For the context of the following comments please click on the hyperlink above it. You could also consider addressing any comments in situ, rather than here. – Thanks.
ufo-buff – “As a practical matter, being told that scientists at CERN have discovered something about physics is not much different from being told that Moses parted the Red Sea. I personally don’t have the capability to verify or even understand either claim.”
I like this point about a wise wariness towards 3rd party speculation or testimony.
Testing against my own experience, intuition and reason is essential. Practicing non-attachment to non-essentials. Keeping a steady aim on the target.
In the seventies I came to strong intuition about the possibility of enlightenment. However, reason made sure that I understood it would be, at the very least, a lifetimes work. Full of potential for self delusion. Not to be turned over to the authority of another.
When the testimony of respected others confirms what I have already come to myself, I savor their articulation of the Way, and then move on.
This is much like the scientific process as I’ve heard it described in these threads. The goal is knowledge. In science you seek the underlying laws governing creation. In this other quest, one seeks the source of those laws. The two disciplines are not exclusive of each other.
Why get rid of God? just improve your understanding of what that is and how you relate to it.
You will come up against deep seated and unhelpful conditioning. This will be difficult but it provides a great mindfulness practice.
You have an entire life to live. What would you rather fill it with?
Let real Freedom and Authenticity be your guides.
Maybe it will look like atheism. Maybe not.
ufo-buff – “So people who think science doesn’t require faith are overlooking this issue. And the faith of science is in a model of reality that doesn’t leave room for spirituality. That doesn’t mean people can’t juggle faith science and spirituality/superstition, but they can’t fit them together into one consistent model of reality IMO.”
It feels like you’re right about the faith part. But I’m not convinced, an improved version of spirituality will not arise from scientific enquiry. And/Or, an improved science arise from spiritual inquiry.
Getting past the ideas of god/s that are obviously left over from the middle ages, and beyond, would help. Flat Landian explanations of the mysterious infinite/multidimensional/singularity have become dangerous and stifling.
The sooner the better. We need this planet to remain a viable place to live and learn.
Write4U – “Yet religions claim to know who or what created it all?
Your view of science is naïve. While each discovery may be minutely finite, when we compile all of our knowledge we and up with a pretty good idea of the evolution of the universe, and behold, that evolution does NOT need a god.
As to the persistence of God in society, that has nothing to do with truth, it is just a belief that won’t go away because it is not connected with physical reality at all. It is an expression of our best (perhaps only) asset, imagination. Those great works of art and music were not divinely inspired, they were ‘products’ of our imagination and the proof of that is the variety of beliefs in an unknown creative causality. We can make stuff, so why not a God who made all the stuff in the universe?
But God did not make any stuff in the universe and we know this from science. At best God is that which came before reality, but that does not explain anything.
However we do also employ a word which is eminently suitable for identifying causality. That word is Potential, which is defined as a ‘latent excellence which may become reality’.”
We were so much more sympatico when I thought you were TimB (see: #30).
I’ll point out again that I use the term God as shorthand for God. It is only grudgingly a concept because it is a word. I have said quite a few times already that my understanding of it’s relation to us, (i.e/ what you are calling “reality”), is not as creator to creation, but as an expression of its (i.e. ‘Universal Wholeness’) own nature. When you say this doesn’t explain anything, I don’t understand. In the next paragraph you use the same term that I have employed, (with much delight, I might add), “Potential”. What do you think I have meant by using “Emergent Property of Infinite Potentiality” as my definition of God?
I’m quite pleased by your enhancements by the way. “latent excellence which may become reality”. Very nice. But I would have to say that the “latent excellence” and “reality” can not be separate. The paradox is the thing. Why is this a problem for you?
05 June 2013 09:14 AM [ # 30 ]
(Note: A little disconnect on my part. I apologize to Write4U and TimB. The first edition of this cited TimB instead of Write4U for the quotes. Interesting experience; visualizing the wrong person the whole time I was writing it.)
Write4U – “If we recognize the universe as a single all encompassing entity, why not call it the ‘Universal Wholeness” of the universe, instead of God?”
I am fine with it. Though currently I’ve been enjoying the visceral ring of, “the Entirety”.
a) this would exclude supernatural aspect altogether. Everything IS natural.
b) if we accept the notion of spontaneously causal universal evolution, it excludes an outside causality.
c) if we accept a notion of a dynamic (causal) wholeness we know such a “system” would be in a constant state of flux. This would exclude an ‘eternal unchanging being’ .
d) a continual state of flux in accordance with Universal laws and constants would almost certainly bring order to the initial chaotic beginning. This does not require an outside causality.”
Since ‘Universal Wholeness’ ecompasses the Entirety entirely there is, by default, no outside causality. The Emergent Property of Infinite Potentiality. Very dynamic, I would say. Also, it’s own spontaneous Causality. As you say.
If science can refine its understanding of It, It can be taught to the religious. Each generation is seeking a truer expression of it. We all share an instinct to sort this out. The ruff and tumble of the jungle tends to distort things, yes, but I think that the greatness of a civilization is reflected in the answers achieved and sustained, regarding this subject.
Same with an individual’s personal quest in the matter.
Write4U – “The use of the word God as defined in religion is a human attempt to explain this natural dynamic universal condition and assigns a purpose to mankind but completely ignores the existence and purpose of millions of other species which were able to evolve by natural evolution. If it seems in the way, kill it!”
Yes, we have anthropomorphized God, doesn’t mean we can’t turn it around the other way. As we evolve right. Sorry ‘Universal Wholeness’.
Here is a point relating to the beautiful perfection of the Honey Bee. What is it, about the unmitigated naturalness of evolution, that created this perfection? How can we as humans achieve the same degree of unmitigated naturalness in our own interactions with evolution? I’m sorry, but the answer to this might be the true purpose of religion. No matter what has gone before. As we see religion expressed now, it is not sustainable. Evolution should weed it out. But also, a science that allows itself to be used to subvert, and even replace natural evolution, will also run afoul of ‘Universal Wholeness’.
Write4U – “IMO, the most productive living atheist on earth is the honey bee.”
If this is what you mean by atheist, I’m right with you. It has been called the TAO. Original Mind, The Garden, Buddha Nature, It is also what I mean when I ask, ‘what is keeping me from being like that?’ I don’t much worry about the ‘productivity’ part though; Just the authenticity of being. The rest just takes care of itself.
Write4U – “But a dynamic universe does not need any help from anyone or anything. It is a self sustaining and evolving system.”
And we are its children. The ones ripened by evolution, to a particular opportunity to know about it. And I would say, to know about ourselves in relation to it.
brmckay – “Is light a singularity or multiplicity?”
Pretty sloppy analogy, but maybe you could grant me the point I’m obviously trying to make.
TimB – “Brm, I really don’t see how adding a supernatural element is useful in explaining self awareness. It seems like trying to make an equation, that doesn’t really work, add up by putting in a variable that one has pulled out of thin air.”
I do keep trying to convince people that I’m not bringing in “supernatural elements”. There is only one nature, the nature of the Entirety. For me, that is represented by infinite potentiality.
TimB – “Also, I am confused by what you are suggesting that there exists some innate infinite sentience that is somehow embodying us, which is the “I” that is aware of ourselves. This seems nonsensical to me.”
This is offered as a counterpoint to your representation of self awareness as a adjunct to physical processes. You must have realized by now that I am inclined to look at things from a significantly different perspective. I see the prototype of our sentience as inherent in the foundations of the universe. Do you think of the light emanating from a candle as fundamentally different than the light of the sun? Beyond the qualities specific to their instances? Is light a singularity or multiplicity? This question is at the root of our conversation.
ufo-buff – “I have some ideas on the God question. Science and spirituality are mutually exclusive IMO. If events were determined in part by supernatural entities making choices (such as a human soul or a universal soul or God or gods) then science wouldn’t work as well as it seems to work. I know QM brings up fundamental questions about determinism, but I’ve also been told that Bohmian mechanics addresses those questions. (Unfortunately I don’t have the education to investigate QM for myself.)
To me science and naturalism is a faith like any other religion. But science is a religion that seems to work. I’m not 100% atheist, but science = atheism IMO.”
I am tempted to go along with you. I’m about 90% atheistic in my spirituality myself. That 90% tends to be 50% rational 50% intuitive. (At least I hope so.) The other 10% is because I am not 100% free of a sense of “otherness”. It would be dishonest to deny a vaguely defined sense of wise companionship to life.
A few points and questions:
– Does “intuition” play a part in science? Or, is science something that only happens during the reasoning process? This would be sort of like having a lobotomy.
– The Scientific method ignores God, but can not make God go away. The Scientific method is just a discipline we employ. It is not the Universe. It’s discoveries are minutely finite approximations of reality.
– Art, music, etc. represent other equally valid means of exploring our experience. Possibly more valid because, in their highest forms, they engage more of our human potential. Both hemispheres and the “heart”, if you will.
– Of course the term “supernatural phenomena”, is a misnomer. No matter what happens, it is natural. If it seems to ignore laws; we just don’t know what all the laws are yet?
TimB – “In regards to what I was stating, the concept of god, I think, is superfluous. Except that I would suggest that conceiving of god is also one of the covert behaviors that we do.”
I would suggest that making the concept of god superfluous is useful for narrowing the scope of inquiry, but, it does nothing anymore real than allowing the concept to remain.
Why not work from both ends towards the center?
TimB – “Being aware of one’s self, I would say is also behavior. It is probably enhanced by the development of complex verbal behavior. The development of verbal behavior requires a listener, thus it occurs in social animals. But the listener can, also, eventually, be one’s self.”
Who’s though, is it that is aware of one’s self? The primal “I” could be called God. I will hypothesize that it is not a subset of physical reality, but integral to it.
Inate sentience. Infinite.
Since I’m not likely to prove the above hypothesis by typing about it; we may be getting near the end of this exercise. I am grateful for the time you’ve taken to engage with me, and hope that the trail we left is useful, or at least interesting, to others. What do you think?
Thanks Tim. Well described. It sort of seems though, that “chemistry” is standing in for “god” in this strict orientation to the physical.
What are your thoughts on “self awareness”? Or, even more precisely the sense of “I”?
FinallyDecided – “I believe things are as they are and it makes my life much easier.”
This seems good, but by “things” do you include hopes and aspirations?
Finally Decided – “Why live life thinking there is some entity watching me and keeping score on my life? So basically, I have no ‘faith’ I would say.”
Where did you get the idea that this was how it worked? Why impose somebody elses neurosis on your own contemplation of the “Big Picture”?
Mike Yohe – “Do you think they had atheists in their system of religion?”
Not sure they would have called it that.
When the sense of “otherness” has been resolved, when the knower and what is known are the same thing, What remains?
The idea of God is a way to orient ourselves on our spiritual journey.
Secular atheism on the other hand, just digs a deeper hole for us to fall into. They probably had a term for this.
Mike Yohe – “What do you think would happen today if they replaced the word god the with the original gods name? By the way, most of those gods had wives.”
It would be a truer reflection of the stage of “conceptual evolution” involved. These are usually really old books.
I learned a long time ago to use my intuitive understanding first, then run it past my rationality. This is a living process, always being refined.
There is a thread of scriptural sources out there that resonate with the answers I arrive at in this way. These sources, (people and traditions), confirm for me the potential for enlightenment.
TimB – “I absolutely think that instincts are passed on genetically.”
I would of course agree. However, your answer side steps the questions purpose. How, does memory get transmitted before the brain exists? Maps, to or from Mexico, for Monarch butterflies etc.?
I realise that I better ask you to describe how you define “physical reality” before I press this point further. I might be making assumptions about your meaning.
In the following quote:
TimB – “Everything is part of a physical reality. Even those things that we refer to as mental or spiritual or emotional is an outgrowth of physical processes and natural physical laws.”
Is this mainly meant to exclude “supernatural” phenomena from consideration? I certainly would have no problem with this.
With the question about instinct, I am hoping to bring the scope of “natural physical laws” under scrutiny. Implying that it runs to the entirety. Ultimately obscuring the distinction between “physical”, “mental” and “behavioural” phenomena.
Lee – “One day, man will advance his understanding of this universe to a point where any intelligent being can not refuse the evidence and the world’s leaders will discount believer’s as the minority. ”
If, on advancing our understanding of the universe, it turns out to be sentient, would you then be obliged to “eat crow”?
Consensus? What am I thinking?
I’ll bring this back to the question of defining Atheism. (Save the koans for later.)
If the Universe were empirically known to be sentient, would that automatically require a Theistic relationship to it? Or, would it just mean adjustments within various disciplines; such as Physics and Psychology. Would science itself simply expand to inquire into the nature of that sentience?
Would Atheism still reasonably be about “no god”? Or, would it be more narrowly defined as the antidote for shoddy Theism?
I was writing the above and thought to check other posts before submitting it. Glad I did. It seems to be along very similar lines as your comment.
I will have to get more familiar with the term “Gnosis” before I use it freely but am translating it into what I think of as “Authentic expression of reality”.
I have the utmost respect for the ancient Rishis.
VYAZMA – “We’re getting far afield here…Lotta ground for one thread, let alone one post!”
Let’s see if there is consensus on this. In my mind these are very related questions.
02 June 2013 06:59 AM
Can deductive reasoning play a role in faith? What level of precision might be required for everyday living?
Is there value in having a sense of the sacred?
If the conceptualization of God evolves along with us, what might it look like down the road? Would it be more or less theistic?
Is the term “Universe” all inclusive? Does the possibility of it being sentient remain open? What is the prototype of the sense of self? The experience of “I am”?
What is the relationship of “instinct” to DNA?
(Perhaps we could just put aside the old school, Bible stuff, Greek Gods, etc. for a few minutes.)
The term monism, at least as I use it in a “broad” sense, has two primary benefits.
1. It makes a very distinct point by being more rational than “monotheism”; especially the Abrahamic version of it. “All is God”. “There is nothing outside of God”. Etc.
2. In my mind it also makes more sense than the strict materialism I encounter with scientists. For example in your statement:
TimB – ” Everything is part of a physical reality. Even those things that we refer to as mental or spiritual or emotional is an outgrowth of physical processes and natural physical laws.”
I don’t understand the part where mental, emotional and spiritual phenomena are considered adjuncts to physical reality. Are they less “real”? (Forgive me if I have misinterpreted your statement).
Would you also include “instinct” as an “outgrowth of physical processes”. A question that seems important to ask is; how does instinct express itself? How does it relate to the physical processes of the DNA molecule?
I, would also say that I believe in a natural Universe. All phenomena following the laws of nature. That nature though, for me, is the nature of “God”. The entirety. The emergent property of infinite potential. If I had my way, this would be the starting point for an ideal science.
I’m over simplifying but not by much really.
I like your signature line. It is similar to something I might say but with a little more emphasis on the parts; the whole waiting patiently in the wings. It’s very similar to a prayer they use at the local Zen temple before meals.
Thanks to everybody for making me welcome.
Pretty rational. Pragmatic. Probably what many here consider mystical. Not religious but influenced by Buddhism, Vedanta, Patanjali, Jesus ( by intuition not the bible ), etc.
Love hearing about scientific discovery (especially the Natural Sciences). However, I am often just as afraid of scientists as I am of fundamentalists (of other sorts?). Especially in the realms of nuclear physics, genetic engineering and who knows what else is on the horizon.
Never sure what humanism means really. If I had to use a single term for myself it would be monist.
I was pretty hesitant to wander into this forum, but did find one or two voices that sounded similar to mine. So, there may be more balance to the debates than I expect.
I look forward to learning from you all. And possibly, teaching a little as well. (Who knows right?)