Wittgensteinian thoughts on the recent discussion on religion


Religion as a region of human experience
There is this fierce fight going on out there in the human world, and at the same time in all of us. It is an ancient fight between archetypial forces, the fight between on one side the rational attitude and the corresponding mentality and relation to the world and human life, based on science as the only norm for correct thinking about the world and ourselves, and the other side – our religious and faith based attitudes, mentality and relation to ouselves and the world.

Two basic ways of relating to the world and to our living are today as they always have been and will be in harsh confrontation. It is now playing itself out in all human cultures with their different religions and religious views. It is also playing itself out inside all the different religions, between the fundamentalist and absolutist side and the side that is trying to modernize and moderate religion so as to make it more compatible with modern life and thinking.

Some important questions have to be looked at anew:

– Why religion at all?
– Do we need religion ?
– Are we religious by nature, do our the makeup of our human brain make us religious ?

– What are the sources for our need for religion?

– Is being religious good or bad for us ?
– Why are we often more healthy both physically and mentally when we ‘believe’ and practice religion ?
– How come that religiosity can make us so healthy ?
– Is religion in some always way bad and wrong ?
– Is being religious always wrong, or are there ways to be religious that is compatible with science and the rational attitude ?

In the name of rationality and science, should we now get finally rid of religion and the religious mentality. Place it behind dusty museum doors as belonging to an interesting but archaic mentality, that is today doing more bad than good ?

Or do we, modern and scientific as we like to see ourselves, proclaimed rational humans, still have a deep need for religion and religiosity in some way ?

Can it be that we have an emotional or a basic human need for religion, just as much as we need to breath in air. For some short periode we can manage with an artificial arrangement, but we have always to return to normal breathing in open air. And to religiosity from the cold rational and scientific thinking ?

And, there are some other important questions; Is there only good things connected to the project of trying to get rid of religion ? Can such a project have some bad consequences?

Can it also have some unseen or unknown harmful consequences for humans and human living. I cant see that Richard Dawkins has done much to clarify this important question in a scientifically acceptable way. He seems to be a believer in his own cause; no doubts for him.

Our religiosity has deep connections to other important questions:
Are there some important connections between religion/spirituality and creating art, music and poetry ?
Is there a family likeness between creating music and tunes, singing and being in a religious state of mind ?
Can we as we are making art and music and expressing ourselves in deep and emotional significant ways, learn something from religiosity and spirituality ?

There seems to be no doubt that today, as before, it is important to critizice the religious mentality….the critic of religion is the basis all of critic, said old Karl Marx a long time ago. But do this critical view on religion imply that we need to get rid of all religiosity and the religious mentality in itself ?

In philosophy to do critical work on a subject is to formulate important questions, and to learn to see the limits of things….to see where there is validity and where there is nonsense and untruth.

For a time, religion used to be thought of as ‘out’.
Religion was close to dying and already half dead. Now it is back on the modern scene again; a little like old Lazarus, maybe – living and kicking again, but somewhat marked in flesh and soul by having been among the dead. But, as everybody is today more or less involved in the new discussion on and fight over religion and religions, it seems that the question of religion should be taken very seriously by all of us. Both as a personal matter, and in relation to our social life. And one thing is for sure, one should never leave religion to professional religious or antireligious people…..or to people who seem to ‘know everything’.

A religiosity for living in a multireligious world
I’ll go right to the heart of the matter: I believe that our relationship to the religious has to be transformed so that it can make it possible to live in a world with different religions and in a world where our relationship to reality is informed by science and the rational attitude. To be able to be that we need to be what is called interspiritual:

«Interspirituality is a holistic understanding of the contemplative experience. It has room for all kinds of experiences, insights, methods of prayer and transformation. It values the experience of totality, intellectual vision, the way of pilgrimage, and forms of movement.» (Teasdale)

In the same form of understanding I used to speak of myself a reflective spiritualist. I am transreligous’ – to be ‘transreligious’ is connected to the fact that I can believe in or find existential support in all religions and types of spirituality, and – at the same time – I am a nonbeliever in that for me there is no doubt that science is the basis for all our empirical and factual knowledge about this world and ourselves.As I am not a religious person in the ordinary meaning of the word, I would like to develop some personal views on the religious problem. I prefer to call myself ‘transreligious’, because at the same time as I am not religious and also actually partly antireligous, among others inspired by prof. Dawkins and his ‘God delusion’, I still find very meaningful things and themes in all religions that is important for me, both in emotional and intellectual ways.

And that is problematic…..why finding meaning and support in religiosity ?

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, the very active hero of exclusice science and scientific and empirical rationality, is doing an impressive job in trying to show that the idea of God can not be true in an empirical sense, and also that there are no empirical or descriptive truths in religion. That’s the job of science anyway – today it can be shown that religions as explanatory theories of the natural world and its workings are not doing a good job at all. But, poor Dawkins seems to believe that this is all that there is to religiosity…….when religion has not got factual things to say, it cannot say anything at all. And therefore should be forced into silent. For Dawkins there can’t be any religious truths. But I am not so sure………..The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wondered, when he was confronted with this type of approach that seems to think that religion is a delution, a fiction and a sort of stupidity: then, he asked an almost childish question: so –

‘people do all of this out of sheer stupidity’?(RF)

Our different human images of God: how can we understand his existence ?

Is he existing in an empirical way, as a sort of fact or reality ? We use the word ‘God’ ‘like a word representing a person’ ; what does that mean ? Is God a concept or an image we construct to make sense of aspects of our life and the world ? Is he an expression of our deep need for safety and feeling home when we feel insecure and alone ? Is he an imaginal instrument to help us live and manage our problems in living ? Just a fiction, a delusion – useful or dangerous ? Or is the idea of God, something that belongs to our basic human way of existing in this strange world, something that forces itself upon us in certain existential situations ?

Our religion and religious mentalities consists of a network of concepts and images…..Dantes classic image of sinners Hell: how can we understand our concepts of hell, what kind of ‘reality’ has this image ? Is it like the philosopher Schopenhauer puts it:

«The world is just a hell and in it human beings are the tortured souls on the one hand, and the devils on the other.»(PP)

When we discuss the issue of the reality of religious images….it is important to remember that we do a lot of things not connected to telling or knowing factual, empirical or useful things…things like singing, poetry, daydreaming, joking, loving….and so on. They are not about what is real, often they actually seem to creat realities anew in a way….They seems to be very important human things that are partly indifferent to what is factual or if things are factual…and they are still very decisive for us as humans.Some say that religion is just a sort of fairytale or a fiction, that we as grown up people has no use for anymore. As if we have no need at all for fairytales and fictions ! What kind of life would we live without such things ? We cannot be grown up, rational, empirical and factual in all things, can we ? Should we ? What kind of ‘evidence’ is the basis for fatherly or motherly love for a certain baby boy ? We have no use for evidence in such matters. But we are, by the way we talk and use our words, tempted to think that our use of religious expressions are based on evidence like our use of other factual expressions.

The ‘imaginal’ and imaginality (Henry Corbin – Mundus imaginalis): The human world is always and must be more than facts and experience and reason

And, is art, love, and other human things and affairs possible without something like the fairytale attitude ? I think it is right to say that the human drama is partly created by our thirst for fairytales and stories….if we don’t have a story we make it up…..to have something to live by. And science and empirical facts dont make any story by themselves, do they ? To live a live, one has to be an artist, one has to make decisions, make a life out of nothing…….or better what is given to us…..and that is never enough…to live a life is a sort of poetry……and how can scientific facts help us then ?

In his book, ‘Who needs God‘ (1989) Harold Kushner writes:

«A world without God would be a flat, monochromatic world, a world without color or texture, a world in which all days would be the same. Marriage would be a matter of biology, not fidelity. Old age would be seen as a time of weakness, not of wisdom. In a world like that, we would cast about desperately for any sort of diversion, for any distraction from the emptiness of our lives, because we would never have learned the magic of making some days and some hours special.»

Maybe it is so simple, that we have this emotional or existential need for religion – coming from our evolution – for believing all sorts of things about the world that we actually make up ourselves…we always live in a world partly created by ourselves both materially and ideologically…..but the critics of religion tells us this need is childish and potentially dangerous. Certainly it can be….as we all know so well today, there is a very dark side to religion – so, we better be exclusively rational and manage our life without trusting in irrational religious beliefs. Singing and making songs and dancing is also a little irrational, I dont sing or dance to tell people empirical or factual or useful things…..but I try to express something through songs and singing….making this world a different and enjoyable place….Of course, if religion is important and can make the world and life better for humans, we must still take care to find the correct limits and constraints for religiousness……because we know the dangers when one thinks that religion – one special religion that is – is ‘true’…..a sort of science…. So, in spite of Dawkins and others, I am transreligious, because I think that the basic thing one ought to understand, is that religion is something special in our relation to ourself, each other and to the world. It is not sufficient to criticise religion as having nothing to do with empirical truths….yes..that is necessary to do, to get rid of some of the most dangerous consequences of religiosity in a multicultural and multireligious world……But for me, it seems that a religious attitude is part of our ability to grow and develop as individual human beings….Often, I have this suspicion that there is something lacking, something wrong with people who tell that they live their lives on the basis of a one-dimensional areligious and antireligious view…like Richard Dawkings….he may right in telling us that religion as a sort of empirical view, religion as a hypothesis, is dead and should be gone……but from here he is seduced by his own insight……seduced into blindness to the other aspects of the religiuos attitude….so…he is himself looking a little like Lazarus……alive, but only half living….

Richard Dawkins: one of the central figures in the modern critic of religion in the name of science: But does he really understand the deep dilemmas and antinomies that seems to go with the human condition and that always make our life so difficult and vulnerable to pain and sorrows, and where religiosity and spirituality help us to tools to make living more tolerable ? On the other hand, Dawkins makes a good case for showing that religion can’t compete with science in our understanding of the universe, life and human life.

Still, the temptation is always there, and therefore one must never forget…….religion is never in our head because of some evidence about how the world is out there; it is not and should not be thought of as a hypothesis or theory about the world of facts and existing things. Conceived in this way, and a lot of immature people in all religions are going on doing this basic mistake; thinking religion is competing with science and other religions……..and then – as Dawkins tells, religion can and will be very dangerous. Religiousity should first of all not and never be competing with science and empirical thinking……religion cannot be empirical or factual right or true. You cannot check out the truth of religious formulas by going to the world of outer empirical facts. Religion is speaking or whispering with another human voice, it is telling us and indicating or showing us, something else, than something factual about the empirical world. And remember, that doesn’t mean that it is irrelevant for our everyday and ordinary relationship to the world and to ourselves.

But religion and a religious mentality can be understood as a deep part of human imagination and imaginal life – humans are also named ‘homo imaginans’ – the human brain is supporting a very expanded and central imaginal system that participate in and contributes to most of our cognitive and emotional processes, and is especially decisive for our abilities in being innovative, creative and integrative. Religious experience and thinking is strongly connected to this imaginal system and so can be very important, in making up and giving us concepts and images and pictures that can support and comfort us in life’s difficult moments and situations…….help us to see solutions and ways through the darkness, pains and sorrows and despair that always goes with the human condition – the most important things in human life are often not factual and empirical things (‘of this world’, as it is said), but things we create by and make uses of in our imagination to remake this indifferent, cold and hard and often brutal world and life into something more human and homely – we recreate the world as a ‘macroanthropos’ (Schopenhauers very important concept)……that is, a humanely recreated world, remade in our picture…..a warmer world so to speak…

The Wittgensteinian interpretation of religion: a different form of experience

Wittgenstein writes in his text on Certainity:

«In a religious discourse we use such expressions as: ‘I believe that so and so will happen,’ and use them differently to the way in which we use them in science. Although, there is a great temptation to think we do. Because we do talk of evidence, and do talk of evidence by experience.» (LC)

And he continues:

«If the question arises as to the existence of a god or God, it plays an entirely different role to that of the existence of any person or object I ever heard of. One said, had to say, that one believed in the existence, and if one did not believe, this was regarded as something bad. Normally if I did not believe in the existence of something no one would think there was anything wrong in this.» (LC)

So, the decisive point in my expressions of religious believing seems to be the expression of believing itself, as part of a religious practice…….and not the empirical evidence for my expression: «Why are you crying ? I cry because my mother is dead. But why, crying doesnt help you get your mother back? I know, thats why I cry»…………and so on: thats why we pray, beg for the support of Gods, have religious feelings…….those things seems to spring forth spontaneously and like some force from the deep of our hidden nature.

Richard Swinburne (in ‘The Coherence of Theism’ from 77) is describing the Wittgensteinian account of religion as an ‘attitude theory’; for Wittgenstein

‘religious assertions, including credal sentences, express intentions to live in certain ways, or express attitudes of approval for certain patterns of life or do something else other than stating how things are’.

There is other ways we can relate to the world than to behave as if there is a collection of empirical facts out there, facts that we can discover and describe in scientific language….like the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein writes:

‘in religious discourse we use such expressions as: “I believe that so and so will happen,”…differently to the way in which we use them in science’
(LC, p. 57)

And he writes in another comment:

‘It strikes me that a religious belief could only be something like a passionate commitment to a system of reference’.

And Wittgenstein goes on to his famous remark about what ‘God’ can mean for us:

‘Life can educate one to a belief in God. And experiences too are what bring this about; but I don’t mean visions and other forms of sense experience which show us ‘the existence of this being’, but, e.g., sufferings of various sorts. These neither show us God in the way a sense-impression shows us an object, nor do they give rise to conjectures about him. Experiences, thoughts,—life can force this concept on us.’

It was one of the basic views of the late Wittgenstein that the concepts we create and make use of cannot all be justified by reference to empirical reality……we need more than eating bread to get through this life….Wittgenstein says that it is ‘ludicrous’ (LC) to think that religious beliefs can be corroborated or falsified by evidence, as poor Dawkins believes……and he continues:

‘the historical accounts in the Gospels might, historically speaking, be demonstrably false and yet belief would lose nothing by this…because historical proof (-) is irrelevant to belief’.

Wittgenstein, contrary to Dawkins strategy, thinks that the question of God’s existence is not an empirical or factual question:

‘what is here at issue is not the existence of something (dass es sich hier um eine Existenz nicht handelt)’ –

and he goes on:

«If someone who believes in God looks round and asks ‘Where does everything I see come from?’, ‘Where does all this come from?’, he is not craving for a (causal) explanation; and his question gets its point from being the expression of a certain craving. He is, namely, expressing an attitude to all explanations.»(CV)

Wittgenstein insist that religious faith is not so much about a series of doctrines as taking part in a form of life. To question a form of life is very different from the discussion of empirical propositions.

In his comments on Frazers ‘Golden Bough’, Wittgenstein critical comment could just as well be applied to poor Dawkins critical views on religion:

‘Frazer’s account of the magical and religious notions of men is unsatisfactory: it makes these notions appear as mistakes. Was Augustine mistaken, then, when he called on God on every page of the Confessions?’

For Wittgenstein it is partly misleading to conceive of human magical and ritual practices as intrumental behaviors. In his argument, that could be callen an anthropological hemeneutics, he points to our normal use of expressive performance or practices:

«Kissing the picture of a loved one. This is obviously not based on a belief that it will have a definite effect on the object which the picture represents. It aims at some satisfaction and it achieves it. Or rather, it does not aim at anything; we act in this way and then feel satisfied.»

That is how human beings behave towards themselves, the world and other humans. We create realities by communications, by expressing things and sharing things with other people through behaviors. That is how we create or project a specific human life form as a distict reality; it is not real as a physical phenomenon ‘out there’ that one can confirm or disconfirm through empirical methods.

Wittgenstein tells:

«when a man laughs too much in our company (or at least in mine), I half-involuntarily compress my lips, as if I believed I could thereby keep his closed.» (RF)

Wittgensteins account of religion seems to be a combination of different perspectives, an instrumental view, an expressivistic view – and he demonstrate maybe the most important aspect of his views on religious practices when he writes:

«When I am furious about something, I sometimes beat the ground or a tree with my walking stick. But I certainly do not believe that the ground is to blame or that my beating can help anything. ‘I am venting my anger.’ And all rites are of this kind. Such actions may be called Instinct-actions.»

Wittgenstein seems here to be stating something like an empirical anthropological view on how religiosity functions in human life activity. Religiosity seems to be part of the natural responsiveness of human beings, and for Wittgenstein one cannot take away religiosity in humans by some wellmeant dose of reason and evidence.
Religiosity is,like other human behaviors, a part of what Wittgenstein sees in:

‘man and his past,…the strangeness of what I see in myself and in others, what I have seen and have heard’

Ritual religious practices often works as emotional safety-valves, letting us dig into and bring feelings out in the social open and sharing them with others, they let us express our desires, wishes, both individual and collective – they can function as catharsis, whereby we as human beings have an opportunity to take care of deeply fel

Factual understandings, that always is partial and uncomplete, and practices informed by evidential knowledge, can never substitute for deeply anchored socioemotional and religious reactions and practices. Wittgenstein’s points out that human religious and magical behaviors and practices are not the outcome of theoretical and explanatory thinking – but it is closer to something deep that spring from human nature.

Wittgenstein view on religion is not a theory in the scientific meaning of the word, it is rather a type of anthropological hermeutics; he shows us that religiousness is a natural side of human beings:

‘One could almost say that man is a ceremonial animal’.

In the Frazer text, Wittgenstein remarks that

‘towards morning, when the sun is about to rise, people celebrate rites of the coming of day, but not at night, for then they simply burn lamps’,

people are not stupid, when they celebrate the coming sunrise and doesn’t try to drive the darkness away in the middle of the night.

Brian R. Clack sees the complexities in Wittgensteins fragmentary analysis of religion, and how it is deeply connected to his sense of the utter strangeness of human life:

«What can we really make of the fact that we habitually venerate certain images (and destroy others), that we hold certain days more important than others, that we decorate our houses with greenery at festive times? Such things are not obviously transparent, and when we reflect upon the more sinister elements of our ritual history (human sacrifice, ritual mutilation, cannibalism), who is to say why such things have occurred? That is to say, our intimacy with ritual, our appreciation of its naturalness, lead to darker and disquieting thoughts about our nature as a species, thoughts which will not be stifled by comforting words about the expression of emotion or the mistaken hypotheses of early humanity before scientific liberation.»

(From «Wittgenstein and Magic,» in Wittgenstein and Philosophy of Religion ed. Robert L. Arrington and Mark Addis (London: Routledge, 2001), p.26)

All religions can in their specific ways contribute to our efforts to humanize the nonhuman world …make our suffering in this world more tolerable and meaningful….to our making this world a more homely world for human beings……therefore, I am transreligious and so I can love and find myself close to home in all religions alike. Why not ? I am transreligious, so I do not believe in religion as a sort of theory of the empirical world, for example – angels doesn’t exist in a factual way, but for some people they exist in an imaginal and therefore important way in living through this difficult life. We need to make up ‘thought things’ in our thinking, in our imagination…and we use those created things as exitential tools in different ways, as supports and strengths, as keys ans doors, and so they sometimes help us find ways to live through our problems and this hard life….what harm can our religiousity do, why shouldnt we find support in making up our different religions ?

And poor poor Richard Dawkins, the heroic fighter on the horse of rationality and evidence……he is of course directing his quixoticoid attacks towards the now so wellknown and open doors we was given long time ago by former critical efforts of logical positivism, atheism and the rational attitude….our religiosity was not meant to be rational and reasonable….as Wittgenstein says…..

«Not only is it not reasonable, but it doesn’t pretend to be.»

And what is just as important for Wittgenstein:

‘Man has to awaken to wonder—and so perhaps do peoples. Science is a way of sending him to sleep again’.

Wittgenstein, in his text on ethics, points out the basic difference between “the experience of seeing the world as a miracle, ” and the “scientific way of looking at a fact. ” Wittgenstein thinks that the ability to experience the world as a miracle is

“a tendency in the human mind which I personally cannot help respecting deeply…” (LE, 44).

The personal view, the experience of the indidual human being, is the very heart of religiosity, and science cannot cope with the personal view – Wittgenstein said about this in a discussion with a friend:

“At the end of my lecture on ethics, I spoke in the first person. I believe that is quite essential. Here nothing more can be established, I can only appear as a person speaking for myself.»

Religion is not a failed or misunderstood science, a theory or an interpretation of the factual empirical world. We have to broaden our view to see ourselves in a different way; we are on only an obect among other objects in this world; we are humans, we expresses ourselves, we create and recreate the world from the deep of our minds and hearts, each of us and together. We do not only live in this factual preexisting world, we make and project the world in our picture.

So, it is important to see that religion seems to be more closely related to music and poetry, than to empirical science and factual thinking…..and to compare religiousity to science is today only a collosal misunderstanding….and an indication that maybe you need to do a little more reading.

To be religious is in a way also to be musical…..and as christians and muslims and buddhists do it in different ways and tunes……you can sing your religion, and in and through your song and your music you are expressing a sort of faith….as a way to discover and find and enjoy the sacred things in life. I am transreligious, and I have sort of made my own religion as a integrating part of my imaginal life. Imagination is a potential burden, as it can be an important ressource….and my transreligiuos ‘religion’ is giving me a sort of control over my imaginal process, so that it can support my living and not undermine it.

«It was not a trivial reason, for really there can have been no reason, that prompted certain races of mankind to venerate the oak tree, but only the fact that they and the oak were united in a community of life, and therefore it was not by choice that they arose together». (Wittgenstein, in the Frazer text)

Religion and spirituality as intrinsical cure for the human condition

For William James, religious feelings was a sort of cure for deep emotional and life problems emerging from the human condition. I find something very important in the following:

«In our arrogance, we have imagined that we have outgrown the sacred, and that notions of soul and spirit are archaisms of a former era. When the hunger for the sacred erupts in our time, we don’t know how to respond, and are often unable to determine what is sickness or health, what is wisdom or delusion, in ourselves or others. It is we who must change the myths and narratives that we live by, we who must invent a better form of sanity, a new kind of normality, so that spirit and soul can be included again in the common understanding of what it means to be human. In this time of transition, many people are the victims of deep structural change. Some have their concepts of reality overturned, others cling to former notions of sanity and order, while others succumb to depressive illness when they see through the lie of the modern world. Spirituality is a major social issue and requires immediate attention if we are to creatively respond to the spiralling outbreaks of depression, suicide, addiction, and psychological suffering.»
(Tacey, 2004)

The psychologist David Elkin is telling us about the importance of spiritual practices when it comes to taking care of one’s health:

“Contemplation, meditation, prayer, rituals and other spiritual practices have the power to release the «life force» in the deepest levels of the human psyche, levels that secular interventions cannot reach. Indeed, new evidence shows that religious and spiritual interventions can help when everything else has failed”..

And, some further steps into my ‘transreligiosity’:

«It is common knowledge that nobody is born with a decalogue already formed, but that everyone builds his own either during his life or at the end, on the basis of his own experiences, or of those of others which can be assimilated to his own; so that everybody’s moral universe, suitably interpreted, comes to be identified with the sum of his former experiences, and so represents an abridged form of his biography.»
(Primo Levi)

It seems, that no human is able to live without some sort of what we call spirituality and religion. When we live without religion, as Dawkins is, then even this explicit nonreligious view is starting to function like another religion, him telling us that we dont need a religion, we can and should live in the emprical and rational defined world.

As ‘homo imaginans’ it is easy to se why it must be so for us. Of course, we can go on fighting against ourselves and the basic tendency to religiosity that we carry with us…..we can try to find another balance in our mentality based on trusting science and trying to get rid of all ideas and attitudes derived from religion….but then we have to ask:

Can there be some negative and harmful consequences of this rational antireligious project ? I cant see that Dawkins is asking this question. As William James pointed out more than 100 years ago, the most important and crucial part of the religious phenomen is not religious institutions and systems, but it is always the basic process of religious excperience as it is lived by each and every person. Everything in religion begins in the experiencing process, and comes back to it in the end. And, we know that the human imaginal process is always a decisive part of experience.
All religiosity is deeply personal: one religion for every person. Based on our understanding of the role of religiosity in human living, it seems that every person has the possibility to enrichen his or her own life through cultivating this special kind of experience. As Dalai Lhama has said once, there should maybe be one religion for every one of us.
So, I am trying to work out my own personal and very basic morality and also a kind of religion or religious attitude – that I call transreligious – with some few and simple guiding ideas and rules; and the first rule for me is always the paradoxical formula from Fernando Pessoa:

«I have a very simple morality: not to do evil or good to anyone».

And to follow…….
«My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.»(Dalai L).

Dantes ‘Divina commedia’ is one of my very holy books, since I never trust only one….and since I think that it draws a structure that is releavnt in some way for all human living…and for me it is important to remember that throughout the Inferno, as it also is in this damned world…..the souls in Hell are not there because of their sins, but because they are unrepentant for them. .and from this ergo sum I try to take a stand….and go further:

«when you know for yourselves that certain things are unwholesome and wrong, and bad, then give them up . . . And when you know for yourselves that certain things are wholesome and good, then accept them and follow them.
(Gautama Buddha, Rahula 1974 , 2-3)

But, I think in matters of beliefs one always need a certain distance to oneself; yes I think that is decisive for a modern religiosity:

“He who sits alone and is quiet has escaped from three wars: hearing, speaking, seeing: but there is one thing against which he must continually fight: that is, his own heart.”(St.Anthony)

Yes, we cannot trust our own hearts to much…because there is too many hearts out there….and they cannot agree…will not agree…So; beware of

«the old verities and truths of the heart … love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.»

«Watch people, never judge … watch what they do, without intolerance … learn.» (WF)
«I live in my own place, I have never copied nobody even half, and at any master who lacks the grace to laugh at himself—I laugh.» (FN)
«I believe that each person must have his own opinion about everything about which it is possible to have an opinion, because he himself is a special, unique thing that holds a new, previously non-existent view about all other things.» (FN)

«a mind matters only to the degree that it deceives itself as to what it wants, what it loves, or what it hates; being several, it cannot choose itself. A pessimism without raptures, an agitator of hopes without bitterness, deserves only scorn.» (Cioran)

And after that…..I always try too see my life, for what it truly is….(CM)

Richard Dawkins: one of the central figures in the modern critic of religion in the name of science: But does he really understand the deep dilemmas and antinomies that seems to go with the human condition and that always make our life so difficult and vulnerable to pain and sorrows, and where religiosity and spirituality help us to tools to make living more tolerable ? On the other hand, Dawkins makes a good case for showing that religion can’t compete with science in our understanding of the universe, life and human life.
Our religion and religious mentalities consists of a network of concepts and images…..Dantes classic image of sinners Hell: how can we understand our concepts of hell, what kind of ‘reality’ has this image ? Is it like the philosopher Schopenhauer puts it: «The world is just a hell and in it human beings are the tortured souls on the one hand, and the devils on the other.»(PP)

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