Friday, August 15, 2008

P.3 The Validity of Religious Language / God and the Law

Pascal’s Wager:
If you erroneously believe in God, you lose nothing (assuming that death is the absolute end), whereas if you correctly believe in God, you gain everything (eternal bliss). But if you correctly disbelieve in God, you gain nothing (death ends all), whereas if you erroneously disbelieve in God, you lose everything (eternal damnation).

In an off hand way I suppose that what I’m going to say here is akin to Pascal’s Wager, which I believe to be nonsense and surely many others do as well. The idea I have in my mind is; why should we believe in God? Or more importantly; why should we adhere to religious language?

So a simple example is Democratic law:
Thou shalt not speed; or else you get a ticket. Lets not speed then, for the sake of the punishment; this is nonsense. One shouldn’t raise they’re kids or live in a society where behavior is governed relative to punishment and punishment alone. What reason is there to follow the law that I may understand? If punishment governs our behavior, then we may just as easily decide how to best avoid punishment such that we can do what it is we please without really understanding what’s fundamentally wrong with it. Ultimately we’ve learned nothing, but punishment is bad and there’s ways around it.

The truth is, you abide by the speed limit for safety reasons. We post a speed limit (upper and lower) such that everyone has the same relative speed. When one understands this, then the law is followed not because we’re worried about tickets, but because we’re concerned about the safety of ourselves and others. Now of course there are some loose holes in this example that I won’t bother tying here as I hope you get the point. Which is you follow the law for the sake of others and yourself, not due to punishment or Democracy.

Of course we should also realize that the law and Democracy don’t really even exist per se’. What I mean to say is that, the law is nothing more then a set of principles (propositions in language) which are meant to serve as a guide to life in such a way that society has a certain solidarity and/or homogeneity. Those principles are immaterial in nature, and thus what’s true about them is only in what we say about them, and how we apply them.

Having said all that; why believe in God (adhere to religious language)? Again, it’s not enough for me to say that we should do so to avoid punishment. The purpose of believing in immaterial law never has anything to do with punishment; the purpose is a pragmatic one to some respect. Seeing where this is going I certainly don’t want to suggest that religion is some sort of social contract, but on the other hand that doesn’t mean that in some respect it isn’t one either; because there’s more to religious language then simply adhering to moral covenants…..

Here comes the bullshit, this is where I loose steam and/or taper off into Buddhism, but somehow I want to realize this idea and I’m going to continually exercise this until I get it:
Consider the placebo effect. The placebo effect is scientific in that, we can test and measure it; which doesn’t mean it makes any sense, but nonetheless the results are conclusive. If one believes that I’m ingesting something that’s going to make me feel better, voile, I feel better. What I ingested was just as much a piece of bullshit as what I’m saying right now, but that doesn’t mean that for some it isn’t working. Religious language in this way is the key to LIFE, not the key to avoiding punishment. Whether the after life is real or unreal should not even enter into the discussion. And what does one get from God, LIFE and GOODNESS. In this way there is no problem of evil, because life is neither good in itself, nor evil in itself. WE defined evil, not God. Evil enters the world only when one says and not in any other way; the same goes for good. Neither have any existence outside an assertion.

I’m thinking to myself now; what am I saying? Should we tell ourselves fairy tales to feel better? I’d argue that that isn’t what we’re actually doing. I believe in the dogmatic principles of architecture, because at the end of the day (whether life is real or unreal) I’m comfortable that the rain is pattering away at my head. This doesn’t mean that things are real, or that architectural principles actually exist, I simply believe that I’d feel better with them then without them; and here I am… Believing in the law, and feeling pretty good about it.

In an earlier post of mine named “Death and Tomorrow” I stated the following:

Man1 – “What happens when you die?”
Man2 – “Hm, let me ask you this. What’s going to happen tomorrow?”
Man1 – “I don’t know?”
Man2 – “Well why not?”
Man1 – “I have a good idea what may happen tomorrow, but I don’t have any definite plans, anything could happen in between.”
Man2 – “With all your vast experience you cannot even predict tomorrow. How can one predict the happenings in death?”
Man1 – “But is there a heaven or a hell?”
Man2 – “I don’t suppose it matters much.”
Man1 – “But if there is, shouldn’t you do what is necessary to avoid the latter?”
Man2 – “Does one not prepare today what is necessary for tomorrow?”
Man1 – “Not necessarily.”
Man2 – “Do you not prepare your bed for sleep – your dishes for a meal – your equipment for the work?”
Man1 – “I guess I do those things, but how do I know what is right and what is wrong?”Man2 – “If your sins leave a consequence for tomorrow, do you not try to avoid it?”
Man1 – “I don’t understand?”
Man2 – “Kill a man today, and suffer the consequences tomorrow. Do not leave yourself to suffer in death what one does not leave himself to suffer in life. What happens in death happens in death, these things we do not know. One should not ask such questions....." "If ones only worry is suffering in hell, then he lives on the hope to repent the following day. However if one understands Zen in the morning, it will be well with him if he dies in the evening."


  1. Nice. I rather enjoyed this post. I'll be back.

  2. Thanks.
    this whole, religious language thread is a work in progress. The idea is simply that, science is a "language" for talking about the world and so is religion; but, they deal in two different aspects of the human experience.

    I ask the question of myself:
    Does logic pertain to objects?
    Or does it pertain to our experience of objects?

    If it's the second one (and I believe it is as there's no proof for the first), then there's something to be said of religious language as well. Furthermore, logic would not be as objective as one like to think. The only thing objective about it is that we AGREE that it is.

    Also, there is no truth void of propositions, and, objects are not true. In other words it would sound silly to say, "car is true", because nothing is true in and of itself, objects don't hold the property truth. What's true is what we say about things as in, "that car is red." And that statement pertains to one's experience of the car, not to the car, and the truth of the statement lies in our agreeing on it.