The Physical and the Spiritual Forum
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|"This I know experimentally"|
Name: Gary C. Fa
Date: 2002-08-26 16:32:51
Link to this Comment: 2460
Prof. Dalke suggested that these comments might further the discussion posted here. So....
I would encourage short circuiting the 'wandering in the wilderness' that occurs when searches for extensions of physical models to spiritual reality(ies) are made. Some very bad philosophy has been promulgated by trying to base spirituality on or derive it from science. Appeals to quantum mechanics, entropy and evolution are particularly notorious. When in college I was assigned to read charmingly written and very scholarly book called the Meaning of Evolution by George Gaylord Simpson. The mechanisms and evidences of evolution are laid out carefully and at the end an ethics is extracted from them. The claim is then made that because the ethics mirrors the natural world it is a 'natural ethic'. I learned a lot about evolution from this book. I don't think I learned much of anything about ethics.
The problem seems to me twofold. One is trying to justify spirituality, or ethics in the case cited, rather than to model spirituality itself and then use that model to understand the thing. The second is the assumption that the God of Creation is also the God of Salvation. Our monotheist tradition demands this. Our western tradition of integrated truth promotes this. But, it is as far as I can tell ultimately un-provable.
I am convinced of spiritual reality in the world. This convincement is typically that of a scientist: I have experienced it.
There is awestruck wonder in considering creation. There is a deep and profound order to creation with very simple rules. There is magnificent variety to creation with no apparent purpose. There is a great sense of a Magisterium: a sense of that which is greater than I, a sense of that which will go on beyond my time, a sense which will become different and more magisterial as it goes on, a sense of attachment that comes from being able to wrap my head around at least a part of it. "What is man that thou are mindful or him? ... Yet thou has made him only a little lower than the angels!" If Heisenberg is correct ("If you would know the creator, study creation") then surely the Divine is Magisterial.
My experiences of the Divine Presence are necessarily more deep and personal. Therefore, I do not share them except in specific contexts: the affirmation of spiritual experience among others occurs, or where a neophyte seeker needs a final affirmation to make the discovery themselves. My sense is this discussion group is no such context; and, in an academic conversation, which this is, such affirmations too easily degenerate into solipsism if care is not taken. I will say that my experience of the Presence and of the Magisterium feel so much the same that I continue to use Ocam's razor making the simplifying assumption that the Divine is one. And, there is evidence of the God of Salvation all around us in the lives of saints and sinners. There is a child's poem: "Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I, but when the leaves hang trembling the wind is passing by. Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you, but when great oaks bow down their heads the wind is passing through."
It is clear to me that both Ms. Soloman and Prof. Grobstein are struggling with the all too human sense of the ultimate and a lack of solid ground on which to stand in considering it. Whittier said it well "Thou madest man. He knows not why. He feels he was not born to die; for Thou hast made him and Thou art just." If one is to proceed on solid ground, it makes sense to make models of spirituality from spiritual life knowing that some of the models will fail.
Were I considering Ms Soloman's case in a meeting on Ministry and Counsel, I would say that this is no time for theology, formal or historical. Rather, it is time to consider what I call the practical mystics: persons who see God in every day living such as Thomas a Kempis, or Mother Teresa, and of course the writers of Psalms.
Were I in conversation with Prof. Grobstein I would discourage a metaphysical approach to spirituality and encourage consideration of observers of the manifest spiritual condition; for example, William James' 'Variety of Religious Experience'; Harvey Cox's 'Fire From Heaven' and Feast of Fools'. These descriptions of real world spirituality are the very types of handles we academics need in order not feel lost in space when considering the same.
Were I in conversation with myself I would debate being conscious of the omnipresence taking as patterns the gospels, Douglas Steere's 'On Being Present Where You Are', and Thomas Kelly's "Holy Obedience" in 'Testament of Devotion'. As with most people however my day is filled with the details of living and I must be satisfied with contemplating sunsets, including the radiation fields and molecular scattering processes involved; and on conversations unconsciously predicated on how to establish spiritual truth as that which is recognized as the same. Of course if any of us knew how to do this the Templeton Prize would be ours.
|Worldpeace and religion|
Date: 2003-07-20 08:11:44
Link to this Comment: 6040
I have started to talk about my beliefs about the origin of life and my beliefs about how God works and how we are on the verge of world peace on my website in angelfire. You are welcome to visit. www.angelfire.com/blog/worldpeace
I am sorry if I have taken away from your valuable time. I hope you enjoy
|Religion v.s. Science|
Date: 2004-03-26 09:51:55
Link to this Comment: 9012
I just finished reading a posted paper on your web site, "Religion vs. Science", by Laura Silvius. I've recently stumbled upon this discussion through books and probably have become increasingly curious because of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ". Even back then people were having a hard time of believing it. I too went to Catholic school and I always had a hard time believing everything that the "nuns" told me. I soon discovered that evolution made a lot more sense than the "Big Bang" (although both are very interesting). There are a great many things that can be explained by science, but then there are those miraculous events that have no explanation ( My grandmother's church once witnessed a Virgin Mary in the form of mist on a window in which no logical explanation could be found). But even before Christ, there were the Egyptians, Muslims, Hindu, Native Americans and even Cave Men, living happily believing in thier own Gods with thier own miracles and trying to find the deeper, scientific meaning never crossed thier minds. Almost every religion has some kind of roots to a pagan holiday/ tradition and most of that leads back to mother earth. You know the earth, wind, water, and fire known more commonly as the fields of Science? It seems that the rift between Science and Religion had to get worse before it got better. Now some newer relgions are teaching to be more open minded and therefore creating fuel for the more conservative denominations. This topic will probably never resolve itself, but it will never cease to keep me thinking. I once had a teacher that asking questions meant you were smart. What could be wrong with that?
Date: 2005-11-06 18:44:46
Link to this Comment: 16833
Date: 2005-11-06 18:44:46
Link to this Comment: 16834
Date: 2005-11-06 18:46:19
Link to this Comment: 16835
Asking questions doesn't just mean you are smart (see previous post) it means you are ALIVE! Normal human beings are naturally curious!
|Thought-less Brain and "I"|
Name: Vivek Shar
Date: 2006-11-05 04:17:31
Link to this Comment: 20866
In my view, the obstacle in the convergence of science and spirituality is science's inability (or unwillingness) to view physical brain and thinking mind as two separate entities. The distinction is though, very clear. If you observe even casually, you will find that none of the biological or physical activities that sustain the life in the human body are depended upon "thoughts" or "me". A person in come still stays alive. Same when a person goes in extreme amnesia, the body functions perfectly.
The "me" - me who thinks - is the illusory me that does not have a physical existence. The problem lies in assuming the brain as the thinking organ. Brain does store memories and sensations in the same way as a digital chip stores the information. However, the "mind" becomes, or manifests, when that same information starts "thinking" of itself as the reality. That is what we know as "me". True Spirituality is discovery of the dual nature of the self and coming out of the thought-based perceptions and illusions. Spirituality is not a concept or a theory, for it was one, it would just remain a thought-based activity. However, the irony of the thinking mind or the dilemma of "I" begins here.
If "I" or "me" is merely a percept or illusion, how can "I" come out of "I"? Thus, most spiritual practices start with drawing attention towards the thought process. It is like reverse conditioning. One of the most profound and scientifically spiritual documents available today is available at;
The Spiritual: Journal of Natural Spirituality
It is in the section "Grey Matter Revolution" or GMR. Something that you will find extremely challenging and interesting.
Your feedback and comments will be appreciated.
|We are limitations are|
Date: 2007-02-04 21:03:37
Link to this Comment: 21431
To me, it all depends on what we know. As time passes we learn more about what we are and what we are not. I still believe, as many others do too that "spirituality" or any religious idea / concept is what we used to fill in the missing pieces. When two things don't add up some of us ask why, and try to find the missing material pieces (like anitmatter or dark matter) that must exist in a material world. Others will ask why and find answers that are outside of a material world.
In the end you can either believe that all things are ultimately material, or that there are things that exist that are not material. I just connot believe that non-material things can exist, except as beliefs of course, but I believe beliefs are material: i.e., from the brain. I also believe, which makes it therefore a religion, that science will never find an absolute truth since I believe there is no end to time and space.
In sum then, I must confess that I believe that those who think they know something and that they think that something is true and always true are actually just fooling themseves and wasting every one's time.
In time even religious beliefs change to incoporate more beliefs based on the material world that is being explored largely by scientists and seldom by those who believe in non-material existences.
Date: 2007-04-23 00:48:19
Link to this Comment: 21696
Had a few thoughts after reading ... I will try to keep this short, because I don't want to get into all the technical stuff and I'm not the best writer. Just 2 simple points.
As you said, people try to find material things to explain the unexplainable. The atom was long thought to be the smallest unit and then there was the discovery of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Now even the belief that electrons are the smallest unit has been outdated. I believe that "invisible" forces will be explained in the future by newly discover particles. In a macro sense, natural disasters were believed to be the wrath of god, but the natural causes were then discovered.
Most people seek religion for the hope of an after life. Despite what many religious people think about scientists, I believe that science almost proves some sort of after life. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Now with that in mind, remember that brain functions are electrical impulses. The electrical signatures that make up someones consciousness can be transferred to another medium, but not destroyed.
Date: 2007-04-26 12:14:40
Link to this Comment: 21702
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