The Way of the Agnostic

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stuff
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Gary Gutting wrote:
The idea that there is simply nothing worthwhile in religion is as unlikely as the idea that there is nothing worthwhile in poetry, art, philosophy or science. On the other hand, taken at their literal word, many religious claims are at best unjustified and at worst absurd or repugnant. There may be deep truths in religions, but these may well not be the truths that the religions themselves officially proclaim. To borrow a term Jürgen Habermas employs in a different context, religions may suffer from a “self-misunderstanding” of their own significance.

"Self-misunderstanding" is one way of putting it; "hypocrisy" would be a less charitable term.

Gary Gutting wrote:
Knowledge, if it exists, adds a major dimension to religious commitment. But love and understanding, even without knowledge, are tremendous gifts; and religious knowledge claims are hard to support. We should, then, make room for those who embrace a religion as a source of love and understanding but remain agnostic about the religion’s knowledge claims. We should, for example, countenance those who are Christians while doubting the literal truth of, say, the Trinity and the Resurrection. I wager, in fact, that many professed Christians are not at all sure about the truth of these doctrines —and other believers have similar doubts. They are, quite properly, religious agnostics.

I celebrate those whose faith brings them comfort and love. I never disparage somebody's faith.

Prostilyzation and hyprocrisy, on the other hand, I find to be intolerable.

The Way of the Agnostic

Comments

Phaedrus76
Phaedrus76's picture
This is a good time to

This is a good time to mention the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wants to invite all to join us at The Jaguar Club, for a Wednesday night of worship, strippers and beer.

polycarp2
  Religion has many

 

Religion has many definitions.

"The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms - this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness."
( Albert Einstein - The Merging of Spirit and Science)

"It is very difficult to elucidate this [cosmic religious] feeling to anyone who is entirely without it. . . The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it ... In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it. (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, p. 207)"

"Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source . . . They are creatures who can't hear the music of the spheres." (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p. 214)

"What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos". (Albert Einstein to Joseph Lewis, Apr. 18, 1953)

"When the answer is simple, God is speaking." (Albert Einstein)

"I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details". (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p.202)

 

http://www.spaceandmotion.com/albert-einstein-god-religion-theology.htm

 

"What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of "humility." This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism." (Albert Einstein)

I heartily agree: "Your church is made by man. Mine by He who created man" Keep your waste out of my holy water, and I'll keep my out of yours" - Me - college thesis.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

 

hans nel
There are a number of

There are a number of religious people for whom faith does not play much of a role. Their aim instead is practice. I don't have faith in meditation. I practice it. This is very different. Its not about belief in a set of ideas that come from an ancient text, like the Bible or the Koran. The Dali Lama has said, "In as much as Buddhism is out of step with science, Buddhism will have to change." That's because its not about having faith in a set of religious ideas. Instead its about practicing certain disciplines that enhance one's ability to live with compassion, conscience, and consciousness, to see the wonder. Westerners  looking at Buddhism want to conflate Nirvana with God. This is a deep misunderstanding. "All religions are the same and contain the same basic elements," they will say. But Nirvana is not a state that can be "attained," not an object that can be experienced. So what is it? We can learn about this from what the Buddha talked about.  It appears the aim of the Buddha was the end of suffering, not the attainment of a state such as might be implied by the word "Heaven," an after death experience of union with a god. This concept just doesn't come up in some traditions. Neither does the immortality of the soul. The soul was specifically called out as an erroneous concept by the deeper Buddhist traditions, reincarnation notwithstanding. This apparent deep contradiction  the Buddha himself dismissed by saying, "If you have an arrow in your chest you do not ask who shot it. You try to get it out." This was a reference to human suffering and the suffering of all beings.

 

polycarp2
Hans, you might find this

Hans, you might find this Einstein quote of interest. It seems to mirror some of the thoughts you presented.

"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism. (Albert Einstein)"

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

drc2
I repeat my theological

I repeat my theological mantra, "what does it take to make and keep human life human in this world?"  This open-ended invitation to reflection and conversation is what all religion and theology is about, in the end.  Our Agnostic Hobbesean is convinced of the reality of the world in his construct.  He does not think he is doing theology or entering into religion, but when he casts Reality and Power in his secular realism, he is declaring his "faith" and commiting himself to serving those gods.  Or should we say, those "realities?"  That would bring up the epistemological as well as the theological.  See how you cannot escape this stuff.  Stuff.

Economics is religion today.  It gets past the anti-religious by faking its scientific objectivity and acting as if it were just plain everyday, this world facts of life.

I can see why Buddhism appealed to Einstein, and in our pluralism we all have the ability to learn to appreciate how others get to that big question I started with.  Arguing about theism is really boring to me because it is not where the theological action is.  Theism became arcane with Newton as Newtonian Physics revealed more than its model could explain.  God had to move out of the up close and personal 'firmament' to the outer regions of the cosmos when our ability to see into deep space did not find an ontological deity.  Before then, it was a rather effective story device.

While I appreciate why Einstein wanted 'god' recast in a physics/metaphysics sense of unity.  It is an alternative General Field Theory as it introduces love, compassion and transcendence to the 'objective.'  What the atheist wants us to accept is more the failure of theism to continue to be a useful metaphysics.  Where is the sacred in this secularized utilitarian domination game?  What about the human and the earth?

The value of stories in religion does not come up in the atheism debate.  I do not believe in God in the sense of theism, but I think the metaphysical and mythic descriptions of the Mirror Image of our humanity are pertinent and illuminating.  The Bible loves to portray God in anthropological projection and to describe a relationship that is anything but simple and direct.  Why God creates human beings for companionship is a great piece of zen.  Why would the complete and perfect omnipotent ruler of and Creator of all things give a shit about us?  This is about being human and in on the cosmic joke, not some literal piece of science and history that we have to treat without any imagination.

BTW, while the Flying Spaghetti Monster may party down, is the pasta al dente?   I expect nothing but the best.

stuff
stuff's picture
The ancient notion, "Do unto

The ancient notion, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," was doubtlessly understood by homo sapiens well before the development of modern religions.

Bush_Wacker
Bush_Wacker's picture
polycarp2 wrote: Hans, you

polycarp2 wrote:

Hans, you might find this Einstein quote of interest. It seems to mirror some of the thoughts you presented.

"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism. (Albert Einstein)"

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

That sounds to me like a very fancy way of calling religion , "morality".  What we describe as morality would cover all of the above.  It has nothing to do with larger than life beings or deity.  Isn't that what most atheists and agnostics have been saying all along? 

polycarp2
Nah. Einstein sort of

Nah. Einstein sort of condemns religious rules as a basis for morality. Religion to Einstein was an experiential thing rather than a rule-driven thing. It arises out of a sense of wonder.

Buddhism has no larger than life beings...nor a diety, though  some would like to place a crown on the Buddha's head. He just discovered....stuff. A foundation for the eastern psychology we call religion....Buddhism. The same sort of things a really exceptional shrink could help someone uncover.

Everyone is a Buddha. They just don't know it.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

 

hans nel
What if religion was not

What if religion was not about an immortal soul and its eventual storage in a state that made death seem not so bad? What if religion was not about having faith in a set of beliefs cooked up by ossified cultural processes that have made only slight progress in terms of their internal cosmology over the last few thousand years. Hmmm.... OK, its not about a soul. Its not about heaven. Nirvana is not a state or an experience. Its not about the soul trudging thru a series of lifetimes to attain spiritual perfection. What the hell is left? Morality for sure, but also learning to see. Not as easy as it sounds. In the process of learning to see I have felt something about the big picture. Standing here on "God's green earth," and looking out into the stars, I simply feel I'm undeniably a part of it. I think and I feel and I have this chance to "know." And it somehow feels undeniable to me that there exists a unity, and meaning. And that's it. Thank you, gentle people, for helping me to see.

Or as Tom Joad said to Mama, "Looks like one big soul to me, Mama." Was he a socialist or something? 

 

 

polycarp2
Human beings are nature being

Human beings are nature being aware of itself...all of it.  On an experiential level, you're all of it. When you're dead, you're still there....just in a different form. Perhaps worm poop. As far as I know, worm poop isn't aware of itself.

Who knows what form you'll take next? You've been re-cycling in the creation, destruction and re-creation of one universe after another...infiniitely. Be in awe of what you've been participating in. Part of you is in  that distant star you're gazing at at night.

Now's your chance to sit up and take notice...or you can be like a stone and notice nothing.

You can become aware of all of  that experientially while you have the opportunity....or not. The experience is more than  sufficient. Rather wonderous. Just an intellectual understanding isn't. It's depressing.

Then, there is the question of the soul...that which we call life. The unseen that distinguishes  living things from dead things. That's a different discussion.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Nope. "The Kingdom of Heaven

Nope. "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you" - Jesus. I'd suggest an unconventional route to open the door. The door is narrow, the Kingdom vast. The door to Hell is wide...the domain is narrow. Many chose to live in cramped quarters.

As to a soul...life...that which animates all living beings...that's another discusson. Subjective and objective evidence seems to point to One. Some call it God. The Christian term is Holy Spirit.

I'm taking the rest of the day off. Have to catch up on "The Vicar of Dibley" on Netflix. 'Tis amazingly funny, though sometimes a bit risque. I'm ready to chuckle.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

stuff
stuff's picture
Quote:[Who knows what form

Quote:
[Who knows what form you'll take next?

Is it fair to say that such a belief conflicts with foundational Christian faith?

stuff
stuff's picture
 Quote:Nope. "The Kingdom of

 

Quote:
Nope. "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you" - Jesus.

Odd.

Apostles' Creed wrote:
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6.. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
1l. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting.

Amen.

polycarp2
Actually, the Apostle's

Actually, the Apostle's didn't put that together. It should probably be called Emperor Constantine's Creed. He wanted a  set of codified  beliefs he could approve of that didn't challenge his authority and way of governing. . He got one. .Council of Nicea, 325 A.D. The next world became the primary concern...not this world. Christianity was legalized for Christians adhering to it.

The official and proper term for the" Apostle's Creed"  is,  "The Nicene Creed".

Luke 17:21

American King James Version
Neither shall they say, See here! or, see there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

American Standard Version
neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Neither shall they say: Behold here, or behold there. For lo, the kingdom of God is within you.

There are as many variations of that as there are biblical translations.

My own favorite is the Gospel of Thomas (not cannonized. It undermines church authority and relevancy of clergy)

"The kingdom of Heaven is within you and all around you." - Jesus

"Split a piece of wood, and I am there; lift up a stone, and you will find me." - Jesus

 

I'm not a traditional Christian. Being a Christian takes effort to weed through the gibberish. It's co-opted by every culture it finds itself imbedded in. Most religions are co-opted. Buddhism has often been turned into flags and prayer wheels. Ends rather than means. Same with Christianity. The means to an end have become the end in themselves. The map is not the territory.

  poly wrote: Who knows what form you'll take next? Stuff asked:Is it fair to say that such a belief conflicts with foundational Christian faith?

poly replies: The bible says we return to dust. Science kind of confirms that.  Probably, this old body will take the form of worm poop, bugs and bacteria before that happens. What's left will become blblical dust. Every living thing on the planet becomes biblical dust temporarily.

My mineral enriched dust and the worm  poop could nourish some really beautiful trees. When you see a leaf, say hello. Chances are, it won't be wearing my long, eastern church beard. Look for it on a dog. Maybe a Scottie.

Who knows what happens when the planet itself turns to dust, the universe collapses, and the whole process begins all over again. Ah...the possibilities!

What we call the soul is another matter. You must have gleaned past my reference to  it.

 Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

JoyceFinnigan
JoyceFinnigan's picture
drc2 wrote: I repeat my

drc2 wrote:

I repeat my theological mantra, "what does it take to make and keep human life human in this world?"  This open-ended invitation to reflection and conversation is what all religion and theology is about, in the end.  Our Agnostic Hobbesean is convinced of the reality of the world in his construct.  He does not think he is doing theology or entering into religion, but when he casts Reality and Power in his secular realism, he is declaring his "faith" and commiting himself to serving those gods.  Or should we say, those "realities?"  That would bring up the epistemological as well as the theological.  See how you cannot escape this stuff.  Stuff.

Economics is religion today.  It gets past the anti-religious by faking its scientific objectivity and acting as if it were just plain everyday, this world facts of life.

I can see why Buddhism appealed to Einstein, and in our pluralism we all have the ability to learn to appreciate how others get to that big question I started with.  Arguing about theism is really boring to me because it is not where the theological action is.  Theism became arcane with Newton as Newtonian Physics revealed more than its model could explain.  God had to move out of the up close and personal 'firmament' to the outer regions of the cosmos when our ability to see into deep space did not find an ontological deity.  Before then, it was a rather effective story device.

While I appreciate why Einstein wanted 'god' recast in a physics/metaphysics sense of unity.  It is an alternative General Field Theory as it introduces love, compassion and transcendence to the 'objective.'  What the atheist wants us to accept is more the failure of theism to continue to be a useful metaphysics.  Where is the sacred in this secularized utilitarian domination game?  What about the human and the earth?

The value of stories in religion does not come up in the atheism debate.  I do not believe in God in the sense of theism, but I think the metaphysical and mythic descriptions of the Mirror Image of our humanity are pertinent and illuminating.  The Bible loves to portray God in anthropological projection and to describe a relationship that is anything but simple and direct.  Why God creates human beings for companionship is a great piece of zen.  Why would the complete and perfect omnipotent ruler of and Creator of all things give a shit about us?  This is about being human and in on the cosmic joke, not some literal piece of science and history that we have to treat without any imagination.

Amen,

You took the words right out of my mouth. Well said.

stuff
stuff's picture
If there in no afterlife,

If there in no afterlife, then what's a heaven for?

I guess the Board will just have to make do with two different versions of Christianity, yours and everybody else's.

polycarp2
Heaven, Stuff, is for

Heaven, Stuff, is for enjoyment. Stop postponing it....open the door...  and let the good times roll.

However, you will return to dust and your body will be re-cycled in this universe and the next.. When the next big bang takes place, it will be right in the midst of it. Ah....the possibilities!

The bible and science seem to merge on the matter. Your body  will return to  its basic elements.

Have you ever heard the biblical term, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust"? Ashes don't remain ashes, and dust doesn't remain dust. Plant a garden in it and soak up the nutritious elements in it. Convert it into a rose bush. When you gaze at a forest, you're also gazing at the life that came before it.

Perhaps if we comprehended the sacredness of it all (Einstein called it a sense of awe and  wonder), we wouldn't be destroying what the bible says was pronounced as "good".  We could see it ourselves instead of relying on a book to make the statement. Usually, one doesn't burn down their good dwelling.

A universe of nothing but a blank void would be a pretty boring place.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

 

stuff
stuff's picture
Quote:Have you ever heard the

Quote:
Have you ever heard the biblical term, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust"?

Right, body and soul, no difference, one and the same.

To say that Christians do not believe in a heavenly afterlife is preposterous on its face.