Religion - The Noble Lie
Plato described a City. The inhabitants of this city were categorised into: Rulers, Auxiliaries, Farmers etc.
The Rulers were hand picked from the military elite called Guardians.
The Rulers would be those Guardians who had shown their skill in watching over the interests of the community and proven that they care about those interests.
The Auxiliaries were trainee Guardians.
The Rulers perpetuated The Noble Lie. The people of the City were told that the division of the population into different sections - Rulers, Auxiliaries, Farmers etc. - was not due to upbringing or education, but to the gold, silver and iron put into their souls by God.
The Rulers said that if one of their own children was found to have bronze or iron in their soul then, the ruler must accept this fact and degrade their child to the ranks of the industrial and agricultural class where it properly belongs:
If a child of the working classes is born with gold or silver in its soul, the child would be promoted to be a Guardian or an Auxiliary'.
Plato constructed this system in order to establish a stable social and moral order and to make the most of the capacities of individuals to serve the community. Plato was not concerned that this system was a lie. If the people believed that god put different metals into the souls of the different classes then they would conform to the social order that resulted from this and live in a stable and socially just society.
Plato also suggested that people be taught the myth that different classes have different metals in their bloodstream, and therefore should not intermarry.
The noble lie is a religious lie that is told to the people to motivate them to do what is good and right.
The lie was necessary to get the masses to behave in a way that was in their own interests. If they were just told to conform to a particular social template, they would not understand. Plato believed that the masses were not very bright and would follow a self destructive path if left to their own devices, so it was necessary to create a super class of Guardian who knew what was right for the people. Plato defined democracy as "The rule of the mob".
Plato could see problems with this system. The Guardians would know that system they used to create social order was a lie, However, if the Guardians themselves were convinced of the truth of the lie, the system would be totally successful.
Many of the religious leaders throughout history have agreed with Plato's ideas, It is not important that religion is a lie - the important point is that the people believe in it and that this belief maintains social order and moral behaviour.
This explains why religious education is mandatory in many of our educational establishments. Religion is often the only way to keep social order within the ignorant masses. The fact that it is a lie is secondary to achieving the objective of a well ordered and moral society.
Todays Churches agree with Plato too. Many religious leaders in the Christian faith belong to an organisation called "The Sea of Faith". This organisation has within it's membership serving Christian priests who do not believe in the literal truth of the Bible or in the existence of God or in the resurrection.
The sea of faith now has over 800 members comprising of religious members from Catholic, Protestant and evangelical denominations. It was founded 22 years ago by Don Cupitt. For obvious reasons, many of the members do not want to be publicly identified.
When asked how in conscience he could prepare his people for Christmas while not himself believing in the virgin birth, one clergyman said: "I wouldn't tell people that Father Christmas didn't exist - it's the same as that."
One of the few Anglican members of Sea of Faith prepared to state his views publicly is Steven Mitchell, rector of Barrow upon Soar. Mitchell says: "People need to stop getting hung up about whether people are real or not. If you see a man with a white beard and a red cloak you say that's Father Christmas. That's the way I believe in Jesus Christ."
The members of the sea of faith know that the truth is only suitable for the elite but not for the ignorant masses, who, like Plato's men of bronze or iron, are too ignorant to know what to do with the information.
The religious elite who know that God is a human creation reject the term "Atheist" because they say "they believe in the human invention of a deity" but they hypocritically recite the Nicene Creed and conduct Holy communion.
This is taken from The Sea of Faith web site:-
"As for immortality, a Sea of Faith view would have it that concepts of "eternal life", "life after death", "Heaven" and "Hell" are necessarily human constructs. Just as Heaven and Hell are now widely understood as states of mind in this life, so traditional doctrines of eternal life are ways of expressing the profound conviction, common in all cultures (and confirmed, of course, by modern biological science), that we are part of a process which began long before our birth and will continue long after our death. Indeed, it is precisely because every individual life makes its own unique contribution to the drama of the living universe that it is seen as having "eternal" significance. And it is precisely because our one life in this world is all that we have that we have a responsibility to make the most of it. To see life "here below" as a mere preparation for joys above (or horrors in outer darkness) - that is to diminish it, to trivialise it. We reject such reductionism."
Leo Strauss, a German political philosopher, stated that the popularisation of truth could cause a breakdown of social order and moral conduct.
According to Strauss only philosophers are made free by the truth. Philosophers know the truth, but must keep it hidden from the common people because this knowledge would cause despair and lead to the breakdown of society. What is the hidden truth known to philosophers? That there is no God and there is no ultimate foundation for morality.
There is no ultimate foundation for morality unless value is placed on life. Once a value is placed on life then it is possible to construct a moral code. It is the job of non-believers to develop the basis for a moral code to replace one built on the noble lie. This is because the noble lie has too many side effects: ignorance and human misery. A satisfactory morality and social order can only result from a starting point of truth.
A Sinbad précis of a study by Alan Urdaibay
Last Edited By: Dr Sinbad 02/08/09 03:26 PM. Edited 1 time.