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One of my undergrad professors told us about sociology's view of god.… - 296.32 [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[Jun. 18th, 2015|08:57 pm]
One of my undergrad professors told us about sociology's view of god. Someone recently told me this narrative has been empirically supported quite a bit. I mean, great. But I have lots of doubts about the social sciences. Not that they don't provide knowledge, but I'm not sure it can quite be considered rigorous scientific knowledge at this point in our history, and sociology's history. I digress, as per the usu.

When societies are pre-writing, pre-modern, pre-agriculture, their gods are found in nature. They're personal and close to people. Thunder gods and rain gods and sun gods and fertility gods. They live among communities. Present and part of all everyday activities, gods are life and life made up of gods. No one has any knowledge, so the gods take the place of knowledge.

Farming happens! Boom! Gods move a little further away. They're less permeating. They might be ancestors. The old gods are there, maybe, but on a different plane. Somewhere outside of humanity.

Communities aggregate. It's a city-state now. Gods are the domain of the elite. The elite rule because they are 'chosen.' (Or they had some luck and passed it on to their kids.) There's a hierarchy, and the better people have more access to the divine. It's not for the common people, except to submit.

This happens for a long time.

Nations form, differentiation happens. Guilds, artisans, organized religion. Bureaucracy. Writing! God is told through the learned. Their whims, their needs. God is further than ever. What's unknown? Still the afterlife. It's mediated now, and mediated by economic pressures.

Some people invent stuff! They think that maybe this god stuff is a tool of control. There are deeper questions, of course. If there's a being that has all power, all goodness, eternality, etc., then what follows? Is it necessary that is the case that such a being exists? There must be some 'most powerful being in the universe,' just by virtue of the fact that the universe exists and one thing must be the most powerful. Does it follow that that being is god? But that's not how it works for the populace.

Instead, industrialization magic shunts people into mechanized jobs. More urban, less rural. God is depersonalized. Far away from you, from your experience. The unexplained is in the heavens.

God is the unexplained. It's there to take away the fear, the unknown. Give safety and stability. Answer unanswerable questions. Quell people when they don't understand why everything is so fucking bad all the time.

Individual people believe, or don't. They're sincere or cynical, pious or exploitative. But the larger trend holds. The more people group together into social stratifications, the further away god moves. The more abstract of a concept it gets.

So what don't we know now? A lot, really. Most everything. But it doesn't feel that way. It feels like we have cell theory and quarks and 3D printers and long lives. But it's a slice of a slice of a slice of a slice of what's out there. There will always be the unknown, probably.

I mean, you can imagine some end state, and I do, often, wherein we've augmented ourselves and our capabilities so much that we just are the fucking universe, and we know the position of every particle, and we understand all perspectives that there are to understand, and we punch through to every universe bubble that's ever possible, infinitely, but that reality isn't likely to happen, even if it's possible. Possible possible possible. If everything is possible there is no such thing as possibility. Gah.

I guess I don't believe in indeterminacy, at least theoretically. Hmm.

We still don't understand what happens after death, I guess. Even if it's nothingness, which it most likely is. Can you understand nothingness while currently existing?

Jesus fucking christ. I mean, spaghetti fucking monster. I want to escape freshman year pot theorizing but I just fucking can't. I'm a goddamn philosopher, maybe. And they want to pretend they are caring about minute details of some damn nitpicky argument or other, but they care about this shit. What does it all mean, man? Like, we're all some dream of a butterfly. And the butterfly is god. Chaos!

God in society today is like a wall against the other shit I talked about in my last post. Something that goes between the believer and the massive deluge of motherfucking horror that is humanity. Except sometimes the religion is the horror.

People denying science, and just plain evidence in front of their goddamn fucking noses. THINGS SHOULD BE THIS WAY! AND I WILL PRETEND FOREVER THAT THEY ARE! Why? This I don't get, no matter how much I read and think. You grew up in an environment, okay. Maybe I can't understand what that means. If I'd been told by my personal community and parents and siblings that I am shameful just because I'm a woman and have breasts and a vagina. I mean, I'm told that more subtly. But I can see the difference. I think.

There's the lady that's been in the news like whoa. Who pretended to be black. Who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian community. So, she could be opportunistic. Or mentally disturbed. Or a product of her environment. Or all of it and more.

So if we had the end state, we'd need her perspective, plus all of the people who are so fascinated by her, plus the 24 hour media cycle that should be focusing on actual news. Whatever actual news is.

But she hated her identity so much that she felt she needed to change it, for whatever reason. Her god growing up told her she was worthless. It was her community's god. What was her community's god? Far away? Does it fit in with all of the empirical 'evidence' from sociology? I'm not sure I can see what's happening in my own current context from a real sociological lens, even if I try real hard.

We don't know why we're so terrible, so maybe there's that. We want to be better, in some ways. Some people do. Some people have inched their way out of their ape brains and have asked what it would mean to care about better things. But we can't figure out why we are so stuck. And that's our god. The confusing fucking quagmire that is our ability to be fucking awful. And care about stupid shit. And the part that is unable to fix damn near any of it.

[User Picture]From: shady_lamarr
2015-06-19 02:47 am (UTC)
This is a fantastic essay.type thing.
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