Myths and Christianity

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jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 05:15 am
@Twistedgypsychil,
Yes I agree, but, you may notice on this forum, the number one question, or it seems to me, is 'what is real'? There have been many impassioned debates about whether it is objective, or subjective, or scientific, or spiritual. As there should be, and it is an open question. But it is a really hard question and much harder than anyone in a consumer society has a right to expect, if you catch my drift.

I think the issue that all religion/spirituality (hate the term but don't have alternatives) is that we are not born perfect, there seems to be an awful lot of s*** around of various kinds, why is it all so hard? I don't think life just naturally 'makes sense'. You have to make sense of it, and it is very easy to end up with no answer. My bet is, do a survey on whether life makes sense, and you will get a very ambigous answer, because for many people it surely don't. (I would be open to any research on this.)

My reading is, religion was born from generations of people who struggled and suffered and said they had found an answer of some kind. Now maybe they didn't! But there is something real that needs fixing, and it is not going to necessarily get fixed by either science or good intentions or saying 'everything is OK'. Something is lacking, and it is very fundamental. I think this is what religion is addressing, and until the lack is recognised for what it is, there will be no getting rid of religion.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 05:18 am
@xris,
xris;89360 wrote:
... Philosphers only mirror the views held by the society they represent.


Yes, as does the seldomness with which we agree, too.
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 05:22 am
@jeeprs,
Secretly we all have a certain desire to make sense of this life but religion goes further than that, it , by its nature states what it believes is truths and it becomes dogma, unable to change. Men of faith in general are not looking, they are just confirming dogma.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 05:27 am
@Twistedgypsychil,
but it depends a lot on what phase you're in. We have a hand-me-down religion, set in stone from time immemorial. For those at the beginning it wasn't like that. Of course when it has been written down, set in stone (literally) and worshipped, then it is what you refer to. But what is behind it? Anything, or was it just delusion from the outset? And how would you find out? My experience was coming back into it after having had spiritual experiences and meeting a spiritual teacher. So it was like, oh this is what they were on about. I never would have seen it, and still wouldn't, without those experiences.
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 06:25 am
@jeeprs,
Your not talking about accepted faiths but a willingness to discover and to accept all possobilities. If the destination is the quest, what path you choose is not important.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 06:37 am
@Twistedgypsychil,
very true, but there is still something troubling about this discussion. Let's wait and see what develops.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 11:52 am
@xris,
prothero;89265 wrote:
Some would argue one of the major problems with religion currently is that it has not evolved to accommodate the dominate worldview created by science. This is particularly a problem for Christianity and Islam.


And that argument is based largely upon ignorance. While it is true that some Christian and Muslim elements have set themselves up as opposed to science, most have not done this.

prothero;89265 wrote:
The earth is not the center of the universe.
Man is not the purpose of creation.
The soul, the afterlife, supernatural notions of deity, heaven and hell, revealed religion, the apocalypse all are concepts at odds with modern or scientific notions of "how the world really works".


But this is exactly the problem - the bulk of religious scholarship and theology does not set these ideas as opposed to the science. Instead, it is typically the case that these spiritual beliefs are understood as figurative language which points to a greater, ineffable truth.

Fundamentalism is not the entirety of modern religion.

prothero;89265 wrote:
The evolutionary nature of the cosmos and of biological life all seem to argue against classical notions of supernatural divine action, omnipotence, and omniscience.


Not in the tradition of the great Catholic Scholastics, for example, nor in the tradition of the great Muslim theologians as far as I can tell.

People often forget - look at Galileo. His major supporters were Churchmen, and his major opponents were scientists. People often forget that Urban VIII carried on the tradition of the secular Popes. But this is history easily forgotten in favor of sweeping generalization, in favor of easy answers. We have to look deeply to deeply understand.

prothero;89265 wrote:
Religion is not easily making the necessary adjustment.


I disagree. There are many wonderful examples of theological clarification and evolution, examples of cross-faith efforts for better understanding. But these examples get lost in the mix of loud-mouthed fundamentalism which drives people away.
[/COLOR]
prothero;89265 wrote:
Our world view is changing much more rapidly than any time in history. Religion is not changing fast enough. We are suffering from cognitive dissonance.


Again, I disagree. Instead, people see these fundamentalists, and they know better than accept that nonsense. The problem is that they also assume that fundamentalism represents all religion. But as we know, fundamentalism does not represent all religion, only a small portion of it. It just so happens that fundamentalists are better at selling themselves - which should be no surprise: in real religion, prostitution is frowned upon.

prothero;89265 wrote:
The modern church has become a temple hierarchy emphasizing doctrine and creed (belief) over action. To feed the hungry, shelter the poor, heal the sick and comfort the afflicted was the call to action not correct belief or doctrine.


And what is the "modern church"? The Baptists church around the corner? The Episcopal? The Catholic?

We cannot generalize in the way you do here and also say anything accurate about religion.

prothero;89265 wrote:
One can keep the myths but the interpretation of them must change for religion to remain viable in the modern or postmodern age.


That depends on how one assumes the myths are interpreted. Traditionally, the myths are not interpreted literally, and therefore, traditionally, the myths cannot oppose science. But in modern times, fundamentalism rose and introduced strict literal interpretation.

Krumple;89280 wrote:
So why don't we cut off all the "fat" then? Don't some atheists or agnostics support "love thy neighbor"? My point is that the things you suggest are religions strong points are nothing other than secular reasoning for peaceful societal structure and harmony.


Sure, love and all that can be found outside of religion. So what? What does it matter if someone turns to the Bible for support or Dostoevsky? Both are literature.

The strong point is not that religion just advances these ideas; the strong point is that religious scripture advances these ideas in the context of remarkable and powerful storytelling that obviously has a very real impact on billions of people.

Why cut out what works?

Krumple;89280 wrote:
Is it necessary for someone to read the bible to get love is the best expression in humanity? No. So I say, cut off all the "fat" that religion causes and lets get down to what is actual necessary for a constructive society.


First, if we remove everything that is "unnecessary" there will be little left of society but gray walls.

Second, religion does not have "fat" - people create the fat by imposing their own biases upon scripture.

Krumple;89280 wrote:
Since most religions are in conflict with each other, we should immediately address that issue or else you can never move forward. You either have to accept the opposition or completely remove both oppositions, but then what are you left with?


Most religions are not in conflict with each other. This is an incorrect assumption, an assumption accepted by some religious people. But it is also mistaken.

How can Buddhism and Catholicism both be right and good? - don't ask me, go read Thich Nhat Hahn's book Living Buddha, Living Christ and then Father Merton's Faith and Violence. Get the message from the writings of Buddhist and Catholic monks - let them eradicate this misunderstanding. They will if you take the time to read those works.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 03:40 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;89424 wrote:
How can Buddhism and Catholicism both be right and good? - don't ask me, go read Thich Nhat Hahn's book Living Buddha, Living Christ and then Father Merton's Faith and Violence. Get the message from the writings of Buddhist and Catholic monks - let them eradicate this misunderstanding. They will if you take the time to read those works.



Yes I have seen this a lot, and there are a lot of new age ideas about bridging all the religions together. But they ignore many of the contradicting aspects between them. What the usually end up with is nothing more than what you get in secular society anyway.

Be nice to your neighbor, don't beat your wife, respect your coworkers, pay your taxes, help the needy, ect. You don't need any religion to get this far, so what does bridging Catholicism with Buddhism do?

There is no twelve links of co-arising in Catholicism, so that would be completely ignored. There is no four noble truths in Catholicism, so that would be ignored. There is no samadhi of the sphere of non-thought in Catholicism, so that would be ignored. What you end up with is a watered down up Buddhism.
 
Leonard
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 05:18 pm
@Twistedgypsychil,
So many people follow christianity not because they're stupid, but because the original christians were in awe of something about christ, god, etc. They may have seen something that piqued their interest so intensely that they created a belief out of it. I wasn't christian until the religion caught my eye a while back.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 05:37 pm
@Twistedgypsychil,
I quoted in another thread a teaching by Sri Ramana Maharishi, illustrious sage of Advaita Vedanta, who said (many times actually), "in reality there is no afterlife, nor any rebirth." The Zen teachers generally did not teach, nor believe in, religion or mythos or God of any kind. Same goes for Krishnamurti, who always denied organised religion and the idea that God exists. These are teachers of mystical spirituality. But these teachers are on the far side of the theistic understanding. They have gone beyond it - as implied by Alan Watts' Beyond Theology.

But transcending, going beyond, religion is not the same as secular materialism. I think a lot of antireligion and its secular materialism actually masks a very conservative social outlook which just wants everything to be as it is, inside a cosy security blanket of careful scientific rationales. I certainly don't want to stand up for religious institutions but at the same time this tendency to simply demolish the whole spiritual tradition leaves you with what? 'Normality is reality'. That seems to be the flip side.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 10:05 pm
@jeeprs,
Krumple;89455 wrote:
Yes I have seen this a lot, and there are a lot of new age ideas about bridging all the religions together. But they ignore many of the contradicting aspects between them.


I am not talking about New Age anything. Go look into those names I mentioned and you will find that they have no relation to New Age religion - instead, you will find that Thich Nhat Hahn is one of the most well-respected Zen Buddhist monks in the world, and that Thomas Merton was, before his passing, one of the most respected Catholic monks in the world. These were not men reinventing their religions, but men who looked deeply into their ancient traditions and found, despite outward differences, that the interior of their practices were the same - that both religions, individually, can bring the same benefits to whoever practices them.

Again, the contradictory aspects you mention are only apparent, surface level - they are contradictory only in that they use different language, which is no contradiction at all. If I say 2+2=4, for you to say 2x2=4 is not a contradiction of my statement. So say these sages of their respective traditions - and they should know, don't you think, after having spent an entire lifetime of devoted study and practice?

This is not New Age. This is recognizing the ultimate unity of ancient traditions as they have been and as they remain.

Krumple;89455 wrote:
What the usually end up with is nothing more than what you get in secular society anyway.


And this brings up the question of what is secular. I'll give an example:

In Tibetan Buddhism there is something called a snow leopard. These are people who are enlightened, but have never heard any teaching. They are rare, but do exist. Are these people secular? I suppose we could call them secular, yet they have also attained deep spiritual understanding.

This secular vs. non-secular is largely unimportant. However one achieves understand is beside the point - what matters is that understanding is had at all. This discussing semantics, and nothing of substance.

If you want to argue that Buddhists and Catholics use different semantics, that they chose to express themselves with different language, you are only pointing out the obvious - you are pointing out something Catholics and Buddhists have already pointed out and commented upon: and their conclusion is that the differences in language are largely unimportant.

Krumple;89455 wrote:
Be nice to your neighbor, don't beat your wife, respect your coworkers, pay your taxes, help the needy, ect. You don't need any religion to get this far, so what does bridging Catholicism with Buddhism do?


No, you do not necessarily need either of those traditions. So if you don't, great: bless you on your path.

However, do you imagine that these traditions might at least be useful, at least to some? Can't you imagine that for many people a teacher is helpful? Can't you imagine that the rituals and practices of religion help some people on their path? I sure can.

And that's the point: it doesn't matter if you pursue a religious tradition, or if you pursue being a better person without one. What matters is that you actively work toward being a better person. So, there is no sense berating a spiritual tradition for helping people to become better simply because it is possible for them to become better without the tradition. If the tradition helps someone, great. If not, great.

Krumple;89455 wrote:
There is no twelve links of co-arising in Catholicism, so that would be completely ignored. There is no four noble truths in Catholicism, so that would be ignored. There is no samadhi of the sphere of non-thought in Catholicism, so that would be ignored. What you end up with is a watered down up Buddhism.


I really do recommend Thich Nhat Hahn's Living Buddha, Living Christ. He specifically discusses Catholic practices and compares them to specific Buddhist practices, examining the remarkably close relationship.

But either way, all you have done here is expose the well known and uncontested fact that various religions use different language. Is there any reason you ignored my suggestion to recall the finger-and-the-moon saying? Taking that wisdom to heart should eradicate this misconception you have - because Thay certainly disagrees with what you call "watered down Buddhism".

And to use the phrase "non-thought in Catholicism" is simply ignorance. Must I list the long line of universally recognized brilliant Catholic philosopher-theologians? And you call it Catholic non-thought? You should know better.

Again, go read what a Buddhist monk actually has to say about Catholicism before you make assumptions about what they might say.
 
prothero
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 11:54 pm
@Twistedgypsychil,
[QUOTE=Didymos Thomas;89424]That depends on how one assumes the myths are interpreted. Traditionally, the myths are not interpreted literally, and therefore, traditionally, the myths cannot oppose science. But in modern times, fundamentalism rose and introduced strict literal interpretation. [/QUOTE]
Which of the above doctrines are you purporting to say have traditionally and currently are understood to be allegorical, figurative or symbolic by the official church or the majority of members? You are much too generous. It is true there have always been mystics. It is also true there have always been those who have understood mythos in symbolic and figurative form but to assert that is the predominant understanding either in the past or in the present is to ignore history and fact. Even the modern church does not disavow the literal truth of most of the above doctrines. I agree with you about what true religion is and the unity of the most fundamental religious tenets and beliefs, I just do not agree that this ideal represents the current situation with respect to religion and science or the relationship between organized religions and the scientific community or worldview.

I hope you are right. I just fear that you are not. I do not see any religious survey which supports your notions.
 
Twistedgypsychil
 
Reply Fri 11 Sep, 2009 12:41 am
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;89020 wrote:
Yes.

Seriously though, you might want to explore Joseph Campbell's books. I'd recommend starting out with Amazon.com: The Power of Myth (9780385418867): Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers: Books



I am a HUGE fan of Campbell. I own most of this books and have read them all.

Jamie
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 11 Sep, 2009 12:00 pm
@Twistedgypsychil,
Prothero - I encourage you to pick up Karen Armstrong's books The History of God and The Battle for God for detailed histories of the evolution of God in western monotheism and the rise of fundamentalism in western monotheism.

Those two books are my primary sources for the history you say I am ignoring. I think you would enjoy them; they are well written, brilliantly researched, and quite enlightening.

But let me be clear - there have always been strange, hateful, and harmfully dogmatic interpretations of scripture. However, fundamentalism is a modern development. Terms, like inerrancy, have slightly different meanings depending upon context - specifically, the Catholic use and the modern fundamentalist use. When Catholics speak of literal truth of the Bible they mean something quite different than what, for example, the modern fundamentalist Protestant means. For a detailed explanation, I would look into the 1913 Catholic encyclopedia for more information. As I recall, there are a few decent versions available online without charge.

As for the current relationship between science and popular religious belief, there is a great deal of tension, and many believers who take their spiritual beliefs to be opposed to science, and science opposed to their spiritual beliefs. And this is true in every religious community worldwide. There is no doubt about that. But what should be understood is that this opposition is a modern development, and that this opposition is the result of modern, mistaken interpretation of scripture - interpretation which has been highlighted as mistaken for centuries by the likes of Anselm and Augustine just to name two of the more prominent thinkers.
 
prothero
 
Reply Sat 12 Sep, 2009 12:40 am
@Twistedgypsychil,
[QUOTE=Didymos Thomas;89629] Prothero - I encourage you to pick up Karen Armstrong's books The History of God and The Battle for God for detailed histories of the evolution of God in western monotheism and the rise of fundamentalism in western monotheism. [/QUOTE]

I think I have and have read most; if not all; of Karen Armstrong's writings including those two. I have respect and admiration for Karen Armstrong and for her spiritual and mystical take on religion. If her views were the dominant views or were to become the dominant views, it would drastically alter the religious landscape.
I am also familiar with Thomas Merton. If Thomas Merton were the pope instead of Cardinal Ratzinger, it would change my view of the Catholic Church. Alas, neither is the case nor likely to be soon.

[QUOTE=Didymos Thomas;89629] But let me be clear - there have always been strange, hateful, and harmfully dogmatic interpretations of scripture. However, fundamentalism is a modern development. Terms, like inerrancy, have slightly different meanings depending upon context - specifically, the Catholic use and the modern fundamentalist use. When Catholics speak of literal truth of the Bible they mean something quite different than what, for example, the modern fundamentalist Protestant means.. [/QUOTE]

Compared to your literalist fundamentalist protestant, your intellectual Catholic theologian looks like a beacon of light in a tunnel of darkness. Catholics having learned something from the Inquisition, the Reformation and the unfortunate Galileo incident indeed no longer oppose the broad outlines of evolution and try to accommodate science as much as orthodoxy will permit. The orthodox position of the church still strongly supports the unique (fully human, fully divine) nature of Christ, Jesus as the sole path to salivation, the bodily (not just spiritual) resurrection of Christ, the reality of the virgin (not young woman) birth, and several other supernatural doctrines.

No where in the official church positions is it stated these are merely figurative, allegorical or mythical representations. The reality of life after death, heaven and hell, final judgment and the second coming of Christ are likewise affirmed. Priests who stray too far into symbolic interpretations may be prohibited from writing, publishing or sermonizing. See for instance the career of Teilhard De Chardin. There is no single religious authority in Islam and so we have moderates and extremists, literalists and ecumenicals.

[QUOTE=Didymos Thomas;89629] As for the current relationship between science and popular religious belief, there is a great deal of tension, and many believers who take their spiritual beliefs to be opposed to science, and science opposed to their spiritual beliefs. And this is true in every religious community worldwide. There is no doubt about that. But what should be understood is that this opposition is a modern development, and that this opposition is the result of modern, mistaken interpretation of scripture - interpretation which has been highlighted as mistaken for centuries by the likes of Anselm and Augustine just to name two of the more prominent thinkers. [/QUOTE]

It would hard for religion to have been opposed to modern science before modern science had arrived on the scene. The Church has always had a definition of heresy into which most too allegorical interpretations have fallen. Spinoza was excommunicated by the Jews as was anyone who adhered to his views. Bruno was burned at the stake for his views of divine immanence as opposed to transcendence and naturalism as opposed to supernatural action of the divine.

Yes, modern fundamentalism is a reaction to the perceived threat (in some cases attack) of science upon the supernatural premises of orthodox theism. Yes, the early scientists of the modern era Newton, Galileo, etc. were religious and felt they were supporting religion and doing gods work by investigating the natural world (natural philosophy was the term at that time, I believe). Yes there have always been those who maintained a mystical understanding of the nature of deity and action of the divine. Yes, the ultimate nature of god has always been held to be transcendent (beyond human language, thought and conception) by some of the more rational and intellectual thinkers of the church.

The mainline church and the official creeds, doctrines and dogmas of almost all the established ecclesiastical organized religions remain committed to religious understandings which are supernatural in nature and to scripture as being reveled religion somehow uniquely divinely inspired or guided not the work of men trying to understand the divine.
.
Until the official position of the church becomes one of naturalistic theism; divine immanence and the ancient myths, practices and rituals of the church are actually interpreted and taught as symbolic, allegorical and figurative as opposed to literal accountings of actual historical happenings (supernatural); the church will remain at odds with both science and the modern worldview. I think such a process is underway and in some ways it does represent a return to the ancient wisdom and interpretations but one should not downplay, ignore or underestimate the role that literalism, orthodoxy, suppression of heresy, supernaturalism, revealed religion as opposed to natural theology have played; and in most instances dominated religious history right up into the modern era.

Supernatural theism (the dominant religious view of the last 2000 years) is no longer intellectually tenable. Supernatural theism still represents the official position and teaching of almost all Western monotheistic faiths (especially Christianity and Islam). Supernaturalism (violation or suspension of the laws of nature by a divine agent) is fundamentally contrary to a scientific worldview. There are now and there have been in the past non supernatural understandings of the divine and the divine action. Such forms of naturalistic theism or divine immanence (of which Eastern monistic religions and the process theologies of Western religion are the best examples) are not now and have never been the dominant religious understanding, church teaching or official church doctrine. Hopefully the latter will come to dominate religion in the future.

I wish that your understanding and Karen Armstrong's understanding was the dominant religious worldview. I wish that the Churches taught and the official church positions were mystical and intellectually transcendent. I wish that historically people had always understood Biblical stories to be allegorical, symbolic and figurative. I wish the Crusades, the Inquisition, the 30 years war of the Reformation, and all the other religious conflicts had been opposed to official Church teachings. Alas and alack it was not so then and it is not so now. The dominant and official understanding has never been that of the churches intellectuals and mystics. Not then, not now, in the future? We can only hope.

Religion is a constant feature of human societies. The dominant religious understanding does change over time. Historically it changes over long periods of time. First animism, then polytheism, then supernatural forms of monotheism,. The next logical development is either agnosticism, atheism or some form of naturalistic theism.(a view of god as working through nature and natural law). This has always been a strain of thought in both Western and Eastern religion as Karen Armstrong rightfully points out. It has not been the majority viewpoint and certainly not the dominant or official notion of orthodox or classical Western theology. It is unfortunately not the dominant view even now in our modern scientific societies.
Supernatural theism (the orthodox, classical and traditional form of theism) is not compatible with "science". On the other hand mystical spirituality, naturalistic forms of theism and process theologies are compatible with science.
 
prothero
 
Reply Sun 13 Sep, 2009 02:59 pm
@Twistedgypsychil,
I am going to make a concession to those who claim that fundamentalism is a modern phenomena. It is true that the ancients have a completely different conception of nature and history than moderns.

The modern conflict between science and religion (special creation versus evolution) and for that matter history and religion (was there an actual Israeli exodus out of egypt?, ect) arises out the modern conception of science as empiricism, observation and prediction and the modern conception of history as a factual accounting of real events. The ancients would share neither of these conceptions so the conflicts took a different form.

It is wrong to contend that the ancients understood Biblical stories as entirely mythological and symbolic tellings of events that never happened or that there was some broad interpretative tolerance of religious differences. Heresy was defined and suppressed. Religious writings not codified or approved were burned and destroyed. Ancients were not some mystical tolerant community of believers in which a wide range of scriptural interpretation and understandings were accepted.

The best modern approach is indeed the approach of Karen Armstrong. The historical accuracy or the scientific correctedness is not the point of scripture. What is the underlying meaning? What is the deeper spritual message?
ie. For Genesis 1- God creates
For Genesis 2- man becomes separated from God and nature

---------- Post added 09-13-2009 at 02:01 PM ----------
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 13 Sep, 2009 05:16 pm
@Twistedgypsychil,
Surely it is also the case that the rise of fundamentalism is also a reflection of the fear of the future, the feeling that we are rushing headlong into a completely unknown and unforeseen type of universe. 'Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold'. So the idea of 'biblical fundamentals' was really an attempt to hold on to what was really and eternally true in scripture which was understood as the basis of faith. They could see modernity coming - evolutionary science, moral relativism, biblical scholarship and philosophical individualism threatened their very understanding of the social order.

But the more secularism attacks fundamentalism, the more the fundamentalists dig in. For them, their whole worldview, and therefore their world, is under threat; it is not civil insurrection, in their view, but a cosmic war between the faithful and the enemies of truth. The most extreme of them will, therefore, sacrifice everything, because if they compromise, they have lost everything anyway. (Case in point: Afghanistan.) The secular extreme, on the other hand, then identifies all spirituality as notional supporters of the extremists (the 'New Atheist' literature is quite up front about this) and declares general war on religion.

This may sound far-fetched, but it is happening right in your own backyard.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Sun 13 Sep, 2009 05:40 pm
@Twistedgypsychil,
What you say jeeprs is true. There is a war between the faithful and the enemies of truth. But this is not a new thing. It is my opinion that the destruction of the Library of Alexandria was religiously motivated. An attempt to dislodge knowledge from overiding the religious world view. It was successful and set us back generations in knowledge. There is a new attempt by creationists to incorporate their dogma into science classrooms. However creationism is not science, so why should it be allowed into a science class room? This is a modern attempt to dislodge the knowledge from the religious world view once again. This is the war that those enemies of knowledge are fighting. Atheist's don't want to end religion, they want to put a stop to encroaching and destroying knowledge. However; there are some atheists that do want to rid the world of religion but they fail to see that they are infringing on the rights of those who want religion. So it is wrong what they are attempting to do.

There is a rightful place for religion and that place should be within the individual and not forced nor imposed upon those whom wish not to be a part of it. If there are attempts to undermine or override knowledge then by all means it will held accountable as it should have been for all the injustices it has already caused to humanity.

Just how many people were burned at the stake for saying the earth is not the center of the universe? All those lives lost for seeking the truth that we know today. How can you justify such a mentality? We must safe guard that this does not happen again, but if it does, then religion should be held accountable. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 13 Sep, 2009 06:16 pm
@Twistedgypsychil,
But I think the approach is, as philosophers, it is up to us to try and analyse the dynamics of this whole conflict.

I do understand how infuriating the American Creationists are - but is it worth going to war over? I think the liberal approach to such issues, as for example espoused by John Stuart Mill or John Locke, would be to actually let them talk, let them present their views, and let each individual judge them on their merits. I really don't know why everyone is so scared of fundamentalists (as distinct from the mujahadeen - I understand being scared of them...). I mean, liberals are quite happy to allow adults to make up their minds in all kinds of areas of personal morality. So this kind of openness should also be applied in this area as well. If somebody wants to get up and try an seriously argue that 'the world was made in six days 5000 years ago' and can find enough takers, well good luck to them, I say.

But there is something else at work in all this. There is a very large shadow cast by the particular history of institutional religion in Europe. Many are still deeply (and understandably) suspicious of anything religious because of the appalling history of conflict, dogma, and repression in European christianity. So we understand anything religious in those terms. I really do understand that viewpoint, but I also think it is based on a particular historical view of the role and meaning of religion. In fact, the case can be made that the current species of aggressive secularism is a direct outcome, and inversion, of Protestant Christianity; hence the analysis of the Protestant Atheism of Richard Dawkins which explains why he is so religiously opposed to religion. (I often reflect that if religion really was as Dawkins understood it, then I would certainly agree with him.)

I think we really need to move beyond this dichotomy. There have been times and places in history where religion, science, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy were all mutually supportive. The golden age of the Islamic empire was like that - if you read up on Averoes and Avicenna, and scholars of that type, they were the ones who preserved Greek philosophy when Europe was in the dark ages, and created many of the precursors of modern medicine and mathematics. Avicenna (Ibn Sina), in particular, was a true renaissance man, an intellectual, scholar and philosopher of the highest order, and a devout Muslim. There are enlightened and progressive religious understandings, as well as regressive and dogmatic ones. And we need to find them. On the one hand, fundamentalists are not going to be able to drag us back into the past; on the other, I really don't think we can let secularism destroy religion.

There is actually a lot at stake in all this.
 
prothero
 
Reply Sun 13 Sep, 2009 10:34 pm
@jeeprs,
[QUOTE=jeeprs;90057] If somebody wants to get up and try an seriously argue that 'the world was made in six days 5000 years ago' and can find enough takers, well good luck to them, I say. .[/QUOTE]
I agree except when it comes to science classes in schools and universities. The creationist version of "truth" should not go without challenge however. Publicly promoted religious beliefs should be subjected to the same analysis and criticism as any other public belief or opinion. If you do not want your beliefs challenged and criticized you need to keep them private. Religious beliefs are not privileged when publicly espoused.


[QUOTE=jeeprs;90057] If But there is something else at work in all this. There is a very large shadow cast by the particular history of institutional religion in [/QUOTE]
jeeprs;90057 wrote:
Europe. Many are still deeply (and understandably) suspicious of anything religious because of the appalling history of conflict, dogma, and repression in European christianity. (I often reflect that if religion really was as Dawkins understood it, then I would certainly agree with him.) .
Religion still underlies many of the conflicts in the world. Personally I think there are always other factors in these conflicts, social, economic, political, racial, etc and that religion is often an excuse not the cause. The perception, however, is that organized religion is the cause of much past and present conflict. The premise is that diminishing religious fervor would decrease violence in the world. Religion has been the cause of much good as well as much ill. It is ironic that the fundamental ethic "golden rule" of all the enduring religious traditions somehow gets lost in disputes over the finer points of dogma and doctrine.
I always say "true faith unites, doctrine divides".


[QUOTE=jeeprs;90057] If I think we really need to move beyond this dichotomy. There have been times and places in history where religion, science, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy were all mutually supportive. The golden age of the Islamic empire was like that There are enlightened and progressive religious understandings, as well as regressive and dogmatic ones. And we need to find them. On the one hand, fundamentalists are not going to be able to drag us back into the past; on the other, I really don't think we can let secularism destroy religion. .[/QUOTE] The greatest advances have been made during times of religious and cultural pluralism and in societies which tolerated them. The free marketplace of ideas will outperform more repressive societies. There is nothing wrong with spirituality except when one combines intolerance and dogmatism with great secular political or economic power (Hence, separation of church and state, freedom of speech including the right to criticize religion). Clearly disorganized individual spirituality is not as threatening as large organized religion but it is not as effective in promoting human rights and charity either.

[QUOTE=jeeprs;90057]There is actually a lot at stake in all this.[/QUOTE] It is not appreciated how much the Judeo-Christian and other religious tradition underlies many of the current notions of human rights, and democratic governments. Loss of this "vision" and embrace of a materialist philosophy or of absolute moral relativism or worse nihilism will not be good. It is one thing to believe individuals have "natural rights" endowed by a creator. It is quite another to think the only rights you have are those you can take by "force" or that are granted to you by "government". It is hard to defend any form of universal transcendent values without some kind of underlying spiritual notion or justification.
 
 

 
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