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Religion And Authority - Religion - Nairaland

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Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 8:39am On Mar 02, 2009
Is there a basic human need to rely on certain authorities whereby they can suspend all critical thinking and simply get spoon fed?

In one of Dawkins books he argues that there is an evolutionary advantage in trusting authorities and suspending our own critical faculties. The evolutionary advantage comes from the fact that children need to trust and accept what their parents tell them in early life in order to survive.

I often wonder how, in the finance world, people can give large sums of money to someone like Bernard Maddoff without questioning how he intends to invest it. Apparently when questioned about it, he would start talking some complicated jargon and people would assume that he was on to something but that something was just too complicated for them to understand.

It seems in this world if you want to convince people you don't really need to talk sense, all you need to do is talk authoritatively.

Dawkins says that this tendency to yield to authority is part of what allows religions to be so successful. However I wonder, presuming that he is right, whether it is fair to stop at religion. In every aspect of our lives whether from the way we organise our finances, to the ways in which we vote and the various beliefs and ideologies that we uphold, are we prone to acquiescing in the face of authorities whether or not the authority deserves merit.
Re: Religion And Authority by NegroNtns(m): 1:16am On Mar 03, 2009
Pastor,

I enjoy reading your posts, very informative and mind provoking. The Madoff trust did not start with Madoff. I am glad mention is made in this article about childhood trust. Here is my take on the issue and quite honestly it's a gripe but I will keep it polite and clean.

In a house or a familiar sorrounding, children are trusting and they let go of their dependencies and in fact become independent and free roaming. In that sorrounding they exercise liberty and free speech and bear open their soul and let out their innocence and impulses. This changes when you step out of that familiar sorrounding with them and into a strange or new territory. What is their first instinct in this zone?

They reach out and seek your hand for a reassuring grip. Sometimes they might grab hold of your clothing. Everything at that moment is in reference to something else and their mind is instantly probing that new environment for signs of threat or danger. But danger from what? What is a little child afraid of loosing?

We are all afraid of loosing nurture. Nurture is a security, it is what sustains our subsistence and survival in life and it is physical. . .it is spiritual. . .it is mental. . .and it is abstract! In the above scenario, the child is making reference and needs to be reassured that you still belong to him/her - an emotional expression of attachment or a physical touch of territorial ownership. To disposess the child of its sense of ownership and attachment you reduce tension and subdue elements of threat and introduce a soft and inviting friendliness, sometimes with food or candy. In actuality, you have not changed the sorrounding, you have only hidden the dangers. The food and candy is an exchange of value.

What you are telling the child is. . .look, you have a value in your parent that you cherish and you are attached to, I also have a value in this candy that I cherish and we can trade values. If you will let go of your parent's hands and clothings and walk few steps over here I will give you this candy if you want it. The child has no matured sense of weights so it recognizes the sweetness of candy, it wants it and so let go of your hand and takes few steps to the stranger and accepts the candy. Now, a new knowledge is acquired. Everytime I want something, I only need to let go of what I currently have and there will be no trouble. Is this true? cheesy . . .and we all have been children before and went through that process of knowledge acquisition. We also know that some values bring more palaver in exchanges than the one we released. So why do we continue to fall for the scam, are we not learning?

Conditioning. . .! There is a candyman along the way in every stage of our life journey. Let me cut this short and go to the point. In this age, media is that candyman. Programs on tv are studied for their psychological impact. Tv presenters are valued, celebrities are valued, superficiality is valued, immoral behavior is valued, impropriety is valued. . . so that we are programmed to abandon our natural cue for the weather and listen instead to the authoritative instructions of the weatherman. The weatherman tell us what to do, how to do it and when. The news anchor is forced onus to tell us what is happening and what it means and how it will affect us and what we are not supposed to do. . .as if we have no mind of our own! Then you get shows like "The Apprentice". . .once a week we are coached on how to behave at workplace and how to get over other people smartly and selfishly. Then they bring shows like the Osbournes and the Jerry Springers. . .and again we are shown how to curse other people and punch at each other and resolve domestic dispute by taking our dirty laundry into public view. Worse, the government allowed it and gave no regulation. So people listened and watched year after year as the candyman lures us further and further away from our innate values and dignity and replaced it with senseless dependencies to the point that today people cannot think critically on their own and stand firmly by what they believe without checking to make sure it is politically correct and approved. A dissaproval sometimes lead to lawsuit!

So here comes another candyman, Madoff. The threats in his business are there for them to see, the unfamiliarity is apparent but Suzie Orman, a fellow candywoman, is on nightly shows parading and pouring accolades and confidence in investments and how you cannot go wrong by throwing your money in there. So if the tv weather man said it will rain and it did and the tv newsman said we can fly now there is no more terrorists and it was true, then Madoff must be right about this return on investment and so they were suckered in. A new candyman is rearing its ugly head. . .internet!

Internet candymen - google, facebook, youtube, my space. . .etc, You all watch out!
Re: Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 9:47am On Mar 03, 2009
I love your use of that term 'Candyman'.  I'm going to start using it too.  You're right about the power of the media.  But ultimately does this not apply to every communication.  Isn't every expression, every superfice, every facade a concealment as well as a display.  If I wave my left hand in front of you and say, 'look my left hand', am I not also distracting your attention from my right hand.  Is this not what magicians do when they play tricks on us.  They attract our attention away from the hand that is actually doing the trick.  When I wear my best suit am I showing off myself or am I concealing my unclothedness.  Behind everything that is said there is so much more that is left unsaid. 

In a discussion with a friend we came to the conclusion that people are often the exact opposite of what they show themselves to be.  And the more forcefully they consciously attempt to project a certain image then the more likely it is that they are the exact opposite of that image.  And even in the case where the institution or person projecting an image of trustworthiness isn't being dubious, the sheer fact that they become widely and heavily trusted is enough to invite all sorts of corruption.  Considering that only someone you trust can dupe you, it follows that the more you trust someone then the bigger capacity he has to dupe you.  Is it only a matter of time before that capacity is actualized? 

Yet human society, and most human interactions cannot happen without trust.  Trust is required to be truly human.  The present financial crisis is largely brought about by a disintegration of trust.  Banks won't lend money cos they don't trust that they'll ever see the money again.  Once trust goes, the whole society and the whole economy goes with it.  Because so much is at stake, I believe that the betrayal of trust is one of the greatest crimes anyone can commit against society. 

So trust is a double edged sword.  It is part of our humanity to trust, if not everyone, a chosen few.  And those we trust we can do business with, we can invite into our homes and share our lives with, and we can take their words at face value.  Authority depends on Trust.  At the same time Trust exposes us to all sorts of deceptions.
Re: Religion And Authority by KunleOshob(m): 10:18am On Mar 03, 2009
@Pastor AIO
Another very interesting thought provoking write up from you. Trust is a very big responsibilty that must NOT be abused. however the abuse always comes from the most unlikely and unexpected quaters.
Re: Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 5:53pm On Jul 15, 2012
au·thor·i·ty   [uh-thawr-i-tee, uh-thor-]
noun, plural au·thor·i·ties.
1.
the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine.
2.
a power or right delegated or given; authorization: Who has the authority to grant permission?

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/authority

I'm resurrecting this thread because of this other thread:
http://www.nairaland.com/990487/morality-possible-without-authoritative-source/4

Is Morality Possible without An Authoritative Source?

I say, is it only Morality?

What exactly is an Authority? It is something that cannot be questioned. What Authority says, goes. It's will is done. If it says green is Good then no one can argue that Green is Good. If it says brown is bad then similarly no one can argue that Brown is bad. The buck stops with the authority. It's pronouncements are axiomatic.

But is it only Morality that is based on an authority? No! For we find that almost everything that we do and think is based on some Authority or the other. There can therefore never be any agreement between two people that do not share an authority.

People in this world are ruled by so many different authorities.
Naturalists often rely on the Authority of their Senses. "I'll believe it when I SEE it!!"
Other people accept the Authority of their pastors. I believe it cos my Pastor says it is so.

It is helpful for us to meditatively consider what passes as Authorities for us.

Many innately accept the Authority of Consensus. "I believe it cos everybody believes it". Often when they argue they look around for supporters. 'who agrees with me, who agrees with me?' When lots of people raise their hands in agreement they relax. "you see, everybody agrees, so therefore I am right()".

That Consensus one is tricky cos we all acquiesce a little bit to consensus. If you are debating with someone and you know that you are right but everybody else in the room ends up agreeing with the person that you are debating with, it really dampens your will to continue debating. It can even sow seeds of doubt even though (based on some other authority) you 'know' that you are right.

One way to undermine someone's argument is to questions their authorities. Even the authority of the Senses can be questioned. In fact there is a whole school of philosophy based on that in India. In Advaita Vedanta philosophy sensory experience is called Maya/Illusion.

Even in Western philosophy the fact of sensory illusions is often the basis of criticising people like Locke or Hume.

So even if someone says, 'I believe it because I saw it with my own eyes' you can always answer that ' . . but dude, that whiskey was very strong'.

St. Augustine realised this relationship between our Belief systems and apparently arbitrary Authorities that they are based on and used it to based his own Belief system.

Since everybody's belief system is based on some unquestioned Authority that is taken as axiomatic Augustine himself declared that His Beliefs were based on the two authoritative pillars of the Church and the Bible.
These two were to be unquestioned in his belief system. He would believe the Church before he believed any other possible authority (presumably even his senses).
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 8:17pm On Jul 15, 2012
Pastor AIO:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/authority

I'm resurrecting this thread because of this other thread:
http://www.nairaland.com/990487/morality-possible-without-authoritative-source/4

Is Morality Possible without An Authoritative Source?

I say, is it only Morality?

What exactly is an Authority? It is something that cannot be questioned. What Authority says, goes. It's will is done. If it says green is Good then no one can argue that Green is Good. If it says brown is bad then similarly no one can argue that Brown is bad. The buck stops with the authority. It's pronouncements are axiomatic.

But is it only Morality that is based on an authority? No! For we find that almost everything that we do and think is based on some Authority or the other. There can therefore never be any agreement between two people that do not share an authority.

I for one don't think that morality is based on an authority.

Pastor AIO:
People in this world are ruled by so many different authorities.
Naturalists often rely on the Authority of their Senses. "I'll believe it when I SEE it!!"
Other people accept the Authority of their pastors. I believe it cos my Pastor says it is so.

It is helpful for us to meditatively consider what passes as Authorities for us.

Many innately accept the Authority of Consensus. "I believe it cos everybody believes it". Often when they argue they look around for supporters. 'who agrees with me, who agrees with me?' When lots of people raise their hands in agreement they relax. "you see, everybody agrees, so therefore I am right()".

That Consensus one is tricky cos we all acquiesce a little bit to consensus. If you are debating with someone and you know that you are right but everybody else in the room ends up agreeing with the person that you are debating with, it really dampens your will to continue debating. It can even sow seeds of doubt even though (based on some other authority) you 'know' that you are right.

One way to undermine someone's argument is to questions their authorities. Even the authority of the Senses can be questioned. In fact there is a whole school of philosophy based on that in India. In Advaita Vedanta philosophy sensory experience is called Maya/Illusion.

Even in Western philosophy the fact of sensory illusions is often the basis of criticising people like Locke or Hume.

So even if someone says, 'I believe it because I saw it with my own eyes' you can always answer that ' . . but dude, that whiskey was very strong'.

St. Augustine realised this relationship between our Belief systems and apparently arbitrary Authorities that they are based on and used it to based his own Belief system.

Since everybody's belief system is based on some unquestioned Authority that is taken as axiomatic Augustine himself declared that His Beliefs were based on the two authoritative pillars of the Church and the Bible.
These two were to be unquestioned in his belief system. He would believe the Church before he believed any other possible authority (presumably even his senses).


I also disagree with this idea that every belief system is based on some unquestioned authority that is taken as axiomatic because at the very least, my belief system isn't based on such an authority.
If Augustine didn't question the church or the Bible, that is his loss.
The basic aim of critical thinking is to avoid such cognitive ruts that lead to one basing their thoughts on authorities.
Re: Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 9:20pm On Jul 15, 2012
@thehomer, so what are your beliefs based on?
Re: Religion And Authority by InesQor(m): 9:48pm On Jul 15, 2012
Every ounce of logic is based on an axiom or set of axioms. These axioms in themselves represent [/i]an [i]authority in that domain.
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 11:21pm On Jul 15, 2012
Pastor AIO: @thehomer, so what are your beliefs based on?

They're broadly based on evidence and are generally open to revision with the availability of better evidence.
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 11:23pm On Jul 15, 2012
InesQor: Every ounce of logic is based on an axiom or set of axioms. These axioms in themselves represent [/i]an [i]authority in that domain.

Problems can easily creep in when one uses "authority" in this manner. It is easy to see that the "authority" that logical axioms represent is very different from the sort of "authority" that the Bible, the church or pastors and other people represent.
Re: Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 2:37am On Jul 16, 2012
thehomer:

Problems can easily creep in when one uses "authority" in this manner. [/b]It is easy to see that the "authority" that logical axioms represent is very different from the sort of "authority" that the Bible, the church or pastors and other people represent.

What is wrong with the 'manner' in which I use the term Authority? Is it grammatically wrong? Or am I twisting the meaning of the word? Please explain your beef. What you consider 'problems' can, you're right, easily creep in. In fact they don't creep in, they storm in, bashing down the fragile doors that keep 'Logic' intact.

Please read what I wrote again and tell me what you understand by it. I'll quote the most relevant portions again:


People in this world are ruled by so many different authorities.
Naturalists often rely on the[b] Authority of their Senses
. "I'll believe it when I SEE it!!"
Other people accept the Authority of their pastors. I believe it cos my Pastor says it is so.

It is helpful for us to meditatively consider what passes as Authorities for us.

Many innately accept the Authority of Consensus. "I believe it cos everybody believes it". Often when they argue they look around for supporters. 'who agrees with me, who agrees with me?' When lots of people raise their hands in agreement they relax. "you see, everybody agrees, so therefore I am right()".
Re: Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 2:39am On Jul 16, 2012
thehomer:

They're broadly based on evidence and are generally open to revision with the availability of better evidence.

By what authority is evidence considered valid?
Re: Religion And Authority by InesQor(m): 8:18am On Jul 16, 2012
thehomer:

Problems can easily creep in when one uses "authority" in this manner.
What kind of problems?

thehomer: It is easy to see that the "authority" that logical axioms represent is very different from the sort of "authority" that the Bible, the church or pastors and other people represent.
How so? I think it's the same thing.

Authority derives from Latin auctoritas, where Latin auctor comes from Latin augeō ('to augment'). An authority defines scope, and augments the position of another. It is a conferred or consented right.

Now, you define "authority" in the two senses, to show us how they are different.
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 5:01pm On Jul 16, 2012
Pastor AIO:

What is wrong with the 'manner' in which I use the term Authority? Is it grammatically wrong? Or am I twisting the meaning of the word? Please explain your beef. What you consider 'problems' can, you're right, easily creep in. In fact they don't creep in, they storm in, bashing down the fragile doors that keep 'Logic' intact.

The so "authority" of the senses is quite different from that of pastors, other people, the church or the Bible in that one's senses are very personal to them. You cannot help but perceive what you perceive unless you've received adequate training so calling it an authority similar to the others can easily be misleading. I don't think such "authorities" don't actually damage logic. If the conclusions made by those "authorities" are logically unsound, then they're unsound.

Pastor AIO:
Please read what I wrote again and tell me what you understand by it. I'll quote the most relevant portions again:


It is basically what I addressed which is equating the senses to other people and artifacts.
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 5:04pm On Jul 16, 2012
Pastor AIO:

By what authority is evidence considered valid?

Evidence itself isn't validated by some authority. It is the basis upon which a certain claim is accepted or a belief is formed.
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 5:10pm On Jul 16, 2012
InesQor:
What kind of problems?

Please see my response to Pastor AIO.

InesQor:
How so? I think it's the same thing.

Authority derives from Latin auctoritas, where Latin auctor comes from Latin augeō ('to augment'). An authority defines scope, and augments the position of another. It is a conferred or consented right.

Now, you define "authority" in the two senses, to show us how they are different.

That is exactly what I'm saying. The definition of authority I'm using here is the third one here.

Wiktionary:
(countable) A person accepted as a source of reliable information on a subject.

This concept is easily extended to the Bible and the church because they were ultimately made or written by some person. But one's senses aren't those sorts of tools neither are logical axioms tools of a similar nature.
Re: Religion And Authority by MrAnony1(m): 5:14pm On Jul 16, 2012
@Pastor AIO, beautiful simply beautiful.
............but then, this leads to the question: With such differing "authorities", how can one ever know truth?
Re: Religion And Authority by MrAnony1(m): 5:18pm On Jul 16, 2012
thehomer:

Evidence itself isn't validated by some authority. It is the basis upon which a certain claim is accepted or a belief is formed.
That's not exactly true especially as concerns the way Pastor AIO uses "authority": Evidence is always read based on one's pre-existing bias (in other words, the authority one already defers to)
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 5:23pm On Jul 16, 2012
Mr_Anony:
That's not exactly true especially as concerns the way Pastor AIO uses "authority": Evidence is always read based on one's pre-existing bias (in other words, the authority one already defers to)

Let's take a look at this shall we?
You place your finger on a hot stove. You feel pain.
If tomorrow you're asked by someone to place your finger on a hot stove and you refuse because of the pain you received from your senses the day before, who is the authority you're deferring to when refusing?
Re: Religion And Authority by MrAnony1(m): 5:29pm On Jul 16, 2012
thehomer:

Let's take a look at this shall we?
You place your finger on a hot stove. You feel pain.
If tomorrow you're asked by someone to place your finger on a hot stove and you refuse because of the pain you received from your senses the day before, who is the authority you're deferring to when refusing?
The authority of your senses
 
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 5:36pm On Jul 16, 2012
Mr_Anony:
The authority of your senses

As I said before, your senses cannot be compared to a person, a group of people e.g church or an object e.g the Bible.
Re: Religion And Authority by MrAnony1(m): 5:38pm On Jul 16, 2012
thehomer:

As I said before, your senses cannot be compared to a person, a group of people e.g church or an object e.g the Bible.

My argument would be yes they can. especially since they are not absolute and you are going to make decisions based on them
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 5:44pm On Jul 16, 2012
Mr_Anony:

My argument would be yes they can. especially since they are not absolute and you are going to make decisions based on them

And this is why I said that problems can easily creep in with the way the word "authority" was being used. You're already demonstrating the problem since your senses aren't an object or a person.

Let me see if I can help you with another question.
If you're having a headache is there any person or object which you consider an authority that can tell you that you're not having a headache?
Re: Religion And Authority by MrAnony1(m): 5:49pm On Jul 16, 2012
thehomer:

And this is why I said that problems can easily creep in with the way the word "authority" was being used. You're already demonstrating the problem since your senses aren't an object or a person.

Let me see if I can help you with another question.
If you're having a headache is there any person or object which you consider an authority that can tell you that you're not having a headache?

actually yes, it depends on which authority you hold higher than the other. How do you know for sure that your headache is not an illusion?
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 6:09pm On Jul 16, 2012
Mr_Anony:

actually yes, it depends on which authority you hold higher than the other. How do you know for sure that your headache is not an illusion?

You didn't actually answer my question.
I also don't understand what you're saying here. How can someone be having pains and not be in pain?
Re: Religion And Authority by MrAnony1(m): 6:30pm On Jul 16, 2012
thehomer:

You didn't actually answer my question.
I also don't understand what you're saying here. How can someone be having pains and not be in pain?
I believe I answered the question in the best way that fits this argument unless perhaps you are asking for a specific personal opinion which I don't think holds much worth here.

Pain is simply because your nervous system is working. Pain is information but this information isn't necessarily always true. You can have the illusion of pain even though there is nothing stimulating it, also you can feel no pain even though something is harming you depending on how well your nervous system is working.

Most of the time, you trust your senses and read meaning into evidence based on your senses but sometimes you can't rely on your senses alone to read evidence, you need to defer to another authority.

For instance, based solely on the judgment of our senses, the earth would be flat but now we know this not to be true because we were able to doubt our senses and believe another authority.
Re: Religion And Authority by thehomer: 7:03pm On Jul 16, 2012
Mr_Anony:
I believe I answered the question in the best way that fits this argument unless perhaps you are asking for a specific personal opinion which I don't think holds much worth here.

No you didn't. You didn't say who or what the higher authority was that would tell you whether or not you were in pain.

Mr_Anony:
Pain is simply because your nervous system is working. Pain is information but this information isn't necessarily always true. You can have the illusion of pain even though there is nothing stimulating it, also you can feel no pain even though something is harming you depending on how well your nervous system is working.

I don't think you can have the illusion of pain. You're probably confusing the referral of the pain with the sensation and feeling of being in pain itself.

Mr_Anony:
Most of the time, you trust your senses and read meaning into evidence based on your senses but sometimes you can't rely on your senses alone to read evidence, you need to defer to another authority.

Once again, you're failing to see that using the word "authority" when speaking about the senses is not quite appropriate.

Mr_Anony:
For instance, based solely on the judgment of our senses, the earth would be flat but now we know this not to be true because we were able to doubt our senses and believe another authority.

No, based on our senses, the earth is round. Deciding on whether or not the earth is flat or round depends on your vantage point and your abilities of inference.
Today, it is easily determined by satellite images. In the past, it was done by inference to other objects in space, the solar and lunar eclipse and the fact that the tops of sailing ships appear first and disappear last into the distance among other means.
Re: Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 7:05pm On Jul 16, 2012
This spambot is really yabbing. Just when I was getting into the flow. I glad to see that Mr Anony took up the baton adequately though.
Re: Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 7:14pm On Jul 16, 2012
Let's put it this way. An Authority is what you rely on to determine the TRUTH.

When you get contradicting information you take the more authoritative source to be True.

In thehomer's case it is his senses. Now, can the authority of the senses be undermined? the answer is a very simple yes. You know that drink and substances and varying emotional states affect the perception of the senses.

Even without varying mind states the senses feed us with wrong information all the time. Now I want to put up a link for you to study but I'm afraid that it is this link that got me banned last time so I will first put it in non-link form. and then put the link up later in another post.

http: //

www.michaelbach


.de/ot/mot_feet_lin


/index.html

Please join the 4 lines above into one http address and check out the page.
Re: Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 7:14pm On Jul 16, 2012
Re: Religion And Authority by PastorAIO: 7:15pm On Jul 16, 2012
Wow! success!!!! The entire website is about sensory/optical illusions check it out:


http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/index.html

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