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Atheism The Default Position


Mythra
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Yes, that's it. REBT is cognitive therapy. Dr. Albert Ellis came up with, or at least expounded on, the concept of cognitive therapy and developed REBT. It's the fastest growing modality because it works and works fast. The only problem is that pills work faster and too many people want the quick, easy, fix.

Yes, I know the power of this myself. Years ago going through a difficult divorce where a child was involved, put me into a very negative slump. Coming to recognize how that my emotions were not a validation of my thoughts, but rather a product of them allowed me the ability to choose other ways of perceiving any given situation, which in turn changed the emotions, which in turn changed my entire general direction. Drugs should probably only be given to help settle the out-of-control spin, but the fix is in the mind instead of chemicals – for a large percentage of people. But then, I’m not a therapist, just some average guy.

 

I agree with this, but we should consider that there are factors on a personal level (perhaps even biologically) that compell someone towards finding "meaning" on an emotional, abstract level. Are you familiar with Neo-orthodoxy within Christianity, or even Secular Existenstialism? I am planning at some near point to start a thread on "Absurdsim", that addresses these "leaps" into upper-story, non-rational experience. (I make a distinction between non-rational and irrational.)
I've not heard of those ideas. People can believe some pretty strange things. My favorite is crop circles. Some people actually believe that aliens made them. They believe these hyper advanced beings flew here in some ship that would break the laws of physics (as we know them) and the only way they could communicate with us is by rolling in the hay? How about Scientology? That's about as irrational, non-rational, as one can get!

Existentialism is a 20th Century philosophical movement beginning with Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Probably best know is Jean Paul Sartre who wrote Being and Nothingness. Essentially it is about seeking “meaning of life” questions through subjective experience, above scientific rationalism. People define their own truth, their own realities.

 

Kierkegaard was a Christian existentialist, who coined the modern term “Leap of Faith”. His approach recognized that rationally, one can not argue for such things as love or God, it is leaping beyond rationality into something “non-rational”, what Neo-orthodox draws largely from. Sartre was an atheistic existentialist. The defining trait of either Christian Neo-orthodoxy, or Satrean Existentialism is their break from modern Western rationalist traditions like that of Descarte. Modern Fundamentalists follow in the traditon of rationalist thought, with ideas like absolutes, etc.

 

The sorts of things you are mentioning fall more under the fad or pop-religions based on pseudo-science, pop-psychology, and whatnot. The French philosophers however play a major role in shaping our modern Western way of thinking, of which Existentialism is a definite part. In trying to understand the struggles of Western religions and culture, the ideas that are embodied in these philosophies need to be recognized. As we learn about them, we see these ideas permeating our culture and our thoughts. It’s in our media, our music, our lifestyles, everything. Those who say they are “independent” thinkers, really I respect that, but in reality we are all human sponges that pass these influences through our bodies to others, while digesting what we need to function from it in our Western societies.

 

I find the topic fascinating because it touches on a part of being human that “transcends” pure rationality. I just can’t do it with the language of gods and unicorns.

 

Religions, and their language, act as a drag on society. That may serve a purpose in a way since some cannot keep up with change. Some actually fight any change and some just cannot grasp change.

I’d like to ask as a hypothetical: Are those languages of a religion a drag on a society that shares the same language? Doesn’t it depend on what someone is trying to accomplish that will make the language either a hindrance or a benefit? If it was a self-sustaining village without any needs from another village, would a language about tree gods and guardian bird-spirits be a hindrance to them?

 

Obviously though, we would be in agreement that in a global society with a mixture of many cultures, philosophies, and languages, a common language is necessary. This is where trying to say that airplanes are really the bird-spirits, is going to cause some definite divisions in communication with those who see them as transportation vehicles. :grin:

 

I was born an Atheist and a Secular Humanist. It wasn't until I got into my teens that I learned what those words meant and what whas behind them. When I read my first SH article I said; "Hey! They agree with me." I did not study to become an Atheist or Secular Humanist, it's what I thought all my life.

I would consider myself today to be a secular humanist. You’re absolutely right, there is no studying or learning of philosophy to be a human. It’s the natural position. It’s great to be a human being, without having to punish ourselves for not being like some imaginary god.

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Well...it seems this thread has turned interesting again. I'm glad to read Dave's posts, and I'm in full agreement. I don't care whether my own atheism is strong, weak, open minded, or whatever by someone else's perspectives. A person who was never a christian (like Asimov) cannot possibly think of unbelief in the same way that those of us who were at one time fundie christians...no way. I'm simply an atheist because I see no compelling reason to believe any gods exist. Why complicate matters?
Atheism is a big tent. We can all fit in it. I was never a believer yet I can understand how people come to absolutely know a god exists. I do not have to agree with their beliefs in order to understand them.
I used to think the agnostic position was the real default, but Thackerie raised an interesting point. If you go by the Huxley definition, that the human mind cannot know whether god exists or not, then the question becomes unanswerable and therefore irrelevant. So, agnosticism is really atheism equivocated.
My reply to those that say we cannot know if a god exists or not is; how do you know you cannot know?
I joined up here not to defend atheism, or argue over the fine points, but to help fellow ex-christians on their way out of the mind-killing cult of christianity.
For many it is very hard to go against something that has been ingrained in them from a very young age. I'm here, too, to give them support.
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Yes, I know the power of this myself. Years ago going through a difficult divorce where a child was involved, put me into a very negative slump. Coming to recognize how that my emotions were not a validation of my thoughts, but rather a product of them allowed me the ability to choose other ways of perceiving any given situation, which in turn changed the emotions, which in turn changed my entire general direction. Drugs should probably only be given to help settle the out-of-control spin, but the fix is in the mind instead of chemicals – for a large percentage of people. But then, I’m not a therapist, just some average guy.
I'm not a therapist, but I did teach REBT, every Wednesday night, for 10 years to recovering (now recovered) substance abusers. I led SMART Recovery meetings. I've seen this stuff work, and it works just as you said.

 

Existentialism is a 20th Century philosophical movement beginning with Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Probably best know is Jean Paul Sartre who wrote Being and Nothingness. Essentially it is about seeking “meaning of life” questions through subjective experience, above scientific rationalism. People define their own truth, their own realities.

Oh, that existentialism. I don't go along with it. You don't get to make up your own reality, just your own view of reality. Reality, by definition, never changes.
The sorts of things you are mentioning fall more under the fad or pop-religions based on pseudo-science, pop-psychology, and whatnot. The French philosophers however play a major role in shaping our modern Western way of thinking, of which Existentialism is a definite part. In trying to understand the struggles of Western religions and culture, the ideas that are embodied in these philosophies need to be recognized. As we learn about them, we see these ideas permeating our culture and our thoughts. It’s in our media, our music, our lifestyles, everything. Those who say they are “independent” thinkers, really I respect that, but in reality we are all human sponges that pass these influences through our bodies to others, while digesting what we need to function from it in our Western societies.
I like to think that some are independent thinkers, but that independence is not without influence.
I find the topic fascinating because it touches on a part of being human that “transcends” pure rationality. I just can’t do it with the language of gods and unicorns.
I don't think humans are capable of pure rationality. We just ain't rational animals. :grin: Besides, Spok never had any fun.
I’d like to ask as a hypothetical: Are those languages of a religion a drag on a society that shares the same language? Doesn’t it depend on what someone is trying to accomplish that will make the language either a hindrance or a benefit? If it was a self-sustaining village without any needs from another village, would a language about tree gods and guardian bird-spirits be a hindrance to them?
Yes, if that tree were able to prevent a famine but they were not allowed to eat the fruit because the tree gods did not want them to. Or like today, the funnymentalist christians are trying to prevent our schools from teaching science in the form of evolution. They want all of our society to go back to pre Darwin days. They are causing a huge drag on this society but watering down the science taught in schools and that is already causing problems in that the USA is way down amongst the undeveloped countries in scientific literacy.
I would consider myself today to be a secular humanist. You’re absolutely right, there is no studying or learning of philosophy to be a human. It’s the natural position. It’s great to be a human being, without having to punish ourselves for not being like some imaginary god.
It is great. Many of the ex christians I've talked to mention the feeling of a great weight being lifted off of their shoulders. I look around the world and I see people, mostly good people, just trying to fumble through life everyone else and just trying to get enough food for themselves and their family.
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Oh, that existentialism. I don't go along with it. You don't get to make up your own reality, just your own view of reality. Reality, by definition, never changes.

That is really what I was getting at. At the heart of existentialism is not the denial that a reality exists outside us, but that each individual has a different interpretation of what that reality is. Solipsism is where they claim nothing exists outside the mind. This is not existentialism.

 

Basically the difference is that even though a reality exists, such as encountering a rock, each individual interprets that rock differently. There is a truth, but it’s not absolute because of the individual is what defines it. To each individual that reality is something different. When I speak in terms of their being no absolutes, I always speak in terms of the value of something. It exists, but its “meaning” or value is not absolute. This is where pure rationalism fails, because of the human equation. Existentialism is about moving beyond trying to find “the truth” in the singular, to finding the individuals meaning, to defining the individuals ultimate “essence” through choices and actions.

 

I’m trying to recall what started this….

 

 

 

I like to think that some are independent thinkers, but that independence is not without influence.

I will agree with the way you put this. I didn’t mean to suggest there was no independent thought possible, but that a purely independent mind is rare in the extreme: those of the true visionaries who make leaps ahead of generations of thought.

 

I don't think humans are capable of pure rationality. We just ain't rational animals. :grin: Besides, Spok never had any fun.

Well there we go. This is what I was driving at. There was a time in my live I admired the Spock character for the fact emotions didn’t create this conflict in him trying to “control” his world. But being human is both the experience of rational thought, and non-rational experience, and hence the whole subplot of the Vulcan/Human conflict: Being human means being non-rational also. There are things we can never know the “meaning” or “value” of without the subjective experience and interpretation of.

 

Yes, if that tree were able to prevent a famine but they were not allowed to eat the fruit because the tree gods did not want them to. Or like today, the funnymentalist christians are trying to prevent our schools from teaching science in the form of evolution. They want all of our society to go back to pre Darwin days. They are causing a huge drag on this society but watering down the science taught in schools and that is already causing problems in that the USA is way down amongst the undeveloped countries in scientific literacy.

I am in total agreement with the second part of what you say above. Where we are heading as a society, what we are trying to accomplish requires an ability to expand our language and understanding of things and those who try to drag out an old language of mythology as science are in fact dragging that society down.

 

Here’s where it gets interesting though: These languages evolve. The language of mythology as we have it became what it is because it was addressing the needs of the society that created it. A society that needed to eat those trees, in your example above, would have their mythology evolve to accommodate it. This is exactly what happened in the evolution of the god Jehovah, and in the evolution of the man Jesus into the Christ and into the 2nd person in a triune godhead.

 

What happened to make this different is this: It was written down and stamped as infallible, immutable, unchangeable, absolute truth! This in not how mythology functions. It evolves to meet the changing demands of a society. When it is not allowed to, when it becomes written down and not passed through person to person in song and stories, growing and changing shape, filtered through the values of the teller who themselves are shaped by the changing cultures they participate in, the myth instead becomes a chain around the neck of society, holding it a world it no longer is a part of, the last society of some story-teller many generations removed from their world today. It no longer serves the people as a living language, it controls and imprisons them in the past and harms life.

 

This is what institutionalized religion does. It is a hierarchical power structure that acts as a government over people. But because it not a democratic institution it takes the people’s created mythology and holds control of its interpretation, its evolution. Fundamentalist religion kills, on every level.

 

Mythology, like the language of science needs to be able to be flexible, open to amendment in the face of new information. It isn’t mythology that is the drag of society, since it in fact very much has helped shape societies since the very beginning, but it is the wresting away of control of the myth from the people who shape and mold it, into the hands of dictators.

 

It is great. Many of the ex christians I've talked to mention the feeling of a great weight being lifted off of their shoulders. I look around the world and I see people, mostly good people, just trying to fumble through life everyone else and just trying to get enough food for themselves and their family.

I agree it is like a great weight being lifted off our shoulders, and following suit with my last thoughts above, it’s like fleeing from a dictatorship to a free nation. The individual is free to define their own meaning (or their own reality) in ways that work for them, and in ways that respect and work with other’s uniqueness. We are not all the same, except in our all being human.

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Oh, that existentialism. I don't go along with it. You don't get to make up your own reality, just your own view of reality. Reality, by definition, never changes.
That is really what I was getting at. At the heart of existentialism is not the denial that a reality exists outside us, but that each individual has a different interpretation of what that reality is. Solipsism is where they claim nothing exists outside the mind. This is not existentialism.
Yes, but it seems to me that lately too many have turned it around to be that everyone does make their own reality. They kind of blend to two schools into some kind of New Age "reality".
Basically the difference is that even though a reality exists, such as encountering a rock, each individual interprets that rock differently. There is a truth, but it’s not absolute because of the individual is what defines it. To each individual that reality is something different. When I speak in terms of their being no absolutes, I always speak in terms of the value of something. It exists, but its “meaning” or value is not absolute. This is where pure rationalism fails, because of the human equation. Existentialism is about moving beyond trying to find “the truth” in the singular, to finding the individuals meaning, to defining the individuals ultimate “essence” through choices and actions.
But what is on the other side of rationalism? Irrationalism? Humans may not be capable of absolute rationalism in all cases, but it seems that those that want to go beyond rationalism always have a god to posit in the equation. The originators of the philosophies may not have gods to play with, but some have contorted the original ideas to include gods.
I will agree with the way you put this. I didn’t mean to suggest there was no independent thought possible, but that a purely independent mind is rare in the extreme: those of the true visionaries who make leaps ahead of generations of thought.
I don't think it's all that rare. Most of us here are capable of independent thought. If we weren't we'd be on some christian site.
Mythology, like the language of science needs to be able to be flexible, open to amendment in the face of new information. It isn’t mythology that is the drag of society, since it in fact very much has helped shape societies since the very beginning, but it is the wresting away of control of the myth from the people who shape and mold it, into the hands of dictators.
That brings Bush to mind. Hitler also used religion and mythology to his advantage. But mythology, in the form of a religion, cannot be flexible. It has to stay rigid lest it be shown that it is capable of error. There is a reason the pope is infallible.
I agree it is like a great weight being lifted off our shoulders, and following suit with my last thoughts above, it’s like fleeing from a dictatorship to a free nation. The individual is free to define their own meaning (or their own reality) in ways that work for them, and in ways that respect and work with other’s uniqueness. We are not all the same, except in our all being human.
The problem is that too many wish to impose their mythological based version of reality on others. They hold that view in higher esteem than the rest of humanity.
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Even if that were the case, does the agnostic have a belief that a god exists? If they believe a god exists, then they are not an agnostic, but some brand of deist. If they do not have a belief that a god exists, then what is the word for those that do not have a belief that a god exists? Atheist

 

Well not really, Agnostic like myself do not think in black and white.

 

I am atheistic about certain types of Gods, such as the Islamic God or the Christian God, but we reserve our judgement about the possibility of divine creator - He may or may not exist. The evidence so far does not push either way.

 

Note, I as Agnostic do not do this in fear of reprimand or anything.

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Well not really, Agnostic like myself do not think in black and white.

 

I am atheistic about certain types of Gods, such as the Islamic God or the Christian God, but we reserve our judgement about the possibility of divine creator - He may or may not exist. The evidence so far does not push either way.

 

Note, I as Agnostic do not do this in fear of reprimand or anything.

 

Yep, that pretty much sums up how I feel about it. I might go one step further by admitting that I hope there is some kind of divine creator (a benign one), or something out there though I've seen no evidence of anything that would enable me to believe it. For me, belief is not a choice.

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I might go one step further by admitting that I hope there is some kind of divine creator (a benign one), or something out there though I've seen no evidence of anything other than the natural world that would enable me to believe it. For me, belief is not a choice.

 

Thackerie....

 

I'm just curious.... what about the natural world enables you to believe that there may be some kind of divine creator?

 

I'm not trying to debate you, here (as I do believe there is intention, love, wisdom, etc... (God) in and through all of creation)... I'm honestly just curious.

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I might go one step further by admitting that I hope there is some kind of divine creator (a benign one), or something out there though I've seen no evidence of anything other than the natural world that would enable me to believe it. For me, belief is not a choice.

 

Thackerie....

 

I'm just curious.... what about the natural world enables you to believe that there may be some kind of divine creator?

 

I'm not trying to debate you, here (as I do believe there is intention, love, wisdom, etc... (God) in and through all of creation)... I'm honestly just curious.

 

Oh dear! I'm pretty much made a mush of that comment. I don't - repeat DO NOT - believe in a divine creator (though I'd like to have some reason to do so). What I meant was, I've seen no evidence of anything that cannot be explained as a natural phenomenon and hence I've seen no evidence that would lead me to believe in a creator.

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Oh dear! I'm pretty much made a mush of that comment. I don't - repeat DO NOT - believe in a divine creator (though I'd like to have some reason to do so). What I meant was, I've seen no evidence of anything that cannot be explained as a natural phenomenon and hence I've seen no evidence that would lead me to believe in a creator.

 

:grin:

 

As I said, "just curious". ;)

 

Thanks for clearing that up. :grin:

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I might go one step further by admitting that I hope there is some kind of divine creator (a benign one), or something out there though I've seen no evidence of anything other than the natural world that would enable me to believe it. For me, belief is not a choice.

 

Thackerie....

 

I'm just curious.... what about the natural world enables you to believe that there may be some kind of divine creator?

 

I'm not trying to debate you, here (as I do believe there is intention, love, wisdom, etc... (God) in and through all of creation)... I'm honestly just curious.

 

Oh dear! I'm pretty much made a mush of that comment. I don't - repeat DO NOT - believe in a divine creator (though I'd like to have some reason to do so). What I meant was, I've seen no evidence of anything that cannot be explained as a natural phenomenon and hence I've seen no evidence that would lead me to believe in a creator.

Thackerie,

 

Along the lines of what is buried in my conversation with Dave above, may I ask what you mean by your comment in parenthesis above, "though I'd like to have some reason to do so"?

 

Dave : I'm trying to continue in our discussion but my son is here visiting with me this week and it may be hard to have the time away to dialog on line, so bear with the gaps in time. I have a moment to myself with some coffee while listening to Works for Lute by J.S. Bach... so I'll give it a shot in a few... :grin:

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Antlerman _ I simply meant that I think it would be wonderful to have a benevolent god looking out for us and interceding on our behalf ... you know, like the good and loving god we were told about when we were kids in sunday school. Alas, I don't think such a being exists.

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Even if that were the case, does the agnostic have a belief that a god exists? If they believe a god exists, then they are not an agnostic, but some brand of deist. If they do not have a belief that a god exists, then what is the word for those that do not have a belief that a god exists? Atheist
Well not really, Agnostic like myself do not think in black and white.
Now just where in "a lack of belief in gods" is any black and white thinking?
I am atheistic about certain types of Gods, such as the Islamic God or the Christian God, but we reserve our judgement about the possibility of divine creator - He may or may not exist. The evidence so far does not push either way.
Then you have a lack of belief in gods.... or do you believe a god exists?
Note, I as Agnostic do not do this in fear of reprimand or anything.
Huh?

 

 

Oh dear! I'm pretty much made a mush of that comment. I don't - repeat DO NOT - believe in a divine creator (though I'd like to have some reason to do so). What I meant was, I've seen no evidence of anything that cannot be explained as a natural phenomenon and hence I've seen no evidence that would lead me to believe in a creator.
Then you "lack a belief in gods." That is all it takes to be an Atheist.
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Then you "lack a belief in gods." That is all it takes to be an Atheist.

 

Yeah, so? That's the same thing I said yesterday when I posted, "I now understand that an agnostic really is an atheist because he or she lacks a positive belief in a diety, but, if asked, I still identify myself as agnostic rather than atheist because of how the latter word is commonly misunderstood."

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That is really what I was getting at. At the heart of existentialism is not the denial that a reality exists outside us, but that each individual has a different interpretation of what that reality is. Solipsism is where they claim nothing exists outside the mind. This is not existentialism.

Yes, but it seems to me that lately too many have turned it around to be that everyone does make their own reality. They kind of blend to two schools into some kind of New Age "reality".

I wonder if that explains a lot of the knee-jerk reactions that come when someone speaks of things like relativism or personal realities? With respect to those who find value in “New Age” philosophies, they are only loosely drawing from the more disciplined philosophies. Like I’ve said before to me “New Age” is a pop-culture religion/philosophy that arbitrarily draws off the flashy bits of a system and packages it for popular consumption. It really isn’t a cohesive philosophy built on a school of thought. It’s the neat and easy answer approach to what are far more complex questions.

 

But what is on the other side of rationalism? Irrationalism? Humans may not be capable of absolute rationalism in all cases, but it seems that those that want to go beyond rationalism always have a god to posit in the equation. The originators of the philosophies may not have gods to play with, but some have contorted the original ideas to include gods.

The original philosophies of the Enlightenment in response to Positivism were Irrationalism and Aestheticism. From this Existentialism emerged. Those like Kierkegaard applied this understanding to the Christian experience of God as being “beyond rationality”. I would see myself more intrigued by Sartreen Existentialism, or atheistic Existentialism, though I wish to be clear I am not aligning myself with any one philosophy. It’s just that on a personal level, “aestheticism”, has an appeal to me where pure rationality and science aren’t really capable of going. Don’t get me wrong, I will default to rationality every time when talking about the credibility of something in the natural world, but the human experience of living in “response” to the world can also be found beyond rationality.

 

As an example: This is an example of a piece of art I’m considering hanging in my music room that has emotional connections for me:

 

 

 

 

Even though someone may try delineate a “rational” explanation of “why” it evokes a response that does not explain or convey the experience itself. That goes beyond rationality.

 

The problem is that too many wish to impose their mythological based version of reality on others. They hold that view in higher esteem than the rest of humanity.

Yes. I think the real motive behind it for them is that because languages defines reality for the individual, it is their connection to their ability to function in the world. To alter that language – rapidly – threatens their very sense of identity, how they view themselves in the world. Languages naturally evolve over time, but with science bring so many new ways of looking at the natural world; philosophies bring new ways at looking at human ideas and perceptions, etc, fundamentalism is a reactionary movement to try to hold onto that language.

 

Their efforts to impose it on others, is their attempt to halt or retard the rate of that change. This is seen time and again throughout history. Even fundamentalism evolves over time, but it drags it’s heals behind the rest of the society. In other words, it’s an evil that will always be part of any society. You’ll always have progressives driving change, fundamentalists resisting change, and the middle sorting out the questions that each side brings to the table.

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Then you "lack a belief in gods." That is all it takes to be an Atheist.
Yeah, so? That's the same thing I said yesterday....
Oops. My bad. I really need to pay attention to who says what. :Doh:
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I wonder if that explains a lot of the knee-jerk reactions that come when someone speaks of things like relativism or personal realities? With respect to those who find value in “New Age” philosophies, they are only loosely drawing from the more disciplined philosophies. Like I’ve said before to me “New Age” is a pop-culture religion/philosophy that arbitrarily draws off the flashy bits of a system and packages it for popular consumption. It really isn’t a cohesive philosophy built on a school of thought. It’s the neat and easy answer approach to what are far more complex questions.
There is a central thread, as I see it, to the New Age culture - anything that goes against science is right BECAUSE it goes against science. A good example is magnetic therapy. It has been proven beyond a doubt, for over 200 years, that magnetic therapy (as presented by New Agers) is pure bunk yet it is highly popular, along with many other proven to be false therapies. There is a common thread there, just an anti-rational one.
.....Even though someone may try delineate a “rational” explanation of “why” it evokes a response that does not explain or convey the experience itself. That goes beyond rationality.
Does it? It is irrational, or beyone rationality to be moved by art? Or to enjoy life? Isn't enjoying life what makes it worth living? Isn't that rational? Were not the Epicurians rational? Fun is rational.
Yes. I think the real motive behind it for them is that because languages defines reality for the individual, it is their connection to their ability to function in the world. To alter that language – rapidly – threatens their very sense of identity, how they view themselves in the world. Languages naturally evolve over time, but with science bring so many new ways of looking at the natural world; philosophies bring new ways at looking at human ideas and perceptions, etc, fundamentalism is a reactionary movement to try to hold onto that language.
Yes, and some cling to that fundamentalism because they abhor, or fear, change. An example could be a friend of mine. She has been cooking the same chicken recipe for decades, and she's been doing it wrong. I've tried to show here the right way, even cooked it the right way, and she is absolutely unable to change. Some of these theists have their god beliefs so deeply ingrained they are unable to change and need to impose that unability on others.
Their efforts to impose it on others, is their attempt to halt or retard the rate of that change. This is seen time and again throughout history. Even fundamentalism evolves over time, but it drags it’s heals behind the rest of the society. In other words, it’s an evil that will always be part of any society. You’ll always have progressives driving change, fundamentalists resisting change, and the middle sorting out the questions that each side brings to the table.
That may have it's advantages, but when the fundamentalists get in control, as here in the USA and in a few Moslem countries, things start to go backwards.
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Antlerman _ I simply meant that I think it would be wonderful to have a benevolent god looking out for us and interceding on our behalf ... you know, like the good and loving god we were told about when we were kids in sunday school. Alas, I don't think such a being exists.

(In what little time I have to post...) In the hope of exploring this aspect of being human and relating it to the converstation about philosophical aestheticism (or irrationalism)... why do you state you feel it "would be wonderful to have a benevolent god looking out for us and interceding on our behalf", the whole "loving god" image? Is that something that stands out to you as desirable beyond the world we have in front of us every day? If so, in what ways does this image or symbol of a god offer something to the experience of being human?

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There is a central thread, as I see it, to the New Age culture - anything that goes against science is right BECAUSE it goes against science. A good example is magnetic therapy. It has been proven beyond a doubt, for over 200 years, that magnetic therapy (as presented by New Agers) is pure bunk yet it is highly popular, along with many other proven to be false therapies. There is a common thread there, just an anti-rational one.

This also appears to be a reactionary trend, which would be anti-rationality, or another manifestation seen in fundamentalism in itself reaction against modernity: anti-intellectualism. One way to look at New Age anything, is as an attempt by those in mainstream society to try to pull together all the diversities of cultures in a very small global society, by blending them into some sort of cross-cultural theme of commonalities.

 

You will wind up with a little of this and a little of that, trying to shake hands in the middle where commonalities overlap, but often times the underlying premises for those surface commonalities may run in entirely different directions under the surface, being rooted in long outstanding schools of thought and disciplines. To just skim the cream off the surface does not give you the nutrients that lie down deep inside through following the disciplines of teachings and traditions.

 

Though it is a noble thing to desire to bridge those cultural divides, it is a “quick fix”, a simple-choices menu of fast food items that do not go far enough to really producing benefits to the problems. It’s a consumer-driven religious experience with “Buddha in a Box” and “Zen Gardens to Go” in the checkout lanes of Wal-Mart. It only offers a sense of appreciating other cultures by somewhat “experiencing” their world, but it is pop-culture and not the real thing, like the White boys in suburbia adopting inner-city Black culture clothing and speech styles. There is no way to know what that is all about without living it. The benefits of another culture’s perceptions cannot be known without living it.

 

America is a society of consumer-driven religious experience. The true religion of today is Consumerism.

 

.....Even though someone may try delineate a “rational” explanation of “why” it evokes a response that does not explain or convey the experience itself. That goes beyond rationality.
Does it? It is irrational, or beyone rationality to be moved by art? Or to enjoy life? Isn't enjoying life what makes it worth living? Isn't that rational? Were not the Epicurians rational? Fun is rational.

We may be defining different faces of the word “rationality”. I think what I’m driving at is how Aestheticism or Irrationalism is an answer to Positivism, that idea that scientific inquiry and rationality hold the keys to everything that goes into the human experience.

 

Yes, it the way you state it I would agree that “fun is rational”. It is rational to allow the whole human experience to occur: both in rational pursuits and in emotional freedom. I just am making this distinction between the operation of mind and emotion, or “spirit”. Maybe I’m muddying it more than it needs be? I suppose on one level, like in making a distinction between “weak and strong” atheism in the context of philosophical discussions, we can speak of rationality and irrationality, but in daily life there is either being atheist or not, and being a fully rational human being of reason and emotion. Is this what you’re driving at?

 

Yes, and some cling to that fundamentalism because they abhor, or fear, change. An example could be a friend of mine. She has been cooking the same chicken recipe for decades, and she's been doing it wrong. I've tried to show here the right way, even cooked it the right way, and she is absolutely unable to change. Some of these theists have their god beliefs so deeply ingrained they are unable to change and need to impose that unability on others.

Why do they fear change? It’s about not having to make the effort to reprogram ourselves? It’s easier to just know how to function. It’s the same with I was saying about language systems. It’s much easier to just understand life through the eyes of a child, “God did it”, then to wrap your emotional understanding that intricate natural processes created life and our own beings without any super-being controlling us. It’s much more frightening also to know that we are alone in the universe, that there is no big-us watching over us in this vast nothingness. Its takes a whole different mindset to allow for a language that says that, hence why we must not allow science to teach us. :wicked:

 

That may have it's advantages, but when the fundamentalists get in control, as here in the USA and in a few Moslem countries, things start to go backwards.

Yes, it becomes a frightening a dangerous time, but it precisely because of that happening that will cause a pull back into the other direction. The real power is in the middle. Think of it in terms of statistical normal distribution, the bell curve. Ultra liberals and ultra conservatives are on the opposite down slopes, the majority numbers are in the middle, or the mainstream. That’s the real power, but it moves more slowly. It may take disasters to get it to move, but it will. Hopefully with nukes out there, the freaks don’t destroy everything and there is no place left to move to. :shrug:

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