How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
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02-04-2013, 08:19 PM
How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
In a Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet round table discussion, Sam Harris made the point that science doesn't really tackle, all too well, the "spiritual" aspects of the human experience. Now there's nothing about the concept that love, relief (etc...) is nothing more than a bunch of endorphines getting dumped in amongst our neurons that would cheapen the way I feel those emotions, but for some it would. First loves, first time a person is accepted by a large group of friendly people; there simply MUST be more to it than that for them. I'm an athiest, but even I think to take an awe inspiring, life changing moment and reduce it to a measured, clinical calculation takes something away from it. I don't know what that "it" is; just feels like somethings missing. That all being said, I guess I'm asking is there a way to meld the scientific, and the spiritual? If all the organized religions of the world were to disappear tommorrow, a new one would pop up the day after, and I doubt science could fill the void!
Suggestions/Thought?

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02-04-2013, 09:58 PM (This post was last modified: 02-04-2013 10:01 PM by PoolBoyG.)
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
I swear, the more Harris talks the less I care for him. He's dangerous cutting close to 'science explains the how, but religion explains the why'. First guns, now spirituality.

No one says that you can't detach yourself from reality for entertainment of comfort. Just don't make the mistake of replacing aspects of reality with fantasy. And no fantasy can ever approach the awe and dread that the universe has to offer.
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02-04-2013, 10:25 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
You say it doesn't take something away, and then you say it does. See? Even thinking about "spiritual" bullshit makes you whack. Tongue

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02-04-2013, 10:32 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
Hey, Gule.

Personally, I think that it's important to embrace all aspects of the human condition. As Rollo May says, where there is an obsession, we will find an equal and opposite repression. I'm all about science, but I feel that those that hold it up to be the single answer to all questions are really just being obsessive. And it's costing them the other parts of their nature.

You can't really break down Shakespeare's sonnets or Homer's Illiad with science. The poetic, the intuitive, the humourous, the creative, the abstract, the ineffable, the emotional, and yeah, the spiritual, are equally important parts of the human condition, as important as the empirical, that I feel need to be embraced. That doesn't mean let religion run amok. That's all or nothing thinking (an idea that can be explained scientifically Cool ). It means find the balance. Don't pretend we are only one thing, whatever that one thing happens to be.

Like the Hagakure says, it's bad when one thing becomes two. Science is science. It should concern itself with issues of science. It should leave the rest to the other pursuits. If you blend the black of science with the white of the spiritual, all you get is grey. Science doesn't have to feel like Atlas. It doesn't have to feel like it has an obligation to carry the entire burden. It can be a partner with the other pursuits. There's no reason it can't be.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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02-04-2013, 10:37 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
Bullshit. Big Grin

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02-04-2013, 11:24 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
Watch this video to renew your faith in mankind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgaw9qe7DEE

If God exists I hope he has a good excuse -Woody Allen
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03-04-2013, 12:40 AM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
Personally, I could care less about explaining feelings. Feelings come from our brains in response to some sort of outside stimuli. That doesn't cheapen them or make them more valuable. It is what it is. Just be happy that the brain can comprehend feelings such as love and happiness, and just enjoy life for what it is: A 1 shot ride through the universe. Make of it what you can, but don't delude yourself with fantasies.
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03-04-2013, 11:53 AM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
I hear ya Derek, & Ghost, I simply wish there was a physical place to go and (don't discount this poolboy housecounter) "feel spiritual" with many other people without that place being a house of superstition. I can go to a planetarium and experience inner peace, someone else might plop a lawnchair down next to a waterfall to achieve it. But, as far as I know, religion has a lockdown on the whole "entire community comes together to laugh, commiserate, & share with one another" thing! Church is for the delusional, city hall's for the politically pissed, bars are for those looking for sex [which you gotta take a break from SOMEtimes Wink]. Not that I need it, but where the hell else can these people find acceptance from a large group of people (something they might not simply crave, but need....we ARE social creatures) without being asked at some point to believe in Santa Clause, or the Boogie Man? Because I'd like to see that cheerfulness happen somewhere outside a damn church. Just so someone better than myself can begin replacing church with superstitionless gathering places. I rant sometimes Tongue

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03-04-2013, 12:26 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
Hey, Gule.

Superstition gets a bad wrap.

In the Feudal era (that essentially encompasses "the Dark Ages") kings were considered avatars for God. God spoke directly through them, meaning the peasantry was to listen to every word the king uttered as if it was the word of God and that they were to treat the king as if he was God himself. This made the intellectual climate such that the only support required for truth claims was the word of authority.

In the Renaissance into the Enlightenment, people began to question this idea. There was an intellectual revolution (not in the sense of accomplishment but in the sense of battle against authority). Modern science was born in this period. It owes to its very existence, the protest against truth by authority. As a result, science is very ill at ease with superstition. It views it as an adversary.

This, of course, is because there was a pendulum swing. Science has taken the pendulum right past the mid point and is holding it tenaciously to their side. There is, to this day, a fear that any movement towards superstition and, God forbid, any movement that crosses that middle line is considered the equivalent of the sky falling. But like all revolutionary notions, as in all pendulum swings, this exaggerates the situation. It's odd that hundreds of years later, this all or nothing thinking still dominates the ideology.

But there is a middle ground. Of course there is. Yes, we should fear truth from authority, but that doesn't mean that we have to fear intuition and superstitious beliefs. If science tells me that I have six months to live because of cancer, I can choose not to believe it. I know people who have done just that and, through a regimen of meditation spiritual exercise, have inexplicably, according to science, driven their cancer into remission. There is value in the spiritual. And anyone who has explored its value can testify to that.

So for there to be a secular house of spirituality, there first has to be a making of peace between the scientifically minded and the value of spirituality. You can't engage in spiritual pursuits if you debase and fear them.

Science simply does not provide spiritual nourishment. It doesn't. People talk about being in awe of the universe, and yeah, it's awe inspiring, but that doesn't fill the need. So scientists need to figure out how to incorporate a spiritual aspect, not into science, but into their lives if they want to invite the entire community in to share it. And yes, it behooves them to do it in such a way that they aren't creating a system where the spiritual authority is absolute. It can be done without Gods and without an infallible clergy. But it has to seem like something of value first.

I love science. But I see so many of the people I love, people who have dedicated themselves to science, that suffer needlessly as a part of their being atrophies from neglect. I'd love for people to embrace the full spectrum of the human experience, but like AA says, you first have to recognise that there is a problem. Until they do, I can't want more for them than they want for themselves.

Coming together in community enriches people's lives. Alienation crushes us. In order to come together in community, there needs to be common bonds. Religion provided that bond nicely for thousands of years. If you want to have non-religious communities, coming together, sharing rich experiences, then you need to figure out what those non-religious common bonds are; and they have to fulfill the needs of the community.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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03-04-2013, 12:55 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(03-04-2013 12:26 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Coming together in community enriches people's lives. Alienation crushes us. In order to come together in community, there needs to be common bonds. Religion provided that bond nicely for thousands of years. If you want to have non-religious communities, coming together, sharing rich experiences, then you need to figure out what those non-religious common bonds are; and they have to fulfill the needs of the community.

^^ This is important. I hang out with people I like a lot. It's awesome, but community means inclusion. I need a reason to hang out with people I don't like Tongue I don't really mean that, but what I like about church is for example, that you know, the fat kid isn't teased and there's flowers in the hall in memorial for someone's mother and everyone gets together after the sermon for a biscuit... you meet people you'd otherwise not really care about. You meet lonely little old ladies and chat to them about life during the war... someone makes sure they get home safe and maybe takes them shopping... It's great community and it's something that I do feel is missing... I don't naturally do that stuff...

Of course with religion there's the downside too. Cohesiveness is achieved often by demonizing the others or playing on people's fears. Christians against the world, and Baptists against Catholics. Not *everyone* is a card carrying member - there are those who are left in the cold. After all, there has to be *example* to make you want to be a member... And you can't freely hold your own beliefs, if you want in on this warm and cosy world, you must accept certain things. If you go out with a Christian, you must be a Christian... you sacrifice a lot of freedom for your security...

Just rambling...
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