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,