Re: MD On Faith

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Sun Oct 17 2004 - 15:59:50 BST

  • Next message: David Morey: "Re: MD On Faith - Improbability ?"

    Dear Sam,

    You wrote 14 Oct 2004 17:51:22 +0100:
    1) 'I don't see theology as something which doesn't partake of practice.
    Quite the reverse.'

    Isn't the essence of all '-ologies' that they reflect instead of partake?
    E.g. politicology/politics and philosophology/philosophy. How does theology
    partake of religious practice according to you?

    2) 'If your faith has "nothing to do with any cognitive content" doesn't
    that make it unthinkable?'

    My type of 'faith' is indeed not something that can be 'thought' (like a
    'belief'). It can be experienced though: 'I have to do/say this (regardless
    of what I believe).'

    3) & 5) 'I think religion (properly understood) includes science. ... I
    don't think proper theology actually *does* try and define [the Meaning of
    Life]. The creed, for example, is much more a list of "don't go in that
    direction" rather than "go in this direction". ... I think teaching is
    essential for those who haven't yet "got it". Even the Quakers teach about
    their faith, don't they?'

    If we define religion as reaching beyond existing 4th level patterns of
    values, I agree that religion includes science. If theology (even proper
    theology) formulates creeds, how can you say that it doesn't 'define'?
    Doesn't 'creed' mean 'I believe THIS'? A creed doesn't state what people are
    NOT supposed to believe, does it? Even if it would, blocking directions in
    which one shouldn't go is also a way of defining the direction in which one
    should go. I don't dispute that theology & creeds leave freedom, I only
    state that they restrict freedom (to trust the divine guidance you
    experience yourself) compared to a situation without theology/creeds.

    If 'the/a goal of religion [is] to make its followers "hear the music for
    themselves"' (and dance on it), teaching them the musical notes (or even the
    steps) won't work. Quakers in my tradition definitely don't do that.
    Everyone is allowed into membership who is a genuine seeker. There are
    procedures for comparing the results of that seeking (also with those of
    Biblical and Quaker history) and for acting together on them. None of those
    results of seeking are set up as dogma's, creeds or obligatory behaviour,
    however, not even pacifism, although that comes closest.

    How can one 'teach about' trust in divine guidance?? You can only learn it
    by doing it. Maybe by seeing others do it, but only if you don't make the
    mistake to think that that which they are guided to do/say should also be
    done/said by you. In the words of George Fox from around 1650 as quoted by
    Margaret Fell in her description of her convincement experience:
    'The Scriptures were the prophets' words and Christ's and the apostles'
    words, and what as they spoke they enjoyed and possessed and had it from the
    Lord. Then what had any to do with the Scriptures, but as they came to the
    Spirit that gave them forth. You will say, Christ saith this, and the
    apostles say this; but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and
    hast walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?'

    4) 'How good to clash (s)words with you once more! ... Can you expand on
    [4th level patterns of value being 'violent' too in a sense] please? I'm
    intrigued, and I might well be sympathetic.'

    Doesn't your association of 'words' and 'swords' imply that you won't need
    expanding of my argument?
    My argument was 4th level patterns of value restrict people's ability to
    follow DQ.
    What's violent and what's not obviously depends on how you define 'violence'
    and on where you (arbitrarily) draw the line on the continuum between
    'extremely violent' and 'not violent at all'.
    - That which we all recognize as violence has a biological/physical quality
    to it: killing (reducing a living, biological entity to something that can
    only degenerate into inorganic components), wounding/hurting (reducing the
    biological quality of a living entity, with a -bigger or smaller- risk of
    killing it) or limiting movement or necessitating movement in a specific
    direction on pain of hurt (e.g. inprisonment, barbed wire lined roads). It
    is often extented however to 'violence against objects', e.g. when you
    destroy someone's possessions (thereby limiting her/his biological options)
    or just someone's environment (reducing the pleasure she/he derived from
    - The point of such violent behaviour that somehow affects people no the
    threshold of the 1st and 2nd levels, which is also necessary to define
    violence, is that it is perceived to have some effect on the 3rd level
    (inducing behaviour that's more in line with some collective pattern: 'do as
    we, or else ...') or even on the 4th (e.g. electroshock treatment to return
    someone's outlook on 'reality' back to 'normal' or burning people on the
    stake who challenge the Truth as dispensed by the Church). These 3rd or 4th
    level drives and rationales (intentions to limit freedom on the 3rd or 4th
    level) are also essential to define what's violent and what's not:
    Euthanasia may be immoral according to some, it is not considered violent if
    the person being killed consents. Applying a tattoo hurts a lot, but isn't
    experienced as violence either.
    - Associating words with swords is not only a metaphor (like 'doing violence
    to the truth'). Lies (and even truths) can 'hurt' just as much as destroying
    of one's property. So can reduction of one's social status or even reducing
    someone to mere biological patterns of value by 'scapegoating' out of
    society. So violence can also be defined as negatively affecting people on
    the threshold of any 2 levels: 1st and 2nd, 2nd and 3rd or 3rd and 4th.
    - A last minor extension of the meaning of 'violence' would then include
    negatively affecting people on the upper threshold of the 4th level:
    preventing DQ to leave new 4th level patterns of value in its wake, by
    limiting people to existing ones. Asserting theology violates mystical
    religion, following DQ in the moment...

    With friendly greetings,


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