I Am a Religious Man Unthreatened By Science, Secularity And Reason

2011.06.09
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(IN FACT, THE WHOLE “REASON” I “am” “religious” in the first place is only due to a direct perception [some might say delusion] that the Universe is, in some essential and indescribable sense, alive and conscious. I can’t help seeing that, feeling a part of it, and celebrating.)

(Also, as much as I love science, I’m more fascinated by rituals and customs, folkways, manners, stories, legends, myths, folklore. I see religion as structured spirituality, and its practice one of many attentive arts of living. And I like the perspective of participating in something bigger, older and more continuous than I am. I guess that’s one reason why some people play music or build stuff or deeply study anything.)

(Also, the Torah becomes an endless intellectual puzzle when you approach it that way (especially in light of the Talmud); you can almost hear the “click” of each piece fusing into place. In fact, the whole reality-is-made-of-words paradigm, stuffed with well-thumbed volumes full of meta-analyzed ethical and legal subtleties and such a spiritual identification with text that we daven (prayerfully meditate) from a book thrice daily, personally scratches me right where I Itch. YMM,APD,V.)

(But it’s not for everyone, and what a boring world it would otherwise be. It seems to me that the only reason to lead a religious life — or any life at all — is because It calls to you in some way. If it doesn’t, move along. There really is plenty more to see, and plenty more ways to see it.)

(I say these things because I have many friends in the worlds of science, secularity and reason whose daily experience of “religion” is as the pounding blow of an ideological and headbusting sledgehammer. This is quite different from my own experience, or those of most “religious” people I know, whose “reasons” for so being are either similar to mine or only different within a companionable degree. While I certainly understand (and largely condone) disdain toward joyless Bible-thumping lumps who want everyone to conform to their own prejudiced and small idea of existence, I like to think there are many more of “us” than of the noisy haters for whom “God” is no more than a coward’s rationalization. Quiet people don’t dominate public discourse, so it’s hard to tell.)

(Which is a pity.)

(Anyway, I seem to feel as compelled to defend religion-as-a-valid-ordering-principle as some of my friends who invalidate it. I don’t know why — I have no interest in whether other people lead religious lives, only happy ones — but I feel uncomfortable seeing something-dear-to-me tarred with a broad brush when a little one will do. After all, I don’t like the Noisy Haters any more than you do. Perhaps less. Because I really, REALLY don’t want to be mistaken for one. And neither do my friends.)

Do you understand?

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2 Responses to I Am a Religious Man Unthreatened By Science, Secularity And Reason

  1. Alana on 2011.06.10 at 1114

    oh, yeah. I’m becoming a more passionate agnostic as those I love around me become more atheistic. We just don’t know enough yet, Occam’s razor notwithstanding! Since all humans in all cultures have some sense of the supernatural, can we surmise that humanity evolved its disposition toward religious experience? (One section of the brain, when stimulated, seems to experience spiritual visions or epiphanies) WHY? Really why? Is it just to reinforce social constructs? That doesn’t seem like enough motivation for the brain to bundle itself in such a particularly odd way. In Raiders, the ark of the covenant was referred to as “a radio for talking to God” but I don’t think that radio is a thing. It’s US. Maybe. Or not.

    • Neal Ross Attinson on 2011.06.10 at 1214

      No, I tend to think the same way. I mean, consciousness is obviously built into the system — it didn’t come from anywhere else! But whether that system was designed or is self-designing I have neither clue nor investment, nor any way of designing an experiment to demonstrate this self-evident truth…

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