Anarchism and spiritual/religious beliefs

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3rdseason
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Jan 28 2004 18:14
Anarchism and spiritual/religious beliefs

A few questions here that I'd be interested to hear peoples opinions on...

Does anarchism go hand in hand with atheism?

...Or does it make a distinction between organised religion that has hierarchy and other forms of spiritual belief?

...If anarchism=atheism in your opinion then is that enforced atheism somehow or merely trying to encourage atheism? In what way is encouraging atheism any better/worse/different to encouraging any other spiritual belief/disbelief?

I considered adding a poll but really I think that would simplify the issue/debate too much. 8)

blackmasks
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Jan 28 2004 18:24

in peter marshals "demanding the impossible, a history of anarchism" he goes into quite a lot of detail about christian anarchists, and about taoism, and some more but i cant remember.

I'd advise giving it a read. smile

blackmasks
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Jan 28 2004 18:26

Also, my personal view is that, although most anarchists are atheists, its not a requirement. I think you can belive in a non-world heirarchy, without enforcing it on others..

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Pilchardman
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Feb 5 2004 10:32

Nah, it isn't an actual necessity. Although it'd be hard to provide a coherently anarchist theism (as Marshall's own book "Riding the Wind" inadvertantly demonstrates).

Steve
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Feb 5 2004 11:15

There is a difference between organised religion and a spiritual belief. I'm well aquainted with a pagan anarchist witch. She says she's patriachy's worst nightmare.

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Pilchardman
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Feb 5 2004 11:25

Yeah, there is. and Pilchardwoman is quite interested in paganism. But I wonder how much you are still abdicating individual autonomy, if you are placating spirits or whatever.

phoebe
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Feb 5 2004 12:43

i'm a pagan. I think because of the necessity of recognising most of the stuff that's written about it as fairly subjective (even stuff written about actual pagan religious beliefs that was written a long time ago tends to be a bit romantic, with a lot of poetic license taken) and the general vagueness of the term "paganism" itself, it'd be generally possible in my belief to be pagan and libertarian at the same time. My personal spirituality doesn't revolve around placating angry spirits in any way shape or form. I won't go into too much detail about my beliefs because I guess they're just things that have occured to me that I've come to believe in I guess, but I don't think there's any way that paganism necessarily abdicates individual autonomy. My experience of it definitely doesn't.

(i would say however that there are some funny views amongst some pagans about men and women and animal rights and what's "natural" which seem to reflect a need to spiritualise socialised oppression more than anything which does bother me, but those beliefs are particular to certain pagans and exist in a lot of religions also, and as such are probably a reflection of society more than of spiritual thought)

in any case, even if one views spirituality in the same light as superstitions it'd be unlibertarian to try to remove them, and people can only really be held accountable for their actions, not their beliefs.

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Pilchardman
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Feb 5 2004 15:42
phoebe wrote:
in any case, even if one views spirituality in the same light as superstitions it'd be unlibertarian to try to remove them, and people can only really be held accountable for their actions, not their beliefs.

Absolutely. I'd be extremely wary of anyone who suggested otherwise. I'm just not sure how easy it is to remove the authoritarianisms in religiousness, and therefore square it with anarchism.

WeTheYouth
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Feb 5 2004 16:52

Im dubious or organised religion, i believe in that to be something we have to tear down aswell, as it is an oppressive tool of the state.

humans should choose what they what or who they want to worship when it comes to spiritual beleifs as individual humans, therefore spiritual beleifs should not affect anarchism

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Pilchardman
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Feb 5 2004 17:43
WeTheYouth wrote:
humans should choose what they what or who they want to worship when it comes to spiritual beleifs as individual humans, therefore spiritual beleifs should not affect anarchism

But "worship" suggests a superior being. I don't accept any superior authority, natural or supernatural.

WeTheYouth
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Feb 5 2004 21:29
Pilchardman wrote:
WeTheYouth wrote:
humans should choose what they what or who they want to worship when it comes to spiritual beleifs as individual humans, therefore spiritual beleifs should not affect anarchism

But "worship" suggests a superior being. I don't accept any superior authority, natural or supernatural.

Thats you as an individual, and i beleive exactly what you wish, but telling another human they cannotworship is wrong, every human should makethere own decision when it comes to religion.

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Pilchardman
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Feb 5 2004 22:44

That's right, it is me. I didn't say people can't worship. They can do what they like.

But if they're worshipping, they're accepting a higher authority. I'm not sure how they square that with anarchism.

LiveFastDiarrea
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Feb 6 2004 00:19

I dont think you can say there is a god who is superior to everyone else but still be an anarchist. I think you can believe in god, if god is no better or worse than you, which to my knowledge happens in no religion, but other than that you are submitting yourself to an aurthority be that a good or bad authority.

phoebe
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Feb 6 2004 08:37

i think to a certain degree faith necessarily overrides politics if you've got it. If you believe in things which lead you to hurt other people though then they've got every right to kick the shit outta you for it. I see anarchism as referring society and not spirituality, although in my personal spirituality I don't worship anything/one/whatever. Believing that there's some cosmic super-being or something doesn't really seem unanarchistic because the cosmic of such a being existing seems so abstracted from the physical world we live in to me anyway.

knightrose
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Feb 6 2004 12:52

I go along with those who doubt whether you can be religious an and anarchist. It seems to me that religions always deny that human beings are responsible for their own destiny. They also seem to insist that there is some immutable human nature, whereas we would surely say that human behaviour is infinitely adaptable, which makes a world based on co-operation and mutual aid possible.

However, I'm not sure whether the arrival of anarhcism would see the end of religion. It would probably wither a bit, but it seems quite possible that it would continue as long as people are uncertain as to their place in the universe (which would probably mean forever!).

JackofKats
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Feb 7 2004 11:30

In my opinion:

Atheism is still a belief, and many people who hold this belief have a stronger "faith" in this belief than many Religious Believers.

Anarchy for me is about total personal choice and freedom within society to make that choice; Religion from the same personal perspective is about your personal relationship with "the beyond" and thus I think that anarchists can be Christians or Atheists.

The problem with Religion at the moment, is that it was a great idea on paper (but just like communism) turned out in practice to be rubbish, mainly because mass Religion subscribes to the same feral power systems that infect our entire society. Organised Religion seems to be against personal choice and pushes for a mass induced hallucinatory relationship with nasty father, naturally Anarchy is against this.

Keep on Truckin

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Feb 7 2004 11:39
JackofKats wrote:
In my opinion:

Atheism is still a belief, and many people who hold this belief have a stronger "faith" in this belief than many Religious Believers.

It is, but it is a belief based on stronger logic than religious belief.

There is no evidence for a supreme being. We have therefore to assume there is not one, as we do for unicorns, yettis and Loch Ness Monsters. When evidence is presented on all these assumed myths, I will revise my opinion.

3rdseason
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Feb 7 2004 12:56
Pilchardman wrote:

There is no evidence for a supreme being. We have therefore to assume there is not one, as we do for unicorns, yettis and Loch Ness Monsters. When evidence is presented on all these assumed myths, I will revise my opinion.

Why do we have to assume this? There is no way you can conclusively disprove a "supreme being" so let people make up their own minds.

The way I see it the universe must have started with either a living being or something wihout consiousness.

Anyway Im all for the view which says if someones beliefs help them though life it doesnt really matter if those beliefs are objectively true or not.

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Pilchardman
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Feb 7 2004 14:40
3rdseason wrote:
Pilchardman wrote:

There is no evidence for a supreme being. We have therefore to assume there is not one, as we do for unicorns, yettis and Loch Ness Monsters. When evidence is presented on all these assumed myths, I will revise my opinion.

Why do we have to assume this? There is no way you can conclusively disprove a "supreme being" so let people make up their own minds.

Because it isn't scientific to disprove anything. We can only say whether there is currently evidence for a proposition. So, just as we assume that lack of evidence for unicorns means lack of unicorns, so we must assume that lack of evidence for a supreme being means lack ofa supreme being. This isn't being closed-minded, because you are allowing for the production of new evidence. But in the absense of that, the assumption must stand.

AlexA
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Feb 7 2004 20:02
3rdseason wrote:
Anyway Im all for the view which says if someones beliefs help them though life it doesnt really matter if those beliefs are objectively true or not.

Er, well some people are complete loners who can't talk to anyone or are miserable until the get involved with a fascist group. Or some people are unhappy till they join a religious cult and give all their worldly possessions (and sexual favours) to the leader.

And I know that you won't agree with either of these situations so I'm not sure you really believe the above.

And as for the "universe must have started with either a living being or something wihout consiousness", why do you think that? Everything is basically constituted of energy in one form or another - and energy appears and disappears out of nowhere constantly - why couldn't the universe be one of those random fluctuations?

brizzul
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Feb 8 2004 01:46

Jackofkats:

>Anarchy for me is about total personal choice and freedom within >society to make that choice

If one of us is a slave we are all a slave, if one of us is injured we are all injured. You don't have the right to enslave yourself through personal choice. Your freedom should be guaranteed only through the solidarity of your neighbours and through your solidarity you guarantee his or hers. Therefore anarchist freedom is social and not about doing whatever you want whenever you feel like it regardless.

You can either see religious behaviour as slave behaviour or see it as a private matter for behind closed doors that doesn't affect your neighbours. I couldn't care less whether you are religious or not, I'm only interested if you are prepared to offer solidarity generally. Either way it can't be merged as a positive force into anarchist thought because it can't be used to liberate people from the state and capitalism. Some argue *all* religion upholds the state.

For those primitivists amongst us you might be interested that many surviving hunting and gathering elements don't have religion, god or spirits but do have ceremonial behaviour. Religion and god isn't natural behaviour for human beings

It might be an interesting topic for discussion, though, but why on a forum like this?

phoebe
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Feb 8 2004 10:05
Pilchardman wrote:
3rdseason wrote:
Pilchardman wrote:

There is no evidence for a supreme being. We have therefore to assume there is not one, as we do for unicorns, yettis and Loch Ness Monsters. When evidence is presented on all these assumed myths, I will revise my opinion.

Why do we have to assume this? There is no way you can conclusively disprove a "supreme being" so let people make up their own minds.

Because it isn't scientific to disprove anything.

Heh, as a physics student I think I can safely assure you that at least 50% of science is disproving notions which are flawed or entirely false. That's where most developments in science come from. Disproving something and then figuring out why it can't be proved.

"God" (or whatever one's personal image of a real or imaginary deity is) is pretty much a philosophical construct until there's any proof/disproof.

Also to whoever said something about people needing to join fascist groups and cults, um, well, having some form of spirituality doesn't require that kind of subservience to a pre-existing social body and therefore remains none of anyone's business to criticise outside of philosophical debate on the existance of "God" until the point where a specific case involves subservience to and/or abuse by a pre-existing social body (churches, fash groups, cults, or whatever)

Phoebe

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Pilchardman
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Feb 8 2004 10:38
phoebe wrote:
a physics student I think I can safely assure you that at least 50% of science is disproving notions which are flawed or entirely false. That's where most developments in science come from. Disproving something and then figuring out why it can't be proved.

But how does "falsifiability" work? You put forward a hypothesis, and then either the evidence supports or does not support the hypotheses. On the basis of that you can say the hypothesis is not proved.

So, there is a hypothesis that god exists. Where is the testable evidence to support that? There isn't any. Just as there isn't any to support the existence of unicorns. We can't prove that they don't exist, but since we have no evidence to support the existence hypothesis, we must assume non existence.

Unless, that is, you want to entertain the possibility of the existence of all sorts of mythical beings from faeries to goblins for which there is no evidence, simply because you can't prove they don't exist.

That's how it works.

phoebe
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Feb 9 2004 11:24

but because I'm not interested in proving to anyone that the world works like I think it does in the context of my personal spirituality, I don't really have to prove it. Which is why I said that essentially god (or non-god if one doesn't exist) is entirely an issue of philosophy when it comes to a social context rather than a personal one and the only point in challenging anyone's faith is if it negatively impacts society.

Kalashnikov_Blues
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Feb 9 2004 12:25

I think you guys are using the words "religion" and "spirituality" interchangably.

And in my view they are seperate things, or at least have different implications.

I'm not religious, i.e. associated with a church or observe a higher authority (directly).

Sometimes I am atheist sometimes I am agnostic. At the end of the day (as someone else pointed out) to have faith in god is the same as having faith that there is no god. Big G or little g...

Fact is, the only thing I am positive about is that I don't know.

I don't see how my belief in, say ghosts, threatens or stands at odds with my political beliefs.

Though some would say that in order to believe in ghosts you need to believe that theres a heaven, hell or limbo... not really the case, but whatever.

I think it comes down to people needing a reason to exist, understanding the whole point of our seemingly pointless existance. For many, they use god. Religion or religonus beliefs are integral. Many aspects of Religous Ceremony were used by both Hitler and Stalin to manipulate their followers. As both saw the controlling powers and natural human need for that. Fill that void, you can do away with the church and substitue something else for it.

I think I'm having a different conversation with myself at this point... sorry, a bit hungover.... confused

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Pilchardman
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Feb 9 2004 16:16
phoebe wrote:
but because I'm not interested in proving to anyone that the world works like I think it does in the context of my personal spirituality, I don't really have to prove it. Which is why I said that essentially god (or non-god if one doesn't exist) is entirely an issue of philosophy when it comes to a social context rather than a personal one and the only point in challenging anyone's faith is if it negatively impacts society.

No, you don't have to prove anything. Your beliefs are entirely a matter for yourself. The only thing I'd say is that any belief in a superior being is something I find difficult to square with anarchism, unless, of course, that belief is so abstract as not to refer to a reality.

On KB's point about religion and spirituality, I think the terms are used interchangably, but need not be. I agree that spiritual need not refer to anything supernatural, but could describe the awe one feels towards nature or natural beauty, for example.

I think aetheism is more rational than religion, but I certainly don't demand that rationality of anyone else; that's my business.

phoebe
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Feb 9 2004 17:30

I think part of how I feel is that even if you believe that there is some greater being (which I kinda do kinda don't, not in an agnostic way but in a "explaining this is kinda weird" way) that doesn't really cause that much of an issue. Thought experiment: if tomorrow we were to find that there was some insanely superior being had created the universe, would it then be a) denial or b) impossible to be an anarchist under your beliefs? Essentially I think that if a god (in the deity sense not in the amorphous non-entity sense my personal spirituality sees things) is proven to exist, I'd still like to be able to consider myself a libertarian. I'd also say that if such a personified deity exists they're probably a bit ambivalent about what we're doing down here (or it'd seem that way) anyway so I'm sure there'd not be much interest for it to try and stop me being a libertarian.

All that I'm saying is that one can hold spiritual views without them impinging on ones ability to be, describe one's self as and act as an anarchist. If your deity tells you that people of colour are scum and you should kill every one of them, then you're probably not an anarchist anymore cause god told you not to be one. Therefore, i'm just saying again that the only thing you can be judged on is your political views and actions, and outside of that your faith is irrelevant to where you stand politically.

I don't find atheism or religion that rational because they're both based on things which are impossible to prove.

knightrose
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Feb 9 2004 21:19
phoebe wrote:

I don't find atheism or religion that rational because they're both based on things which are impossible to prove.

Except, of course, that it's not up to me to disprove the existence of something that nobody can prove exists! tongue

GenerationDecay
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Feb 11 2004 02:43

Cool thread.

Firstly, on anarchism and spirituality. If we are talking about the right of individuals to hold their own beliefs, then there is no problem, as long as these beliefs do not come in the way of struggling against the reality of our situation. However, I think that any form of spirituality is ultimately counter-productive, its a crutch in the same way that christianity is a crutch, and we cannot rely on it to bring about change in society. Its defunct, useless, serves no purpose.

Secondly, on atheism being a 'faith'. This is incorrect. The nature of faith is that it is unscientific, illogical, cannot be falsified. Atheism is none of these three, so it is not a faith. If I saw evidence for ANYTHING other than the material reality, that could safely be incorperated into atheist thought, and the belief altered accordingly. The same cannot be said for faith. Its the whole 'evolution is the same as creationism because neither can be totally proved' fallacy. The nature of evidence that evolutionists rely on is wholly different from what creationists rely on, ditto the nature of evidence that atheists rely on is wholly different from those believing in spirituality rely on, thats if spiritualists actually want any 'evidence at all.

Phoebe...

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but because I'm not interested in proving to anyone that the world works like I think it does in the context of my personal spirituality, I don't really have to prove it.

Then why do you believe it? Why not share the evidence for it? If you have none, then you can't compare it to atheism. Atheism does not seek to prove that no god exists, or no spirituality exists, it merely debases all unfounded spiritual or religious beliefs.

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Thought experiment: if tomorrow we were to find that there was some insanely superior being had created the universe, would it then be a) denial or b) impossible to be an anarchist under your beliefs?

Neither. How about c) "If God existed, it would be necessary to kill him" (Bakunin)

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I don't find atheism or religion that rational because they're both based on things which are impossible to prove.

So is a lot of science. But its based on realistic interpretations of evidence. Also, as atheism doesn't seek to prove anything, the comparison doesn't work.

GDxx

phoebe
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Feb 11 2004 09:56
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Then why do you believe it? Why not share the evidence for it? If you have none, then you can't compare it to atheism. Atheism does not seek to prove that no god exists, or no spirituality exists, it merely debases all unfounded spiritual or religious beliefs.

um, because I'm weird like that. The evidence is personal experience and as that is therefore entirely anecdotal I don't think it translates at all well into proof for others. Apart from that I don't believe that having my beliefs or not really changes anyone's lives as essentially the correctness of my spirituality (the specifics of which I don't want to get too much into) doesn't really make any difference to the way people live their lives, even if other people believe in it.

I'd say that atheism as opposed to agnosticism is a faith of sorts as it says that nothing exists beyond that which the atheist has already experienced. It goes beyond apathy about any such thing as a "god" (which I use as a very very vague term) existing and accepting that one has no knowledge or expereince that such an entity exists and jumps to the conclusion that no such thing exists, which seems to be a point of faith. In comparison, good scientists tend to be fairly agnostic about their interpretation of the evidence thus far.

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Neither. How about c) "If God existed, it would be necessary to kill him" (Bakunin)

And you'd go about that... how? And why would it be necessary?

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So is a lot of science. But its based on realistic interpretations of evidence. Also, as atheism doesn't seek to prove anything, the comparison doesn't work.

I guess so. I don't seek to prove my faith though so I think there's a good comparison between that and atheism. I don't even understand why anyone would be nosy enough to care that I've got a set of spiritual beliefs.

Phoebe

AlexA
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Feb 11 2004 10:37
phoebe wrote:
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Neither. How about c) "If God existed, it would be necessary to kill him" (Bakunin)

And you'd go about that... how?

With a big big gun black bloc