The Decay of Religion

Doyle Saylor djsaylor at
Sun Dec 24 07:35:56 MST 2000

Grrrreetings Comrades,
    Chris writes back in an interesting way to me, which I will use in my
sermon about Marxism below,

    Jose made a great point that "Until this [social] alienation is ended
and complete social transparency established, the idea that you're going to
do away with unscientific, irrational beliefs simply by preaching against
them is, quite simply, un Marxist."

Let me go to the front of our congregation here and speak with a deep voice
of my faith in Marxism...Ahem brethren Marxist...Giggle.

    I do notice that religion is not as important as it once was, and not
all who consider themselves members of a Christian religion attend church.
But from my experience, they are still unwilling to give up these beliefs,
no matter how watered down.  Is this the decay you are making reference to?
If yes, then I do agree that religion is decaying, but I have taken the
decaying of religion to mean a substantial loss of believers.

The primary way I understand this is to look at these things as Marx might
have, as labor processes that people do in order to reproduce themselves.
I'm not sure exactly what Jose is referring to when he talks about
alienation, since that is a philosophical concept not directly linked to
brain structures at this time.  Much of what we do with consciousness has
been shrouded in mystery.  So if one looks at various major religions such
as Buddhism one sees how much experimentation they did with meditation for
example that looks like primitive explorations of the conscious brain.
There are very silly concepts in the Buddhist practice, like the meditative
practice of stopping the talking in the mind as a part of the relaxation and
approach to Buddha consciousness.  Since they don't know what talking does
in the mind, don't know what the interior of the mind is really like they
assert things that in most senses of knowing the brain doesn't seem very
useful way of understanding what the brain is doing when one hears a voice
inside there talking.

Christianity focused upon Morality as a means to unify the church.  This
seems to me an outcome of using writing as principle means of organizing the
church (from very early bible epistles, letters from the church "Fathers",
to the doctrinal issues of the dogmas of the church, during the height of
their power in the feudal states).  Writing is a kind of brainwork.  It has
limitations with regard to carrying emotional information.  Christian moral
systems have a great deal of trouble with dealing with immoral behavior,
whether it is drinking, sex, or various other sins that directly relates to
how emotions work in human beings.

Marxist can understand and embrace a materialist point of view, and use how
computing goes in directions that enable us to re-organize human social
connectiveness materially through computing.  Jose recently was posting how
Cuba is moving toward a computer based work environment.

Where you write about beliefs above, I tend to view those as a combination
of how the human body processes emotions, and how body motion is involved in
cognition.  In a crude way, when one participates in political activity,
works on union organizing as an example, that body motion contributes a
great deal to how we feel we are a part of something.  The emotional
structure to that does not readily respond to "rational" talk very well,
since the brain structures for language is in specific neo-cortex sites, and
emotions are regulated in different structures of the brain.  Roughly like
wondering why hearing is not affected by sight.  Many workers don't spend a
lot of time analyzing why they do something, they just feel that is the
right thing to do.  This jibes well with how we understand how neural
networks function.  And this points directly at how to understand what
beliefs really are, and how to understand that as a labor process.

I've written in the past about this subject, in the basic research in
computing at places like MIT, they are trying to make practical "affective"
computing.  That is computing that records and makes transparent human
emotion.  This means that we can use our communication devices in a powerful
way to enhance how we feel about how we connect to other people.  The phrase
"conversational computing" indicates that the focus of electronic business
is toward the social structure of human communication.  These will overwhelm
the primitive labor processes of religion which tries to guess at how the
brain works.

Socialist states are better situated to utilize these tools than is the
capitalist state.  A socialist state concerns itself with the strength and
power of the whole social network of human beings.  The capitalist must for
reasons of profit create class divisions which weaken the social network of
the system.  Brainwork in movies and video games, on the internet, are where
we need to think about how we can use the tools for our benefit.  Lenin
recognized early on that movies were a powerful tool of creating mass
support for the Soviets.  We are at the brink of the same in regard to the
ground in which religion arises, as you remark above in how beliefs are
Doyle Saylor

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