RE: MD On Faith

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Mon Oct 18 2004 - 01:54:51 BST

  • Next message: Charles Roghair: "Re: MD On Faith"

    Chuck and all thread followers:

    dmb says:
    After dozens and dozens of posts my head is swimming. And, as usual, I still
    have no idea what the faithful mean by "faith". It's become the mother of
    all weasel words. In any case, I think the clash between science and
    religion is resolved in the MOQ, even if its not easy to see at first.
    Wilber's superior levle of detail has been very helpful, not only in
    understanding the problem itself, but also in understanding what Pirsig is
    doing with it. My brain is fried from reading and working and I'm also
    fasting today, so please cut me some slack if I get a little goofy while
    trying to explain. Let me open with a quote from each of them...

    "Science supercedes old religious forms, not because what it says is more
    true in any absolute sense (whatever that is), but because what it says is
    more Dynamic." (LILA Chapter 17)

    "Mythology is true enough in its own world-spcae; its just that perspectival
    reason is 'more true'; more developed, more diffferentiated-and-integrated,
    and more sophisticated in its capactiy to disclose verifiable knowledge.
    Thus the higher truths of rationality pass judgement on the lower truths of
    mythology, and for the most part mythology simply does not survive those
    more sophisticated tests. Moses did not part the Red Sea, and Jesus was not
    born by a biological virgin. Those claims, in the light of higher reason,
    are indeed bogus. ...And if religion is to survive in a vialbe form in the
    modern world, it must be willing to jettison its bogus claims, just as
    narrow science must be willing to jettison its reductionistic imperialism."

    dmb says"
    Science isn't more true, its more Dynamic. Mythology is true enough, its
    just that reason is more true. Surely one can see that these guys on the
    same wavelength. And I think they are pointing out a distinction that has
    been virtually ignored in the thread; the distinction between the third and
    fourth levels. We tend to associate religion with the former and science
    with the latter, but this is not exactly accurate. The distinction between
    the levels, between myth and reason, is complicated by the fact that
    Modernity not only represents a shift in levels, but it also includes the
    differentiation of "the big three", as Wilber calls them. The three domians
    of art, morals and science were relatively undiffentiated prior to the
    Modern era. For historical reasons, the process of differentiation went a
    little haywire, they threw the baby out with the bathwater and instead of
    becoming merely seperate, but equally valid modes of knowledge, they became
    hostile and alienated rivials. Science and religion became disassociated
    rather than just differentiated. Think of all the fuss Pirsig makes about
    AMORAL science and you can see they're working on the same problem. For
    historical reasons, we find ourselves with a spiritually empty scientific
    worldview and what passes for religion among the millions is ridiculous
    nonsense. The way out, says Wilber, is to re-integrate the big three
    (without regressing back to a pre-modern, undifferentiated state). And how
    is that done? Epistemological pluralism. And I think this is what Pirig is
    up to when he says "science isn't more true" and when he contructs the MOQ
    so that "many truths" can exist like paintings in a gallery. None of these
    statements undo the levels so that the test of intellectual truth remains
    tied to conventional standards like logic and such. It doesn't mean we get
    to believe what seems most pretty or whatever. And most directly related to
    the ideas of epistemological pluralism, is Pirsig's expanded empiricism. It
    goes further than traditional empiricism in accepting all kinds of
    experience as valid, not just sensory experience, but it certainly does not
    discount the value of empirical evidence to support our beliefs....

    "The MOQ does not rest on faith. In the MOQ faith is very low quality stuff,
    a willingness to believe falsehoods."

    "The selling out of intellectual truth to the social icons of organized
    relgion is seen by the MOQ as an evil act."

    In the MOQ "...the term "God" is completely dropped as a relic of an evil
    social suppression of intellectual and Dynamic freedom. The MOQ is not just
    atheistic in this regard. It is anti-theistic."

    "Its no accident that wars fought in hole or part in the name of a
    particular mythic Deity have historically killed more human beings that any
    other intentional force on the planet. The enlightenment pointed out - quite
    rightly- that religious claims hiding from evidence are not the voice of God
    or Goddess, but merely the voice of men or women, who usually come with big
    guns and bigger egos. Power, not truth, drives claims that hide from

    dmb says:
    The faithful on this thread have been attacking a kind of science that
    Pirsig targets as well, but they seem to proceed as if didn't. His attack on
    SOM, on its exclusive truth, on its amoral materialism and his expanded
    empiricism all combine to put a great distance between himself and the more
    narrow version of empiricism associated with Modernity. Ken Wilber

    "Moving from the profoundly important notion that all knowledge must be
    ultimately grounded in experience, many classical empiricists collaspsed
    this to the absurd notion that all knowledge must be reduced to, and derived
    from, colored patches. The myth of the given, the brain-dead flatland stare,
    the monological gaze, the modern nightmare: with this impoverished
    empiricism, we can have little sympathy.
    This dual meaning of 'empirisism' - very broad and very narrow - is actually
    reflected in the extensive confusion about the scientific method itself, and
    whether it must be 'empirical' or not. For the enduring strength of science
    - the reason it can indeed plop a person on the moon - is that it always
    attempts, as best it can, to rest its assertions on EVIDENCE and EXPERIENCE.
    But sensory experience is only one of severaal different but equally
    legitimate types of experience, which is presicely why mathematics - seen
    only inwardly, with the mind's eye - is still considered scientific (in
    fact, is usually considered extremely scientific!)."

    The advantage to the broader type of empiricism extends to religion as well
    as science and this is what I mean when I say that religion isn't
    NECESSARILY as social level thing, its just happens to be its dominant form.
    Epistemological empiricism does not allow for bogus assertions like the ones
    we associate with belief in the parting of the Red Sea or the ressurection,
    but it includes spiritual empiricism. It accepts religiious experience,
    mystical experience as a valid empircial experience. It is not sensory
    experience and it is not intellectual, mental experience either, but it is
    just as valid to the extent that it can be reported and verified by others
    who have also had the experience. We see this in the way Pirsig's expanded
    empiricism can include mystical experience and even insanity itself becomes
    a meaningful experience. He even tells us that he'd once planned to wrap his
    entire book around the peyote experience. These kinds of experiences can be
    reproduced with reasonable certaintly by those who know what they're doing,
    just like a good scientist can repeat another set of procedure to have his
    sensory experience. In this way, spiritual becomes empirical. Is
    precipitating a mystical experience more difficult than dropping an apple?
    You bet. And so much more worthwhile.

    P. S. for Horse and msh: I think its not just that religion that is deadly,
    although that's very true too, its that the social level, the giant, has
    always protected and projected itself by grinding up human bodies. This is
    why its so important NOT to allow governments to be socially controlled.
    This is why its so dangerous to allow a bible-thumper to lead a war against
    militant Islam. Pitting one race, one religion, one culture over another is
    just too dangerous in the atomic age. To the extent that we engage in a
    global war of rival forms of fasicistic fundamentalism, we're all doomed. In
    short, we can NOT let the stupid people carry the football anymore.

    One more from Ken Wilber:
    "And this is why rationality or reasonableness tends to be UNIVERSAL in
    character, and is highly integrative. If my reasons are going to be valid, I
    want to know that they make sense, or that they hold true, not just for me
    or my tribe or my isolated culture (however important those might also be).
    If science, for example, is going to be true, then we are not going to have
    a Hindu chemistry that is different from a German chemistry that is
    different from a Greek chemistry. There is simply chemistry, and its truth
    is not forced or coerced or ideologically imposed, but is freely open to any
    who wish to look into its reasons. This doesn't mean that we can't have
    cultural differences that make each society unique and special; it means
    that only rationality will allow these differences to exist side by side
    seeing them as different perspectives in a more universal space, something
    that cultural differences, left to their own conventional or sociocentric or
    ethnocentric devies, could never do. It is only rationality, in other words,
    that allows the beginning emergence of a truly global or planetary network,
    which, freed from any particular society, can allow all societies their own
    unique and special place."

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