RE: Debunk All Religiosity Equally (D.A.R.E.) ---> inloading

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Jul 08 2001 - 09:54:47 MDT

"J. R. Molloy" wrote:

> Sin and spirituality are words which derive their
> meaning from religiosity. Debunk religiosity, and
> these terms become irrelevant linguistic artifacts
> on a par with archaic mythology.

Two claims are implicit here; one is that whatever
these terms refer to, they ought to be replaced by
terms that do not derive from traditional religious
beliefs. I find this very persuasive for a variety
of reasons, chief among them that it would prevent
simple miscommunication. (I am opposed to the camp
that says that we can "heal" rifts between science
and religion---or any other substantive struggles---
by being mealy-mouthed in an effort to deceive or
to mollify.)

The second claim is that traditional religious beliefs
are false, and therefore need to be debunked. Few on
this list with argue with that.

Samantha retorts

> You are entitled to your opinions of course but do not be
> confused that they are any more than that. "Sin" is a concept
> of some (not all) religions and actually has a more general
> meaning of having broken one or more moral maxims (of whatever
> source).

But we are not short of other words that more clearly describe
the breaking of moral maxims, certainly not in English anyway.
So one cannot help but suspect that people who wish to use the
word "sin" in a serious way have something more on their plate.
I don't really know what it could be, unless, as I said before
to pander to people with traditional religious beliefs. Please
tell me what it is.

> Spirituality has many levels of meaning and mostly seems
> more fundamental than religions. Of course you are welcome
> to substitute religiosity if you wish and to make it mean
> whatever you need it to mean to thoroughly disapprove of it.

I'm not sure what this means, except possibly to allege that
J.R. wants to thoroughly disapprove of something. Yes, it
is for sure true that spirituality has many levels of meaning.
That's one of the reasons that the term is inherently confusing.
Now among people whose beliefs are very similar, and so where
little or no confusion is liable to occur, use of the term is
quite warranted, of course. But here, where we would like to
determine (I hope) just what substance lies behind use of the
term, I for one want to understand what drives atheists and
materialists to ever use it.

> Is it a retreat if one finds oneself to be honestly spiritual
> and/or religious without for a moment letting go of science
> and its achievements?

That sounds quite admirable, but contains a claim that is very
close to an accusation. It firstly claims that there is some
substance to being "honestly spiritual" or "honestly religious"
even though accepting everything that we learn through science.
This still needs to be explicated. The hidden pronouncement is
that atheists/materialists who denigrate religious beliefs (and
hence, easily, "religiosity") are perhaps somewhat crippled
morally, or at least lead impoverished lives of some description.
Now we total-atheists/materialists---who claim that "spirituality"
and "religiousity" do not describe us well---should be treated
as adults who are quite capable of owning up to actual shortcomings;
but it is incumbent upon those who think that we are lacking
something to be very explicit. If you're right, we can handle it.

Now I've argued with a very close friend for literally decades
about this issue of religiousity. He claims, as several here
have, to be spiritual. He is not as ready as J. R. Malloy or
myself (or Robert Ingersoll) to speak up about the falseness
of traditional religous beliefs. A number of famous people
have claimed to be "religious", where I just cannot see the
applicability of the term---so this is a familiar conundrum.

Okay, so this discussion has gone on ever since Darwin, at least,
I suspect. Perhaps there is not only a gene for religiousity,
but a separate gene that causes one to find the terms "religious"
and "spiritual" appealing, and causes one to wish very strongly
to apply them to oneself regardless of one's actual beliefs?
I'm being only half-serious, of course, but it indicates my
desperation here to find out what is going on. My friend came
to admit that he and I did not differ substantially in either
our experiences or our beliefs. So after all that time, I still
came away perplexed as to why atheists/materialists sometimes
employ those terms to describe themselves. Perhaps one of the
people who so do use the terms could think long and carefully
and help us understand why.


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