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Reason and science-based spirituality

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  • #528437
    Chris Sunami
    Chris Sunami
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    EDIT: Accidental Double Post

    #528438

    dubdave00
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    tdziemia said:
    let us not forget, it was Christians who decided to drop those two atomic bombs on non-Christians, thereby ushering in the age of nuclear weapons!

    You’re cherry-picking just one part of their identity to reinforce a generalized statement. Replace “Christians” with “Democrats”, and “non-Christians” with “Japanese”, and with the same logic, I could incorrectly imply the Democratic party and all of it’s modern adherents are racist.

    In addition, your statement presupposes that Truman and gang solely based their decision on group identity beliefs (Like religion) rather than say, the situation. Should we craft all-encompassing narratives on the fact they were white, male, middle-aged, Democrat, leaders, educated, Ivy League?

    With or without religion, humanity can be easily duped into doing wrongs in the name of something right. We can point to that throughout history. In the end, the only “enemy” seems to be humanity’s selfish needs to be validated and “right”.

    The desire to force everyone to adopt the same religion as well as the desire to force everyone to abandon religion are both, an ignorant solution to the wrong problem.

    #528439

    tdziemia
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    Of course I was cherry picking :-). So I deserve the skewering.

    I understand that the decision was made at least in part on a calculus of ending the war quickly with minimal loss of American lives (i.e. the estimate of AMerican lives that would be lost in an invasion to subjugate Japan). Of course one could discuss ad infinitum the morality of valuing an American life more than a Japanese life, but I think this is pretty typical in times of war.

    The real point was that human behavior has a morality to it, but science does not. The decision to drop the a-bomb was just an example. I probably should have left out the parenthetical remark, but my puckish instincts got the best of me. I fully agree with your statement about humanity’s selfish needs, which include validation among an even longer list that will forever get us in trouble. If the species does commit suicide (specicide?), it will be for a rather interesting reason: lack of long term thinking, which is generally taken to be a unique capability of humans. Go figure.

    #528440

    TomOver
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    ChrisSunami said:

    TomOver: I’m open to the possibility of being wrong about my current disbelief in God. Are you open to being wrong about your belief in God ?

    (Chris Sunami) No, I’m all in on God for this lifetime.

    (Tom Over Jan 9) All due respect, but it seems your mind is closed.

    (Tom Over Jan 8) So then, are you willing to pray alongside a Muslim, Hindu, or Jew or participate in worship rituals with believers in other types of religion ?

    (Chris Sunami) I’ve often prayed with believers of other faiths. I wouldn’t take part in any ritual that conflicted with my core beliefs, but there’s a lot of common ground between the Abrahamic religions at least (Muslim, Christian, Jew).

    (Tom Over, Jan 9 ) But perhaps the focus on compassion and love found in non-Abrahamic religions, as well as secular morality, is enough common ground for us to work together to help improve our communities and the world in general? What are you working on? How might I help in my own small, humble and respectful way, as we agree to disagree regarding this matter ?

    (Tom Over Jan 8 ) So then, are the Old and New Testaments books from which to draw inspiration but not sources of immutable rules wholly applicable to modern society?

    (Chris Sunami ) Although many churches don’t publicize the fact, the New Covenant upon which Christianity is founded on is an explicit shift away from the legalism of the Old Testament. Christianity is not a rule-based religion.

    (Tom Over Jan 9) Thanks Chris. Not only does it seem “many churches don’t publicize the fact” but it also seems few have put this fact into practice, during the past millennium or so. I suggest the merits of Christianity and religion in general should be weighed according to the historical record of how well they facilitated making this world (the one we know exists) a better place. Using that measurement, the merits of Christianity and religion in general seem questionable.

    (Tom Over , Jan 8 ) This comes across as you offering a gesture of understanding to someone, such as me, who does not share your faith.

    (Chris Sunami ) No it was intended as an honest statement of my beliefs as I currently can best express them.

    (Tom Over, Jan 8 ) to what degree could having a relationship with God, on the one hand, be one in the same as, on the other hand, having compassion and love as one’s highest ethic

    (Chris Sunami) It sounds very Platonic, and I’m a big fan of Plato. Are you also willing to accept his contention that what we perceive as reality is only a pale shadow of the infinite and the eternal?

    (Tom Over, Jan 9) No, I’m not. But your question seems based on a logical fallacy, Chris. Even if we assume Plato shared or even originated the idea that basing one’s life on compassion and love is one and the same as having a relationship with God, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we would have to accept his other ideas.

    (Tom Over, Jan 9 ) Also, I was asking you a question, not committing to the idea that I myself am having a relationship with God when I strive to base my life on love and compassion. As someone who’s recently started to pray experimentally, my best guess is that what I once thought was a relationship with God was actually a ‘relationship’ with a dissociated part of my own mind. Your wife April reminded me of this when she told Walker that her inspiration comes from God, as she allows her subconscious to direct her artistic expression

    #528441

    TomOver
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    tdziemia said:

    The real point was that human behavior has a morality to it, but science does not.

    Thru science, which is a system of (dis)provable knowledge, we can put into practice our love and compassion. A person can have a compelling sense of concern for others, yet not possess the know-how to apply it.

    Our habit of thinking of science as amoral may result from our over-reliance on religious and other mystical modes of getting our deepest sense of purpose, as individuals and as civilizations.

    Though the work habits of scientists likely involve both their rational and intuitive faculties, they use reason, not intuition, to verify their hunches in ways that make sense not just to themselves or to member of their own culture, but to other scientists, and, in many respects, to people in general all over the world.

    That process of creating systematic knowledge depends on rational thought. It’s science, verified thru reason, that unites humanity with a common understanding of truth, not religion or mysticism which is ultimately derived from our intuitive faculties, and often entangled in our cultural differences.

    Sure, many of the things that human beings intuitively sensed via ancient religions and mysticism have been or can be verified by rational thought. But human beings use reason, not intuition, for our final reckoning of truth versus falsehood, as we build our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, and make that knowledge workable for all of humanity.

    Yes, all fully functioning humans use both rational and intuitive faculties. But it’s our rational faculties that we use to verify knowledge, so as to work across cultures and across generations for collaboration that involves of all humanity, not just cultural subsets.

    Thru science, as described above, human beings can further recognize how our empathy and compassion toward others benefits our own well-being and our prospects for survival, individually, and as a species.

    Thru science, humans can further develop our knowledge of ourselves, other species, the planet and the universe. With that scientific knowledge, combined with the scientific knowledge of how compassion and empathy for others benefits us, we thereby have a type of morality superior to that which most of us have via religion.

    I fully agree with your statement about humanity’s selfish needs, which include validation among an even longer list that will forever get us in trouble.

    As a self-reflective species, many humans throughout the ages have studied the question of what we are. That process seems to involve two extremes: the view that humans are basically good, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, the view that we’re basically bad.

    You find Rousseau and a variety of (mostly secular ?) humanist thinkers in the former camp, and people such as John Calvin and other (mostly religious?) thinkers
    in the latter camp. I suggest we think of humans as neither basically good nor basically bad, but instead as creatures with a set of primary needs.

    But I do suggest that we can scientifically verify that empathy and compassion is conducive to our best interests as individuals and as a species. And I suggest that thru science, we have the know-how with which to do our imperfect best to put into practice our compassion for each other.

    If the species does commit suicide (specicide?), it will be for a rather interesting reason: lack of long term thinking, which is generally taken to be a unique capability of humans. Go figure.

    Anthropocide might be a term fitting what you’re talking about. I see the irony you’re hinting at, and you may be correct. And I appreciate your investment of time and energy into making sense of our human situation on this planet. But to what degree is your critique of humanity based on compassion or ‘spiritual love’ ?

    #528442

    tdziemia
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    Dubdave00 mentioned humanity’s selfish need to be “validated and right” getting us into trouble and I was agreeing. Obviously compassion is a nobler emotion, that perhaps can serve as a counterweight to our more selfish impulses. I’m not attempting any broader critique of humanity.

    My main point in this thread has been to simply suggest that individuals, and, I suppose societies, can be moral/immoral, good/evil, but not science. Whatever examples I’ve used (or misused) have been thrown out there just to try and illustrate that point. I think that the realms of science and spirituality tend to be more divergent than convergent, which is not the same as saying that a person can’t sometimes be scientific (changing a light bulb, for example) and sometimes spiritual. We choose one construct or the other, depending on the situation.

    #528443
    rus
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    tdziemia said:
    My main point in this thread has been to simply suggest that individuals, and, I suppose societies, can be moral/immoral, good/evil, but not science.

    Not entirely, perhaps?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States

    #528444

    dubdave00
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    I suggest the merits of Christianity and religion in general should be weighed according to the historical record of how well they facilitated making this world (the one we know exists) a better place.

    So, you’re searching for spirituality that provides a sense of beauty, comfort, and awe, yet exclude religion’s own history to provide that very same thing into your religious merit measurement?

    #528445
    Chris Sunami
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    (Tom Over Jan 9) All due respect, but it seems your mind is closed.

    Jesus said “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.”

    Or to put it another way, life is short.

    (Tom Over, Jan 9 ) But perhaps the focus on compassion and love found in non-Abrahamic religions, as well as secular morality, is enough common ground for us to work together to help improve our communities and the world in general? What are you working on?

    I doubt there’s a single faith-based food-pantry, free store, or soup kitchen in town that would bar you from volunteering on the basis of your atheism. And were you taking some kind of actual action, I wouldn’t rule out pitching in if your ideas were otherwise sound. Or is that not what you’re talking about?

    (Tom Over, Jan 9)your question seems based on a logical fallacy, Chris. Even if we assume Plato shared or even originated the idea that basing one’s life on compassion and love is one and the same as having a relationship with God, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we would have to accept his other ideas.

    I think you misunderstood the thrust of my statement. I’m generally in agreement with Plato’s views on reality –if you were too that might have partially redeemed your cult of rationality in my eyes.

    As someone who’s recently started to pray experimentally, my best guess is that what I once thought was a relationship with God was actually a ‘relationship’ with a dissociated part of my own mind.

    Yes, I also think that’s quite likely.

    #528446

    tdziemia
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    rus said:
    Not entirely, perhaps?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States

    Sorry, but I’m sticking to my guns. It is the (amoral) business of science to understand which human traits, failings, etc are genetic (hereditary) and which are not.

    If there is a “social movement” (first sentence of the wikipedia article) which then takes that understanidng and uses it in an immoral way (forced sterilization, etc), that is not science, it’s public policy.

    It’s fair to say that science isn’t perfect, but it’s also true that it’s often self correcting (i.e. a new theory which better explains a set of results is generally adopted to replace the old theory). There is also something to that in morality. After all, slavery has been accepted in many cultures through most of human history, but only recently has been generally agreed to be immoral, as man has changed his notions of the acceptable treatment of his fellow man.

    #528447
    rus
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    tdziemia said:

    Sorry, but I’m sticking to my guns.

    That’s the other thread.

    tdziemia said:

    If there is a “social movement” (first sentence of the wikipedia article) which then takes that understanidng and uses it in an immoral way (forced sterilization, etc), that is not science, it’s public policy.

    Which was informed by science in the same way other public policies were informed by religion?

    #528448

    TomOver
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    ChrisSunami said:

    (Tom Over Jan 9) All due respect, but it seems your mind is closed.

    (Chris Sunami) Jesus said “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.”

    (Chris Sunami) Or to put it another way, life is short.

    (Tom Over, Jan 10) I got to be honest, I can relate to that. There have been occasions on which I didn’t, or thought I didn’t have the time or energy to be as completely open-minded to what someone was trying to communicate to me. I also am reminding myself to keep in mind what I tell myself what my core intention is, that is, to work with others to bring more love into the world. I’d like to think I’m not, per se, trying to change anyone’s mind and that I’m, instead, seeking to engage hearts and minds, not necessarily ‘win’ them.

    I’m working on lovecause.org because love, to me, seems THE cause, not, per see, veganism nor eco-spirituality nor the decentralization of political and economic power, nor whatever other pursuit there may be.

    Further, I expect just about anyone to be able to relate to the ethic of love, according to her or his own lights.

    (Tom Over, Jan 9 ) But perhaps the focus on compassion and love found in non-Abrahamic religions, as well as secular morality, is enough common ground for us to work together to help improve our communities and the world in general? What are you working on?

    (Chris Sunami) I doubt there’s a single faith-based food-pantry, free store, or soup kitchen in town that would bar you from volunteering on the basis of your atheism.
    (Tom Over Jan 10) Generally, that’s correct. And I intend to balance expressing my ideas about reason-based morality or reason-based spirituality, on the one hand; with, on the other hand, collaborating with people of any or no religious faith on bringing more love into our communities and the world in general.

    (Chris Sunami) And were you taking some kind of actual action, I wouldn’t rule out pitching in if your ideas were otherwise sound. Or is that not what you’re talking about?

    (Tom Over Jan, 10) I’m not sure. Most of my time is either tricycling people for money or writing. In a month or so, I intend to donate whatever labor I can as Portia, of Portia’s Creations, ventures a restaurant on Indianola.

    I’d like to think I’d keep an open mind. In the past I’ve helped with community gardens or simply helped clean up after a meal at the UU Church in Clintonville. I relate to 3 of the 4-H parts: head, heart, and hands. As for head and heart, I plan to stand on street corners with signs about love. That’s a message seems good on an emotional and intellectual level.

    But, when my imagination fails, it’s nice to just donate manual labor. There is spiritual strength to be had from working without receiving money. For me, spirituality is purpose and I can more effectively develop and apply that purpose and asses the results with a scientific approach.

    (Tom Over, Jan 9)your question seems based on a logical fallacy, Chris. Even if we assume Plato shared or even originated the idea that basing one’s life on compassion and love is one and the same as having a relationship with God, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we would have to accept his other ideas.

    (Chris Sunami ) I think you misunderstood the thrust of my statement. I’m generally in agreement with Plato’s views on reality –if you were too that might have partially redeemed your cult of rationality in my eyes.

    (Tom Over, Jan 10) I suggest Plato’s darkened cave is a metaphor with which to evoke within ourselves a sense of the enormity of human limitation. But I prefer to approach our lack of knowledge with a sense of wonder, leaving the gaps in our knowledge empty by accepting uncertainty, instead of filling them with mythology. Today’s religion may be the distant future’s mythology.

    But that lack of knowledge should involve a genuine sense of mystery. That mystery is not genuine if we compartmentalize reason and faith, nor is it genuine if we set aside reason so as to accommodate the extraordinary, unprovable claims in many religions. I suggest rational faith.

    (Tom Over Jan 8 ) As someone who’s recently started to pray experimentally, my best guess is that what I once thought was a relationship with God was actually a ‘relationship’ with a dissociated part of my own mind.

    (Chris Sunami) Yes, I also think that’s quite likely.

    (Tom Over, Jan 10) This might be a repeat of my question about u reconsidering you faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, but to what degree have you considered that what u and April currently consider to be a relationship with God might actually be a relationship with ur own subconscious minds ?

    #528449

    TomOver
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    @ Rus and tdziemia : I suggest science is not values-free. It probably varies from one lay person and from one scientist to another, but no one’s search for knowledge of the world is entirely based on curiosity. To one degree or another, we have in mind as we pursue scientific truth at least some sense of how that knowledge might be used.

    As stated before, I suggest part of the problem we’ve had as a culture is that we have the notion of science as amoral, and I suggest that notion comes from many of us associating morality with religion, the latter being full of things that just don’t make rational sense.

    Further still, I suggest thru science, human beings can better develop our moral values, and also thru science human beings can better develop the know-how for putting those moral values into practice.

    Those moral values involve what seems universal to all humans, atheist or theist: the general preference for pleasure and happiness over suffering and unhappiness. This, of course, applies also to non-humans. Morality ought to be based on using causal reasoning to determine how our behavior affects others. I don’t think it should be based on ‘saving someone’s soul’ for an afterlife that may or may not exist, nor should it be based on obeying God.

    Two people so far have told me that their top priority is their relationship with God (writers Chris Sunami and Nathan Schneider), and not, per se, how their actions affect others. How does that then jibe with following Christ’s golden rule?

    #528450

    TomOver
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    dubdave00 said:

    I suggest the merits of Christianity and religion in general should be weighed according to the historical record of how well they facilitated making this world (the one we know exists) a better place.

    So, you’re searching for spirituality that provides a sense of beauty, comfort, and awe, yet exclude religion’s own history to provide that very same thing into your religious merit measurement?

    My point is that religion correlates with many of the things we value such as compassion, and related ideas such as BOMFOG (brotherhood of man/fatherhood of God), and so on.

    But I suggest correlation is not causation, that is, religion doesn’t necessarily cause humans to be better at bringing more love into the world or making the world a place of less suffering and more well-being.

    In fact, the historical record (as well as current events) seems at best unclear, given the many atrocities committed and the many injustices tolerated in the name of God.

    #528451

    tdziemia
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    I feel like I’m speaking a language that’s not very well understood.

    To me, saying that science has values is like saying a cookbook has values. Science is a sort of recipe for obtaining answers, just like a recipe is a step-by-step process for preparing food. A person who applies the scientific method probably has a value system, and is conscious of potential implications of the science (or she would be less motivated to do it). But that doesn’t mean the science has values, it means the scientist has values. Likewise, the cook has an idea whether his creation will be sold for a profit or donated to a church bake sale, or eaten by the cook as soon as it comes out of the oven. That doesn’t mean the recipe has values.

    Maybe the conceptual problem is that the analogy doesn’t hold for spiritualism and religion? Because they are so deeply personal, they are entwined and inseparable from the person?

    This is not the case with science. In fact a hallmark of science (replicability, as pointed out by CrisSunami) is that a person in a different place can perform the same experiment and get the same result. Which seems about as impersonal as it gets.

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