Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The Maslow Default
The atheists argue that atheism (which they construe as lack of religious belief or belief in God(s)) is the "default" position. In the absence of absolute positive proof one must fall back upon no belief at all. I can't recall atheists using this term int he 70's before personal computers existed. I think it came out of the internet, but no matter. Atheism is not the true default. I have the true default, what is termed "the perennial philosophy." This basically amounts to mystical theology, but I call it "Maslow Deafult," as it was Maslow who inspired my thinking on this.
The proper default is demonstrated by Abraham Maslow, himself an atheist and great sociologist, in his book Peak Experience. Maslow was one of the first major social scientists to take religious experiences serious enough to study it empirically. He did some of the first good scientific studies on the outcomes of experience.
Since Maslow there are have been hundreds of empirical studies, (see also here) and three measuring devices (surveys, scales, not physical devices) which measure the extent to which one has a valid religious experience. The best one of these is called the "M scale" or "Hood scale." Due to all of this study it is absolutely demonstrated empirically that the results of RE are dramatic, real, and positive. Lives are totally transformed by the kind of experience known as "mystical." Due to this reality it should be absolutely proven that there is something, some aspect of reality that stands out form the mundane daily grind and transfigures lives when one realizes it.
Maslow was an atheist. But he leaned toward the Buddhist end of things and he knew that reality comes in a verity of possibilities. So understood the supernatural as real, but he located it in the natural. The supernatural was, for him, an aspect of physical world and reality which transcended the mundane. He did not see God as personal, he didn't think of a higher power. But he did say "atheists and religious people can go a long way together before there must be final parting and their paths diverge."
what he meant by that was we can view this "something" this aspect of reality that stands out as "holy being" or as "God," or just as transformation that is a natural part of the universe. It's a picture can be viewed as negative or positive. Either way you are looking at the same image. This is the true default and that's what we should be talking about when we speak of a "default." Then the discussion is all just a theological discussion to interpret the data.
the picture analogy works like this:
Religious experience is mystical experience. it consists of undifferentiated unity. In other words, in that state one sees the world as all one thing, no differentiation. Now we can view that as our connection to God as creatures made in God's image, or we can view it as reducing God to a natural process that is just the holistic side of physical world. We can see it as discovering unity and oneness with nature, or as "the divine." Either way, there is something there and that can't be denied. that "something" is the basis of all religion. Huston Smith and others demonstrate that this sense of the numinous stands behind the development of all religion!
The Default aspect is that we should be willing to understand the basic default as this "soemthing," at least in the negative, the aspect of reality that offers transcendence above the mundane and tranasformative power in our lives. ATheism is not a default. Many atheists like to say that we are born atheists. But we are not bor atheists. Of course that is assuming their propaganda line that atheism is nothing more than the absence of a belief. That's what they say before they start talking about bag pipes, spegitti monsters, and default assumptions, "O we don't say the same things" they all say in unison. WE are born with an innate concept of God. That is proven by the studies on the God part of the brain. Many think those studies mean that we react to works we learn but that's the only word that gets that reaction. The word God and God talk is the only kind of speech that gets the big light-up on the dial. The true default assumption needs to be the assumption that some aspect of reality stands apart from the mundane and can transform our lives, and this well proven.