atheism


Even if I walk in the light, I am not the light.

Even if I am a taut stringed lute, I am not the lute player

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

Seeing Michael Dowd give a discussion on his work to prevent the catastrophe of global climate change was interesting. He appeared at my local Unitarian Universalism church. Dowd outlined a “new” movement where people of all faiths are coming together with Science and scientists to discuss and hopefully combat climate change.

Religious naturalism is an approach to spirituality that is devoid of supernaturalism. The focus is on the religious attributes of the universe/nature, the understanding of it and our response to it (interpretive, spiritual and moral). These provide for the development of an eco-morality. Although it has an ancient heritage in many philosophical cultures, this modern movement is currently not well defined. Theistic or nontheistic religious naturalism is a basic theological perspective of liberal religion and religious humanism, according to some sources.

Religious naturalism is concerned about the meaning of life, but it is equally interested in living daily life in a rational, happy way. An alternative, more anthropocentric approach, is to look at it as answering the question: “What is the meaning of one’s life and does it have a purpose?” It is an approach to understanding the natural world in a religious way and does not offer a detailed system of beliefs or rituals. Religious naturalism also attempts to amalgamate the scientific examination of reality with the subjective sensory experiences of spirituality and aesthetics. As such, it is a combination of objectivity with religious emotional feelings and the aesthetic insights supplied by art, music and literature. It is a promising form of contemporary religious ethics and pluralism responding to the challenges of late modern religious transformations and ecological peril. In so doing, it is emerging as an increasingly plausible and potentially rewarding form of religious moral life consistent with the insights of the natural sciences.

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

Thank-God-for-Evolution

This is a very adimarable goal. I enjoyed Dowd’s talk, until he started discussing Humanism. Dowd himself and his wife, Connie Barlow, are partners and Co authors. Both have spent more than a decade on the road discussing their views, books and the problem of the scientific community in our modern lives.

Dowd himself admits he is a preacher, an ordained minister. Connie is described as an author of “popular science” books. Popular science books, the term doesn’t bode well.

Dowd outlined the need to view reality with reverence and the physical as sacred.

…….

The outer world of earthly existence corresponds in all its details to the inner world of man’s soul, and there is a similar correspondence between the Garden of the Heart and the Garden of the Soul, but these are only two particular  instances of the general truth that all the different domains in the Universe correspond to each other in that each is an image of the Universe itself. 

–Martin Lings, THE SYMBOL

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QVOD SVPERIVS EST EST EST SICVT ID QVOD INFERIVS
(“The top is like the below”)

MACROPROSOPVS – Macrocosm

MICROPROSOPVS – Microcosm

Now, this is great. Of course reality is sacred as is the very ground beneath my feet. Dowd admirably preaches and teaches a philosophy of reality as sacred. Hardly news to me or anyone with an ounce of sanity, in my opinion.

For Dowd, reality, or God as he interchangeably calls or labels things, is sacred and must be treated as such. Reverence for all, in order to prevent climate change… Dowd outlines this by dismissing God, destroying any notion of the supernatural and proposes that observation is our savior and will enable the unification of science and religion. Of course this is overly simplistic and not something I could get behind.

Not that scientific and aesthetic understanding is not necessary –but it should do its work faithfully and immerse itself and disappear in the truth of the relation which surpasses understanding and embraces what is understandable.

–Martin Buber (I And Thou)

By discarding the divine for:

“reality” is divine, but only that which is
” observable” we are being dishonest. By dishonest that is, to me it is dishonest.

Observation only works due to assumptions.

Assumptions include a shared language, for example if we are discussing chickens it is assumed we are discussing chickens that all have two legs and two wings, in reality what if the chicken is deformed? In a real sense this means we are assuming like and like. We are assuming that 1 (chicken) plus 1 (chicken) is 2 (chickens)…. Assuming that both chickens are equal. Which in the real world they would not be.

Observation only works due to an agreed upon yardstick. To quote Dowd

“You don’t have to believe in the sea, it’s just there.”
No, you are wrong Mr Dowd. The sea is only the sea because we agree it is the sea. If we measured using an electromagnetic measuring device, for example, we may have problems separating the sea from nearby rivers. In turn, if we change our yard stick a drop of rainwater is the sea. Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrates this in his essay on the coastline of Britain, demonstrating it is of infinite length, measuring from rocks, stones, sand… atoms etc.

Dreamsmandy

The work of Werner Karl Heisenberg famously explored the problem of light being a particle and a wave, though I understand to some modern physicists the solution is that it’s a wave. At the subatomic level we can only measure where something is or its velocity, not both. To summarize Heisenberg we can simply say the
“observed and observer are inseparable ”

This means any observation is a compromise as it is fully changed by being observed. People may counter this by saying this is only at the subatomic level. Again though, it depends on our yard stick. There are numerous ways and means that demonstrate this phenomenon of the inseparable nature of observation. In the end, it is just a complex way if stating observation is dependent upon perspective and perception. For example if we only studied the sky at night we could learn many things, during the day, yet other things, at both times we observe the sky.

Every experiment destroys some of the knowledge of the system

which was obtained by previous experiments.

“Critique of the Physical Concepts of the Corpuscular Theory” in The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory (1930) as translated by Carl Eckhart and Frank C. Hoyt, p. 20; also in “The Uncertainty Principle” in The World of Mathematics : A Small Library of the Literature of Mathematics (1956) by James Roy Newman, p. 105

This isnt to mention other things like Godel’s incompleteness theorem, that demonstrates that the only logical conclusion of logic is that logic doesn’t work.

A statement sometimes known as Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem states that if number theory is consistent, then a proof of this fact does not exist using the methods of first-order predicate calculus. Stated more colloquially, any formal system that is interesting enough to formulate its own consistency can prove its own consistency iff it is inconsistent.

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/GoedelsIncompletenessTheorem.html

At a basic level, if we started to discuss Star Wars with a dog, the dog would not understand who Darth Vader is…. sadly humanists are assuming that through observation we can understand reality, just as a dog can one day discuss Luke Skywalker. Uh, no….

But the cult of the intellect knows no bounds.

The point where we seperate from our origins…or the divine/God.

It is this type of world along with its overriding orientation and pursuits which we have destroyed. Our society is man-made, not a divine order. It is one in fact which represents a projection of the human mind that has cut its links with the divine and with the earth; and in so far that it has any ideals these are purely temporal and finite and concern only the terrestrial welfare of its members.

–Philip Sherrard, MODERN SCIENCE AND THE DEHUMANIZATION OF MAN.

To a humanist mindset and many other similar groups (notably modern scientific pantheists for example) throwing out the divine makes perfect sense. If logic, observation, bar charts and other intellectual tools won’t cover reality then anything else is garbage, to the humanist (collectively humanists but each and every group with this mindset).

I am reminded by the recent book/TV show where Stephen Hawkins disproves God. All these groups seem to have one thing in common, an overly simplified verging on puerile understanding or concept of God. The science may or may not be remarkable, advanced and inspiring, but the understanding of the sacred is childlike at best. Hawkins demonstrated this very adequately in his television appearance, in his defense I have not, nor do I intend to read his book.

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up til he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

–William Blake (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)

Dowd, like Hawkins touches upon God, largely only in a puerile simplistic manner, the sky daddy playing chess. This overly simplistic image betrays a lack of perspective or genuine lack of investigation into the nature of God. As such, there is no place beyond the observable, the logical or even beyond the physical. As such we, to this modernist mindset, are merely dogs learning about Star Wars, one day able through language and concept to discuss the finer points of Star Wars.

Of course the talk was only an hour or so long, and I have not actually read his books, so my understanding may be limited.

Language of course fails us every time. Modernists use mathematics to overcome this.

The problem with secular liberals, as distinct from traditionalist liberals and traditionalist conservatives, is that they insist on inventing reality by denying any higher truth than themselves. They deny the natural law of holistic education, including the metalaw of holistic haqq, which is to be sought heuristic ally and holistically not created by human fiat.

By claiming the source of truth they deny the essence of anything and anything, because without essence everything is relative and truth cannot exist. If everything is relavistic, there is no purpose, then the practice of human responsibilities and the corresponding and resulting human rights has no logical basis.

The denial of any reality beyond the power of personal preference is the source of all totalitarian ideologies, beginning with the liberal logic of the French Revolution, which produced Communism, Fascism, and both Zionist and Muslim Statism today, where the sovereign state or global caliphate claims divinity based on top-down political process of might makes right.

 The Metalaw of Holistic Haqq: Toward a Just Third Way beyond Capitalism and Socialism in the Holy Land
by Robert Dickson Crane

….

In conclusion, Dowd and other humanists make giant compromises. Dowd does however stress the urgency of climate change. His concepts work for the ignorant i.e. those expecting the rapture, denying evolution, biblical aging of the planet and other ridiculous literalisms that demonstrate once again observer and observed change things; as literalisms as found in modern times, never existed in the ancient world. However, Dowd is educating the small of understanding, the ones that arguably need to be spoon fed understanding. His goals are also good ones. However, I don’t agree with all his political leanings. Sadly, I think Dowd’s allusions fit well at my church amongst the right people (which may or may not be a good thing depending on your perspective). I enjoyed his conclusions i.e. live in harmony with the earth or die, it is not all doom and gloom, we may do better in regards to combating climate change.

                       .

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yet the crisis itself is not first of all an ecological crisis. It is not first of all a
crisis concerning our environment. It is first of all a crisis concerning the way we think. We are treating our planet in an inhuman, God-forsaken manner because we see things in an inhuman and God-forsaken way. How we see the world depends above all upon how we see ourselves. Our model of the universe – our worldview – is based upon the model we have of ourselves, upon our own self image. Unless our own evaluation of ourselves, and of what constitutes the true nature of our being, changes, the way we treat the world around us will not change either. The industrial and technological inferno we have produced around us, and by means of which we are now devastating our world, is not something that has come about accidentally. On the contrary, it is a direct consequence
of our allowing ourselves to be dominated by a certain paradigm of thought that impels us to look upon ourselves as little more than two-legged animals whose destiny and needs can best be fulfilled through the pursuit of social, political and economic self-interest. And to correspond with this self-image we have invented a worldview in which nature is seen as an impersonal commodity, a soulless source of food, raw materials, wealth,
power and so on, which we think we are entitled to abuse by means of any scientific and mechanical technique we can devise and produce, in order to satisfy our self-interest. Having in our own minds de-sanctified ourselves, we have de-sanctified nature as well.

Our contemporary secular scientific mentality goes hand-in-hand with a
corresponding and increased erosion in us of the sense of the sacred. We do not have any respect, let alone reverence, for the world of nature because we do not fundamentally have any respect, let alone reverence, for ourselves. It is because we have lost the sense of our own reality that we have lost the sense of every other reality as well. It is because we cripple and mutilate ourselves that we cripple and mutilate everything else as well. Our contemporary crisis is really our own depravity writ large.

So the only real answer to this crisis is to stop depraving ourselves. It is to
recover a sense of our true identity and dignity, of our creation in the image of God, of our self image as sacred beings. Once we repossess a sense of our own holiness, we will recover a sense of the holiness of the world about us as well and we will then act towards the world about us with the awe and humility that we should possess when we enter a sacred shrine, a temple of love and beauty in which we are to worship and adore the Creator. Without a sense of the holy – that everything that lives is holy – and without
humility towards the whole – towards man, towards nature and to God Himself Who is beyond both man and nature, their transcendent source and origin – we will simply proceed headlong along the course to self-destruction to which we are now committed and which is our own choosing and for which we are entirely responsible.

Philip Sherrard (1922-1995)
(The Rape of Man & Nature: An Inquiry Into the Origins and Consequences of Modern Science)

There are practically no athiests among traditional farmers, even in England –a country whose main “intellectual” export right now is atheism. Also in a country like France, which is known for its secularism, where only 11% of people go to church and 40% of people are agnostics and atheists, if you were to go to the French countryside and talk to a farmer who produces that wonderful French cheese you eat for lunch, there are hardly any athiests among them. To do something that is close to God’s world is to participate in a sense in things which are natural, and thereby to circumvent the illusion of the absence of God which the modern world has created, an illusion upon which the modern world is based.

–Seyyed Hossein Nasr

The process of secularization of the microcosm resulted in one impoverishment after another of the human reality. First, the depletion of the angelic content of the microcosm helped transform the three dimensional traditional man into the two dimensional modern man. Since traditional psychology is closely related to angelology the transformation resulted in the disappearance of the idea of the soul from modern science wheras its reality at various ontological levels was affirmed in the traditional sciences. Not only that, the soul served as a key scientific concept in traditional sciences. For example, in Islamic science, we encounter the development of scientific concepts of plant, animal, rational and even universal souls. Second, the human reality became further reduced when two-dimensional man comprising body and mind was transformed into a living organism with a mechanistic body and mind largely determined by the brain. Mechanization of the human body was only one side of the coin of mechanization of the cosmos, the other being the better known mechanization of the macrocosm. The reduction of human reality reached its extreme end when every aspect and dimension of it, including consciousness, is visualized as being entirely determined by matter and physical processes.

–Osman Bakar (From secular science to sacred science: The need for a transformation, sacred web 33)

The traditional man is defined by its three essential components, namely body, soul and spirit. In the constitution of modern man the combined reality of soul and spirit has shrunk to what is called mind, a fused reality without a sacred meaning and significance.
image

If only this did not relate to numerous people in my life at the moment… lol oh well, can’t change them, when it is their own internal battle, their own lack. A baby will eventually soil it’s diapers, a hateful, spiteful, ungrateful, manipulative personage will soil their diaper too…although as they are so oblivious they’ll probably sit in their own feces and not notice the difference…..

Sometimes kitty’s are so honest… at least their malice is only over kibble, belly rubs and how much wool you dangle in front of their face….
……………………………………………………………………………….

We and God are not two separate existences; therefore the will of God is also our own will. If we want to change, then God will not stop us from changing. The poet Nguyen Du put it like this:
“When necessary, the heavens will not stand in the way of humans.
The result of past actions can be lifted,
future causes and conditions can be created.”
The real question is, do we want to change or not?

Do we want to hold on to the lure of suffering and let our minds wander around in dreams? If in your heart you want to change, then whatever spiritual being you believe in will also be happy for you to change.

Families work the same way; no person is completely separate. If the son or daughter changes, then the father and mother will also change. If the energy arises from the son or daughter and effects a change in them first, then it will also produce a change in the heart of the father and mother some time later. Families are not made up of completely separate entities. Even if God has predisposed things to be a certain way, we can still change because, as the Bible says, “we are children of God” (I John 3:2).

What is the relationship between the creator and the creature? One has the ability to create and the other is what is created. If they are connected to each other then we can talk about them as subject and object. If they are not connected to each other, how can we call them subject and object? The subject that creates is God; the object created is the universe in which we live. Between the subject and the object there is a close relationship, just as there is a close relationship between left and right, night and day, satisfaction and hunger; just as, according to the law of reflection, the perceiver and the perceived have a very close link.

When the angle of incidence changes, the angle of reflection will change immediately. What we call the will of God is linked to our own will. That is why the retribution of our past actions can be changed.

— Thich Nhat Hanh (The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice)

Cat-wool

Lord, who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am;
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan,
If I were a wealthy man?

……..

Permission is given to every human being. If one chooses to incline himself to a path of goodness and be righteous, the right is in his hands. If one chooses to incline himself to a path of evil and be wicked, the right is in his hands.

Mishneh Torah by Moses Maimonides

The gift of giving this holiday is to give. When we give, we give of ourselves, we give our very selves. Money is ultimately not that important it is the thought behind it. When loved ones around you… repeatedly give for the sake of reward, they are brown nosing. Giving is about intention, consideration. To give is to seek no reward, you are telling another that you love them. Brown nosing is for the spiteful, shallow and contemptible.
It’s a real shame when loved ones act like brown nosers, they only show their own inner lack, their inner childishness and perhaps their inner ugliness. Brown nosers are often totally oblivious that life exists or can happen any other way. Be glad if you know only one or two brown nosers. Much better to surround yourself with people that actually consider each other….. You know? That silly thing, called love….
……………………………………………………………………….
Life is a journey in consciousness. In truth, God is always one and we are always one with God and with each other. The problem is that we don’t know that truth. This is a critical point. We are always one with the ultimate—our work is to achieve an awareness of that truth. This awareness is the ecstatic experience of ultimate love.
This helps us understand the true meaning of the command¬ment “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
How can we be commanded to have feelings of love toward another person? What if we simply have nothing in common? What if we seriously disagree over many political and social is¬sues? How can we be expected to love people who are so different from ourselves?
The commandment is actually telling us that in reality we are already one, and we can definitely experience that to be true and feel the love. However, to achieve this realization we must act in ways that express and reveal that truth. This is the theme of all the commandments dealing with interpersonal relationships.
This is the same dynamic behind the commandment to love God. We are already one with God. But we need to acknowledge that in what we think, say, and do. Then we will feel it. This is the theme of all the commandments dealing with our relationship to God.

David Aaron (The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine within You)

brownnose

If this metaphysical space is to be known,

such knowledge can be attained only by faith and grace,

not by ‘entering’ but by ‘being entered’

-this is so because the greater must reveal itself to the lesser.

Put differently, that which is immanently ‘Spirit’ can only be known receptively,

through its own intellective vision, and not any derivative faculty such as reason,

feeling or sensation. Reason can only discern conceptually,

at best reducing reality to a dualism of subject and object

(as in the case of Descartes) or catagorical postulate

(as in the case of Kant) or dialectic process

(as in the case of Hegel) – its ‘telos’ will tend to be utopian(as in the case of Marx),

fundamentalist( as in the cases of religious, political or secular dogmatism)

or anthropocentrically consencual (as in the case of Rousseau’s social contract);

while sensation or feeling even where elevated to

the level of empirical ‘science,’ can only discern reality as matter or as psyche,

quantitatively, thereby cutting it off from its transcendent

and qualitative roots, leading to an emphasis on hypertrophic subjectivism

(as in the case of Nietzsche), Psychologism(as in the case of Freud),

or reductive positivism(as in the cases of philosophical positivism and of scientism).

That which transcends us cannot be known reductively

but only by that transcendent faculty which is immanent in us-which in

Tradition is termed the ‘Intellect’

or the Self-knowing Spirit. To know is to discern BEING.

We must empty ourselves or our ‘self’ in order to know who we ARE.

We must return to the sacred emptiness of the space that is our

ontological core in order to know that which truly IS.

–M Ali Lakhani (the Distance between us, found in Sacred Web issue 31)

The same problem besets conventional science. ‘The intellectual effort to solve the mystery of the physical universe is in vain since the scientist is trying to separate himself from the universe. It is a single unit. Nature and man are not two different things.’ Thinking that they are is what transmits a misperception: the post-Cartesian world-frame that dictates duality as a model for vision. Deep ecology presages on the other hand the obsolescence of western humanism’s dominant metaphor for perception, and this is its special use as a hermeneutical tool.

We could press the point further and say that deep ecology takes us beyond any separatist dichotomies which traditionally try to distance metaphysics from practical concerns. That separatizing habit is a frequent influence on cultural judgement, by which, for instance, mystical has become synonymous with otherworldly, impractical, even inane; and down-to-earth a commendatory for what could equally be called blinkered or unimaginative. Since a rich symbol-system is essential to the imaginative life of humanity, we are reminded just how severe are the limitations of this type of dismissive judgement of the metaphysical realm. That dismissal could be likened to the global capitalist monoculture derived from the alienating perspectives of the Cartesian dichotomy, or Kantian imperative, that suggests beings other than man are simply means to be used to man’s ends. We are realizing the contrary. Human operations of destruction and appropriation evident on the level of natural ecosystems are accurately reflected in the cultural operations of judgement by which the utilitarian ethic is used to delimit the activities of the psyche and imagination. But our cultural perspective could change and develop a ‘sustainable mind-field’ to partner and revive the biophilia hypothesis, which proposed that the completeness and meaning of human being in the world depends on humans’ conviction of actual affiliation with the remainder of life (as opposed to neutral detachment or isolation, from it). Such an inclusive imaginative mind-field has in fact been the province and occupation of poetics, myth and mysticism for much longer than humanism’s recent, if persistent, denial or degrading of imagination.

http://www.sacredweb.com/online_articles/sw6_davies.html
Esoteric Dimensions of Deep Ecology
by Paul Davies

Hermeneutics: The science of interpretation, or interpretation theory.

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