TED Conversations

Phillip Beaver

Citizen, Humankind


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“What view of religion might advance humankind’s psychological maturity?”

Through understanding, humankind continuously increases its psychological maturity. Yet there remain lifestyle concerns and unknowns; e.g., is evolution controlled?
Religion is each person’s acquisition and implementation of preferences for how to experience the unknown and variously integrate the resulting understanding or privation into their life.
Religion tends to respond to progress yet preserve plausible ethics and thus is an evolving art form; e.g., ancients regarded the sun a supernatural power but moderns understand it’s a natural nuclear reactor. Yet the supernatural ethic survives--perhaps as one object of humility.
Religion is expressed in stories, music, symbols, and other art. Institutional religion inculcates art into its young, preserving both understanding and misunderstanding. Each newborn has the duty to itself to achieve understanding in its lifespan, often overcoming natural or cultural limitations. Thus, people have widely differing psychological maturities; humankind must accommodate peace and limit harm.
In humankind’s collective consciousness the people share secular goals: justice, tranquility, defense, prosperity, the privilege of liberty, continuity for posterity, and in-it-togetherness. These goals accommodate beliefs yet authorize limitation of harm. For example, people who advocate taking poison to worship a deity must be limited.
Just governance obtains its authority from the governed--the people. The people must maintain the monopoly on force and coercion through written law that can be modified when injustice is discovered. Just force and coercion apply to behavior and not to thought, such how to express humility, a private matter.
Unfortunately, throughout history, politicians and clergymen have co-operated to use religion as a tool with which to usurp the people’s power. Only the governed can stop usurpation of their power.
Institutions that interfere with the people’s secular goals must suffer the rule of law.


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    Sep 28 2011: I have read most of the other conversations but must say some of them are stuck out on the metaphysical branches of the original thesis. Complicated subjects need to be kept simple when defining them and sometimes you have to stop thinking. Believe me I have "thought" myself into many corners. It wasn't until I looked back at my work and realized I had over-analyzed it.

    We discuss psychological development but I was referring to it on the macro level (millions of years). Societies behavior shapes itself around the behavior of those who are successful. Only time will tell whether or not non believers can be successful. The thing is... we aren't having enough kids. This means we will be leaving our children in a world run by delusion.

    My maturity didn't start until I looked at the clutter I filled my head with and started cleaning house.

    Bottom line... Delusion is a winning evolutionary strategy. You can't deny it. If you do then... That proves my point. hehe I crack me up.
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      Sep 28 2011: I understand.
      The odds are astounding and the readiness of people to cast good neighbors out over what no one knows is unconstitutional, to say the least, in the US. The Preamble IS the Constitution and all the rest is mechanism to fulfill it, but Americans shun it with a passion, because they want a "Christianized" America. I think Christianization of America is in its last years, though.
      I actually had a neighbor this week quote some scripture stating, in effect, if you discover your neighbor does not prefer your interpretation of the Bible, walk away and shake the dust off your boots. I had the serious humor to ask him if we are still good neighbors. He was condescending.
      Another neighbor claims to be an atheist, and when I tried to discuss the possibility that atheists are people of faith in understanding or the truth or reality, the eyes glazed over with reason and exit. But no words were uttered. As long as that goes on, they cannot help; they add to the problem.
      If you did not read my conversation about "Tolerance is insufficient," scan it and notice that no one favored the use of "tolerance," and several people made the case that in this world there is insufficient intolerance. I think practicing intolerance for divisive thinking is a start.
      One of the reasons I cannot write is that I spend most of my time reading. But dealing with a TED conversation that I start is the hardest work I have ever undertaken. I work hard to respect every contributor. Sometimes, people enter to push an agendum then look for their trigger to exit.
      I am working now to restate this conversation—sort of an interim report.
      I just love "hehe I crack me up." People who can crack up are my kind of people.

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