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[Responding to a post on Rational Doubt by Jim Mulholland]
By all means leave the clumsy, proprietary, entry level religious stuff behind.
But, going all anti-God on the next generation, makes no sense at all. Your transcendent experiences are not your own. You said it yourself.
Jim Mulholland – “What we transcend is our own egotism – the absurdity of making ourselves the center of that universe.”
For many if not most of the world beyond the Abrahamic traditions, THIS is the whole point. The foundation of their practices.
The new and growing religion of “atheism”. Is just a muddy inversion of the same old same old. The fixation on “supernatural” remains. (but now it’s taboo.) God becomes gods. Like something you would go down to the corner store to get. A transcendent experience; Nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain. (what does that MEAN anyway?)
God is not equivalent to religion.
The question is what are you going to teach the next generation?
Jim Mulholland – “It never occurred to me that, rather than being a problem to solve, existence might simply be a wonder to accept.”
YES! And by loosening the bonds of traditional interpretation you can let the actual experience guide you. Cultivate innocence. Like a new born babe. Teach from THAT.
James Mulholland – “Not certain that we have much disagreement. I don’t think the claim that God is not equivalent to religion – a claim I once made – makes much sense, unless the experience of transcendence is our definition of god. I suppose I don’t need to shackle those experiences any longer with even the lightest religious language. This certainly makes me an atheist, though I initially resisted this identity.”
Thanks for the gentle response. My comment was a little sharper than need be.
The process I feel moved to protect, is the whole package relating to what our species calls God. (whatever language or names we use.) The pressure on ourselves to reach for the highest meaning. The quest for transformation. Cultivation of harmlessness, a template for discerning right and wrong. Reverence, Nobility, Awe, Joy.
Imperfect and ever changing though it’s components may be, the whole category is a huge part of being a human being.
These are all nuances that I’m sure you already engage in. Call it Philosophy or don’t call it anything, but please don’t dismiss it as just chemistry.
You would be selling yourself and anyone that you influence short.
To understand ourselves we must attempt to grasp the context of our existence. Despite the blinders still inhibiting our cognition of it.
Grasping our context is ultimately an act of surrender to it. It cannot be know from the outside looking in. This has always been the message of any mature religion.
Going from religion to personal experience is a process. We need to respect all stages. For the sake of our neighbour who may still have miles to go.
James Mulholland – “Beautifully stated. I agree that we are all at different stages. I am not anti-religion or anti-theism as long as religion or theism is not seen as a destination. As to the question of chemistry, I wasn’t suggesting we should dismiss transcendent experiences as chemistry and therefore irrelevant, but embrace our chemistry as a legitimate contributor to such moments – part of the wonder.”
I was just checking (and also putting it out there for others to chew on).
I liked your article and my sense of the person writing it. Your story was honest and heartfelt and by that, you’ve improved my empathy. Always a good thing. I’ll thank you again.