Month: May 2016

Seeking the divine…

Some years ago, towards the end of several years of study and thought, I sketched a brief framework for personal growth, a Maslovian-like hierarchy of steps.  Taken together, they seemed to me the fundamental elements to a sense of well-being and contentment.  Admittedly, they were my own projection onto others, but that’s another topic. My subject here is the last of those steps:  Seek the divine.  My sense was (and yes, still is) that we each need and benefit from a sense of connection to the underlying mystery and wonder of existence.  How one defines that, or finds that connection, is up to the individual.  Anything more on my part would seem presumptuous. Apart from my own experience, I derived this idea from the universal thread of religion throughout mankind’s cultural history.  It’s as though it’s in our DNA, a ubiquitous inclination to connect with a plane, a transcendence (for want of a better word) beyond our sensibilities.  Signs are everywhere, from the earliest archeological digs of human settlements through the fabric of mystical practices across history and cultures, and into modern religions.  It seemed to me that, if this inclination is so ubiquitous, we are remiss not to honestly explore how it plays out in our own psyches. My immediate problem arises from my the recent discussions with the atheist community, in particular some who are sticklers for...

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Now you see it, now you don’t…

This last weekend, my little adopted town in East Tennessee held a annual three-day festival, a big deal. Takes a week to set up, with tents and booths and bandstands and vendors and competitions spread over many acres.  Thousands of people gather, laugh, eat and drink, buy and sell, play or listen to music, compete in games.  I was there both days, and Sunday afternoon sat in the beer tent drinking and talking with friends for hours as evening closed in on us.  Then today, Monday, I went back to help tear it all down. In one day it was virtually gone, and by tomorrow it might never have been. I’ve had similar experiences.  I used to go to an annual music festival where we’d arrive Sunday with a couple thousand other campers and pretty much build a small city in one day.  For the next week, activity was virtually nonstop:  People doing what people do when we gather.  Then, the following Sunday morning, we’d wake up and within three hours, it would be gone.  And a few years after my father died, we sold the family home and the new owners moved the house away to clear the lot.  I visited the site and sat on the foundation piers, gazing around me at the tiny area that had been our life.   Forty years of all that a family is, now...

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

There’s a reason I have not posted anything new in awhile.  Normally, my head swims in ideas and questions so many and diverse I don’t know which to consider.  One reason for creating this site was to capture these and see if they eventually came together somehow.  But the (related) discussions that surfaced over atheism and labels have drawn my attention and energy.  I’ve appreciated all that greatly, so thanks much to the commenters.  I needed the perspective.  It has significantly focused my thinking. Tomorrow, I will return to a various other topics I’ve stored away.  I feel like I need the forward momentum. st,...

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One reason organized religion is so successful…

  …is that it addresses all four of Irvin Yalom’s “ultimate concerns” of the human condition: death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness. And one reason it takes courage to strike out on your own is because you then have to create your own response to each of these.  You can’t abdicate the your personal power and responsibility in favor of some group or leader or savior or dogma....

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And again, a redirect…

After all, since this is my site, I guess I can develop it any way I choose!  In any case, Mr. Coon at Humanist Magazine’s site made a thoughtful reply to my first comment there, and implied we continue the discussion.  So here is my response to him…and I do hope readers here will link over and read the whole thing, including his original article:  http://thehumanist.com/commentary/god-done-lately And since I can’t spend significant time writing in both places, I again post and excerpt of my comment here in lieu of a new post.  It does present a coherent idea on their own: “…as I noted, I’m afraid many would see me as a pessimist and, perhaps, not a true humanist, given that I hold little real hope for our species (or, to be honest, for our civilization) over the long term… …But regarding your dual concepts of evolutionary and cultural evolution:  I understand your intent but where I disagree is with thinking the two are comparable.  In my (again, non-expert opinion) cultural evolution is rapid because it derives from ideas (and perhaps circumstances and a people’s reaction to them).  Biological evolution, on the other hand, is far slower for the most part, and generally takes many generations…and it is constrained and shaped by the very instinctual drives (tribalism, xenophobia, fear and flight, anger and perhaps violence, gender differences on many levels, individual...

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By way of a post, I redirect to a comment…

…I made on an article by Carl Coon in The Humanist online magazine: What Has God Done for Me Lately? “I think the issue I really have is that I don’t agree with many humanists in seeing the human species as all that worthy of admiration. It seems to me that, by pointing to religion as the convenient scapegoat for so many of our problems, we avoid the real confrontation we need to have, and we lose time in the process. What I wish we would confront is the idea that we are by nature extremely tribal, that our tribalism both engenders violence and justifies the violent nature within our DNA, and that the largest proportion of us really are just sheep ready to follow anyone who can help us justify giving in to our baser natures. And, as a corollary, that there are a tiny proportion of human beings born with a leadership gene which, too often, they use to exploit the rest of the species for personal ends.” I really do wish I could find a serious psychology text that addresses the tribalism inherent in our species, and also something on what I’ve come to call the “leadership gene.”  If anyone out there can direct this amateur to such resources, please do.  ...

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Faith, Belief, Knowledge, Religion, Ideology

I’m going to leave my consideration of atheism for awhile, but hardly abandon it.  It has in fact led me down a rabbit hole of inquiry, and I need time on the side to explore it. In in the meantime, the above concepts arose as I read about and discussed atheism and theism over the last week.  They all surface (or should surface) in any serious discussion around this topic, and all seem especially relevant in today’s political-social-religious...

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