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There's really only been one social institution that's been able to get people to work hard on changes/solutions that they'll never see come about: religion.

That leaves us with two real choices:

• We figure out what it is about religion that has managed to do this, and try to replicate it in a non-religious arena -- something that political and military institutions have been trying to do for a very long time, without much success.
• We try to embed sustainability/innovation/foresight discourse into existing religious institutions. A lot of us secular humanist types are going to be awfully uncomfortable with that.

The latter will happen without much intervention on our part post-disaster, but I'd rather not take that course.

So the big question, then, is how we can reverse-engineer religion such that we can make use of the persuasive aspects without having to bring over the mythical aspects...


One thing religion promises is, in effect, radical life extension. Rather than playing up transhuman themes, bring up the developments in stem cell research and telomere lengthening and other prospects for living a very long time right here on this Earth. I was born in 1971, and based on family and historical trends in lifespan and available climate information, I shouldn’t worry about rising sea levels becoming a problem for me during my lifetime (since I live comfortably above even the predicted storm surges for 2100). But technology is changing at a rapid pace, and I think there’s a non-negligible chance I might be healthy and active by then even without a Singularity occurring. So even on a purely selfish motivation, I would like to not mess up the only planet I can afford to live on.

While I don’t have any kids of my own, I consider my friends’ children to be honorary nieces and nephews. Another of my motivations is having a good answer for them when they’re of an age to understand what’s going wrong in the world and they come to me with a history book in hand and say “What the hell were you doing?!?” I want to be able to convince them that a lot of us did our best, even if it wasn’t enough.

You got the big question wrong. The mythological aspects of religion ARE the persuasive parts. The problem isn't that there's too much mythos in our logos.. the problem is that there's too much logos in our mythos. Religious fundamentalism comes about because they confuse the mythos of science with its application. This is a very modern problem.

Fundamentalism is the lynchpin to many of the biggest threats to our global security.. and terrorism is the absolute least of them.

We need to understand the nature of fundamentalism in relation to the mythos of our modern world in order to identify what to do about it.

There's only one option available to us and it's some synthesis of the two you've outlined.

DO you know krishnamurti ?

Read his books !

Well : i may say he ideas are not allways perfect but this is a beginning

Moreover, the problem of religion is religion

all we need is cousciousness, knowledge about our own psychic process, and : accepting the duty over other people, and the society , and even accepting other form of life and thinking

for a peacefull society

ZEN good life

The term "religion" is western-shaped... I'd re-examine it.

For example, beneath the religious practice and the philosophical heavyweight, I consider buddhism to be a subjective science, employing rigorous methodology in the exploration of subjective experience.

It may be wise for us westerners to be humble in this regard, and appreciate that other cultures already have the solutions. We may need to unlearn.

If you manage to reverse-engineer it, you may not want to adopt it. I suspect a lot of strength of religion is due to the fact that they are rather closed, homogeneous group. It is comfortable to live a in such group where everyone is alike and support is easy to find. But I think homogeneity is anti-thesis to liberal thinking. Even if they are doing the right thing, they are likely to overdo it and dogmatize it (e.g. pro-life).

Have you started cutting the miracles out of the Gospels yet? Seriously, Jefferson was onto this problem two centuries ago.

There's a special irony to Christian fundamentalism: Jesus' key ethical innovation is the injunction to love thy neighbor as thyself -- and then to underline this point with the parable of the Good Samaritan. "Thy neighbor" means the Scary Other, not your frat brother. Put simply, Jesus core message was: "don't be tribal". But his most dedicated followers (if not listeners) are fundamentalists who behave very, very tribally.

Turns out people are really good at tribal loyalty. Cosmopolitan Perspective, not so much.

Probably you have already read Dennett's Breaking the Spell?

To tackle your first bullet point, I might narrow the focus to look at the social organization of cults specifically, to see if there's a template that can be replicated. (Looking at the actual belief systems of enduring world religions also seems like a worthy place to start, but too big of a fish for me to fry.)

I've long been a fan of Douglas Atkin's "The Culting of Brands" which I think has many useful insights and an inclusive, value-neutral definition of "cults."

I put together some proto-thoughts on this topic a while ago at http://www.thenext-us.com/2010/05/networks-communities-tribes-cults/ .

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