Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grace & spirituality, Part 2 (Guest Post)

Those of you familiar with my conversation with Jeanette know that I'm an atheist; I do not believe in an anthropomorphic, creative entity called "God." I think that all the universe is natural - there is no "supernatural." But I also think that there is spirit, human spirit being part of that. And to me, spirit is tangible, natural, a function of the universal matter, light. I experience it, I can hear it, see it, feel it. It is a matter of attention and perception. Scientists, even atheist scientists, will someday identify how it works.

Carl Jung, many years ago, spoke of observing “synchronicity”. He also posited the notion of the “collective unconscious”. I happen to think that there also exists a "collective sub-conscience," a universal knowing of yin and yang that connects us all to each other and everything else. It is in those places, I believe, that we find spirituality. I don't think that believing these things are molecular and sub-atomic diminishes wonder one bit.

All disease and disorder involves a separation, an alienation, of a human from this spirit. One is cut off from true self, adrift in delusion and illusion. "Imagination runs wild" is an excellent description. When the body dies, the participation of that body in the "all" disperses and is never embodied exactly the same way again. Is it not insanity, then, to destroy the body which holds spirit? Is it not crazy to embrace hate and all the rest? Hate kills the hater, at least as often as it kills the hated.

In the book that initially drew us together, Comte-Sponville's The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality, the author speaks of the difference between [religious] "faith" and a more temporal, tangible "fidelity.” Fidelity has to do with recognizing, honoring, and perpetuating traditions, such as codes of morality. Things like The Golden Rule and the Beatitudes. How can such wisdom as the latter be discounted by the fact that I do not think Jesus was God? How can I discard the wisdom of "Thou shalt not kill," just because I don't believe in Yahweh?

What disturbs me is how Jews, Muslims, and Christians can say they find their way through reliance on the Bible, except . . . whenever. Their God did not say, "Don't kill, except when . . ." Personally, I fail to understand how religious folks go about justifying "situational ethics," especially when it comes to other humans and this vast home we call "Earth."

I begin my conclusion by telling you that I have no hope for humanity. I have not, however, replaced it with despair. I have replaced it with action based in fidelity. Faith and hope are just self-centered wishes that things will turn out the way I want them. A Taoist friend once told me, "One is happiest who lives without expectations." If I practice humility and act in fidelity and love, I have conducted a spiritual motion, whether the outcome is to my liking or not. My role is to serve humanity and all existence on this planet, not serve a god or gods.

As a backlash phenomenon, there has arisen a new, militant, virulent strain of atheism. Pay attention to it, because it is poison. It ridicules religion and even professes (at the same time) to "hate God." How one hates something that does not exist baffles me, as I think it should. These people purport to embrace "science" and mouth "rationalism" in a most irrational way. Perhaps if they weren't so rude and arrogant and nihilistic, one could safely ignore them. I suppose it is the price we pay for a decade of religious extremism, but let us hope it is a passing fashion. Suffice it to say that they possess neither the manners nor the smarts displayed by late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century atheists like Ingersoll, Goldman, Whitman, Garrison, and Stanton.

Finally, I must speak of science. There is a growing movement within the science community, transhumanism. Although it markets itself to the masses by promising technology that will end disease and pain, and even produce immortality, it should be seen as incalculably dangerous. Do take it seriously, because the science and technology is sound and developing quickly now.

On the face of it, this stuff is neither good nor evil. But given humanity's propensity for self-destruction and the fact that this movement is funded and controlled by entities aligned with the new atheists, the ultra-rich, eugenicists, and the like, suggests there is a much greater chance that this science and technology will not be used altruistically, but in mechanisms of efficient control and even destruction of most of humanity. You may scoff - but you do it at your own risk.

At the top of my blog, P!, I quote Thomas More: "Because the soul has such deep roots in personal and social life and its values run so contrary to modern concerns, caring for the soul may well turn out to be a radical act, a challenge to accepted norms." One may do this - must do this - whether religious, agnostic, atheist, or none of the above.

Thank you for having the patience to read this. Be at peace.


ddjango (the "dd" is silent) is a political and cultural writer in exile from Boston. He began writing on the internet with the now-archived blog ddjangoWIrE in 2002, then founded P! in 2004. He has been known to post at American Samizdat, PBA, Peoples Voice, Thomas Paine's Corner, Empire Burlesque, Corrente, and other sites. He is also a published Content Provider at Associated Content and a Sustaining Member of ZNet

2 comments:

Paul Maurice Martin said...

Interesting thoughts. On the natural/supernatural distinction, I've never heard anyone articulate it satisfactorily - how, for example, to tell a supernatural event from an exceedingly rare natural one.

Jeanette said...

I don't think we have to distinguish between natural and supernatural. As I stated elsewhere, God or spiritual reality is not some super-natural, extra-natural, un-natural, external-to-reality individual we have to be told to believe in.

I discuss this in God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky and will continue to ruminate on the subject. Some human activities are likelier to lead to what are termed "supernatural" events. Much more begs to be said about this.

Thanks for your comment. Perhaps ddjango will respond also.