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Reason and science-based spirituality

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This topic contains 85 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  TomOver 7 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #95150

    TomOver
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    By ‘spirituality,’ I mean a sense of connection to others, which includes non-human Earthers. I intend to be respectful of people and open-minded. But I’m concerned that New Age types of thinking involve a form of withdrawal from the world.

    At a Thanksgiving dinner, a couple of people I know had me read from a recently written book whose author claims to have had posthumous discussions with Adolf Hitler, Albert Einstein and other deceased people. My friends didn’t see this account as intended symbolism or some other form of fiction.

    Maybe when people believe in unprovable, extraordinary claims–whether in the form of traditional, mainstream religion or New Age views—it’s a step away from using reason to take responsibility for how our actions affect others with whom we share this planet. I suspect being rational is a means for putting love into practice, instead of just having it as something we read, write, or talk about.

    I find it disappointing when someone rejects mainstream, organized religion, but ends up substituting it with yet another set of unprovable, extraordinary claims. I suggest we get our spirituality from seeing and feeling our connection with nature, (which includes people and so much more), and use the science of ecology to harmonize our rational and our intuitive/emotional faculties. We can fully develop all of our faculties, having a genuine sense of wonder toward the universe, instead of having a compartmentalized one where religion and science conflict.

    I intend to help in my small way with the development of a type of spirituality thru which we strive for greater knowledge and wisdom by being honest with ourselves about what we don’t know, instead of using myths and unprovable extraordinary claims to fill the gaps.

    #528393

    Gil Ligg
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    Dude, I love this topic of discussion, but it’s way too deep for the CU messageboard. If you want to get a response then you need to talk about topics that are banal and mostly meaningless.

    #528394
    Manatee
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    Come on Gil, bring it on. What have you got? I’m deep enough to listen.

    #528395

    geoyui
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    Gil Ligg said:
    Dude, I love this topic of discussion, but it’s way too deep for the CU messageboard. If you want to get a response then you need to talk about topics that are banal and mostly meaningless.

    Dude, that was deep. Glad you contributed.

    #528396
    Chris Sunami
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    Rationality is only of the many possible modes of human experience of the universe. It has the strong advantages of being consistent and reliable, but it also has a limited scope of inquiry, as compared to the entire range of human potential.

    For good or for ill, organized religion is the most advanced and developed approach to the spiritual and mythic modes of human experience. There’s more to religion than the “rational” analysis of it might indicate.

    It doesn’t surprise me that people opposed to religion still crave a connection to the spiritual and/or mythic side of things, but I have to admit I find the new age-y version and your “rational-spiritual” version equally uncompelling.

    #528397
    Graybeak
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    Way to keep endearing yourself to the community Gil.

    #528398
    Snarf
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    Gil Ligg said:
    Dude, I love this topic of discussion, but it’s way too deep for the CU messageboard. If you want to get a response then you need to talk about topics that are banal and mostly meaningless.

    Totally, Dude. Like, let’s get deep, dude bro.

    #528399

    myliftkk
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    People love myths, that won’t change. What changes are the myths they love.

    Yesterday they all bought pictures of the Last Supper to hang up in their homes, now they buy all the unicorns, star wars, and dr. who tcotchkies they can find.

    #528400

    TomOver
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    Gil Ligg said:
    Dude, I love this topic of discussion, but it’s way too deep for the CU messageboard. If you want to get a response then you need to talk about topics that are banal and mostly meaningless.

    Gil, perhaps ur expressing an indirect show of support. Thanks. But I got faith in CU as a public forum. Actually, it’s not just faith; I’ve evidence-based confidence in the quality of user-driven content here. Keep writing.

    #528401

    Gil Ligg
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    if there were a religion based on the teachings of joseph campbell and the philosophy of george carlin, then i’d consider joining it. with that said, organized religion is the bane to a peaceful, thoughtful, and meaningful existence.

    #528402
    Manatee
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    That’s deep-ish.

    I’m a big Campbell fan.

    However, I’m currently having a fairly peaceful, thoughtful, and meaningful existence, and I’m affiliated with several organized religions.

    But your experience must have been different… tell us more.

    #528403
    Manatee
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    Also… Joseph Campbell was kind of a lover of religions… that was kind of his thing. He did spend his entire life traveling the world, studying them, and taking tremendous, succulent delight in their many permutations and what they revealed about the eternal journey of our psyches.

    #528404

    TomOver
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    ChrisSunami said:
    Rationality is only of the many possible modes of human experience of the universe. It has the strong advantages of being consistent and reliable, but it also has a limited scope of inquiry, as compared to the entire range of human potential.

    For good or for ill, organized religion is the most advanced and developed approach to the spiritual and mythic modes of human experience. There’s more to religion than the “rational” analysis of it might indicate.

    It doesn’t surprise me that people opposed to religion still crave a connection to the spiritual and/or mythic side of things, but I have to admit I find the new age-y version and your “rational-spiritual” version equally uncompelling.

    Thanks Chris. I ask non-rhetorically. How is the spirituality I suggest “uncompelling” ?

    It’s based on striving for maximal empathy and on otherwise having a sense of connection to other living beings with whom we share this planet (and perhaps the broader universe, if there are beings beyond Earth.)

    Again, non-rhetorically, how compelling is it that a virgin gave birth to Christ, that he changed water to wine, and was resurrected ?

    Is it compelling or contradictory that an all-loving god will send us to eternal torment if we don’t believe in and obey ‘him’ (the gender designation yet another indication of how humans invented God) ? That type of severely conditional arrangement sounds like something humans would invent, no ?

    If God exists and is as great as many of us imagine him (or her or it), why is God so demanding about being obeyed ? If it’s because God loves us, why then will God torture us for eternity if we don’t do as he, she or it says ? Either way, it sounds like God is on a huge ego trip. That’s another indication that humans invented this god, as projections of ourselves, not so dissimilar to how Greek gods had human traits such as jealousy, the desire for vengeance, sexual lust, and so on.

    Perhaps, you might say you don’t have an answer for this and that it’s part of the mystery of God and that the ways of God sometimes make no sense to humans. If so, I suggest that a genuine sense of mystery and wonder comes from exerting ourselves to the limits of our rational and intuitive faculties; and then coming to terms with our apparent limitations after having not found an answer. That’s not the same as setting aside our rational faculties to accommodate extraordinary claims we cannot prove.

    The type of spirituality I suggest emphasizes empathy and compassion. That type of focus is common to most, if not all religions, once we get past the doctrines which contain contradictory and extraordinary claims that can’t be proved.

    So, why not focus more intensely on loving each other by doing away with the myths and doctrines that cloud and clutter our minds ?

    It’s the doctrine that distinguishes a Christian from a Jew, a Hindu, a Jain, a Buddhist, or a Muslim, not the core principle of love. And perhaps love is the most important part of what Christ, the mortal human being, had to teach the world. As a mortal, and not the Son of God nor the Messiah, he was neither a liar nor a lunatic. Instead, like other extraordinary human beings before and since, he was not right about everything, but honestly mistaken.

    But as for doctrine, how is it the case that the tenets of your Christian faith are necessary for achieving your moral potential ? And, as I asked already in the thread pertaining to your wife, April, does spirituality require a belief in gods ?

    If your goal is to “love God with all your heart” and not necessarily to reach your moral potential, what exactly does it mean to “love God with all your heart?”

    If my questions are intrusive to you, I apologize, Chris. I’m trying to reach out to you. I’m open to the possibility of being wrong about my agnosticism (and being wrong about being queer, vegan, or just about anything .)

    But are you open to the possibility of being wrong about your Christianity, or your belief in God, in general ?

    If not, is your unwillingness a matter of loyalty to Christ and his father; or is it a matter of you assuming that you’re infallible and therefore can’t be wrong? The latter could be seen as blasphemy in that you are thinking you are all-knowing, like God.

    And if your unwillingness to open-mindedly question your Christianity and your belief in God in general is a matter of loyalty, then I respectfully ask you whether loyalty and obedience are the highest virtues.

    What’s more important? Is it obedience and a belief in things we don’t understand; or is it our willingness to honestly pursue the truth ?

    To you or anyone else who might actually read this, I’m humbled and grateful .

    With spiritual love,
    Tom

    #528405
    Manatee
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    Again, Tom, you are assuming religion is “right” or “wrong”, which I might add, is the same thing fundamentalists say.

    That’s just not my kind of religion.

    It does seem like you are assuming there is an absolute truth, which can be discovered rationally, which I would suggest, is not the case (at least for me).

    Assuming that there is NO absolute truth is my kind of religion. Reason is like arbitrarily drawing a straight line, that is the least common denominator, and then postulating right angles off of it to support research. If I consider the original straight line to be a postulate and not a fact (and actually, I don’t think anything is truly a fact), then steamrolling everything until it makes “rational” sense– trying to fit the fluid realms of emotion, intuition, art and spirituality into the right angles of rational structure– is really futile and in practice, cruel. We are not machines with one output which is reason, nor should we be. I don’t believe things like “virgin birth” in the same way that I believe that water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, but at the same time I intuit a concept like virgin birth as a symbol (and by symbol I do not just mean metaphor– but something which has its own meaning deeper than metaphor) which has many different meanings and applications.

    Then again, religion and spirituality are very personal and trying to take them apart using yes or no binaries quickly becomes a confusing and messy knot.

    #528406

    TomOver
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    Manatee said:

    Again, Tom, you are assuming religion is “right” or “wrong”, which I might add, is the same thing fundamentalists say.

    I’m saying that spirituality should focus on love, not doctrines containing contradictions and extraordinary claims that can’t be proved. Universalists approximate this ideal in that fellowship is based on a shared commitment to love, though members within that community may disagree on the existence of God, an afterlife, and so on.

    It does seem like you are assuming there is an absolute truth, which can be discovered rationally, which I would suggest, is not the case (at least for me).

    I’m not saying truth is absolute. But our methods for pursuing it should be based on reason and ‘science,’ in a broad sense of the latter term. The fact that you and Chris and others keep saying that our rational faculties are only part of the equation indicates this sort of barrier between reason and intuition is something many of us take for granted. That barrier doesn’t exist in reality. We only think it does to the extent we give credence to extraordinary claims we can’t prove. We have a lot of that with religion.

    Assuming that there is NO absolute truth is my kind of religion. Reason is like arbitrarily drawing a straight line, that is the least common denominator, and then postulating right angles off of it to support research. If I consider the original straight line to be a postulate and not a fact (and actually, I don’t think anything is truly a fact),

    Then, how can you know anything ? This type of open-mindedness is indispensable for our creative and brainstorming processes. But how well does it work for putting ideas into practice ?

    For that, we have science whereby we test ideas. And I suggest history indicates a clear pattern of human beings replacing mythology and superstition with scientific reasoning.

    For example we generally attribute certain behaviors to schizophrenia and other problems with brain chemistry and no longer attribute it to evil spirits. Similarly, I suspect thru enhanced understanding of how our brains function, humans will sooner or later have a more scientific approach to spirituality and morality, whereby human societies outgrow what are currently the world’s major religions.

    then steamrolling everything until it makes “rational” sense– trying to fit the fluid realms of emotion, intuition, art and spirituality into the right angles of rational structure– is really futile and in practice, cruel.

    U got what I said backwards. I don’t suggest doing away with our sense of wonder and awe, nor doing away with our intuition, feelings, and spontaneity. Those aspects of our being should come about as we use our rational faculties to their fullest. And they will, because we’re fallible and otherwise limited. So, no matter how hard we use our rational faculties, there will be mysteries for us to marvel at.

    But our sense of wonder shouldn’t come about by taking a rational approach to, say, chemistry or astronomy while somehow we set reason aside and continue with the absurdities of Christianity–ie virgin births, resurrections, a sacrificial lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, and so on— or the absurdities of Hinduism–ie the notion that people suffer due to bad karma from previous lives, and so on.

    You and others seem to suggest we use scientific reasoning for just about all other aspects of our attempts to understand the universe, yet, refrain from applying that reasoning process to the various religious beliefs that exist, such as, for example, the notion that Earth is 6,000 years old despite, (drum roll) archeology and other sciences whereby we have a rational basis for estimating the age of Earth.

    We are not machines with one output which is reason, nor should we be. I don’t believe things like “virgin birth” in the same way that I believe that water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, but at the same time I intuit a concept like virgin birth as a symbol (and by symbol I do not just mean metaphor– but something which has its own meaning deeper than metaphor) which has many different meanings and applications.

    Well, then, it would make sense to call Christianity a combination of historical accounts, poetry, mythology, and humanly-conceived principles of morality. That’s quite different from saying it’s wisdom from an infallible super-human being, eh ?

    Then again, religion and spirituality are very personal and trying to take them apart using yes or no binaries quickly becomes a confusing and messy knot.

    Again, I’m saying we should apply scientific reasoning to all aspects of all phenomena, not just selectively leave certain things, such as religion, alone. It’s my hope, that religion, like other forms of superstition, will be replaced by scientific reasoning, whereby we more effectively make the world a more empathic place.

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