Religion: Bound to Believe
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27-11-2013, 11:57 AM (This post was last modified: 27-11-2013 12:06 PM by ghostexorcist.)
Religion: Bound to Believe
Here is an interesting article on religion by a cognitive anthropologist. What are your thoughts?

http://artsci.wustl.edu/~pboyer/PBoyerHo...nEssay.pdf

I found the author's connection between obsessive-compulsive disorder and religious rituals to be interesting. You often hear someone described as constantly repeating an action, such as cleaning their house, as doing it “religiously.” Endlessly performing the same religious ritual, such as the Eucharist every weekend, is no different. Repeated actions seem to gain a certain authenticity, and the more you do it the more you gain an emotional attachment to it, reinforcing the action more. It’s interesting that cleansing is such an obsessive ritual of religion. Whether it’s the partitioning of dead bodies from living quarters or the temporary exile of a menstruating woman, the need to separate the body from filth is powerful. I’ve read about similar behavior in chimpanzees who come into contact with individuals from neighboring communities. The area of the body touched (read: infected) is immediately cleansed by the obsessive rubbing of a handful of leaves. Therefore, xenophobia of real or imagined impurity seems to be a driving force behind such ritualized cleansing.
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27-11-2013, 12:29 PM
RE: Religion: Bound to Believe
Interesting.

I wonder if this kind of repetition or ritual behavior is simply so ingrained into our neuro-pathways that we have also adapted to accept it? We might accept it as a, "It's non-threatening so it's ok." kind of thing and so we tell ourselves it's "a cultural thing". I think there is a difference between the behavior and the acceptance of the behavior. Can one be used to control the other? I say it can but only if both are recognized and similarly diffused.

Observing obsessive compulsive behavior in a couple of friends ... I've noticed that it's almost like their brain has the hiccups and it just won't stop. It's like stuttering - something particular triggers it and there are little tricks one can do to overtake or override the compulsion. The compulsive need might still be there... but it's controlled.

I only skimmed the article but I want to come back to it when I've read thoroughly. Shy

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27-11-2013, 12:39 PM
RE: Religion: Bound to Believe
Doesn't have to be compulsive either.

Every morning you get up and do - what? I bet it's pretty much the same every day.

For a lot of people eating is a ritual, smoking, drinking a certain drink at a certain time and... and....

We like patterns. If we don't see any, we invent some.

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27-11-2013, 12:51 PM
RE: Religion: Bound to Believe
(27-11-2013 12:39 PM)Dom Wrote:  Doesn't have to be compulsive either.

Every morning you get up and do - what? I bet it's pretty much the same every day.

For a lot of people eating is a ritual, smoking, drinking a certain drink at a certain time and... and....

We like patterns. If we don't see any, we invent some.

Well put; but I think the difference is the level of emotional attachment. Eating cereal every morning may be a part of your schedule, but you may not be as invested in it as you would something like a religious ritual. Ritual is just one of the things the author mentions in the article. He wrote a book on the subject back in 2001 entitled Religion Explained (2001). I'm thinking about getting it.
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27-11-2013, 01:32 PM
RE: Religion: Bound to Believe
Now..what about rituals and habits? What's exactly the difference? I think habits are more automatic sometimes you're not even aware of what you do. They do take effort to break them, rituals are very deliberate things though. Usually some guide from some text you follow or its just the way it's done or tradition.

"I don't have to have faith, I have experience." Joseph Campbell
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28-11-2013, 01:11 AM
RE: Religion: Bound to Believe
That's one of the main reasons for the rituals in Catholicism. The church uses rituals because rituals seem to be part of human nature.

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