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Paul Kirhagis

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Where do organized religions go wrong?

I identify with the idea that humans are built to transcend themselves to contribute to the group as a whole. Organized religion is a bridge that allows those who have similar values and morals to come together and to help others grow. But how would we explain things like the crusades or the Spanish inquisition in this context?

Does the transcendence that a group experiences fall apart at an individual level then rebuild itself into a mutated version of the original? or does some other process occur that twists the collective masses into behavior that is clearly against the original purpose of the group?


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    Jan 11 2013: It could be something to do with the power of charisma. A charismatic figure - whether a God or politician - can lead groups of people into collective ideals, good or bad.

    There's also the issue of group intelligence versus autonomous intelligence. Individuals tend to be far more enlightened than any group to which they might belong. Also the bigger the group, the more subordinate the individuals within it become, ripe for a charismatic leader to lead them into any religious or political ideal.

    Self-transcendence starts out as an autonomous state, but if there is a commonality of profound experience, then it gets embodied into a single entity - a God. Couple this to the 'dilution' processes seen in group behaviour, then it's easy to go on to suppose that the original autonomy would erode into compliance, no matter what that God goes on to represent.

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