural variants with little adaptive function, or an easily bypassed adaptative function. In that case, you should seek to artificially strengthen the cultural institutions that transmit these values to future generations. Major religions have been one of the primary cultural transmitters of these values in the past, so we should expect them to continue to have one of the largest impact on future human culture as well. Thus,* participation in a religious community gives greater impact to your own personal moral values in future generations relative to most secular alternatives.

*Yep, a bunch of assumptions there.
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Old 08-20-2018, 08:27 PM   #2
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

I'm unpersuaded. Your conclusion pluralized "moral valueS". I could be tempted to agree with "artificially strengthening" compassion through continuing a historically important institution, but compassion is hardly the only trait I value. I find the "cultural transmitter" that is religion is a mixed bag of consequences, some good, some not, and my general sense is , today, of a net negative. If empathy was all I cared about, then I think your argument would be much stronger.

But even if valid, is it sound? That is, is it true that that religion is uniquely effective in promoting empathy in a large degree? My first random google of a study, my naive guess that first world countries with lower religiosity nonetheless have similar order-of-magnitude levels of empathy as higher religiosity countries, my observation that high levels of religiosity in the US are correlated with a political party whose policies are deeply unempathetic, and finally my lived experience of a (I would like to hope) reasonably empathetic person with no religiosity, combine to make me skeptical of that claim.
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Old 08-20-2018, 09:33 PM   #3
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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I'm unpersuaded. Your conclusion pluralized "moral valueS". I could be tempted to agree with "artificially strengthening" compassion through continuing a historically important institution, but compassion is hardly the only trait I value. I find the "cultural transmitter" that is religion is a mixed bag of consequences, some good, some not, and my general sense is , today, of a net negative. If empathy was all I cared about, then I think your argument would be much stronger.
Mercy and compassion are good examples of values I'm personally committed to that are emphasized by most major religions, but I think my argument works for a broad variety of other values as well. As a practical matter though, you can think of it as analogous to joining a political party. If you have a personal political philosophy, it is unlikely to match up exactly with either US political party, but if you think political participation is worthwhile, you have good reasons to join a political party even if you disagree with some of its platform. You have to decide if eg your concern about climate change is important enough to join a political party that you disagree with about other policies. It seems to me that a similar choice can be described here with regards to religion.

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But even if valid, is it sound? That is, is it true that that religion is uniquely effective in promoting empathy in a large degree? My first random google of a study, my naive guess that first world countries with lower religiosity nonetheless have similar order-of-magnitude levels of empathy as higher religiosity countries, my observation that high levels of religiosity in the US are correlated with a political party whose policies are deeply unempathetic, and finally my lived experience of a (I would like to hope) reasonably empathetic person with no religiosity, combine to make me skeptical of that claim.
This isn't quite right. I'm not claiming that religion makes you a better person (or more empathetic), but that it is an effective means of preserving values over time. You might think this is bad - that we should not try to constrain future generations with the moral hangups of the past. But if you think this is good - that we should attempt to transmit our values to future generations - then we should use the cultural tools available to us now to do so. Religion seems like one of the most likely prospects to do this. For instance, I would guess that the Catholic Church is one of the most likely of any current major institution to still exist in a thousand years (I recognize that I'm being a bit handwavy and intuition-based here). Thus, changes made to the Catholic Church today are likely to have a greater impact on the future than changes made to most other current institutions.

But this doesn't imply anything about whether the values transmitted are good or not or about religious people being more empathetic. This is why your concern about religion being a net negative is only partially relevant. Religion can be a net negative, but still be an effective means of passing on your values to future generations. If my empirical claim that religious institutions are good at this are correct, then from a pragmatic first-person perspective I have a reason to participate in religion even if it is overall a net negative. I am not neutral towards my own values.

I think the more interesting empirical test would be of whether lack of religiosity (or change in religion most accurately) is correlated with more rapid change in moral values for society. My general sense is that this is true of modern societies that are less religious.
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Old 08-21-2018, 12:07 AM   #4
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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In that case, you should seek to artificially strengthen the cultural institutions that transmit these values to future generations
Ah, I misunderstood this before. I see now that you meant it quite dynamically. You advocate religious participation that would change religions. That is, you think religion is an effective vehicle for pushing values to the future, and thus you should engage with religion and try to make it as good as possible. And the specific example of compassion was just a placeholder, you aren't invested in whether religion actually is or is not currently good at promoting that. Fair enough, but then I have different response now:

Consider your political analogy. I can't really be a Republican. I oppose simply too much of the agenda, just like I can't really be religious. I just don't see a way forward outside of pure faking it to be taken as a legitimate member of either community. I can certainly engage with religious people, or Republicans, but I'm not really participating in their communities, and I'm clearly engaging as an atheist or a liberal. And it would be crazy for me to make Republicans more influential by voting for them, no matter how much engaging I did with them. I may even believe that changing Republicans would be more effective long term (they are, like religion, the more "conservative" party in the sense of resisting change). Perhaps that changes my calculus that I should engage more with republicans than democrats on policy and values, but should I not still vote Democrat, given my values?

But perhaps I still don't understand. What types of religious participation are you thinking about specifically?
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:49 AM   #5
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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Ah, I misunderstood this before. I see now that you meant it quite dynamically. You advocate religious participation that would change religions. That is, you think religion is an effective vehicle for pushing values to the future, and thus you should engage with religion and try to make it as good as possible. And the specific example of compassion was just a placeholder, you aren't invested in whether religion actually is or is not currently good at promoting that. Fair enough, but then I have different response now:
Good, I think this is an accurate paraphrase of my argument.
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Consider your political analogy. I can't really be a Republican. I oppose simply too much of the agenda, just like I can't really be religious. I just don't see a way forward outside of pure faking it to be taken as a legitimate member of either community. I can certainly engage with religious people, or Republicans, but I'm not really participating in their communities, and I'm clearly engaging as an atheist or a liberal. And it would be crazy for me to make Republicans more influential by voting for them, no matter how much engaging I did with them. I may even believe that changing Republicans would be more effective long term (they are, like religion, the more "conservative" party in the sense of resisting change). Perhaps that changes my calculus that I should engage more with republicans than democrats on policy and values, but should I not still vote Democrat, given my values?

But perhaps I still don't understand. What types of religious participation are you thinking about specifically?
A secular definition of faith as a virtue can be seen here. Assume my argument is correct, that the future of humanity is better off if people with pro-social moral values commit to a religion, so that those moral values are more likely to be passed on. Assume also that being a committed member of some religions requires or is enhanced by credulity towards some unfalsifiable theological claims. This means that many of us can't or won't be able to have this positive effect on the world because this credulity cuts too sharply against our personal values and identity. But some people can. And the best, or most virtuous of them will be those who can marry that credulity, or "faith," with a concept and practice of reason that carries forward the general project of science and humanism.

To address your analogy directly, I'm not advocating that you (by analogy) become Republican, i.e. join the Southern Baptists or something. Our values and sense of identity places constraints on what we can do in achieving our goals, and faking a religious or political identity that fully is too much for many people unless forced. Rather, I'm saying that if you care about political participation and you live in the US, generally you have to join either the Republican or Democratic party, as they are the only parties that ever win office. Sure, pick whichever of them is closest is to your own views, but politics is not a go-it-alone game, but a group effort.

Similarly, passing values on to future generations also seems like a collective project and so one that will inevitably require compromises, just like joining a political party. I'm assuming that religion is one of the most effective tools available in culture for passing on our values so, like it or not, one we should consider using as a means to achieving our values in future generations, even if you are not personally inclined to religion or its beliefs.

EDIT: I should clarify one possible misunderstanding. Participating in a religion just to "change" it understood as changing its theology or moral views is too narrow in a religiously diverse country like the US. Even just joining a religion that closely reflects your own values is its own form of "change," applying a market pressure in favor of religions with those values.

Last edited by Original Position; 08-21-2018 at 02:02 AM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:59 AM   #6
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

As a pragmatist, I do a cost/benefit analysis and quickly realize that the impact of my individual participation in a religious community on the ethics of future generations is so small to be basically meaningless. Then I look for something more meaningful to focus on.
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Old 08-21-2018, 02:51 AM   #7
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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As a pragmatist, I do a cost/benefit analysis and quickly realize that the impact of my individual participation in a religious community on the ethics of future generations is so small to be basically meaningless. Then I look for something more meaningful to focus on.
I'm not sure how much benefit comes from value transmission, although it seems to me potentially quite large. However, the CBA you refer to here seems quite speculative to me, which is why I framed my argument as a relative rather than absolute claim. You can think of it as an efficiency argument. Suppose you think that participation in social communities, organizations, charities, etc. are all part of a well-lived life. If you are going to do these things anyway, my argument would provide a reason for you to use specifically religious communities, organizations, and charities as the means to this well-lived life.

Last edited by Original Position; 08-21-2018 at 02:56 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:59 AM   #8
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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I'm not sure how much benefit comes from value transmission, although it seems to me potentially quite large. However, the CBA you refer to here seems quite speculative to me, which is why I framed my argument as a relative rather than absolute claim. You can think of it as an efficiency argument. Suppose you think that participation in social communities, organizations, charities, etc. are all part of a well-lived life. If you are going to do these things anyway, my argument would provide a reason for you to use specifically religious communities, organizations, and charities as the means to this well-lived life.
Got it. I think its a fine argument to make.
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Old 08-21-2018, 04:16 AM   #9
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

I'll just on from the argument with uke_master and assume we would ignore if a religion is a net negative.

You should first of all demonstrate that religions are good at such passing value because they are religions. Ie. that whatever trait makes them good at this can't be done by an irreligious institution.

Similarly, we should also ignore if such an irreligious institution is a net negative. An example could be that if we find that propaganda is better at imparting specific values than news, then we should (by the same logic) be positive about propaganda, irrespective of its other costs. And then we're suddenly in some dangerous territory, because we wouldn't even be discussing the nuances of propaganda. Which might very well be the most important discussion.

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Old 08-21-2018, 05:56 AM   #10
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

I think religious participation encourages molestation of children and dropping planes on buildings.
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Old 08-21-2018, 10:20 AM   #11
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

Is it good to encourage belief that blackjack and/or sports betting is unbeatable?
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Old 08-21-2018, 10:25 AM   #12
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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Participating in a religion just to "change" it understood as changing its theology or moral views is too narrow in a religiously diverse country like the US. Even just joining a religion that closely reflects your own values is its own form of "change," applying a market pressure in favor of religions with those values.
Indeed. And likewise, it puts a "market pressure" that promotes religion (that one specifically, and religion generally) over secular alternatives. Given my general sense of negative baggage with religion, I default to working towards building up secular alternatives.

I'll give an example. I teach math at a university, a secular activity in a secular institution. My general sense is that in the mathematics community, we are insufficiently compassionate to our students, our colleagues, and the broader community. I have worked very hard to try and imbue my own pedagogy, and my membership in this community, with compassion. For instance, tomorrow I will be present to my department about a set of data we have collected about the challenges* facing our students in the progression from Calculus I to Calculus II, and actively will try to do this in a way that signals to my colleagues compassion for these students.

I can be a fully fledged part of this secular community, work to promote these values, and try to culturally entrench them for the future, with little cognitive dissonance. Even if I wanted to "vote" for something with more of the trappings of a religious community, I'd prefer joining some sort of secular humanism group or whatever.

We're talking about speculative and marginal changes here, and degree matters. If you had demonstrated a clear and overwhelming sense in which religion was just vastly superior at causing long term change, and my "vote" helped make way more positive things happen than negative, ok maybe I could try to swallow my gut rejection of embracing supernatural claims I wholeheartedly reject. I likewise speculate that in the future we can have a society that is both secular AND rich in compassion etc. That's a positive vision that I can see myself working towards.



*In 3 years with 3000 students not a single student got a B in Calc I and upgraded to an A in Calc II!!!!!
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Old 08-21-2018, 11:11 AM   #13
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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Thus, participation in a religious community gives greater impact to your own personal moral values in future generations relative to most secular alternatives.
I did see the further discussion about trying to change the emphasis of existing religious institutions by participating in them, but it still seems to me that the biggest problem I have with this argument is just that, for the most part, all of the religious organizations I've participated in have done a relatively poor job of emphasizing my personal moral values, and I didn't see a lot of realistic opportunities to change that. Especially considering that for many churches any attempt to do so openly is going to be viewed with a great deal of hostility.

As an example, there is a local Methodist church here, and I know some folks from the University who attended there up until very recently. There was a more progressive sub-group in that church, and a sympathetic pastor. Only very recently the church began to accept openly gay parishioners, a fairly controversial decision in this conservative, rural area. My wife and I had considered starting to attend there, since we have friends there and wanted to support the pastor, who we also knew, because my wife helped him design a survey on social attitudes among the congregation. But then, abruptly, another group of more conservative members got this pastor fired under pretty dubious circumstances, the church changed its stance on gay members, and the progressive wing of the church basically left. So that was the end of that. Clearly it's just one example, but I spent basically my entire time as a Christian sort of wishing for a church home that I could feel comfortable in, and it's hard to find, in large part because of these issues.

I do think, on the other hand, that there's some value to the idea of creating more secular alternatives to those churches, where the alternative would look somewhat similar to a church in the sense of encouraging people to meet socially, participate in local community activities, do charitable work, learn new things together, or etc. I think that idea could be viable in a lot of places, although perhaps not yet everywhere in the US. But the primary moral purpose of Christian churches is really the evangelization of belief in Christ, and not more abstract ideals of goodness, or compassion, or whatever else. So I think it might make more sense to borrow some ideas from the way churches are socially organized than to actually join existing organizations. From a "market pressure" standpoint, that also seems like it works better: if churches see declining attendance in favor of secular alternatives, that will also put pressure on them to change.
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Old 08-21-2018, 02:09 PM   #14
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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I think religious participation encourages molestation of children and dropping planes on buildings.
I'm doubtful that eg my participating in the local Quaker meeting encourages either of these. You are assuming what is likely false, that any participation in religion as an activity encourages some particular nasty manifestation of it.
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Old 08-21-2018, 02:10 PM   #15
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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Indeed. And likewise, it puts a "market pressure" that promotes religion (that one specifically, and religion generally) over secular alternatives. Given my general sense of negative baggage with religion, I default to working towards building up secular alternatives.
That's fine, I don't think my argument implies that you should do otherwise as it only gives a pragmatic reason for religious participation. This is why I mentioned faith as a virtue in my response. In the taxonomy I'm putting forward here, you are lacking in the virtue of faith (i.e. the trait of being credulous towards some traditional religious beliefs and values while otherwise maintaining high moral and rational standards), and so are unable to achieve the good that comes from religious participation.

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I'll give an example. I teach math at a university, a secular activity in a secular institution. My general sense is that in the mathematics community, we are insufficiently compassionate to our students, our colleagues, and the broader community. I have worked very hard to try and imbue my own pedagogy, and my membership in this community, with compassion. For instance, tomorrow I will be present to my department about a set of data we have collected about the challenges* facing our students in the progression from Calculus I to Calculus II, and actively will try to do this in a way that signals to my colleagues compassion for these students.

I can be a fully fledged part of this secular community, work to promote these values, and try to culturally entrench them for the future, with little cognitive dissonance. Even if I wanted to "vote" for something with more of the trappings of a religious community, I'd prefer joining some sort of secular humanism group or whatever.
Two points. First, this example mostly consists of you describing your preferences and some secular options in place of religion, but doesn't really challenge my argument. I'm making a claim that if you accept some moral goals (consequentialism and value transmission), then you have a prima facie reason to participate/engage with religion. To challenge my claim on its own terms, you'd have to argue that the secular humanist alternatives are likely to be as effective in passing on my values to future generations. I'm pretty skeptical, since these groups almost all seem likely to disappear within a few generations at best.

Second, while I'm sympathetic to the secular community you describe here, this is another example of a skeptic describing an alternative to religious community that sounds both like a fulfilling and meaningful secular life and completely out of reach for most people, who aren't smart or disciplined enough to become university professors. It doesn't surprise me at all that people who work for a university are able to find a meaningful secular community. Universities are also plausibly effective transmitters of values to future generations. But it seems likely to me that most people have much more limited options, and that for many of them a religious community is one of the better ones.

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We're talking about speculative and marginal changes here, and degree matters. If you had demonstrated a clear and overwhelming sense in which religion was just vastly superior at causing long term change, and my "vote" helped make way more positive things happen than negative, ok maybe I could try to swallow my gut rejection of embracing supernatural claims I wholeheartedly reject. I likewise speculate that in the future we can have a society that is both secular AND rich in compassion etc. That's a positive vision that I can see myself working towards.
I think these are all fine points that I have no real disagreement with. As I said, I don't have a good sense of how much value should be placed on transmitting your values to future generations and it seems possible that it is too small to make much difference compared to joining secular organizations that more exactly match your own beliefs and values. However, I do think there is real uncertainty here, both on the moral question of how much value we should place on value transmission, and on the empirical question about the best way to pass on your values. This uncertainty is enough for me to take this seriously as a reason for religious participation.

Thus, it seems to me like this is a judgement call based on how much value you place on passing on your own ideas vs personal authenticity given the options available to you. I used the example of joining a political party as an intuition pump for the idea that we make this kind of judgement in other cases in favor of participation rather than authenticity (rightly in my view). It seems plausible to me that this same judgement can be warranted for religious participation.
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Old 08-21-2018, 02:28 PM   #16
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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I'm doubtful that eg my participating in the local Quaker meeting encourages either of these. You are assuming what is likely false, that any participation in religion as an activity encourages some particular nasty manifestation of it.
The OP specified "major religions", and lumped them all together, so I did as well. The Quakers aren't so bad, AFAIK, but they're hardly a major religion.
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Old 08-21-2018, 02:47 PM   #17
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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The OP specified "major religions", and lumped them all together, so I did as well. The Quakers aren't so bad, AFAIK, but they're hardly a major religion.
While it is true that not all Quakers are Christian, the Society of Friends is still a Christian sect, and so part of the larger Christian religion, just as eg the Church of Christ is a Christian sect.
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Old 08-21-2018, 02:53 PM   #18
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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I'm doubtful that eg my participating in the local Quaker meeting encourages either of these. You are assuming what is likely false, that any participation in religion as an activity encourages some particular nasty manifestation of it.
The nasty manifestation is believing that something is probably true when the evidence says it is probably not.
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:11 PM   #19
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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The nasty manifestation is believing that something is probably true when the evidence says it is probably not.
The claim I'm making is that, given the social institutions we have, believing something is probably true when the evidence says it is probably not can be one of the most effective ways of passing your values on to future generations. Thus, if you care about passing your values on to future generations and if you can sufficiently restrict the downsides of this unwarranted credulity, then it can be rational to participate in a religion.

You've often expressed skepticism about whether truly intelligent people can believe in god and religion. I'm providing a rational reason why many of them might choose to do so (or at least simulate such beliefs in a minimally persuasive fashion).
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:43 PM   #20
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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I did see the further discussion about trying to change the emphasis of existing religious institutions by participating in them, but it still seems to me that the biggest problem I have with this argument is just that, for the most part, all of the religious organizations I've participated in have done a relatively poor job of emphasizing my personal moral values, and I didn't see a lot of realistic opportunities to change that. Especially considering that for many churches any attempt to do so openly is going to be viewed with a great deal of hostility.
My guess is that 2p2 religion forum self-selects for people who are unsatisfied in their IRL religious community, so I expect this to be a typical complaint for religious and former religious people here. But obviously lots of other people with views similar to yours do find religious communities that are sufficiently compatible with their own values.

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As an example, there is a local Methodist church here, and I know some folks from the University who attended there up until very recently. There was a more progressive sub-group in that church, and a sympathetic pastor. Only very recently the church began to accept openly gay parishioners, a fairly controversial decision in this conservative, rural area. My wife and I had considered starting to attend there, since we have friends there and wanted to support the pastor, who we also knew, because my wife helped him design a survey on social attitudes among the congregation. But then, abruptly, another group of more conservative members got this pastor fired under pretty dubious circumstances, the church changed its stance on gay members, and the progressive wing of the church basically left. So that was the end of that. Clearly it's just one example, but I spent basically my entire time as a Christian sort of wishing for a church home that I could feel comfortable in, and it's hard to find, in large part because of these issues.
But this seems like exactly what I'm describing. You're a smart guy. If you were an active and engaged member of that progressive church community you might have been able to cause the side that favors your own more gay-friendly values to win. The Methodist Church will probably continue to exist for hundreds of years, and the changes you make to it, even on the local level, will continue to reverbate far longer than changes you might make to other communities (say...2p2 for example). Yes, of course you might lose. That is only another way of saying that your actions can make a difference.

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I do think, on the other hand, that there's some value to the idea of creating more secular alternatives to those churches, where the alternative would look somewhat similar to a church in the sense of encouraging people to meet socially, participate in local community activities, do charitable work, learn new things together, or etc. I think that idea could be viable in a lot of places, although perhaps not yet everywhere in the US. But the primary moral purpose of Christian churches is really the evangelization of belief in Christ, and not more abstract ideals of goodness, or compassion, or whatever else. So I think it might make more sense to borrow some ideas from the way churches are socially organized than to actually join existing organizations. From a "market pressure" standpoint, that also seems like it works better: if churches see declining attendance in favor of secular alternatives, that will also put pressure on them to change.
Religion, like social media, benefits from network effects, so there is a lot of benefit in advertising your own ideas from within the currently existing religions rather than trying to start up your own platform. I would view joining a young alternative secular organization as a high variance strategy, which is likely to have no impact at all on future generations because it'll disappear, but if it does continue to exist, your personal impact has the potential to be much greater than it is likely to be from within an already existing religion. People's risk tolerance varies, so I wouldn't say that one or the other of these strategies is correct, but it seems like at minimum more tolerance should be given to those who adopt the low-variance strategy.

I'll also point out that from an equilibrium perspective, if my claim that religion is an effective transmitter of values is correct, then even if you feel like you personally cannot participate in religion, you should still want some people who otherwise agree with you on moral and rational values to have influence in religion. Given that religion's values will have an outsized impact on the future, it is foolish to just ignore it or assume it will just go away in the future.
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:49 PM   #21
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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While it is true that not all Quakers are Christian, the Society of Friends is still a Christian sect, and so part of the larger Christian religion, just as eg the Church of Christ is a Christian sect.
OK, well if you want to lump them in with all Christians, I think Christianity overall encourages child molestation, bombing of abortion clinics, and other heinous acts. You can't have it both ways. I believe that at least the major western religions (Christianity and Islam) encourage much more bad behavior than good. I don't know enough about eastern religions to make a judgement.

So, more to your point, I do not believe that supporting these religions would be likely to encourage my preferred morality in future generations.
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:56 PM   #22
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

OP,
How do you view the role of status in the success of transmitting your values to future generations? From a Pragmatic perspective, wouldn’t seeking to elevate your status first be a more useful strategy?
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Old 08-21-2018, 04:04 PM   #23
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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I'll just on from the argument with uke_master and assume we would ignore if a religion is a net negative.

You should first of all demonstrate that religions are good at such passing value because they are religions. Ie. that whatever trait makes them good at this can't be done by an irreligious institution.
Sure, I'm just assuming this based on my hazy sense of the historical record. The future might be very different from the past. I'll acknowledge this as an unverified premise in my argument.

Quote:
Similarly, we should also ignore if such an irreligious institution is a net negative. An example could be that if we find that propaganda is better at imparting specific values than news, then we should (by the same logic) be positive about propaganda, irrespective of its other costs. And then we're suddenly in some dangerous territory, because we wouldn't even be discussing the nuances of propaganda. Which might very well be the most important discussion.
I'm not sure these are properly analogous. I'm taking a somewhat realist view towards human society and saying, my guess is that of current social institutions, religious ones are likely to be among the most long-lived. Furthermore, religion has the important social function of maintaining and transmitting values across generations. Neither of these seems applicable to propaganda outlets, which I think are not likely to be long-lived or an effective means to transmitting my values across generations, so I don't see how my argument for religious participation also applies to propaganda.
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Old 08-21-2018, 04:12 PM   #24
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

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OK, well if you want to lump them in with all Christians, I think Christianity overall encourages child molestation, bombing of abortion clinics, and other heinous acts. You can't have it both ways. I believe that at least the major western religions (Christianity and Islam) encourage much more bad behavior than good. I don't know enough about eastern religions to make a judgement.

So, more to your point, I do not believe that supporting these religions would be likely to encourage my preferred morality in future generations.
I know you think this. What I asked was how my participating in local Quaker meetings encourages child molestation, terrorism, etc. My guess is that you are relying on the fallacy of division, that is, that you are incorrectly inferring that something is true of a part of something just because it is true of it as a whole. Maybe my guess is wrong though, in which case I'd like to see your argument.
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Old 08-21-2018, 04:30 PM   #25
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Re: A Pragmatic Argument for Religious Participation

Again, your original post lumped all major religions together, so I am doing the same thing. I never said or even implied that Quakers had anything to do with the heinous acts.

If you'd like to amend your original thesis by making it specifically about Quakers, I might agree with it.
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