The Origins of Intolerance

What needs do mythology and religion serve in today's world and in ancient times? Here we discuss the relationship between mythology, religion and science from mythological, religious and philosophical viewpoints.

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The Intolerance of Our Society's Two Ways of Thinking

Post by Compassion » Fri Dec 26, 2008 4:07 pm

Hello, Nandu. In response to your submission from September fifteenth, I think you raise a very good point - with all due respect to atheists, they just don't get it; literally. Now, Joseph Campbell, himself, in The Hero's Journey, the film about him, made shortly before his tragic death in 1987, says "So, half of the people in the World, are religious people, who think that their metaphors are facts, those are what we call 'theists'. The other half are people who know that the ah, metaphors are not facts, and so, they're lies, those are the atheists." And this is true, even twenty-two years after he said that, in 2009, things haven't changed very much - both sides are just as intolerant and ruthless as they were, in the Enlightenment of the mid-eighteenth century.

I think that this is a very important thing to have in mind, with regard to (especially our) politics - exactly as Joe says - very much for the most part, our politics is split into conservative Christian Evangelicals, and hardcore atheists (these two sides, not necessarily being Republican and Democrat). And, so we get the cruel and uncaring, overly capitalist system, which has destroyed our economy, and the crazy Evangelicals, who want to turn this country into a theocracy, based on the "ethical, Christian values", and the out-of-date and unhelpful mores of a bunch concretized metaphors, dating from from (I think) the twelfth and eleventh centuries, B.C.E. And so, we are locked in this battle between two types of rational, factual thinking: theistic or atheistic.

This semester at my school, we had a Religion class, and of course, Mythology was not an official part of the class, and was something that I had to provide. And so, I think one class, early in the year, I think the topic of what a myth was, came up. And, as would be expected, very atheistic definitions were given ("atheistic" in the sense of being unconsciously informed by this way of thinking) - someone even said something about only being able to "believe a myth, if it actually has been proven", or something like that - poor kid, for to say something like that, is to miss the point of what Mythology actually says, and what Joe used to talk about. Mythology has nothing to do with fact or fiction, truth or lies, or any other pair of ethical or literary opposites. A myth is not to be "believed" or "disproved", but seen for what it is: as Joe says in a lecture "An organization of symbolic forms, and images, and narratives, which are metaphoric of different types of human experience and fulfillment, in a given society, in a given time," - not something simply of a say, "etiological" sense, pointing to something factual or fictional, which one must believe as "actual Truth", or condemn as "the Work of the Devil". Joe says in the same lecture, something like "When you think that your metaphor is the connotation, then the other guy's metaphor is a lie." - This is where so much of this intolerance lies: in concretization of the archetypal, mythological symbols, which leads, of course, to fundamentalism, and then, when Science comes in, to atheism, because people don't realize that the metaphors are metaphors. That ex-Muslim woman said that the World would be a better place, without Religion - this is both true and not true. We do have to get rid of Religion, as it is experienced, nowadays, but we must reawaken the things that Joe talked about: the individual quest, the hero's journey, and the mythologization of one's own life.

Thank you, Nandu.

- Compassion.

P.S. I hope you had a good holiday season.
Last edited by Compassion on Tue Jan 20, 2009 1:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
“Truth is one; the sages speak of it by many names.”
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Post by chloemarie » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:37 pm

- This is where so much of this intolerance lies: in concretization of the archetypal, mythological symbols, which leads, of course, to fundamentalism, and then, when Science comes in, to atheism, because people don't realize that the metaphors are metaphors. That ex-Muslim woman said that the World would be a better place, without Religion - this is both true and not true. We do have to get rid of Religion, as it is experienced, nowadays, but we must reawaken the things that Joe talked about: the individual quest, the hero's journey, and the mythologization of one's own life.
I like what you said about the concretization of mythology. This was a point that Campell made in many of his books. One the niversally present (thus archetypal) symbols are concretized into fact they become dogma. You could almost say (quite ironically) that when religion becomes as a rock it dies. By this I mean that the religious metaphors that are the carriers of archetypes ( and thus change and grow with time) instead of being flexible and fleshed out with the content of the times turn brittle as the metaphor becomes truth , fact and dogma. Like for example the myth of the Virgin birth. This is found in countless mythologies im sure you know, and it is deeply symbolc in that it represents among other things a birth from purity it also serves as a symbol thast contrasts the more animalistic drives of man the beast . Man the god is the compensatory divine spiritual man that directly contrasts the animal man . As a symbol of the divine man the savior is born from a virgin a testament to his purely spiritual not carnal birth. In another example you have the garden of eden a mythological not physical location. As a symbol the garden of eden is the self is the place where opposites reside in balance( man/woman, good/evil , god/animal ,heaven/earth etc. ) all the pairs of opposites that make up the human psyche .Eve is Adams anima as the primal androgyne they make up one of the oldest symbols of self as the heiros gamos . The androgyne is a symbol of wholeness of individuation of balance. One of its more common manifestations is in alchemy as the king and queen sol and luna. But back to the main idea it is when these purely mythological (thus metaphorical ,archetypal) events are made fact that fundamentalism comes into being like you said.When myth becomes fact it reveals that the old symbols are not recognized anymore. Both Jung and Campbell stress this. But the archetype is timeless and it will only change face it wont die . Humanity will get new symbols of wholeness but the symbolic power of these universals lies in the fact that they are myth and not fact. Things can be Truth without being Fact. Eden is a psychic location not one on the map. Creation is the psychic event where the unity becomes the duality . The world is created because the opposies come into being .The ego is born and it can discriminate (thus percieve duality). But the mystery and the beauty of eden is not lost by being myth in fact the beauty and trandcendental quality i think is enhanced. The savior is no less awe inspiring mystical and trancendental if he/she was never born in time . Existence in the psyche is no less mysterious and powerful than it is in time. I hope this made sense I greatly recomend any of Jung's books or tht of his student Neumann. Basically im saying that the beauty af religion should not be dependent on its historical credulity. And I think your being a little too hard on us atheists some of us know a metaphor when we see it :)
Bhagavan Das
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Evil – An Investigation – Lance Morrow

Post by Bhagavan Das » Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:43 am

Evil – An Investigation – Lance Morrow

“We may have circled round to George Steiner’s conceit:” We no longer believe in hell. We have created it here on earth””
Author brings up controversial, forbidden, black listed by some book – Huckleberry Finn:
“In his treatment of race and racism, Twain addresses not just the evil of slavecatchers or the cruelty of overseers, but, far worse, the vast, smug unknowingness, the evil obliviousness of seemingly innocent people. When Tom gets off the steamboat downriver and he reports that there was an accident on the boat – a boiler exploded – the woman asks, “Anyone hurt?” Tom answers, “No, M’am. A couple of niggers killed”.
Desensitizing toward evil - “…in a way suggesting that evil has been so domesticated…”
“…we should view evil as opportunistic, passing like an electrical current through the world and through people; or wandering like an infection that takes up residence in individuals or cultures from time to time” – war and disorder perceived rather as Dionysian outburst in Apollonian dominance.
“Evil seeks its opportunities and settles in like a parasite where it finds conditions welcoming…in rather the way that insanity may enter the previously wholesome life and displace the person who lived there before”
“We began to treat evil as if it were atavism, a hallucination, a superstition…evil was the elephant in the living room of the twentieth century. It’s still there at a start of the twenty first”
“The sense of smell is often mentioned when people talk about evil. Cardinal Newman warned of “the smell of evil”. Petrarch thought of a sewer. Ranting against the papal court at Avignon in the fourteenth century, he declared: “This is a sewer to which all the filths of the universe come to be reunited. Here people despise God, they adore money, they trample underfoot both human laws and divine law.”
Over-rationalized reality, diminished spirituality, led to as one of documentaries about religion began with “some say that only remaining faith today is money”; God is significantly or entirely replaced with money, money is only remaining belief and religion, money gains attributes of almost or entirely a deity , and is worshiped ; there is significant aspect of it - making money for money sake becomes addiction; That makes money God of all Gods. Money is the Zeus. That radical rationalization of reality as a consequence has greed as one of its deities and greed starts to melt down border between good and evil.
Then it’s possible to hear statements such as – “greed is good”. Arguable experiment would be - by taking money away from such a person he would be lost and there would be no purpose in his life, he would be detached from reality all together.
“But perhaps evil does not, and is something else altogether – a germ, a virus, a bug? Or as Hannah Arendt said fungus.”
Malfunctioning fear and evil - Fear is natural response to life threatening situations ; lack of fear can be dangerous, Jews were laughing to Hitler in the beginning, most likely it was incomprehensible to take him seriously at all, on the other hand most likely due to drug use Hitler himself didn’t have reasonable fear if not of God being an atheist then potential consequences and revenge, that being leveled out from bought sides, 2 million German women were raped, and occupation of foreign countries for a few years was paid dearly with 50 years of occupation, somewhat still ongoing, with catastrophic ramifications to country’s future and status . Entire country was a prisoner by international community.
But after the century of the Holocaust and the Lubyanka, of a Gulag and Treblinka, of the Somme and Armenia, of Ukraine, Pol Pot, Rwanda, Bosnia, and so on, a century in which tens of millions died unnatural deaths at the hands of bombs and gas and torture and bullets and monsters- after all off that, one would think that the world would emerge believing in almost nothing except evil…I imagine evil sometimes as gas, toxic and possibly undetected, making its way throughout world, slithering upon the current of air…from time to time the evil force manifests itself in violent displays – moral hurricanes, earthquakes of pathology and slaughter…You know evil when you are in its presence. I think you do…you feel it as vibration, a hum that seems to emanate almost from a disorder of the molecules. I felt the flow of a sick dark current once when I was led down the corridor of a cold prison in Sarajevo, and a metal door opened, and I was in a presence of a murderer… “
Reasons why evil is done - “it gives them pleasure, it gives them power, they don’t know any better, they are afraid of their victims, they think that the evil they are doing is righteous, or good or necessary; they are indifferent to suffering of others; they are too morally stupid to recognize the evil they are doing ; they are forced to do it by people holding power over them ; they are caught in mob’s frenzy ; they feel perverse itch to do harm and it occurs to them that they may do so ; because it is accident ; they are habituated to it ; they suffer from a compulsion ; they themselves were treated evilly ones ; Satan makes them do it.”
Evil as a fungus on a Three of Life, it develops on side of a tree where light never comes and if it takes over, three will die.
“…pari passu, dark parallel evolution…New technology enables new evil…Evil , an opportunist, lives as a parasite upon even the honest exertions of the mind. Germs have some of the same patterns of behavior.”
“Bernstein , following the thinking of Hannah Arendt and Levinas: the evil that burst in the Nazi period indicates a rapture…(Arendt) declares:” We have witnessed the total collapse of all established moral standards in public and private life during the thirties and forties…Without much notice all this collapsed almost overnight…”
“Why not say that Auschwitz disabuses us of illusions about the depths to which even an advanced civilization may sink”
Graphic correlation between crime and age peaks in early 20s from there it’s decline, from there ,older people are less likely to be involved in criminal activity, correlation itself correlates additionally with hormonal production in organism, and falls within Kierkegaard’s second phase of life that he defines as ethical.