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The Spirituality of Atheism Options
Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, September 05, 2011 4:02:31 PM

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spir·i·tu·al (spr-ch-l)
adj.
1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material.
2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul.

soul (sl)
n.
1. The animating and vital principle in humans, credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion and often conceived as an immaterial entity.

This issue, which I have given no little consideration, but that I do not recall having brought up here before, came to mind as I was responding to Dreamy's question about the "spiritual landscape" of this forum. It was actually about ten years after I became convinced of a natural science interpretation of reality, that I first considered the possibility, of the applicability of the term to my personal experience. For the last five years I have been convinced that there is a great deal of spirituality to my fundamental interpretation of reality, and I know of no other word to convey the experience. I should also say that for seven years I was completely convinced of a Christian interpretation of reality, and very much into discipleship, meditating on the word, and while a preacher of the Word, the characteristics of God, in particular the holiness of God was much referenced in my preaching. So I feel confident that I have a good understanding of the experience of spirituality in its traditional usage.

I would base my case for atheistic spirituality not only on my personal experience, but it seems the dictionary definitions allow for such usage as well. Consider definition 2 of spirituality, and the qualification of "often", meaning not exclusively so, concerning the immaterial nature of the soul. Without taking the time to do an in depth examination of the basis for my conviction concerning this, I would offer these following points that come to mind at the moment.

1>I propose that spirituality is an experience of consciousness, and in as much as the encoded energy fields that constitute consciousness may be considered as material, in this sense, it is a physical phenomenon.

2>I would assert that the involvement of both reason and emotion is a necessary condition.

3>I would propose that the experience is likely only in those with a deeply examined, deeply held, and cultivated real time experience of their Fundamental Interpretation of Reality (FIR), Christians call this "walking in the Spirit.

4>I would propose/state, that as any consciously held FIR must deal, in some manner, with the fundamental question, "Why are there things that are, rather than no things?" That a personal apprehension of the immeasurably immense, and eventual unknowableness of all of "what is, has been, or is to come", leads to an essential humility in the resultant relationship, and this is a characteristic of spirituality.

5>I submit that there are archetypal mechanisms evolved within our mentalities to facilitate spirituality, and thus the power of the "religious experience."

6>I would hazard to hypothesize that those who are spiritual would be seen as essentially good people, with compassion and concern for the state of the human race, and for the individuals thereof.

Although it took me a long time to realize, and accept, that the only appropriate word to describe my experience was "spiritual", the experience has been there from the beginning of my acceptance that my FIR had changed. My change of mind did not come easy, nor over a short period, but one night as I walked home from the university and through a park gazing up at the stars, beseeching God for a return of faith, suddenly it all fell into place, and I realized that my mind had irrevocably changed. I would strongly assert that the experience was, in many ways parallel to a religious experience, and thus according to my argument, a spiritual experience. So as my final point in my argument I will offer this anecdotal account.
circa 1986
I have just come from another appeal for a return of faith, and though I cried out with all of my heart, mind, and soul, the multidimensional universe merely went on, nonplussed by the mental anguish of one particular manifestation of the energy of which, every one of the silent stars is also made.
Infinite silence.
I can no longer go on refuting the evidence, man created god in his image, intelligence, personality, emotions; father, son, and holy ghost.
(I wrote this much and then paused to recall the experience in the park, please recall I am writing this all in support of the main proposal of "atheistic spirituality" and not to debate the specifics of what I wrote then.

Four billion years ago on a hostile planet,
circling a rather garden variety star,
in the edge of an unspectacular galaxy,
in a remote part of the universe,

Something wonderful happened!

Four lifeless chemicals, adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine,
began forming small sticky strands of chemicals.
Strands of chemicals with a very peculiar property,
they replicated.
There in that primordial ocean stew,
the fundamental unit of life on earth appeared,
the primal gene.

Over vast stretches of time, the fundamental selective pressures of,
copying fidelity, fecundity, and longevity,
eventually gave rise to organisms with primitive nervous systems,
the race of evolution was on!

Four thousand, million years of selective pressures on those primitive ancestors
has given rise to one of the most amazing phenomenon in the known universe
Homo Sapien!
An organized system of elements,
elements born of the death of ancient stars,
had become aware of its' independent existence.

Somewhere in the dim beginnings
of the short recorded history of these organized systems of star stuff,
a question, the fundamental question rose to the lips of men.
Why, why are there things that are rather than no things?
The quest for truth and meaning was born....

The sense of awe, wonder, and the deep feeling of connectedness to the majesty of what is, that infused me while writing this, and in many experiences since then, I can find no other word for but spiritual, and since I am by most peoples definition an atheist, what else can this be but atheistic spirituality?

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Ray41
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 2:53:53 AM

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I do not think that I can do justice to the correct interpretation of 'spirituality'.
I do know that you do not need religion to have spirituality.
The Australian Aborigine,[and no doubt other indigenous peoples such as the North American Indian] have a deep spiritual attachment to the environment as it features in all their culture, which is at least 40,000 years old. That certainly predates 'religion per se'.
Their beliefs go back to their 'dream-time' where their vision of how the earth was formed comes from.
It is a study within itself and if modern Europeans had embraced some of this culture, this planet would be a whole lot healthier.
I am myself, spiritual, but I no longer embrace the concept of a religious God.


While I live I grow.
IMcRout
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 3:46:00 AM

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For a long time now I have had the feeling that, rather than offering orientation, organised religion of whatever provenance is a stumbling block on the way to find genuine spirituality.

Although the ceremonial rites of most established churches have traditionally provided some frame of reference for many worshippers on their passage through life, these were mainly adopted from "pagan" customs and adjusted to the needs of the respective church.

What used to be deeply moving ceremonies for mostly illiterate, superstitious and impressionable devotees, has turned more into a form of mummery, easily smiled upon by many of our contemporaries.



I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger. (Anon)
percivalpecksniff
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 4:46:32 AM

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This a question of definitions as you say Epi and there is a chasm between the understandings.

The soul is you.

Soul, for example, as defined in the Bible simply means life… you as a person. Animals are spoken of as souls. It comes from the words ne’phesh ( Hebrew) and psyche (Greek) as we know.

The soul is not something apart from the body which leaves it on death and continues living … it is you. S.O.S is the cry at sea in a storm ‘save our souls’ our lives.

Numerous passages refer to so many souls being killed by the edge of the sword and people are told to take in knowledge and delight the soul… the life… eat and make your soul fat.

Spirituality.

Spirituality as you define it, Epi, allows you, as you say, to correctly to term yourself a spiritual person. So within your parameters you are indeed a spiritual person.

However if you alter the definition, choose another meaning, or narrow it down, then you no longer fit the parameters.

Narrow it down say to Christian spirituality. The Christian is referring to connecting to something beyond … a living being with values. You, I think, are connecting with yourself….your own consciousness or sense of awareness and connection to all that has occurred in the developing of life as you percieve it to be.

The Christian is seeking to be in tune with the Great Spirit, God, to conform to what he understands Him to be in the way of qualities… he attunes his mind to such and submits his will to that One. The depth of his spirituality is measured by his responsiveness to such, to how much he is in tume with the Creator's ways in life’s journey with it ups, downs and challenges.

Both forms of spirituality experience this sense of yours which is nicely put:

Quote: The sense of awe, wonder, and the deep feeling of connectedness to the majesty of what is, that infused me…. Unquote

But both put a different interpretation to it and base it on different perceptions, and indeed expected or hoped for outcomes.

Indeed the complexity, or diversity, of the English language does allow for different forms of spirituality... one of which is yours.


It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle
intelfam
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 6:14:17 AM

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I suppose it is obvious from my posts that, although originally trained as an engineer, I find "religion" - in its broadest sense - and philosophy, of great interest. Accordingly I tend to get e-mail notifications of all sorts of stuff from a range of disciplines. It was that which led me to pick out that "religiosity" is a word becoming popular among academics. But interestingly "spirituality" seems to be the word used by those who wish to make sure their beliefs/experiences are clearly marked out as separate from organised religions per se. I guess words do change their meaning or their range of application and, from my reading, I cannot see that Epi's use of the word is nowadays idiosyncratic.

It would seem, as christianity is no longer as widespread in its influence in western societies, that other explanations are now openly acceptable, if not "new". So we have the word used by westerners ranging from pagans to daoists, christian to buddhist, monists to panentheists. I can only imagine that there is a body of those from the once dominant world view who will regret the passing of a narrower interpretation.








"The voice of the majority is no proof of justice." - Schiller
Dreamy
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 6:56:57 AM

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I have no problem with non-Christians, such as atheists, naturalists, pagans, pantheists and the like, identifying a certain spirituality at work in their lives. Many sporting codes cultivate and rely heavily on the presence of spirituality in their followers.

This should be no surprise since humans are triune creations, each one being their own human spirit, each one having their own human soul, and each one living in their own human body.

There are some aspects of human life that interact either beneficially or detrimentally with spirituality.

These are the physical/material, the mental/intellectual, the feeling/emotional, and social/associational aspects of humans.

To what degree any of these aspects of life is ignored or neglected or abused, from my research, it appears to be in co-variant relationship with the spiritual aspect.



Job 33:15 "In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, In slumberings upon the bed;" Theology 101 "If He doesn't know everything then He isn't God."
intelfam
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 7:59:06 AM

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Dreamy wrote:

There are some aspects of human life that interact either beneficially or detrimentally with spirituality.

These are the physical/material, the mental/intellectual, the feeling/emotional, and social/associational aspects of humans.

To what degree any of these aspects of life is ignored or neglected or abused, from my research, it appears to be in co-variant relationship with the spiritual aspect.


Sorry Dreamy, it may be the time of day, but could you please re-phrase this in everyday words for me? Not trying to be clever, just unsure what you are saying, beyond there being a relationship - somehow.




"The voice of the majority is no proof of justice." - Schiller
RubyMoon
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 5:19:10 PM
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Hi Epi:

I'm interested in hearing your view of how the soul (you speak of) fits into the paradigm you reveal here?

Since all life and non-life is a mass of energy (electrons, protons, neutrons, etc.), and energy can not be destroyed/created,
what happens to the "soul" upon death of the physical body? Is its energy re-cycled along with the organic remains of the
body, in a sort of support-the-balance of the earth situation (Gaia or similar)?

Is the soul organic in some respect(s)?

Do any other organisms besides Homo sapiens have a soul?

(sorry if I have mis-interpreted... I think I assume by your opening definitions of "spirituality" that you feel you have a soul?)

The following might be of interest:

A Designer Universe?

by Steven Weinberg

Professor of Physics, University of Texas at Austin
Winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics.

A Designer Universe?, a refutation of attacks on the theories of evolution and cosmology (e.g., those conducted under the rubric of intelligent design) is based on a talk given in April 1999 at the Conference on Cosmic Design of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. This and other works express Weinberg's strongly held position that scientists should be less passive in defending science against anti-science religiosity.


I have been asked to comment on whether the universe shows signs of having been designed.1 I don't see how it's possible to talk about this without having at least some vague idea of what a designer would be like. Any possible universe could be explained as the work of some sort of designer. Even a universe that is completely chaotic, without any laws or regularities at all, could be supposed to have been designed by an idiot....

(google above title for complete text)
--
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 6:38:00 PM

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RubyMoon wrote:

Since all life and non-life is a mass of energy (electrons, protons, neutrons, etc.), and energy can not be destroyed/created,
what happens to the "soul" upon death of the physical body? Is its energy re-cycled along with the organic remains of the
body, in a sort of support-the-balance of the earth situation (Gaia or similar)?

Is the soul organic in some respect(s)?

Do any other organisms besides Homo sapiens have a soul?


According to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (roughly simplified here) our body returns to the geosphere and biosphere and our "soul" to noosphere.

When we reach some consensus on what the soul is we might discuss further whether a dog and a worm have soul or not.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
RubyMoon
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 6:54:47 PM
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Thank you, JJ...

But I was asking Epi the questions, am interested in his answers (as the questions relate to his views expressed in the first post of his thread).

Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 7:02:32 PM

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Oh, sorry if I interfered. I thought this was a discussion in a forum, not a PM.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 8:38:56 PM

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RubyMoon wrote:
Hi Epi:

I'm interested in hearing your view of how the soul (you speak of) fits into the paradigm you reveal here?

Since all life and non-life is a mass of energy (electrons, protons, neutrons, etc.), and energy can not be destroyed/created,
what happens to the "soul" upon death of the physical body? Is its energy re-cycled along with the organic remains of the
body, in a sort of support-the-balance of the earth situation (Gaia or similar)?

Is the soul organic in some respect(s)?

Do any other organisms besides Homo sapiens have a soul?

(sorry if I have mis-interpreted... I think I assume by your opening definitions of "spirituality" that you feel you have a soul?)


Sorry Ruby, an oversight, I didn't attend enough to the first clause of...
1. The animating and vital principle in humans, credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion and often conceived as an immaterial entity.

I give absolutely zero credibility to anything of what constitutes an individuals awareness of being, naturally surviving the complex biological system that produces it, once that system ceases to function, i.e. dies, consciousness dies with it. I had forgotten the possible connotation of soul as the "Vital force" necessary to the enabling of life at all, and had fallen into the habit of what most people mean by soul, I mean by consciousness.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Marissa La Faye Isolde
Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 11:43:29 PM
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I think there is a difference between "dogma" and spirituality. I don't think that believing in the dogma that one believes in is true faith. I think faith is something that is personally realized by degrees of understanding.

I don't think our soul is our body. I think our soul is a separate energy that is linked with our body; if anything, it is, as written by greater minds than mine, the "temple" of the soul; a vehicle through which the soul manifests itself.

I believe my soul is who I am, but I don't believe "I" am my body.

I think faith is an active force, not a static state.I don't think we were intended to be a flock of turkeys gobbling about a person who feeds us our grain.

I think for faith to be real it must be personally "found"... but it isn't "found" as if it is a box one opens and there it is! We have faith as a whole entity.

I think faith begins with doubt. It begins with questioning. It is a needle that probes, picks open, searches. I think faith is a lifetime of searching. I think when we are ready and open we receive some of the answers...or I should say revelations, which sometimes happens in our moments of Epiphanies...It is a search--a continuous process of Epiphanies. I don't think we ever arrive at a place of complete enlightenment.

I think there is great wisdom to be found in the Bible and other Holy Books. But faith in God isn't personally found in memorizing them.I personally think it is a form of cowardice. A way of avoiding the search for God. Because the "search" involves the souls suffering. Pouring a panacea over it doesn't take away its terror-- its aloneness, its uncertainty,its vulnerability, its longing to be enclosed in love.

jacobusmaximus
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 2:52:24 AM

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Marissa La Faye Isolde wrote:
I think there is a difference between "dogma" and spirituality. I don't think that believing in the dogma that one believes in is true faith. I think faith is something that is personally realized by degrees of understanding.

I don't think our soul is our body. I think our soul is a separate energy that is linked with our body; if anything, it is, as written by greater minds than mine, the "temple" of the soul; a vehicle through which the soul manifests itself.

I believe my soul is who I am, but I don't believe "I" am my body.

I think faith is an active force, not a static state.I don't think we were intended to be a flock of turkeys gobbling about a person who feeds us our grain.

I think for faith to be real it must be personally "found"... but it isn't "found" as if it is a box one opens and there it is! We have faith as a whole entity.

I think faith begins with doubt. It begins with questioning. It is a needle that probes, picks open, searches. I think faith is a lifetime of searching. I think when we are ready and open we receive some of the answers...or I should say revelations, which sometimes happens in our moments of Epiphanies...It is a search--a continuous process of Epiphanies. I don't think we ever arrive at a place of complete enlightenment.

I think there is great wisdom to be found in the Bible and other Holy Books. But faith in God isn't personally found in memorizing them.I personally think it is a form of cowardice. A way of avoiding the search for God. Because the "search" involves the souls suffering. Pouring a panacea over it doesn't take away its terror-- its aloneness, its uncertainty,its vulnerability, its longing to be enclosed in love.


You have lost me in your second paragraph Marissa. Are you saying that our body is the temple of our soul? Does that not mean that our soul is an integral part of our body? Can a body live without a soul?

Memorising passages of Scripture that are important to you is not 'cowardice', I submit, but merely a device for remembering learned values and putting them into practice. Clearly, some people hide behind piles of knowledge of spiritual matters but I don't think they are cowards, They are simply lost, and don't know it.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
jacobusmaximus
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 3:04:15 AM

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Epiphilion wrote "...The sense of awe, wonder, and the deep feeling of connectedness to the majesty of what is, that infused me while writing this, and in many experiences since then, I can find no other word for but spiritual, and since I am by most peoples definition an atheist, what else can this be but atheistic spirituality?..."

I ask this of you, Epiphilion, with all humility - Would you have such feelings of awe and wonder at the majesty etc., etc., if you could not see the stars and if a Tsunami had just taken away everything that was dear to you? Would you still want to reflect on the oneness of life in the universe if you knew your next meal was never going to happen? What price atheistic spirituality then?

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 5:07:44 AM

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jacobusmaximus wrote:
I ask this of you, Epiphilion, with all humility - Would you have such feelings of awe and wonder at the majesty etc., etc., if you could not see the stars and if a Tsunami had just taken away everything that was dear to you? Would you still want to reflect on the oneness of life in the universe if you knew your next meal was never going to happen? What price atheistic spirituality then?

Jacob I do not understand what your getting at here, but I can fairly confidently say yes I would. I have experienced a number of personal tragedies In the last 35 years including loss of a promising academic career due to an unexpected and messy divorce, as well as a number of years of homelessness in Silicon Valley after my job was unexpectedly eliminated as I was barely recovering from the divorce. I spent a number of years in a type of mental state that makes Stephan King look like a teller of children's bedtime stories. I have also gone through periods where I attempted to will myself to die, although I would not actively do so, as I consider suicide to be a morally bankrupt, and incredibly selfish act.
Spirituality does not come at a price, it is deeply rooted in a persons interpretation of reality and is not subject to erasure by mere events within that reality.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Dreamy
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 5:19:09 AM

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intelfam wrote:
Dreamy wrote:

There are some aspects of human life that interact either beneficially or detrimentally with spirituality.

These are the physical/material, the mental/intellectual, the feeling/emotional, and social/associational aspects of humans.

To what degree any of these aspects of life is ignored or neglected or abused, from my research, it appears to be in co-variant relationship with the spiritual aspect.


Sorry Dreamy, it may be the time of day, but could you please re-phrase this in everyday words for me? Not trying to be clever, just unsure what you are saying, beyond there being a relationship - somehow.

Hi intelfam, thanks for your interest in my post on the relationship between these five aspects of human life:

Physical - this includes our bodies and everything that consists of matter.
Mental - this includes our minds and everything pertaining to intellect.
Emotional - this includes our feelings and everything related to emotions.
Social - this includes our communications and associations with others.
Spiritual - this includes the essense of life and breath, a vital non-corporeal principle without which a body is dead.


The ignoring, neglect or abuse of any of these 5 aspects has ramifications for all of them - a variation in one is felt in another.

Thus a heavy demand on a person's emotions, say a sudden bereavement, can impair their intellectual function, say in an exam the next day. We have emotions for a reason, but when they are difficult to control this affects the way we communicate and associate with other people, and may cause a physical response or reaction.

The role of the spirit is important to Christians as stated in these verses from 1Corinthians 2:11-16

Paul the Apostle wrote:

(11) For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
(12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
(13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(14) But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(15) But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
(16) For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

What is being taught here is that the natural man ignores and rejects anything more than his animal instincts allow him to respond or react to.


Job 33:15 "In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, In slumberings upon the bed;" Theology 101 "If He doesn't know everything then He isn't God."
intelfam
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 5:34:45 AM

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Epiphileon wrote:


I give absolutely zero credibility to anything of what constitutes an individuals awareness of being, naturally surviving the complex biological system that produces it, once that system ceases to function, i.e. dies, consciousness dies with it. I had forgotten the possible connotation of soul as the "Vital force" necessary to the enabling of life at all, and had fallen into the habit of what most people mean by soul, I mean by consciousness.


I got lost with Dreamy's covariance, but this looks like something familiar to cling to as I drown. Am I right, Epi, that you are saying that consciousness is just a manifestation of complex biological processes ie. that it is a by-product of the way our brains have evolved? If you are, I would be able to relate that to all the stuff being debated around "the problem of consciousness" as neuro-guys and philosophers of science seem to describe it. Just seeking clarification so that I can do justice to your OP.



"The voice of the majority is no proof of justice." - Schiller
intelfam
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 5:53:15 AM

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Dreamy wrote:
intelfam wrote:
Dreamy wrote:


To what degree any of these aspects of life is ignored or neglected or abused, from my research, it appears to be in co-variant relationship with the spiritual aspect.


Sorry Dreamy, it may be the time of day, but could you please re-phrase this in everyday words for me? Not trying to be clever, just unsure what you are saying, beyond there being a relationship - somehow.

Hi intelfam, thanks for your interest in my post on the relationship between these five aspects of human life:

What is being taught here is that the natural man ignores and rejects anything more than his animal instincts allow him to respond or react to.


OK, I thought you might mean something like that, it was just that a "covariant relationship" had a specific meaning to me (mathematical) and I thought that you might have meant something more prescriptive.

I do find it a bit sad that "natural man" gets such a bad press. For me, natural means just what it says and includes our spirituality. I suppose that the phrase is just a choice of words in translation and it might be better, now, to speak of our animal or instinctive nature?





"The voice of the majority is no proof of justice." - Schiller
jacobusmaximus
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 7:06:56 AM

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Epiphilion writes "...Spirituality does not come at a price, it is deeply rooted in a persons interpretation of reality and is not subject to erasure by mere events within that reality..."

But a person cannot acquire or develop an interpretation of reality in isolation from that reality, can they? It must be created and developed in them by their environment which is the product of their parent's efforts initially and subsequently by the life choices they are able to make, which of course would depend on how well they have been brought up and how much money they have. I cannot understand how you, considering the upheavals you have lived through, can say that spirituality, as you define it, does not come at a price. If the events of reality can shape a man's character so that he has a strong spirit, then different events can re-shape it. You cannot liken that kind of spirit to the Spiritualiy of living with God in Christ.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 9:31:30 AM

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intelfam wrote:

Am I right, Epi, that you are saying that consciousness is just a manifestation of complex biological processes ie. that it is a by-product of the way our brains have evolved? If you are, I would be able to relate that to all the stuff being debated around "the problem of consciousness" as neuro-guys and philosophers of science seem to describe it. Just seeking clarification so that I can do justice to your OP.

Yes consciousness is a manifestation of the operation of the brain, I would be careful not to say "byproduct" as in some circles this leads to erroneous assumptions, so I maintain it is a direct result of brain function.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 9:56:03 AM

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Hmm? Animals that have passed the mirror test include: all of the great apes (bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas and humans), rhesus macaques, bottlenose dolphins, orcas, elephants, and European Magpies. Oh, and the pigs ;-)


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
pedro
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 10:17:40 AM

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Here is an exception that proves the rule- http://denimmag.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/flyingman.jpg?w=510&h=764


All good ideas arrive by chance- Max Ernst
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 11:09:11 AM

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jacobusmaximus wrote:
You cannot liken that kind of spirit to the Spiritualiy of living with God in Christ.

Oh Yes I most certainly can, I already have in the OP, and nothing you have said thus far refutes any of the points of my argument, instead what you are posting is confusing the issue. For example even though I said in my last response "Jacob I do not understand what your getting at here," you did not come back and clarify what you meant. I based my answer on an assumption based on your reference to traumatic events, that such would somehow diminish the sense of spirituality I explained was my experience. I then demonstrated that despite fairly significant traumatic events I had maintained this experience. This was, as far as I can determine a solid counterpoint to what I had assumed you meant, I cannot be sure for you have not clarified one way or the other.
Now even though we may be getting further afield, I will attempt to answer what I perceive to be the salient points of this most recent post.


But a person cannot acquire or develop an interpretation of reality in isolation from that reality, can they?
I do not understand the point of this question, even though it is apparently intended as rhetorical, it is absurdly obvious and I see no connection to anything I said, the implication that I did, appears to weaken my argument without actually addressing specifics.

It must be created and developed in them by their environment which is the product of their parent's efforts initially and subsequently by the life choices they are able to make, which of course would depend on how well they have been brought, and how much money they have.

There are a couple problems with this statement, the first clause describes a passive interpretation of reality, which is not what I'm speaking of, that perhaps I did not make clear but, when I said,
[quote]3>I would propose that the experience is likely only in those with a deeply examined, deeply held, and cultivated real time experience of their Fundamental Interpretation of Reality (FIR), Christians call this "walking in the Spirit./quote]
I meant that at some point the individual brought the FIR they were provided with during early development into deep examination, and through diligent questioning of it, either made it their own or sought another.
The second problem is your assertion that people's life choices produce their interpretation of reality, perhaps in an unquestioned, unexamined life; however, even at that a persons life choices are made upon there interpretation of reality, not the other way around.


I cannot understand how you, considering the upheavals you have lived through, can say that spirituality, as you define it, does not come at a price.

Really? Why not? The sense of spirituality I'm talking about existed before, and maintained throughout those "upheavals". I certainly could have phrased what I said better however, I was responding to your question in the context of questions that immediately preceded it. What I should have said is that events in the in the world are not going to impoverish my sense of spirituality, and therefor in that sense have no cost. You should be familiar with this concept it is a direct parallel of "Be in the world, but not of it.", in a sense.

If the events of reality can shape a man's character so that he has a strong spirit, then different events can re-shape it.

This is another problem if events shape a man's character in such a way as to make it strong, then he has strength of character, switching to the word spirit, for character, does not make it akin to the type of spirituality being discussed.

Now this is as far afield as I am willing to go, I understand that you disagree with me, that's fine; however, if you wish to debate the issue then I ask that you state the specific point that I made you disagree with, and make statements that specifically counter that point.




Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
RubyMoon
Posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 4:57:54 PM
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Hi Epi--
Aside from the debates/discussions/critiques of your FIR ... I've been trying to hook it all together (just for my own understanding)
and keep coming up with one conclusion: you are a spiritual atheist.

your spirituality consists of viewing your spirit as the conscious awareness of reality
that animates your life/human life, and connects you to the universal life-energy,
or universal consciousness.

It is obvious that you have suffered greatly and have had enough emotional trauma/upheaval
to cause you to exhaustively re-examine your belief system and attempt to fully fuse with it
and be comfortable operating within and without (in the world, but not of the world) your FIR.

If there are contradictions or statements that don't quite fit, I see them as a natural part of any
system of beliefs.

I am not trying to simplify or correct or shorten your original post... just picking out those points
that stand out to me.... please, make the corrections, i.e., correct me, that is.





Marissa La Faye Isolde
Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2011 12:36:31 AM
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To Jacobusmaximus:reply to:

"You have lost me in your second paragraph Marissa. Are you saying that our body is the temple of our soul? Does that not mean that our soul is an integral part of our body? Can a body live without a soul?"

An interesting thought. Yes I think the soul is "integral" and integrated with the body. (I think it is a "house" for the soul to reside in here on this earth plan.) But, "can a body live without a soul?" This is a new thought for me.This may be what evil is. A body without a soul. (But if a body exists for the facilitation of the soul, without a soul to go with it there isn't any real need for it.)
I do think, however, that the soul can live without a body. So why the need to take it with us when we leave this world? This thought raises another new question: Why does the soul bother to take on a body to begin with? I have read that the body is the means by which the soul works out those aspects of itself that need working on..This really something I need to think more about.

"Memorising passages of Scripture that are important to you is not 'cowardice', I submit, but merely a device for remembering learned values and putting them into practice. Clearly, some people hide behind piles of knowledge of spiritual matters but I don't think they are cowards, They are simply lost, and don't know it."

I don't think memorizing passages from Scripture is cowardice. Especially if they are helpful to you, or you find comfort in them. Sharing what truth or wisdom one has arrived at from one's own experience can be looked at, I think, as helpful road signs pointing the way that some other person has found helpful.
It is when they are used as words to hide behind, to shield one's self from not knowing and from the pain of discovering what one's own truth is.
I don't think reading a book, whether it be the Bible or the philosophy of some great sage...it is not your own. You have not come to this awareness from a point within yourself that is the result of one's own search, and thus have a true faith based on what you know from a personal experience of interacting with God. I don't think you can merelyread the Bible and know it from front to back and say you have faith God. You can talk about it, quote it, spend a lifetime dissecting it, meditating on it, interpreting it--RE-interpreting it, rewriting and rewriting it for eons, and you can even say that you believe in its teachings and attach all kinds of dogmas and religions to it, and try to recruit others into believing in the same thing that you do, in order to reassure one's self by giving what you believe in more stature by under girding it with like minded believers, but that isn't the same as saying one has true faith in God that has risen from one's own heart and being.





jacobusmaximus
Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2011 2:08:47 AM

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Marissa, that's deep! Thank you for it.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2011 9:29:43 AM

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RubyMoon wrote:
Hi Epi--
Aside from the debates/discussions/critiques of your FIR ... I've been trying to hook it all together (just for my own understanding)Well I appreciate your willingness to continue questioning as the whole reason I posted this proposal was to see if it held up. I try very hard not to think something is so, just because I think it might be.
and keep coming up with one conclusion: you are a spiritual atheist.
This is my contention, that there is an experience available within an atheistic FIR, that the only available word to describe it, is spirituality. I'm beginning to see that the usage may be even more problematic than I had thought, it seems the word is too strongly connected with dualistic, or metaphysical connotations.

your spirituality consists of viewing your spirit as the conscious awareness of reality
that animates your life/human life, and connects you to the universal life-energy,
or universal consciousness.
I would not use the term my spirit other than in a very generic sense, to express emotional support and or commitment to some group endeavor, for example, "team spirit", a usage unrelated to this topic. I do not believe that anything, such as spirit has anything to do with animating life, it is a purely physical process. At some very fundamental level of physics there may indeed be some universal homogeneous type of energy, but I do not see that energy as representing a sentient entity.
I'm not sure what you mean by the term "universal consciousness" if the universe as a whole is aware of its existence, I would assert that it couldn't have started out that way and would have had to evolve to that state. Should it actually be the case I would not, in the least, think us able of being aware of it, or it us, for that matter. Overall I would find the concept unlikely in the extreme, but I could not rule out the possibility completely, particularly with what is currently being shown as the very large scale structure of the universe. If you haven't seen these, they do bear a remarkable resemblance to the cyto-architecture of the brain.



It is obvious that you have suffered greatly and have had enough emotional trauma/upheaval
to cause you to exhaustively re-examine your belief system and attempt to fully fuse with it
and be comfortable operating within and without (in the world, but not of the world) your FIR.
Actually while there may be some such contribution to this characteristic, the absolute need to know the why or how of existence has, for as long as I can remember, been an innate characteristic. I was raised Roman Catholic, and accepted that interpretation until I was 12 years old, but I remember driving the local priests to exasperation with my questions concerning the nature of God, and creation, as young as second grade during their lessons to prepare us for our "First Holy Communion". I had two quasi FIRs after that, in my early-mid teens I had the ill defined, new age, mysticism of the hippy counter-culture, then an eclectic eastern mysticism based on a book, "The Science of Becoming One's Self" by H.R. Saradaryan, from Thousand Oaks CA, that followed by a few years of complete cynicism, then came 7 years as an Biblical based Christian, and finally what I now refer to myself as, an Empirical Non-Theist (ENT)*, the reference to Tolkein's sentient trees was entirely unintentional, yet enjoyed nonetheless. Exhaustive re-examinations of my belief set, occurred only with the last two, the other three were pretty much taken on by osmosis.


If there are contradictions or statements that don't quite fit, I see them as a natural part of any
system of beliefs.
If there are I would greatly appreciate having them pointed out, blatant contradictions in a FIR, would introduce an unacceptable level of invalidity, or a failure to communicate what it is I actually mean.

I am not trying to simplify or correct or shorten your original post... just picking out those points
that stand out to me.... please, make the corrections, i.e., correct me, that is.

Thank you, and I am doing my best to clarify.



*I seldom use the word atheist in self reference as I have found that many atheists are adamant that there is nonesuch as a god. I find this position untenable, I have not been everywhere/when, how do I know if such a thing might exist. As an ENT I am of the conviction that at no time in the origin of the universe, or the development of life on Earth, is there any evidence of the intervention of such an entity, nor has any such contacted man with a plan for right living and eternal life.


Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Wanderer
Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2011 10:42:57 AM

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Aren't you saying you are agnostic? It sound like to me that you are still journeying and my advice is try not to close it up with labels.
percivalpecksniff
Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2011 10:53:27 AM

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Wanderer said: Aren't you saying you are agnostic? It sound like to me that you are still journeying and my advice is try not to close it up with labels.

The same though crossed my mind... no doubt Epi will make his comment on this.


It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2011 11:56:01 AM

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Nope, for all practical intents and purposes I am atheistic, I just do not believe one can say there absolutely is no such thing as a god, along the same lines that I can not say absolutely everything I know and experience is not a simulation. I do not believe either, but no matter how ludicrous I may think either is, I can not say, "No, absolutely no such thing exists." How would I prove that?

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
RubyMoon
Posted: Friday, September 09, 2011 8:47:45 PM
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Epi-- thanks for your patience in answering a few posts back... and for the clarification(s).

I have more questions; need to get it together first.

One for now: according to your statement below-- should I being using the "term" ENT?


*I seldom use the word atheist in self reference as I have found that many atheists are adamant that there is nonesuch as a god. I find this position untenable, I have not been everywhere/when, how do I know if such a thing might exist. As an ENT I am of the conviction that at no time in the origin of the universe, or the development of life on Earth, is there any evidence of the intervention of such an entity, nor has any such contacted man with a plan for right living and eternal life.
Epiphileon
Posted: Friday, September 09, 2011 9:45:27 PM

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RubyMoon wrote:

One for now: according to your statement below-- should I being using the "term" ENT?


*I seldom use the word atheist in self reference as I have found that many atheists are adamant that there is nonesuch as a god. I find this position untenable, I have not been everywhere/when, how do I know if such a thing might exist. As an ENT I am of the conviction that at no time in the origin of the universe, or the development of life on Earth, is there any evidence of the intervention of, or necessity for, such an entity, nor has any such contacted man with a plan for right living and eternal life.


Well it is not a term anyone else uses that I am aware of, I have stated this position a number of times, in a number of other places on the web, but I have never heard it anywhere else but my own usage.

The problem for me has come down to finding out that many atheists are now saying adamantly, that there is no such thing as a god. Prior to this I had no problem identifying myself as an a-theist but, in as much as I now demand of any item of knowledge that I am going to give the full assent of conviction to, that it be scientifically sound, how can I insist there is absolutely no such thing as a god, when it is impossible to have the evidence necessary to that conclusion? The only evidence I know of that would, maybe qualify, is if I was everywhere, and knew everything, but then of course, under such conditions, I might actually qualify as a god, and the question would become reflexive.;)

However, I may have to work on the definition some more, as apparently at least two posters think that there is some incompleteness to it, that indicates that I would fall into the category of agnostic. This is not even possibly the case, not only would I state absolutely that none of the descriptions of any of the gods of our history, have any truth to them, but I am firmly convinced that it is an utter, even potentially dangerous, waste of time to look any further than physical reality, for all of the answers to life, the universe, and everything.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
intelfam
Posted: Saturday, September 10, 2011 5:58:01 AM

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I guess there is a lot of leeway in the current use of the word "atheist".

There is the everyday use which seems to be a definition "over against" some religion i.e. it is a definition of exclusion, rather than a description by property.

Dawkins et al, not being either philosophers or theologians, seem to mean it as absolutely denying the existence of the abrahamic god.

Agnostic can mean either someone whose stance is that "the jury is out" and that the possibility of proving god's existence empirically is not impossible, or someone who is of the view that it is impossible to demonstrate this existence by rational, empirical means.

I find your FIR deeply fascinating Epi and am grateful for your posting it. I am still struggling because there is so much content in that short OP. Thank you for clarifying some of my questions. Can you help me a little further please?

You say: "5>I submit that there are archetypal mechanisms evolved within our mentalities to facilitate spirituality, and thus the power of the "religious experience."

I too would hold that there are archetypal mechanisms involved which (as you know from my pm) are possibly explained by Jung's "collective unconscious" concept. Reading Jung one quickly realises that he was suggesting that these archetypal mechanisms are "structured" and thus are the outcome of evolutionary pressure. I don't know how far you might go along with that?

I ask because, having said that, you also say:
"3>I would propose that the experience is likely only in those with a deeply examined, deeply held, and cultivated real time experience of their Fundamental Interpretation of Reality (FIR), Christians call this "walking in the Spirit. "

- which may suggest that only certain people can experience what you are describing - which (and I may be not appreciating what you describe) runs counter to an evolutionary source - or that you (and some indeterminate number of others) represent a new mutation.

I think I just haven't grasped what the experience is, that you are describing. How does it differ from the sense of awe that many describe when they look at e.g. the night sky having just read about the distances and numbers involved in that sight?



"The voice of the majority is no proof of justice." - Schiller
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2011 9:43:25 AM

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intelfam wrote:

I guess there is a lot of leeway in the current use of the word "atheist".
Yes there is, and I feel, on a matter as important as this one, it is indeed unfortunate that there are so many different possible interpretations in the mind of a listener when someone says the word atheist.

There is the everyday use which seems to be a definition "over against" some religion
I don't believe I have ever heard it used this way, do you have an example?

...it is a definition of exclusion, rather than a description by property.
This is an interesting point, and a very good one, When I first "Could no longer go on refuting the evidence, man created god in his image...." Was when I first started using the term "Fundamental Interpretation of Reality", for although I was then, by default an atheist, that did not provide any answer to the fundamental question. My FIR had become natural science, an aspect of which is, that it is atheistic. A property of my FIR but not one, in its self.

Dawkins et al, not being either philosophers or theologians, seem to mean it as absolutely denying the existence of the abrahamic god.
Oh I feel quite confident that Dawkins would rail against any god, it just so happens that the most prevalent, and currently most dangerous god, is that originating with the early Hebrew nation.
Dawkins is a brilliant scientist, and popularizer of the complex notions of behavioral genetics, his book "The Selfish Gene" ought to be required reading for obtaining a high school degree. While I agree with many of Dawkins criticisms theism, I am disappointed that he has taken such a hostile, inflammatory approach to addressing the issue. He and his ilk I would call anti-theists. I would say this much in their defense though, on any given Sunday throughout Christendom the vitriolic diatribes unleashed upon the godless from innumerable pulpits, is far in excess of anything any anti-theists could ever put out. Seeking to disassociate myself from these folks and their tactics is one of the reasons I seek to reinvigorate my pursuit of, and explicitly delineate associated issues.


Agnostic can mean either someone whose stance is that "the jury is out" and that the possibility of proving god's existence empirically is not impossible, or someone who is of the view that it is impossible to demonstrate this existence by rational, empirical means.
Ah this word again, but I am glad you brought it up again, honestly I don't know quite what to do with it. I would object to being called one, as I feel it is inaccurate, in that it seems to indicate that there is, in my mind, some possibility of a god, and that possibility occupies any part of my mental activity. It does not. Perhaps the problem is what is meant in the definitions of the word by "god". In my statement of ENTness, I say, "Does something like a god exist? There is no curiosity in this question, I bring it up only to dismiss it as irrelevant, and to illustrate the error of demanding that the impossibility of such an entity is unknowable. Hence the difficulty with "agnostic", and perhaps this is yet an open problem of delineation.

I find your FIR deeply fascinating Epi and am grateful for your posting it. I am still struggling because there is so much content in that short OP. Thank you for clarifying some of my questions. Can you help me a little further please?
Intel, be assured that I am deeply grateful for your continued discussion of these issues. Many things a person can come to know on their own, many other things however require dialog if there is to be any hope of knowing with any reasonable level of conviction.

You say: "5>I submit that there are archetypal mechanisms evolved within our mentalities to facilitate spirituality, and thus the power of the "religious experience."

I too would hold that there are archetypal mechanisms involved which (as you know from my pm) are possibly explained by Jung's "collective unconscious" concept. Reading Jung one quickly realises that he was suggesting that these archetypal mechanisms are "structured" and thus are the outcome of evolutionary pressure. I don't know how far you might go along with that?
Unfortunately I have never done an in depth study of Jung, and from what I've looked up thus far, there seems to be wide diversity of opinion I did find a reference written by him in which he says,
Quote:
..., there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents." Reference

If I understand what he is saying here correctly, it is of definite interest; however I would not incorporate any of the ideas directly into my model, and here is why.
1> It seems to rely heavily on some nonphysical phenomenon
2> There is no known mechanism of genetic transmission that could account for such a universal repository of genetic information. Where and how, does this thing exist?
3> How do the archetypes get written into the genetic code? There has been a large amount of research done concerning whether experience can in any way be written to DNA and currently it is considered impossible.
I think Jung saw something, I think his ideas were incredibly useful in furthering our understanding of the human psyche; however much like pre-Galilean astronomy, he had the mechanics, and causality wrong.

Having said that, I'm afraid I have no firm answer either, that is indicated by how I introduced the idea, "I submit", as opposed to, "I state" or "I assert". I believe there are areas of cortical organization that are predisposed to this concept of spirituality. I would assert that the mechanism of their formation and transmission is according to the principles outlined in a co-evolutionary model of human behavior. It may well be that the use of the term archetypal is a poor choice.


I ask because, having said that, you also say:
"3>I would propose that the experience is likely only in those with a deeply examined, deeply held, and cultivated real time experience of their Fundamental Interpretation of Reality (FIR), Christians call this "walking in the Spirit."

- which may suggest that only certain people can experience what you are describing - which (and I may be not appreciating what you describe) runs counter to an evolutionary source - or that you (and some indeterminate number of others) represent a new mutation.

Definitely not a new mutation, but as a biological characteristic there would definitely be a range of individual differences, how wide that range would be, or the shape of the distribution, I can not begin to even guess at. I would think that nearly every one would be able to experience it, however as I said, it must be fairly diligently pursued.


I think I just haven't grasped what the experience is, that you are describing. How does it differ from the sense of awe that many describe when they look at e.g. the night sky having just read about the distances and numbers involved in that sight?

It differs in that while awe is an experience of emotion and cognition, for this experience to transcend into a spiritual experience, it needs to be coupled to the real time experience of one's fundamental interpretation of reality. The active appreciation of ones answer to "Why are there things that are, rather than no things?" The knowledge of being a constituent part of the wonder which one perceives, the knowledge of being a bit of the universe, being aware of its self.
Thank you again Intel for helping me to navigate this frontier of experience.




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