Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Evolution of the God Concept (part 2)







,,,,The assumption that humans are projecting their own attributes is no more supported by the facts than the idea of progressive revelation. It could just be that our conceptions of God have to grow as our understanding of reality grows. How could Stone Age people start out understanding God in terms of quantum theory or transcendence in relation to the space/time continuum? As our understanding has grown our conceptions of God have become more grandiose, they have kept pace with our understanding of the nature of the universe. How could it be other wise? We can’t understand what we have never experienced or that to which we have never been exposed. New psychological research has indicated that children don’t have to understand God’s attributes by first understanding human attributes, but become able to distinguish between different kinds of agents at an early age (six).[1] We might still limit our understanding to our own experience of mind, yet as thinkers we are capable of conceptualizing beyond our own experience. This is born out by research which shows that people often have two understandings of God that conflict, especially in relation to ceremonial uses, they can anthropomorphize when explaining belief but recite doctrines they don’t understand when called upon to state beliefs.[2] That research pertains to Christian children but research has shown the same disparity with Hindus.[3] The real argument against the projection theory has to be the data discussed in the chapter on supernatural, the “m scale” studies by Hood that show universal nature of religious experience. If the concept of God is just the result of psychology how could it be that psychology is universe to all cultures and all times? It is true that the human mind is universal to humans, but it’s also the case that religion is thought of as a cultural phenomenon. The projection idea would be more than just a universal aspect of the human mind it would have to be the product of culture as well because it’s tied to specific cultural ideas of God. Yet all the mystics are having the same experiences regardless of their doctrine.
            Moreover, a positive transformative effect is tied to the experiences that indicates that something more fundamental than just cultural constructs is at work.
Examples of transformative effects
Sullivan (1993) (large qualitative study) The study concludes that spiritual beliefs and practices were identified as essential to the success of 48% of the informants interviewed.[4]  A study by Loretta Do Rozario of the religious practices of the disabled and those in chronic pain, the study demonstrates that religious (“mystical,” or “peak” experience) not only enables the subjects to cope with the trials of the challenges but also provides a since of growth even flourishing in the face of adversity.[5] The study methodology is known as “hermeneutic Phenomenology” it uses both intensive interviews and biographical essays. The Wuthnow study used questionnaires and the sample included 1000 people in San Francisco and Oakland. He asked them about experience of the transcendent, 68% of those experiencing within a year said life is very meaningful. While 46% of those whose experiences were more than a year old answered this way, that life was very meaningful. 82% of those experiencing within a year found they felt they knew the purpose of life, and 72% whose experiences were more than a year old. Only 18% and 21% respectively of those who had not had such experiences felt they cold say the same things.[6]
            Naturalistic assumptions about religion theorized it was explanation for natural phenomena. Linked to magical thinking because they assume it’s primitive and superstitious. Its real origin is found in the actual experiences and their transformative effects. The transformative effects are what links religious orientation with a concept of God. The sense of exercising God or “the divine” with the transformational effects has to be more than just projecting anthropomorphism since it takes us beyond our understanding and into a real that we can’t even express; yet the noetic qualities of the experience that impart meaning and significance to the events indicate that something real and larger than ourselves has been experienced. If we are projecting human qualities we have at least found, through religion, a way that those qualities connect us to come inherent meaning in life. It’s more likely that this something beyond ourselves. The sense that the power is beyond us is often part of the experience. This is a basic aspect of the definition of spirituality.[7]
            Over the last forty years or so the idea of a brain chemistry solution to the concept of God has become fashionable. Scientific research demonstrates a connection between the concept of God and certain aspects of brain function. This has led many theorize a totally naturalistic origin for the God concept.[8] Contrary to wishful thinking along these lines the association between thoughts about God and certain kinds of brain function is no proof that the concept of God originates totally within the brain as a side effect of brain chemistry. First, since we now understand that brain chemistry has to play a role in the communication process there should be no surprise that we find this association between God concept and brain chemistry. We find the same association between any two ideas. This is not proof that the idea of God is purely a side of brain chemistry any more than it is a proof that the ideas of mathematics are purely the result of brain chemistry. Secondly, the notion probably stems from the assumption of skeptics that God is supernatural and brain chemistry is natural and never the twain shall meet. As we have seen in chapter (on supernatural) that term was coined to describe an experience which is toughly a part of naturalistic life. Supernatural describes mystical experience, which we know is a very real experience.
            The idea that ties to brain chemistry are disproof of supernatural assumes that religious experience is seen as a miracle or something is wholly removed form naturalistic functions. This is merely a fallacy. As we discussed in chapter six (on supernatural) God created the natural, God is present in the natural, God is able to use the natural. The idea that the concept of God grows out of an accident or misfiring of brain wiring is merely a fallacious assumption. The probability is totally against any kind of “misfire” producing such an astounding sense of personal growth and transformation of life. Andrew Newberg and Eugene D’Aquili, after many years of research, specifically rejected that assumption; Newberg cited the realization of religious experience as a reality that connects us to the ultimate.[9] “the mind is mystical by default.”[10] What he means by that is that the same physical processes that carry messages from the body to the brain and make reality meaningful to us would have to be involved regardless of the reality of the external causes. God would have to use the chemical processes of our brains to communicate with us, and if God is real than that’s he made us. The view point that sees religious experience and belief as genetic adaptation is really missing the point about the nature of evolution. As Lee Kirkpatrick points out the simpler concept is the more evolved. Rather than evolving an elaborate structure such as religious experience to deal with anxiety, why would the human brain not just evolve an efficient and simple mechanism for coping with stress?[11]
            There is also an argument to be made that the relation between brain chemistry and God concept is a good justification for belief in the reality of God. The basis for a hard wired God concept need not be evidence of a “God gene.” It could also be the result of a combination of genes working together (Spandrels), either way the odds are against it happening by total accident. That in itself is a good indication of some pre planning on the part of nature or something behind nature. Again the universality argument comes into play. We can’t assume the universal nature of cultural constructs. It would have to be genetic. The problem is evolution and genes can’t really provide for the content of ideas. They couldn’t really account for the universality of the God concept. Some skeptics have been known to argue that universal behaviors are genetic.[12] These pertain to things like men finding symmetrical faces and women’s figures are more attractive. Those are not the content of ideas, they are just behaviors. That’s not instinct not idea. The universality of the God concept draws upon the content of the idea not just a behavior:
In Western Religions and In Hinduism, the higher Being has been called “God.”

In all theistic religions God is perceived as the ultimate, externality (transcendent), the ultimate internality, (immanent), and sometimes both simultaneously. Often, God is not perceived simply as a higher being but in many ways has been described as the ground or substance of all being. Thus, God is not only the higher being but also a state of higher being or ultimate reality. In fact, in the mystical tradition of the Western religions, the goal of the practice of meditation is to become intensely united with God and in so doing to become, in a sense, a part of ultimate reality involving release from the cycle of birth and death.[13]

The content of the ideas is what is universal, as well as the experiences (see chapter six—Hood’s argument and data). The way we as a species experience things can’t be genetically heritable especially when that experience has given rise to the content of an idea. That would be like positing the notion of innate ideas, which was supposed to be abandoned in the enlightenment. Innate ideas are assumed to be planted by God and are seen as the old religious way of looking at things. Innate ideas were assailed and dispatched by John Locke, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.[14]
            God was not invented by man and then evolves as a fictional concept, but God reveals himself/herself to man in progressive stages of revelation; our knowledge of God is ever deeper as people continue to seek the infinite. We can see the current result of this progressive revelation in the high state to which the concept of God had developed. The theological concepts we propose, sheer guess work in relation to the actual truth of the Holy, are evolved to a high stage of understanding regardless of their origin around the time of St. Augustine (354-430). The basic concept is that of transcendent reality that form the basis of reality as a whole, being itself, the ground of being. The basic attributes of the concept include eternal (timeless), necessary (meaning not contingent—not dependent upon any prior conditions or causes for its being) the ground of being. The secret to the continuing modernity of this concept is that it is no longer a concept about a guy; it’s an equation. It can’t be a maybe it has to be either a certainty or impossibility. There’s no reason why it should be impossible so it must be a certainty. The real kicker is it’s not about a magnified man or a jumped up state of being human, but with great powers added; it’s about a category. That’s what “being itself” or “ground of being” refers to. God is not another guy, God is not one of many others like itself, God is a whole category of being, a category that functions as the basis of all actuality. God might be likened unto the Hegelian dialectic, a form of logic that works by point counter point rather than a linear progression. In fact one of the major schools of thought about revelation (Barth, Bultmann) saw Biblical revelation as a dialectic between reader and the text.[15]
            This high level of philosophical development in the concept of God has culminated in several major theological ways of understanding God. Of course there’s the Tillich view of God as being itself, or ground of being, that understands God as a category of reality rather than an individual. Then process theology (Alfred North Whitehead), based upon the Hegelian concept of progressive revelation already discussed, this view sees God as di polar; in the potential realm God is unchanging because God is the basis of all potential, in the consequent realm God is moving into concrete being by evolving with creation. What God is doing in that state is bringing into and out of existence actual entities (that’s something like sub atomic particles). This doesn’t see God as stable static unchanging reality as a “society of occasions” like a movie made up of individual moments or frames but played fast creates a totally different illusion that of a moving picture show. Process theology is always unrated in its popularity. It is the most popular modern liberal alternative in terms of understanding God. It also spawned a popularized version called “open theology.”  Then there’s  Jurgen Moltmann’s notion of God working backwards from the future. That doesn’t really deal so much with the nature of God as with his orientation toward the future. The idea is not that time is running backwards but only that God’s position in time is to regard the horizon of the future and understand reality from there back (in other words, God is beyond time he can afford to pick his persective). Thus man is constantly moving toward a future horizon that he never actually achieves, but is already there drawing us on.
            These views are only guesses; the reality is beyond our understanding. That’s the secret of God’s success; he’s not only real but inexhaustible. Our best ideas about his nature are inadequate, yet they are modern they are keeping pace with our scientific understanding. We can quantum theory to understand aspects of God. For example the notion that the energy in the big bang is created in the expansion, it is not eternal, that can be understood by reference to quantum theory which would suspend the Newtonian laws at the singularity. Thus, no conservation of energy, so energy can be created. Or the Trinity might be better understood if we understood if we understood wave/particle duality. Yet these are ideas are bound to some day be lost to history and seem old fashioned. The theologies that spin off of them will no doubt pass out of fashion. Whatever comes into fashion will include a God concept and it will keep pace with human advancement. This is not because man is reinventing a concept he made up, but because there is continually more of God to discover. It’s the actual personal experiential discovery that is the secret to God’s success. There’s always more to be experienced in the each moment, in each life, in each generation.


[1] J. L. Barrett,  R.A. Richert, , A. Driesenga,  “God's beliefs versus mother's: The development of nonhuman agent concepts.”  Child Development, 72(1), (2001).  50-65
[2] J.L.  Barrett, F.C.  Keil, “Conceptualizing a Nonnatural Entity: Anthropomorphism in God Concepts.” Cognitive Psychology, 31(3), (1996). 219-247.
[3] J.L. Barrett, “Cognitive constraints on Hindu concepts of the divine,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37(4), (1998). 608-619.
[4] W. Sullivan, “It helps me to be a whole person”: “The role of spirituality among the mentally challenged”. Psychological Rehabilitation Journal. 16 , (1993),125-134.
[5] Loretta Do Rozario, “Spirituality in the lives of People with Disability and Chronic Illness: A Creative Paradigm of Wholeness and Reconstitution,” Disability and Rehabilitation, An International Multi-Disciplinary Journal, 19 (1997) 423-427.
[6] Robert Wuthnow, “Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, (18) 3 (1978) 66, see also 176-177
[7] K. Krishna Mohan, “Spirituality and well being, an overview,” The following article is based on a presentation made during the Second International Conference on Integral Psychology,
held at Pondicherry (India), 4-7 January 2001. The text has been published in:
Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) (2001) Consciousness and Its Transformation. Pondicherry: SAICE.
Avaivble on-line through website of Indian Psychology Institute. On-line resource. URL:
Mohan defines spirutality in terms of “experiencing a numinous quality, knowing unity of the visible and invisible, having an internalized relationship between the individual and the Divine, encountering limitless love, and moving towards personal wholeness” which accords with mystical experience in terms of the M scale. He sites: (Canda, 1995; Gaje-Fling & McCarthy, 1996; Decker, 1993; King et al., 1995; Wulff, 1996). That is also in harmony  with Hood’s understanding of mystical experience, (see chapter six, on  supernatural).
[8] Matthew Alper, The God Part of the Brain, Naperville Illanois: Soucebook inc, originally published in 1996 by Rough Press, 2006, 11.
[9] Andrew NewbergWhy God Won’t God AwayBrain Science and the Biology of Belief. (New York, Ballentine Books), 2001, 157-172.
[10] Ibid., 37
[11] Lee A. Kirkpatrick, “Religion is not An Adaptation.” Where God and Science Meet Vol I: Evolution, Genes and The Religious Brain. Westport: Praeger Publishers,  Patrick McNamara ed. 2006, 173.
[12] Anders Rassmussen, “Universal Human Behavior”Anders Rassmussen Blog, Friday, December 39, 2006.
URL:    http://rasmussenanders.blogspot.com/2006/12/universal-human-behaviors.html
[13] Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew B. Newberg, The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experince. Copywright by the estate of Eugene d’Aquili and Anderw Newberg.1999. 3.
[14] John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, Great Books in Philosophy series, 12.
[15] Avery Dulles, Models of Revelation. Maryknoll New York:Orbis Books, Reprint edition, 1992,  84.

38 comments:

Mike Gerow said...

Um, I liked it!

There was a million things I was tempted to deconstruct, but I thought you pulled it off, more or less, by the end, so they all just quibbles....

Anonymous said...

JH: The assumption that humans are projecting their own attributes is no more supported by the facts than the idea of progressive revelation. It could just be that our conceptions of God have to grow as our understanding of reality grows. How could Stone Age people start out understanding God in terms of quantum theory or transcendence in relation to the space/time continuum?

It depends on how you view God. If your God is some vague entity who does not directly interact with mankind, then I think this is a valid point (though Occam's razor would still point to the humans projecting hypothesis).

However, if you are positing a God who has taken an active part in human affairs, who has a history of communicating directly with humans - for example the God of the Bible - then your claim becomes rather less tenable. In that scenario stone age people could know the nature of God because God told them. Stone age people were no more stupid than people are today, they just did not have the background knowledge. If God was communicating with them, then there is no reason for them not to have that knowledge.

They may not be able to comprehend quantum mechanics, but be honest here Joe, how well do you understand quantum mechanics? That limited understanding does not stop you having whatever concept of God you have. They do not need to know about Hamiltonians or the Schrödinger–Pauli equation any more than you do.

Pix

Joe Hinman said...

Mike Gerow said...
Um, I liked it!

There was a million things I was tempted to deconstruct, but I thought you pulled it off, more or less, by the end, so they all just quibbles....

shut down Mike Gerow on a decon rant major complement,

have to get to Px's latter

Joe Hinman said...

JH: The assumption that humans are projecting their own attributes is no more supported by the facts than the idea of progressive revelation. It could just be that our conceptions of God have to grow as our understanding of reality grows. How could Stone Age people start out understanding God in terms of quantum theory or transcendence in relation to the space/time continuum?

PXIt depends on how you view God. If your God is some vague entity who does not directly interact with mankind, then I think this is a valid point (though Occam's razor would still point to the humans projecting hypothesis).


I see no reason to make that assumption, it contradicts my experience and my research,


However, if you are positing a God who has taken an active part in human affairs, who has a history of communicating directly with humans - for example the God of the Bible - then your claim becomes rather less tenable.


O'm talking about the concept as a whole. Your understanding of what "taking an active part in Human affairs" means is ideological. It's conditioned by the need to refute belief,


In that scenario stone age people could know the nature of God because God told them. Stone age people were no more stupid than people are today, they just did not have the background knowledge. If God was communicating with them, then there is no reason for them not to have that knowledge.

people then as now experience God's presence that is the major reason for religion as a whole.

They may not be able to comprehend quantum mechanics, but be honest here Joe, how well do you understand quantum mechanics?

what does that have to do with anything? you cant understand ethology,


That limited understanding does not stop you having whatever concept of God you have. They do not need to know about Hamiltonians or the Schrödinger–Pauli equation any more than you do.

more scientism? there can't be a God because he's not scientific? sciemce is the on;y from of knowledge and yada yada

PX you are anti intellectual, I am bored with your ideological propaganda. you don't know shit from shinola about logic,philosophy, theology or social sciences.

it's limited and boring

Mike Gerow said...

That limited understanding does not stop you having whatever concept of God you have. They do not need to know about Hamiltonians or the Schrödinger–Pauli equation any more than you do.

QM is basically just some probability matrices. Beyond that, as Feynman said, anyone who claims to "understand" it clearly doesn't. So you shouldn't use it to mystify.

Um, isn't that the same tact a lot of "religionists" use?

Mike Gerow said...

O'm talking about the concept as a whole. Your understanding of what "taking an active part in Human affairs" means is ideological. It's conditioned by the need to refute belief,

You deconstructed it!

Yay!

Joe Hinman said...

You deconstructed it!

of course i did half my doctoral work on Derrida

Anonymous said...

JH: I see no reason to make that assumption, it contradicts my experience and my research,

I am assuming either God has directly interacted mankind in the past (i.e., communicated at a level that ideas can be presented) OR God has not. I feel that that is a good assumption because I cannot see any alternative. As far as I can tell, you offer no other alternative either.

JH: O'm talking about the concept as a whole. Your understanding of what "taking an active part in Human affairs" means is ideological. It's conditioned by the need to refute belief,

If it is conditioned, then it is by 2000 years of Christian propaganda. It is Christian ideology.

If you want to say that God never talked to Moses, that God never talked to mankind through Jesus, then state it clearly, and I will agree. Somehow I doubt you will be willing to do that, given you too have been conditioned to Christian ideology.

JH: what does that have to do with anything? you cant understand ethology,

Perhaps if you read the next sentence in the paragraph, you might find out.

JH: more scientism? there can't be a God because he's not scientific? sciemce is the on;y from of knowledge and yada yada

Okay, my bad. Apparently when you read the next sentence it went right over your head.

What I was saying is that you do not need to know about Hamiltonians or the Schrödinger–Pauli equation to posit a God as you do. And therefore God would not need to explain Hamiltonians or the Schrödinger–Pauli to stone age man.

You do remember saying this in the blog post:

JH: How could Stone Age people start out understanding God in terms of quantum theory or transcendence in relation to the space/time continuum?

See, Joe, he does not have to. He can explain his nature with only a very superficial reference to QM, because very obviously they need to know QM no better than you do.

Or do you think God less able to teach the basics about QM than the people or taught you?


Pix

Joe Hinman said...

They may not be able to comprehend quantum mechanics, but be honest here Joe, how well do you understand quantum mechanics?

Whitehead did. H e wrote about it.

Joe Hinman said...

JH: How could Stone Age people start out understanding God in terms of quantum theory or transcendence in relation to the space/time continuum?

See, Joe, he does not have to. He can explain his nature with only a very superficial reference to QM, because very obviously they need to know QM no better than you do.

Or do you think God less able to teach the basics about QM than the people or taught you?

You totally ignored the point which was rationale for progressive revelation;God targets revelation to the level of the recipient.

Mike Gerow said...

Yeah, Px (and co) do seem to have a dubious thing called "the Christian revelation", which they have use to paint one negative face on the beliefs of a couple billion different people. But, to construct this opponent, they have ignore all the various historical tensions, contradictions, and even interfaith wars, that have existed WITHIN Christianity almost from the beginning.

Really - as I said to st on Doxa and he also concurred about Islam - it's questionable if there even IS such a thing, enough commonality amoung enough so-called "Xian" (or Islamic) sects or individuals to properly define these monolithic things these guys consider themselves at " war" with, as Sam Harris said in some interview about the Muslim "world."

They are actually "at war", I think, with ideas of their own ...um, "construction". But maybe (and tragically) that's always the case....

7th Stooge said...

I would say from my limited knowledge that Islam is more canonical than Xianity as far as the Pillars the foundational texts etc. That being said, Wahabism is a real divergence I'd say. I think Harris dawkins et al are calling out reactionary strands of Islam while trying to encourage more liberal elements, tho I'm not an apologist for those guys. Yeesh!

Mike Gerow said...

“God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown.”
Nietzsche

Atheism too has its disagreements, revisionists and naysayers, and I think one of those "shadows" for Frederick woulda been something like scientism - science as religionlike - the attempt to create authority and a non-political source of power out of some set of supposed "truths".

Anonymous said...

JH: You totally ignored the point which was rationale for progressive revelation;God targets revelation to the level of the recipient.

Why does that make sense? Why does God not educate the recipient so he understands properly?

Mankind got you to the point where you (presumably believe you) have a sufficient understanding of what God is. Are you saying mankind can do something God cannot? Or are you saying God does not want us to understand?

Which of these three statements do you disagree with, Joe?

1. Mankind can educate individuals of sufficient intelligence about quantum theory and transcendence in relation to the space/time continuum.*

2. If Christianity is true, then God can and has communicated directly with mankind.

3. If Christianity is true, then God could explain quantum theory or transcendence in relation to the space/time continuum to any individual of sufficient intelligence, no matter his or her technical background - even someone from the stone age.

4. If Christianity is true, then God could explain his nature in terms of quantum theory and transcendence in relation to the space/time continuum to any individual of sufficient intelligence, no matter his or her technical background - even someone from the stone age.

Pix


* Yes, okay, some famous physicist said no one really understands QM, but but degree level physicists clearly have a degree-level understanding, so there is there is some understanding of the subject.

Mike Gerow said...

For some, there is more understanding of the probability matrices.....what they mean, beyond that matter behaves really weirdly at the teensy levels, is VERY Subject to interpretation and vulnerable therefore to Ideologic spins.. ...



2. If Christianity is true, then God can and has communicated directly with mankind.


"Christianity" - if there is such a thing - has the basic contention that God communicated directly with humans IN CHRIST . Christ was an iternerent Jewish teacher who endorsed something he called the Kingdom of Heaven, told a lot of stories that often suggested sociopolitical undertones, particularly in the Jewisn context, and whose sayings sometimes expressed odd ethics, and he generally didn't say much to "advance" the natural sciences or any metaphysical philosophies.

So, if this guy spoke for God and didn't even explain about the Trinity or QM either, but kept focused on human interrelations, then I guess those weren't the essential things?

Joe's point in this isn't about some essential aspect of divine nature, btw, but about the way ideas come and go. His notion of evolution here isn't so much "improvement" as just change. Then it changes some more, adapts to new sociocultural conditions, world views and personal/sociocultural head spaces. I think the mistake you're making is reading his notion of "evolving" as strongly implying "improving" - a point I would have taken up with him, too, if he'd actually done that.....

Mike Gerow said...

Joe, interesting, if somewhat long winded, discussion of the negative aspects of Hegel's influence on modern Xianity...

http://religible.com/383/georg-hegel-christian-relevance/

7th Stooge said...

Mike: Joe's point in this isn't about some essential aspect of divine nature, btw, but about the way ideas come and go. His notion of evolution here isn't so much "improvement" as just change. Then it changes some more, adapts to new sociocultural conditions, world views and personal/sociocultural head spaces. I think the mistake you're making is reading his notion of "evolving" as strongly implying "improving" - a point I would have taken up with him, too, if he'd actually done that.....

You may be right. Can we ever say our ideas are improving? That we don't stone adulterous women or throw gay people off of cliffs? Maybe it's the ethno and chrono-centrist in me that tends to want to say that Tillich and Whitehead are improvements over versions of god that would've sanctioned if not commanded such things. But of course I would say that since I'm a aprt of this culture.

Mike Gerow said...

I dunno....

Compare the occasional harsh enforcement of tribal/sexual mores in the past to the systematic & technology-driven, efficient genocides of the 20th century, and ...Wdyt?

I was looking at a forum once where Pinker's well-known book was under discussion.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Better_Angels_of_Our_Nature

... & a history prof commented that he wasnt completely sure but suspected the average denizen on the world was actually "happier" overall back in the Middle Ages than s/he is today. A lot of people believe in progress, sure, that's just assumed to be the case in many contexts, but I think I'm agnostic ....

Joe Hinman said...

odd look who isn't posting on this thread?

Anonymous said...

MG: "Christianity" - if there is such a thing - has the basic contention that God communicated directly with humans IN CHRIST . Christ was an iternerent Jewish teacher who endorsed something he called the Kingdom of Heaven, told a lot of stories that often suggested sociopolitical undertones, particularly in the Jewisn context, and whose sayings sometimes expressed odd ethics, and he generally didn't say much to "advance" the natural sciences or any metaphysical philosophies.

I thought Christianity posited that the events of the OT were largely true; i.e., that God really did communicate with Moses. Are you saying that events like that never happened (or are you merely saying such events are not required to be in Christianity, with the implication that you still believe they did...)?

Pix

Joe Hinman said...

Christ was an iternerent Jewish teacher who endorsed something he called the Kingdom of Heaven, told a lot of stories that often suggested sociopolitical undertones, particularly in the Jewisn context, and whose sayings sometimes expressed odd ethics, and he generally didn't say much to "advance" the natural sciences or any metaphysical philosophies.

who did? what a silly criticism. Why stupid Socrates he didn't say a word about alternate energy or global warming.

I thought Christianity posited that the events of the OT were largely true; i.e., that God really did communicate with Moses. Are you saying that events like that never happened (or are you merely saying such events are not required to be in Christianity, with the implication that you still believe they did...)?


welcome to liberal theology.

Mike Gerow said...

Px, As with QM, I think the interpretation of events is almost always more important than the events themselves? It's entirely possible to reject the "meanings" of any event while accepting its literal happenstance. And this is true no matter how unlikely and supernatural the event itself is purported to be. Conversely, it's possible to reject the literalness of events while maintaining all the interpretation - i.e. still agreeing with all the implications that some ideology attaches to some narrative about the nature of the world. These things are pretty much independent of each other...

Joes article makes this point too.... He separates the narratives from the dogma (or theology) and from ideologies quite carefully to show there's always gaps between these things. Every theology/ ideology is grafted onto the texts, and targets particular sociocultural concerns that arise from the conditions of its own creation, instead of than being derived directly from texts. (Btw, the shock-jock, Argentinian theologian, Marcella Altheus-Reid put all this really succinctly when she said, "theology is a market.")

But I should probly quote Joe directly.... ;-)

Critics of religious thinking might be apt to confuse dogma with ideology. Religious ideas are not automatically ideological, dogma is not automatically ideological. It’s the literalistic elements in some religious thinking (not all of course) that closes off the realm of discourse and crates a closed truth regime. The danger of form ideology may be acute in a religious setting since it is easy to confuse the metaphor with literal truth by casting over it the aura of the sacred. We often associate the things pertaining to belief in God with God, and in so doing forge a literalism that closes off discourse.

7th Stooge said...

Compare the occasional harsh enforcement of tribal/sexual mores in the past to the systematic & technology-driven, efficient genocides of the 20th century, and ...Wdyt?

Absolutely I agree. I thought maybe you were making a point about cultural/ethical relativism, not that there IS a standard we can judge our culture by relative to other cultures. Beyond that we can quibble about in what ways life is "better" and in what ways "worse" here and now compared to previous or other cultures.

I think there are some hard metrics you can use to compare. I think that general welfare is better now, less starvation, death by wars etc. per capita. But you're right, the means of inflicting oppression and violence are far more efficient than ever before. But just think before the 18th century thre wasb;t even a clear idea of 'humanity" or human rights!

7th Stooge said...

Also loss of "horizon" or overall meaning, loss of an organic connection to family community etc. It's less a matter of material conditions, altho this remains a major problem for millions, than spiritual conditions.

7th Stooge said...

,,,, If the concept of God is just the result of psychology how could it be that psychology is universe to all cultures and all times? It is true that the human mind is universal to humans, but it’s also the case that religion is thought of as a cultural phenomenon. The projection idea would be more than just a universal aspect of the human mind it would have to be the product of culture as well because it’s tied to specific cultural ideas of God. Yet all the mystics are having the same experiences regardless of their doctrine.

It may not be that religion is a product of culture but more the fact that religion is foundational to culture, somewhat the way that language is. There is surface diversity in languages depending on culutre and history but deeper similarities in terms of structure and acquisition. What if religion is something like that? That could be used to support a God argument as much as a naturalizing God argument, dependng on how you interpret it.

I thought that mystics had slightly differwnt epxeriences, some reporting a personal presence and others not.

Mike Gerow said...

Also loss of "horizon" or overall meaning, loss of an organic connection to family community etc. It's less a matter of material conditions, altho this remains a major problem for millions, than spiritual conditions.

Jim, Iirc, that history prof emphasized a strong connection to nature - which is along the lines of what you say here, I guess - as a major psychological advantage for so-called "primitives"....

Joe's article touches on a lost "sense of wonderment", too, that's hard to find these days even among us supposed "believers", i think...


MJR's first book....
https://books.google.ca/books/about/Strange_Wonder.html?id=ym-ZvRexWX8C

Joe Hinman said...

I thought that mystics had slightly differwnt epxeriences, some reporting a personal presence and others not.

of course they have their own individuality but the same general commonalities' two types but a lot of people experience both.

7th Stooge said...

Mike, Have you read this? Great book.


https://www.amazon.com/Wayfinders-Ancient-Wisdom-Matters-Lecture/dp/0887847668

I'll have to get "Strange Wonder." Does she relate this sense f wonder to the "sublime"? This sense is something that philosophy, at least Anglo-American-Austrian analytic type has really tried to suppress. Even what's unknowable gets domesticated.

Mike Gerow said...

"To open the question of wonder, then, is to open thought not only to the fantastic and amazing but also to the dreadful and the threatening. As we try to follow the traces of this wondrous primordiality, we therefore find ourselves in the ambivalent nether regions of Burke’s (and Kant’s) sublime—as well as Blaise Pascal’s abysmal awe, Rudolf Otto’s numinous, Maurice Blanchot’s disaster, Jacques Lacan’s real, Julia Kristeva’s abject, and Søren Kierkegaard’s horror religiosus. 28 Opening the question of wonder, thinking opens the fascinating/ repulsive, creative/ ruinous, astounding/ horrifying, heirophanic/ monstrous excess against which, as we will see, more “proper” philosophy takes pains to secure itself."
MJR

Mike Gerow said...

.... & then we could reflect back to Joe's article, right?

As definitions of divinity become more sophisticated and familiar over time (in both the small personal & largerhistorical senses) could something tend to be lost too? Is there a tragic element? He didn't say that. But he also didn't say there couldn't be ....

Joe Hinman said...

7: This sense is something that philosophy, at least Anglo-American-Austrian analytic type has really tried to suppress. Even what's unknowable gets domesticated.

that is the kind of stiff atheists will ridicule real fast as new age.But it's not I hate the straight Jackie imposed by analytical philosophy,

7th Stooge said...

As definitions of divinity become more sophisticated and familiar over time (in both the small personal & largerhistorical senses) could something tend to be lost too? Is there a tragic element? He didn't say that. But he also didn't say there couldn't be ....,.

Yeah, I'd say that's the gift and the tragedy of language in general. That's where nature and art come in. Poetry in particular (all religion is poetry in a way) dislocating words back towards an 'astonishment of being' (Bergson)

7th Stooge said...

that is the kind of stiff atheists will ridicule real fast as new age.But it's not I hate the straight Jackie imposed by analytical philosophy,

Yeah, Quine Sellars Lewis and those guys are really where it's at,...

Mike Gerow said...

One suspects thats rooted in a denial of death ... and tragedy.

Joe Hinman said...

Yeah, Quine Sellars Lewis and those guys are really where it's at,...

groovie hipster man what the hell do you mean?

7th Stooge said...

plastic polyester man, quit bummin' my groove!

7th Stooge said...

What I meant was that it seems the analytic tradition is pretty much de riguer in academic cutting edge philosophy today at least in America and UK. I wasn;t endorsing that trend, just referring to it.

Mike Gerow said...

It wasn't a man, instead but the femininist theorist Rosi Braidotti, from whom I got the denial of death tact.

Not all analytic philosophy is QUITE that arid....tho, of course, much of it is....so me, I prefer the florid (even if barely comprehensible at all) styles of the continentals, they more fun