RE: MD On Faith

From: Scott Roberts (
Date: Mon Oct 18 2004 - 18:16:21 BST

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    DMB et al,

    (Note: I've cut out the parts about empiricism, since I would rather
    address that question separately).

    > dmb says:
    > After dozens and dozens of posts my head is swimming. And, as usual, I
    > have no idea what the faithful mean by "faith". It's become the mother of
    > all weasel words.

    'Faith' is going to be different for different people. To require one idea
    of what faith "really is" just doesn't work in a pluralist society. But for
    most contemporary more or less liberal theists, Wim's definition "trust in
    divine guidance" will serve, or for Buddhists, faith in Buddha, dharma, and

    > 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.

    It has been resolved for over a hundred years in liberal Protestant
    theology. The Catholics took longer, but they have no problem either, since
    Vatican II.

    > "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)

    Insofar as the old religious forms talked of inorganic and biological
    things, this is of course correct. But I haven't seen how science
    supercedes the Sermon on the Mount, or the Four Noble Truths.

    > 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
    > 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
    > 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
    > 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.

    Yes to all this, except not all the millions of the faithful are immersed
    in "ridiculous nonsense". Some are, some are not.

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

    Here his use of faith is too narrow. He shouldn't lump together those whose
    faith is "trust in divine guidance" with Biblical inerrantists.

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

    I agree, but so would, say, Paul Tillich.

    > 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
    > atheistic in this regard. It is anti-theistic."

    By doing this he is arbitrarily cutting out millions of people who could
    appreciate the MOQ, or at least large parts of it, but have learned to use
    the word 'God' without its baggage of evil social suppression.

    > Wilber:
    > "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
    > other intentional force on the planet. The enlightenment pointed out -
    > rightly- that religious claims hiding from evidence are not the voice of
    > or Goddess, but merely the voice of men or women, who usually come with
    > guns and bigger egos. Power, not truth, drives claims that hide from
    > evidence."
    > 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.

    I see no evidence of this. Nobody has been attacking science of any kind
    (unless you count Dawkin's materialist dogma as a kind of science, and I
    don't think anybody here does), and I have seen no evidence of ignorance of
    Pirsig's view of science. What I have been attacking in this thread is
    ignorance, or at least misleading over-generalizations, of contemporary
    religion in our pluralist society.

    - Scott

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