Author Topic: Even though the claims may be nonsense, are the religious stories valuable?  (Read 1299 times)

Samuel

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"I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling" - Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

I think there some things to separate out here. (hello btw. Yes, I still float by now and then)

I think we all agree that it is undeniable that story-telling (and I would expand that to all artistic practice) is about communication of ideas. Sometimes those ideas are facts, other times they are feelings, perceptions etc. etc. Whatever it is about, a good story can be a phenomenally effective method of communication.

Crucially though, it must be understood that stories are always told with intent - to entertain, to move, frighten, to inform, to unite or divide. Stories are never neutral.

So what is the intent of religious stories? Individually they are very varied on that score, and some are now irrelevent just as with others it is hard to imagine they will ever loose their relevance. However, they all contribute to a coherent purpose which I think is characterised by an intent to describe, in detail, a particular cultural identity. Religious stories explore the rules and restrictions that form the bounds of that identity, their origins, justifications and beneftis, and of the course the consequences of straying away from them. Perhaps some religious stories happen to also communicate something universal about basic humanity - we can hardly expect them not to... we are not actually that different from each other beyond our cultrually constructed differences. Such universality arguably occurs by accident in pursuit of the true goal of developing the identity of the group.

So, for me, its not the right question when we ask 'are religious stories valuable'. Its too open. Really, the quesiton should be 'what role to religious stories play today?'

Because the wonderful thing about stories is that they are living things that can be picked up and re-told with a new intent. Sometimes this can be a very sinister intent, but it can be a simple evolution or adaptation of an inherited story to maintain its relevence.

For example, we could relate the christian story as a way to explain our cultural heritage to a migrant from a non-christian country. Does that religious story have value? of course it does.

We could tell the story of genesis in order to communicate something about the peple who wrote it. Does that have value, of course it does.

What value do the stories about the norse gods have today? They can be bloody entertaining, in my opinion, and interesting as a means to understand a cultural practice almost entirely consigned to the past and that yet echoes into the modern world.

When it comes to the stories from living religions, if nothing else they are an imensiely valuable window into the identity of the people who practice that religion. Whether thay have any additional value outside of their own context, their own original intent... that is entirely up to people who care to listen to them, take them and re-tell them with fresh purpose.

Do religious stories have value? they do if we say so. And like all stories, great care should be taken over how we use them.






A lot of people don't believe that the loch ness monster exists. Now, I don't know anything about zooology, biology, geology, herpetology, evolutionary theory, evolutionary biology, marine biology, cryptozoology, palaeontology or archaeology... but I think... what if a dinosaur got into the lake?

Sassy

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The fact is the teachings hold a valuable message for those whom are chosen. But what would you choose.... the violent children's games or the readings of doing good not harm.

I personally prefer children to know right from wrong and chose the correct way.

All good things are of value which keep a person living the right way as child and adult.
We know we have to work together to abolish war and terrorism to create a compassionate  world in which Justice and peace prevail. Love ;D   Einstein
 "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Robbie

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HelloSassy, saw your posts yesterday & couldn't think of anything to add. Still can't  :D but wanted to say nice to see you back, someone else commented you hadn't been around for a while & had tried to contact you so I spect they'll be glad too. I hope all is well. I'm up early, intending to get to work at 7.30 today so posting to you while drinking a cup of coffee & trying to wake up. I'll chekc in later. Hope you are still asleep zzzzz.
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Harrowby Hall

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Indeed. I would just like to add to Robbie's point that it is good to see you back. I do realise that there were very, very few points on which we have ever agreed - but I have missed your contributions to this forum.

Welcome back.
Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?

Outrider

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The fact is the teachings hold a valuable message for those whom are chosen.

Which suggests a God that has written some off before they have a chance to read and learn?

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But what would you choose.... the violent children's games or the readings of doing good not harm.

To be clear, which do you think the religious stories are, because I don't seen that they intrinsically fit into either group.

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I personally prefer children to know right from wrong and chose the correct way.

Me too.  Much better than being given authoritarian, limited sets of absolute rules with no contextual guidance on how to implement them - that depends, of course, on the particular sect of the religion rather than necessarily the stories themselves.

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All good things are of value which keep a person living the right way as child and adult.

Sort of by definition, really.

O.
Universes are forever, not just for creation...

New Atheism - because, apparently, there's a use-by date on unanswered questions.

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Sassy

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Indeed. I would just like to add to Robbie's point that it is good to see you back. I do realise that there were very, very few points on which we have ever agreed - but I have missed your contributions to this forum.

Welcome back.
HelloSassy, saw your posts yesterday & couldn't think of anything to add. Still can't  :D but wanted to say nice to see you back, someone else commented you hadn't been around for a while & had tried to contact you so I spect they'll be glad too. I hope all is well. I'm up early, intending to get to work at 7.30 today so posting to you while drinking a cup of coffee & trying to wake up. I'll chekc in later. Hope you are still asleep zzzzz.


Thank you both it is very kind of you and those who have welcomed me back and asked about me whilst away.  Good to see that you are still here and going strong. Coffee a good idea about now. :)
We know we have to work together to abolish war and terrorism to create a compassionate  world in which Justice and peace prevail. Love ;D   Einstein
 "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Sassy

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Hello Outrider.

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Which suggests a God that has written some off before they have a chance to read and learn?

Do not see it that way. Each person has their choices and chances. God knows what they they will choose and does
not choose it for them.


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To be clear, which do you think the religious stories are, because I don't seen that they
 intrinsically fit into either group.

Good and evil is a choice and that is the only groups for life they can fit into. Unless of course you know
another choice you can add?
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Me too.  Much better than being given authoritarian, limited sets of absolute rules with no contextual guidance
on how to implement them - that depends, of course, on the particular sect of the religion rather than
 necessarily the stories themselves.
The law says stealing is a criminal offence and carries punishment.
The biblical laws also say " Thou shalt not steal"  both carry consequences but does it make it any less wrong
to do this act?

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Sort of by definition, really.

Elementary more so... but is right and wrong really just about laws or does the theme exist before law and therefore
become an example of a humanistic truth that good and evil have always existed and each must choose their own path?
We know we have to work together to abolish war and terrorism to create a compassionate  world in which Justice and peace prevail. Love ;D   Einstein
 "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Outrider

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Do not see it that way. Each person has their choices and chances. God knows what they they will choose and does not choose it for them.

In which case, in what way can they be called 'the chosen'?  That's (at least part of) what I don't understand - in some schools of Christianity our actions are entirely irrelevant, salvation comes entirely through God's grace (in which case what we do is irrelevant), and in other schools we are punished or rewarded for our Earthly actions (eternally for temporal actions, which seems excessive, but that's a different issue).

Either way, if God already knows which we will choose, why go through with the rigmarole?  Why force the good to suffer the evil, why force the evil to condemn themselves?  If God knows in advance what we will choose, and decides that's the one particular reality out of all the possibilities that he's going to institute, in what way is that our choice and not his?

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Good and evil is a choice and that is the only groups for life they can fit into. Unless of course you know another choice you can add?

There are actions that are neither good nor evil, there are people that are generally a mixture of both I don't doubt, there are people that I'd consider good people that religious stories would consider sinners - it's almost like 'good' and 'evil' are ideas that we're still developing.

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The law says stealing is a criminal offence and carries punishment. The biblical laws also say " Thou shalt not steal"  both carry consequences but does it make it any less wrong to do this act?

The Biblical law also proscribes eating shellfish, having a particular haircut, some farming practices and working on Saturdays, but doesn't have a problem with slavery and some forms of rape, which the real law does, so there are divergences, I'd suggest.

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Elementary more so... but is right and wrong really just about laws or does the theme exist before law and therefore become an example of a humanistic truth that good and evil have always existed and each must choose their own path?

For some right and wrong is about obedience to a law or scripture, to others right and wrong are about the resulting harm or benefit - for me, personally, I like to make my judgement based on what I think people's intentions are, with an element of what's the foreseeable effects.

O.
Universes are forever, not just for creation...

New Atheism - because, apparently, there's a use-by date on unanswered questions.

Eminent Pedant, Interpreter of Heretical Writings, Unwarranted Harvester of Trite Nomenclature, Church of Debatable Saints

jeremyp

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Hello Outrider.

Do not see it that way. Each person has their choices and chances. God knows what they they will choose and does
not choose it for them.
So you don't believe in free will.
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