Religion has an imprecise etymology – is it relegere (to read over) or religare (to bind)?
Both aspects have a certain social utility in early phase development.
Every human being must start awareness from nothing.
We absorb whatever culture we happen to be born into, we initially accept its implicit and explicit assumptions. We have no other choice.
Every human being must start from the most simple, and develop from there. The simplest possible distinctions are binaries – true/false, right/wrong, hot/cold, wet/dry. We all must start accepting such simple ideas – there is no other logical possibility. However, if our understanding is to develop past such simple approximations, then we must develop into ever more complex approximations of the infinities (and vast finites) that seem to actually exist.
In order to achieve such developmental awareness, we must be prepared to leave the comfort of the simple binaries of our youth, and embrace uncertainty and diversity.
It seems that in a sense, religions are a necessary phase in evolution, and it seems that our survival at this time is rather dependent on our ability to go beyond religions, be they religions of faith, the religion of science, or the religion of money.
It seems that stability in the infinitely dimensional space of all possible sets of strategies requires that each of us be prepared to reexamine and reevaluate any of our working assumptions, when we find evidence of sufficient trustworthiness to do so. For each of us the probabilities, the where and when and how deeply of such re-examinations will vary. Such seems to be part of the nature of infinite diversity.
What we choose to “read over” and who and what we choose to “bind ourselves to” (at whatever levels and intensities we do) seems to be very much a matter of personal choice, personal preference. No hard and fast rules anywhere.
It seems clear now that Plato’s starting assumptions have been invalidated, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt. That undoes most of Kant’s work, and most in that tradition.
A modern understanding of how our brains actually work at the lower levels, and the general classes of software systems that are running on that amazing squishy hardware, that produce the software model of reality that seems to be all that our conscious awareness can ever experience of reality itself; was simply not available to the ancients. Our ancestors had no computers, no gaming environments, no 3D simulations, with which to get a personal experience of just how amazing models can be. They did however notice many profound things about the nature of the experience of being human, and did their best to fit those into an explanatory context.
The probable (possible) evolutionary paths of such contexts is a fascinating subject for study and contemplation, and it is sufficiently complex, and the data sufficiently sparse, that we will never know with certainty.
There are two general classes of things that many people find hard to accept and often confuse, and both relate to complexity.
One class is complexity that results from fractal systems, systems that for various mathematical and logical reasons turn back on themselves in ways that deliver similar but subtly different outcomes. Such systems follow deterministic rules, but are not predictable ahead of time. One must actually follow them to see where they go, and one could spend the rest of eternity following any one of them; and there seem to be an infinite class of them.
The other class of complexity involves the truly random (constrained within probability bounds, so as to give the illusion of lawfulness in large collections).
It seems that this reality we find ourselves in has both sorts of complexity at play – both in pivotal roles in allowing us to be what we are.
Neither domain of complexity can be computed with certainty, and both allow a certain level of probabilistic approximation, provided we don’t push too hard at it.
So it seems that what interests us (what we revisit/read over), and how we relate (what binds us into the groups we associate with), can evolve at a potentially infinite set of levels. It seems that in these most abstract of senses, some shade of religion will always be with us, and it is unlikely to be in a simple binary form so familiar to many of our ancestors.
It seems that beginning to get an idea of just how ignorant we are is no justification for a god or creator.
Beginning to get an understanding of the recursive complexity of the process of evolution, and how it gives rise to recursive levels of cooperation and emergence of new levels of pattern, is a small step away from our ignorance of the patterns that seem most likely to be responsible for our existence.
It seems that Math is part of our understanding.
Reality just seems to do what it does.
We use math as a conceptual tool to make what sense we can of that doing.
The distinction is worth putting some time into.
Do not confuse correlation with causation.
An alternative view to “I marvel they way it binds together billions of people one a single faith! How solid should have been it’s foundation” is to consider, how virulent the virus of the mind that binds so many into a fixed mode of interpretation and understanding, and prevents any significant number from exploring the infinite diversity of alternative explanatory frameworks available.
It seems beyond reasonable doubt that some small subset of those alternative explanatory frameworks offer vastly more useful approximations to the reality in which we exist, and to the sorts of modes of thinking and action that deliver the greatest security and freedom and empowerment to all individuals.