Thursday, February 09, 2006

InG we T - the fallacy of convergence

In Gods We Trust
Commitment 2.4 - The fallacy of convergence

More often, religious prescriptions and commandments do not constitute social norms in the sense of shared rules or injunctions that determine behaviour. Instead, they stipulate only a bare, skeletal frame for collectively channeling thought and action....Their expression perfomatively signals and establish a cognitive and emotional commitment to seek convergence but doesn't specify what people should converge to. Supernatural agents are guarantors and placeholders for appropriate actions in future circumstances. The truth about them is accepted on faith and communicated through ritual display, not discovered or described as a set of factual or logical propositions.

It is interesting that Atran considers religious propensity an enabler for a convergence. I assume he believes this to be an artifact associated with abstract thinking skills. I would tend to assume the same. Whether or not there is something around which to converge is the crux of the religious argument.

If religion is entirely an unintended consequence associated with abstract, then humans should not be able to use it as a tool for group convergence. The ever mutating forms of religions and their associated conflicts seem to bear this out. However one could equally say that the growth and relative stability of world religions are a counter point. Indeed the apocalyptic nature of some of the New Testament seems to prophesy convergence (although one could certainly see it as convergence by eliminating everyone who doesn't agree). While this question certainly seems non falsifiable for either side, a few points could be significant.

This first is the mutation of religion. If there are mutations in religion, then there is most likely nothing substantial around which to converge. Thus God remains a fantastical supernatural being who is an invented artifact of our abstract thought. The founding intent of catholicism seemed to be an encouragement and facilitation of convergence. LDS views on the apostasy would say for religion to be convergent, there must be communication between god and man, which was not present until the restoration. All religions seem to excuse convergence by blaming individual weakness. As Atran points out, this will always prevent scientific accountability. However, I wonder if part of the fallacy of convergence is the belief that large scale convergence is necessary.

The LDS notion of multiple kingdoms, and MY TAKE ON IT (creating heaving) seems to make it possible to believe that small scale convergence may be all that religion needs. People go as far with it as they want. Everyone gets off at a different point. (link on mormon terrestial is Protestant heave) It seems that the only type of convergence the gospel suggests is that everyone will confess that Jesus is the Christ. Even that may not happen for quite some time in the hereafter.

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