Friday, 9 June 2017

What is God? What is Religion?

These are questions we tend to answer flippantly, if at all, but given that every single culture in the whole of human history has proposed answers the questions must be rather more important than we might tend to think from a modern perspective.

Here are the answers I think are most useful, a condensed subjective view derived from the work of Jordan B. Peterson (I'll link below because I really think that JBP's work has practical value for any individual).


If we conceive God as the most ideal, moral leader possible then a couple of useful things happen. One, there is an ideal to aim for, whatever that ideal may be. Two, that spot is already taken by an abstracted ideal so that any given living glorious leader cannot delude themselves that that are that perfect ideal - the top spot is already taken. Nor can the people, or any substantial percentage, think that their glorious leader is God.

A good deal of historical nastiness could have been avoided. A good deal of potential future nastiness can be avoided.


If we conceive of Religion as a blueprint for 'how society should be' then it is literally possible to look around the world and see which blueprints are most successful when mapped onto reality. It is even possible to break that down into subsets of a given religion. Even done in a cursory kind of way, some useful results can be gained.

Adopting the most successful blueprint might be an idea. Consciously attempting to improve that blueprint might be a better idea. Discard all such blueprints look to me to be a ludicrous waste of a great deal of effort expended over a long long time.

One other useful aspect of religion is that it provided moral absolutes. Without those, morality within a culture becomes subjective, each individual making unique decisions about what is and is not moral. It doesn't take much thought to see where that path leads; the first and most obvious consequence being that every single individual you meet would be an unknown interaction of potentially conflicting moralities. The word 'Dangerous' doesn't even begin to cover that situation.

Maps of Meaning

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