RE: MD Philosophy and Theology

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Fri Apr 04 2003 - 04:40:51 BST

  • Next message: Scott R: "Re: MD Philosophy and Theology"

    Sam, Rick and all:

    Of course, in the Christian process, this distancing is one movement in a
    sequence that, through prayer, results in the transformation of the will so
    that it becomes transparent to God. It is a process of dismantling all our
    idols - all the things that we value other than God. In MoQ terms, it is the
    renunciation of all static patterns in order to cultivate the openness
    towards DQ.

    But science studies static patterns. Do you think renouncing all static
    patterns in order to cultivate the openness towards DQ is really that
    similar to renouncing social patterns in order to cultivate an openness to
    the perception of other static patterns? And moreover, is this to say that
    you believe 'god' is just a metaphor for DQ?

    It seems quite incongruous to use the name 'God' to signify THAT which we
    experience immediately, before thought has sundered it into a world of
    things. This may be what Hindus mean by 'Brahmin' and Buddhists by 'Tathata'
    (that-ness), but it is certainly not what the majority of thoughtful
    Christians have understood as God the Father. The problem arises, however,
    because the theologians really want to say that God is a fact, a thing -
    albeit the first fact and the first thing, the Being before all beings. Had
    it been clear that theology was not speaking of facts, the conflict between
    theology and natural science could never have arisen. But when, during the
    era of the Renaissance, this conflict first arose neither the theologians
    nor the scientists realized that there might have been profound difference
    between the languages they were speaking. Theologians and scientists alike
    understood themselves to be talking about 'objective realities', which is to
    say - things and events. Yet - to add to the confusion - the language of
    St. Thomas, St. Albert the Great, and St. Bonaventure was ALSO metaphysical.
    But it is very clear that with some few possible exceptions, such as Eckhart
    and Erigena, the scholastics were still trying to talk about a thing - a
    very great thing, beyond and including all other things.

    Christian dogma combines a mythological story which is for the most part
    Hebrew, and a group of metaphysical 'concepts' which are Greek, and then
    proceeds to treat both as statements of fact - as information about
    objective realities inhabiting (a) the world of history, and (b) the
    'supernatural' world existing parallel to the historical, but on a higher
    plane. In other words, it talks about mythology and metaphysic in the
    language of science. The resulting confusion has been so vast, and has so
    muddled Western thought, that all our current terms, our very language, so
    partake of the confusion that they can hardly straighten it out.

    There is no more telling symptom of the confusion of 'modern thought' than
    the very suggestion that poetry or mythology can be 'mere'. This arises from
    the notion that poetry and myth belong to the realm of fancy as distinct
    from fact, and that since fact equal Truth, myth and poetry have no SERIOUS
    content. Yet this is a mistake for which no one is more responsible than the
    theeologians, who, as we have seen, resolutely confounded scientific fact
    with truth and reality. Having degraded God to a mere 'thing', they should
    not be surprized when scientists doubt the veracity of this 'thing' - for
    the significant reason thatit seems an unnecessary and meaningless
    hypothesis. Certainly the poets and myth-makers have little to tell us about
    facts, for they make no hypotheses. Yet for this very reason they alone have
    something really important to say; they alone have news of the living world,
    of reality. By contrast, the historians, the chroniclers, and the analysts
    of fact record only the news of death.

    DMB quotes from Campbell's MYTHS TO LIVE BY
    Now the first and most important effect of a living mythological symbol is
    to waken and give guidence to the energies of life. It is an
    energy-releasing and energy-directing sign, which not only 'turns you on',
    as they say, but turns you on in a certain direction, making you function a
    certain way - which will be one conducive to your participation in the life
    and purposes of a functioning social group. However, when the symbols
    provided by the social group no longer work, and the sybols that do work are
    no longer of the froup, the individual cracks away, becomes dissociated and
    disoriented, and we are confronted with what can only be named a pathology
    of the symbol.

    A distinguished professor in psychiatry at the University of California, Dr
    John W. Perry, has characterized the living mythological symbol as an
    'affect image'. It is an image that hits one where it counts. It is not
    addressed first to the brain, to be there interpreted and appreciated. On
    the contrary, if that is where it has to be read, the symbol is already
    dead. An 'affect image' talks directly to the feeling system and immediately
    elicits a response, after which the brain may come along with its
    interesting comments. There is some kind of throb of resonance within,
    responding to the image shown without, like the answer of a musical string
    to another equally tuned. And so it is that when the vital symbols of any
    given social group evoke in all its member respones of this kind, a sort of
    magical accord unites them as one spiritual organism, functioning through
    member who, though spearate in space, are yet one in being and belief.

    Now let us ask; What about the symbolism of the Bible? Based on the old
    Sumerian astronomical observations of five to six thousand years ago and an
    anthropology no longer credible, it is hardly fit today to turn anybody on.
    In fact, the famous conflict of science and religion has actually nothing to
    do with religion, but is simply of two sciences: that of 4000 B.C. and that
    of A.D. 2000. And is it not ironic that our great Western civilization,
    which has opened to the minds of all mankind the infinite wonders of a
    universe of untold billions of galaxies and untold billions of years, should
    have been saddled in its infancy with a religion squeezed into the tightest
    little cosmological image known to any people on earth?

    DMB gets real fancy and quotes Campbell from the Watts book.
    All, mythology, whether of the folk or of the literati, preserves the
    iconography of a spiritual adventure that men have been accomplishing
    repeatedly for millennia, and which, whenever it occurs, reveals such
    constant features that the innumerable mythologies of the world resemble
    each other as dialects of a single language.

    DMB quotes nobody:
    I'll let these quotes speak for themselves, for the moment. More later.
    Thanks for your time.

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