When did religion jump the shark?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
For those not familiar with the term, check out this site by clicking the gif below:



<a href="http://www.jumptheshark.com"; target="_blank"></a>



Basically when did the major religions of the world start going downhill? Here are my submissions:



Christianity: As soon as the Romans adopted it as the state religion (around the year 300 I think)



Judaism: When the went in Babylonian exile in 607BC.



Islam: Right after the Crusades.



Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, etc.: Don't know enough of their history to comment on it.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    noahjnoahj Posts: 4,501member
    The moment that the labels become more important than the actual following of the religion itself the slide has begun.



    That may not be the exact moment, but it is a definately a defining point.
  • Reply 2 of 17
    jrcjrc Posts: 804member
    There are many answers to this for those of no faith.
  • Reply 3 of 17
    Aha.



    I think that religion jumped the shark at the beginning of the agricultural revolution altogether; I believe that the shift from hunting and gathering to farming did for us in all kinds of spiritual and demographic ways. Hunting and gathering cultures are shamanic and use 'religion' in a very practical way that helps them to survive in very inhospitable environments. They relate to the planet and to each other very differently. We've re-allocated all those imaginative resources into highly 'evolved' generally incompatible religions and now we all kill each other a lot over property and doctrine.



    Because farming made us comfy.



    That's what I say.



    [ 06-25-2002: Message edited by: Hassan i-Sabbah ]</p>
  • Reply 4 of 17
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Christianity: fall of the Papal States



    Islam: fall of the Ottoman Empire



    Judaism: fall of Judea to the Romans



    Shintoism: fall of the Japanese Emperor as diety



    Buddhism: exodus of the Dali Lama



    Hinduism: still waiting...



    [ 06-25-2002: Message edited by: BuonRotto ]</p>
  • Reply 5 of 17
    thttht Posts: 3,036member
    From my point of view, religion hasn't jumped the shark. People now are as irrational as they were 1000 years ago, 2000 years ago, 4000 years ago, when humankind invented agriculture, and yes, even all the way back to when throwing sharp sticks at animals was a deemed a good way to hunt.



    It is unfortunately an artifact of how we learn and think, and probably won't go away until it is gengineered away, if it is even possible.
  • Reply 6 of 17
    [quote]Originally posted by THT:

    <strong>From my point of view, religion hasn't jumped the shark. People now are as irrational as they were 1000 years ago, 2000 years ago, 4000 years ago, when humankind invented agriculture, and yes, even all the way back to when throwing sharp sticks at animals was a deemed a good way to hunt.



    It is unfortunately an artifact of how we learn and think, and probably won't go away until it is gengineered away, if it is even possible.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Hey, THT...



    It's not really about whether we're irrational or not, 'cos evidently we always have been: it's about whether we use religion as an excuse to fight wars or appropriate land. Or in fact as an excuse of any kind at all; it's about exalting priests, making the world of the spiritual invisible, arguing about doctrine... the things we don't like about religion (the witch-hunts and inquisitions, fundamentalism, sacrificial cults, sectarianism, destructive missionary evangelism, add your own favourite) were made possible by the change of humankind's lifestyle, and the change in our approach to matters spiritual, brought 10,000 years ago with the invention of farming. (I say.)



    Now religion isn't essential to our survival in a practical sense, as it is in hunter-gatherer societies, but its biological and cultural importance haven't gone away. We can only afford to debate scripture, or even write the stuff, if we know where our next meal's coming from and we don't have to worry about the rains coming.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    I think all religions will go away when we all wake up from these daydreams. Reality as religion...what a concept.
  • Reply 8 of 17
    thttht Posts: 3,036member
    <strong>Originally posted by Hassan i-Sabbah:

    It's not really about whether we're irrational or not, 'cos evidently we always have been: it's about whether we use religion as an excuse to fight wars or appropriate land. Or in fact as an excuse of any kind at all; it's about exalting priests, making the world of the spiritual invisible, arguing about doctrine...</strong>



    I don't think this argument works, or at least I don't like how it's framed. By stating that humanity is using religion as an excuse for the things they do implies that they don't believe the religion is true. People sincerely believe in irrational things (well, to them it's very rational) and such things propel them to do the things they do. It's not an excuse, it's an impetus or a reflection of the cultural values of a society.



    Rationality, the ability to abstract observed events and input into a logical framework, is only superficially, if that, given to us, and must be taught and developed over a very long span of our lives. Religion as it is seen today won't jump the shark until everyone is taught to think and behave rationally.



    I don't think it'll happen, though I haven't thought through what needs to happen for our society to become even more technologically advanced. It may need to happen, but I doubt it. Things like being able to control our own genetic evolution, and I think it will be necessary, and an education to handle the absurd amounts of information and power available in any imagined super technologically advanced society.



    <strong>the things we don't like about religion (the witch-hunts and inquisitions, fundamentalism, sacrificial cults, sectarianism, destructive missionary evangelism, add your own favourite) were made possible by the change of humankind's lifestyle, and the change in our approach to matters spiritual, brought 10,000 years ago with the invention of farming. (I say.)</strong>



    Primitive mythologies (shamanism, animism et al) are just as effective as any agriculture based religion in moving people to believe and do crazy things. Agriculture simply provides for a stronger military-industrial complex, ie, provides a better foundation for a strong society enabling them to do more good and bad than hunter-gatherers can.
  • Reply 9 of 17
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    I know it's Fiction but the book Dune gives some interesting insight on religion in the future. After some pondering I think religion will be with us for a long long time. In the back of their mind people will always have that "well you never know.." (I know I do) and this uncertainty will keep religion alive for the foreseeable future.
  • Reply 10 of 17
    thttht Posts: 3,036member
    <strong>Originally posted by Outsider:

    I know it's Fiction but the book Dune gives some interesting insight on religion in the future.</strong>



    Well, I don't know about insight. It seemed a fairly typical savior story to me.



    <strong>After some pondering I think religion will be with us for a long long time. In the back of their mind people will always have that "well you never know.." (I know I do) and this uncertainty will keep religion alive for the foreseeable future.</strong>



    Yes, there is always going to be assertians that cannot be disproven. There is an AI on the Internet and it is crashing our computers! The world is going to end because X happened during the Y and Z conjunction!



    Some interesting examples of what religion may be in the future could be Scientology, Heaven's Gate, and the interesting Bahai religion. Essentially reinterpretations using modern symbols, like succubi turning into alien abductions.



    [ 06-26-2002: Message edited by: THT ]</p>
  • Reply 11 of 17
    [quote]Originally posted by THT:

    <strong>[qb]Originally posted by Hassan i-Sabbah:

    It's not really about whether we're irrational or not... etc...</strong>



    I don't think this argument works, or at least I don't like how it's framed. By stating that humanity is using religion as an excuse for the things they do implies that they don't believe the religion is true. People sincerely believe in irrational things (well, to them it's very rational) and such things propel them to do the things they do. It's not an excuse, it's an impetus or a reflection of the cultural values of a society.



    Rationality, the ability to abstract observed events and etc...[/QB]<hr></blockquote>



    Naah, religion jumped the shark 10,000 years ago. It's a dorsal fin with a wake to the horizon mate.



    Rationality's got nothing to do with it, really; I think it's a whole separate discussion. I agree that no religion is rational, but until 10,000 years ago it was practical and kind of cuddly.



    Religion's a shark hopper because it's killing people and has been for thousands of years. Simply because we're inured to it doesn't mean it's not fundamentally bad. Hunting and gathering societies, historically, didn't and don't distinguish between the spiritual and the physical on a fundamental, day-to-day level. The 'spiritual' serves in a practical way to help people to survive in inhospitable environments. (This is a whole nother story too.)



    The invention of agriculture took away the day-to-day need for a sense of the spiritual in a practical way and changed the way we interact with the planet and each-other for good; it allowed us to build cities and armies, it meant the invention of property and it gave the people the luxury to develop scripture, doctrine and whittle the everyday gods down to the finger-wagging monotheistic bearded invisible individuals we've got today. (Even Hinduism's taking a turn for violent fundamentalism right now; Shinto and Buddhism still rule.)



    Those 'crazy things' that shamanic and animist religions drive people to do are circular hand-clapping trance dancing, rituals to make it rain, healing ceremonies, rituals for the first kill of an animal, dances for the first menstruation... They're stable, productive and creative cultures. No bigotry, racism or even sense of nation at all. There's almost no fighting in these cultures because it's not 'economically' practical. You need everything you've got to find stuff to eat and water to drink, for a start, and in shamanic societies this stuff actually helps you to do it.



    The impulse to religion is basically deep in us because for 90% of human history, to question it was impossible; there's no need to question something that keeps you alive. You don't have the luxury. It's a deep need that, after the invention of agriculture and the changes it brought, has been channelled into what we've had for centuries. Kinda screwed.



    Not really sure I answered you altogether, actually, just riding my hobby-horse again... er, by 'excuse' I should have said 'pretext' really (sorry) and yes, people certainly do believe themselves impelled to do terrible things.



    I may have just written gibberish.



    [ 06-26-2002: Message edited by: Hassan i-Sabbah ]</p>
  • Reply 12 of 17
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    [quote]Originally posted by Outsider:

    <strong>I know it's Fiction but the book Dune gives some interesting insight on religion in the future.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    That's why I love the book, Dune, and why I hate the movies.
  • Reply 13 of 17
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    Agriculture created surplus goods and a class of people responsible for dispensing, maintaining, holding and overseing the growing of the goods. These became the ruling classes and they employed various systems of anamistic beliefs as forms of scheduling and making sense and also of keeping order and their rule.



    Also, the whole notion of a community as needing to deal with its surplus energy and production fueled the belief structures and systems: they needed to ritualistically expend energy through sacrifices and offerings.



    But the these structures were also in place in hunting cultures just not landed and without the extreme division of labor which did not really allow for a class that did nothing but maintain the invisible order that we call religion.



    'Dealing' with the surplus energy is a necessary function of the organism. The organism holds the excess food production (energy) with a sense of anxiety and guilt--so say many anthropologists. Thus the rituals of sacrifice that establish rythm and order to their belief structures also serve to expiate the physical sense of guilt through the act of appeasement to the brute forces of nature.



    now, as for the question, when did religion go down hill?



    as Nietszche said: "the only true christian died on the cross"



    and Islam got bad when it fell upon muhammed to become religious



    Hinduism only recently began to become nationalistic and that is bad, otherwise it is a very well rounded cosmological-philosophical religion worth serious study (except that it, like all other religions denies the body and resents the passing of time)



    Buddhism is not bad (except that it, like all other religions denies the bodyand resents the passing of time) it is very worthy of study and consideration



    Judaism became bad when yahweh kicked all the other gods asses in the region and declared himself the only one . . .or, when the jews forgot to say that they got monotheism from Akhnaton . . . .



    all of the religions have very worthy mystical strains which run through them as well as simle faith qualities which are found to be immeasurably important to many people so to say they are all bad is too simplistic so take my statements for what their worth...
  • Reply 14 of 17
    thttht Posts: 3,036member
    <strong>Originally posted by Hassan i-Sabbah:

    but until 10,000 years ago it was practical and kind of cuddly.</strong>



    I don't know about practical and cuddly. I'm more apt to describe it as an aspect of communal behavior. The religion just changes and feeds back as the technology developments come along.



    <strong>Religion's a shark hopper because it's killing people and has been for thousands of years.</strong>



    That isn't my criteria for going downhill



    <strong>Hunting and gathering societies, historically, didn't and don't distinguish between the spiritual and the physical on a fundamental, day-to-day level. The 'spiritual' serves in a practical way to help people to survive in inhospitable environments. (This is a whole nother story too.)</strong>



    Well, yes agreed about the religious aspects of primitive mythology, but my variation on the theme is that primitive religions served as a way to bind the community together.



    <strong>(Even Hinduism's taking a turn for violent fundamentalism right now; Shinto and Buddhism still rule.)</strong>



    All oriental religions (just like their occidental counterparts) took their turns at being violent in the past, since at one time or another, they were used as instruments of conversion (ie binding a people to a State) in one empire or another. In China, Buddhists and Confucianists persecuted each other at certain points in history.



    <strong>shamanic and animist religions ... They're stable, productive and creative cultures. No bigotry, racism or even sense of nation at all. There's almost no fighting in these cultures because it's not 'economically' practical.</strong>



    I think I will have to do research on this. American Indians did not live in peace together. Amazonian tribes do not live in peace together. I don't think it's accurate to say that any of the primitive cultures known did not have, well you said almost, bigotry or racism. Within their group they were peaceful, but once outside, conflict arose.



    <strong>The impulse to religion is basically deep in us because for 90% of human history, to question it was impossible; there's no need to question something that keeps you alive. You don't have the luxury. It's a deep need that, after the invention of agriculture and the changes it brought, has been channelled into what we've had for centuries. Kinda screwed.</strong>



    It's just variations on a theme. Joseph Campbell would say masks of God The principle effect of religion is to bind people into a common set of behaviors, rituals and beliefs. It makes the group stronger and keeps the individual alive. To question that would involve making oneself vulnerable. In modern societies, the need for survival isn't as strong, so it becomes easier to question.



    <strong>Not really sure I answered you altogether, actually, just riding my hobby-horse again... er, by 'excuse' I should have said 'pretext' really (sorry) and yes, people certainly do believe themselves impelled to do terrible things.</strong>



    I don't know, you seem to subscribe to the noble savage idea, and I'm fairly sure it's not that accurate of an idea.
  • Reply 15 of 17
    Noble savage, no sir! I do believe that hunting and gathering cultures have very beautiful belief systems, though, and it's what happened when those imaginative resources were re-allocated after we invented farming that's got us in the mess we're in.



    Religion certainly does help to bind communities together. It's a useful thing to have developed in places where co-operation is essential.



    I'm not really up on hunters and gatherers in America, but I do know that the San people of central and southern Africa had complex rituals of sharing and gift-giving between 'bands' precisely designed to avoid conflict and to aid co-operation.



    Finally I don't think we can call these religions 'primitive' at all since they're every bit as sophisticated as any 'major' religion you care to point to. They're very complex and produce beautiful works of art and song (see rock paintings from Lascaux in France to south of Australia.)



    Tells me the stuff's to all intents and purposes hardwired, as much as the instinct to language, and every bit as useful... until you've got farming and out come the armies.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    thttht Posts: 3,036member
    <strong>Originally posted by Hassan i-Sabbah:

    Noble savage, no sir! I do believe that hunting and gathering cultures have very beautiful belief systems, though, and it's what happened when those imaginative resources were re-allocated after we invented farming that's got us in the mess we're in.</strong>



    Ok, that's why you think religion has jumped the shark. But to me, it merely has changed form because the technology, or more accurately the view of the "true" world, has changed. They are variations on a them. "Masks of God." How is John Edward different from a soothsayer? How are alien abductions and visitations any different from angels and succubi? The psychology is very much the same, but our understanding of the world certainly has changed, and people change their mythologies accordingly in a feedback loop.



    <strong>I'm not really up on hunters and gatherers in America, but I do know that the San people of central and southern Africa had complex rituals of sharing and gift-giving between 'bands' precisely designed to avoid conflict and to aid co-operation.</strong>



    So these "bands" are part of the San people or are they different people? How did the San people interact with other people?



    Btw, I was just recalling an interesting story about an Inuit shaman taking advantage of his status. Amero-Indians outside of the major civilizations had plenty of wars against each other. They weren't always peaceful people. They had a balance with the world around them, as opposed to humanity's current advantage, but I think that's more the fact they couldn't do much damage.



    Though there are theories that primitive peoples drove all the megafauna in the New World and Australia to extinction...



    <strong>Finally I don't think we can call these religions 'primitive' at all since they're every bit as sophisticated as any 'major' religion you care to point to.</strong>



    Primitive mythology. The term typically denotes the mythology (religion) of primitive cultures like Hunter-Gatherer societies.



    <strong>They're very complex and produce beautiful works of art and song (see rock paintings from Lascaux in France to south of Australia.)</strong>



    Yes, they are very complex and beautiful, and even haunting. They are also capable of being mean and nasty. Shamans are supposed to be the exemplars of the society, but they are humans after all. They are capable of jealousy and deceit like any other person. As I recall, bear cults of western Siberia drove another bear cult of caucasion people, the Ainu, into Northern Japan... but my memory is failing me here.



    Not to mention some of the, er..., "feminization" rituals for males in Australian aboriginies. But hey, it's their reality, they have no problem with it.



    <strong>Tells me the stuff's to all intents and purposes hardwired, as much as the instinct to language, and every bit as useful... until you've got farming and out come the armies.</strong>



    Maybe. But consider this, my variation. We have an innate ability to associate meanings to symbols and sounds. Yes? But do we have an innate ability to put them in a logical framework? Ie, rationalism. No. Language and communal living gives us all the evolutionary advantages we need. There isn't a need for us to understand a + b = c. It has to be taught and applied rather vigorously.



    So religion is a byproduct of humanity's inability to be logical or rational, not necessarily that religion is a genetic tendency. This is how for each and every culture over the span of years there can arise thousands of different mythologies, and will continue for a long time.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    What I mean about Dune is the fabrication of Religion. There are 9 books in the series. In the books it references the Bene Geserite and how they have been inventing religions for the people of planets for 10,000 years. They take one basic idea (the Messianic saviour) and modify it to suit a specific people. If you go by just the movie you miss the whole point. Interesting books.
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