MD Religion of the future.

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat Apr 24 2004 - 22:32:05 BST

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    Howdy MOQers,

    I've started a new thread based of some statements made in the religion and
    individual threads. Just to get oriented, let me begin with the statements
    I've extracted...

    Dave S said:
    Monotheisms draw lines in the sand of other people's beaches, and for that
    reason, we need to jettison the "literalist" faiths that marginalize others,
    and that means scrapping the monopolizing monotheisms.

    DM said:
    I am not entirely convinced that we have turned secular forever. But,
    personally, if there is a way forward for religion I think it involves a
    conception of god that probably goes beyond what Christianity can

    Mark replied:
    DQ cannot be assimilated. If Christianity cannot assimilate DQ in it's
    patterned structure, and if it fails to respond to DQ towards more coherent
    states, then it will simply become more and more static. ...I have no idea
    where this will lead? I have no idea how religion is going to continue to
    battle intellectual progress? I guess it will have to discover better ways
    of holding onto it's fundamental tenets but in a modified form?

    DM also said:
    My hope is that post-religion, post-Christianity (in the West),
    post-science, and post-modern critical thinking, etc there is a
    post-secularism, where we can rediscovered our lost sources of value, and
    the transcendental value of being.

    dmb says:
    It seems that a number of posters are interested in the future of religion
    and I think Pirisg's MOQ can help us imagine it. Even better is Ken Wilber's
    THE MARRIAGE OF SENSE AND SOUL. The subtitle is "Integrating Science and
    Religion". Not only does it address the issue in detail, it does so from a
    perspective that parallels and supports the MOQ. Here he boldly expresses
    the same basic idea that Mark and the two Daves have expressed...

    "...most of those premodern beliefs and functions of religion are no longer
    sustainable in modern consciousness (except among those who remain at a
    premodern level of development). Mythology will not stand up to the
    irreversible differentiations of modernity; it confuses prerational with
    transrational; it fosters regressive ethical and cognitive modes; it hides
    from any sort of validity claims and actual evidence; and thus avoiding
    truth, is left only with power as one of its prime motives. ..This is why
    the Enlightenment, as Habermas points out, always understood itself as a
    COUNTERFORCE TO MYTHOLOGY. The clarion call of the Enlightenment was for
    EVIDENCE, not for myths..." Emphasis and parenthetical info is Wilber's.

    dmb continues:
    For the sake of those unfamiliar with Ken Wilber, let me explain "the
    irreversible differentiations of modernity". It refers to the same
    historical events described in LILA, where science seperated itself from
    morals, specifically church morals. Wilber goes into greater detail in
    describing the process than does Pirsig. He points out that prior to the
    Enlightenment and in the classical world, art, morals and science has not
    yet become independent realms. They were not yet differentiated. Once free
    and independent from the other domains, a painter can render non-religious
    images or an astronomer can publish his findings without being burned at the
    stake. The differentiation of the big three is basically what has allowed
    the rise of the intellectual level and all that goes with it; Liberal
    Democracy with its seperation of church and state, freedom of expression and
    the like. All this is good, and there is no going back, but there is also a
    problem; SOM.

    I hesitate to offer an explanation of the problem because we're all too
    familiar with the limits of scientific materialism and the representational
    paradigm that goes with it, but Wilber offers something extra, I think. Like
    Pirsig, he thinks the Enlightenment threw the baby out with the bathwater in
    its political struggle for independence. He points out that Modernity's
    rejection of mythology is proper, but that it threw out the great chain of
    being and its epistemological pluralism along with it. That, he says, was a
    huge mistake. Prior to the Modern period, when art, morals and science were
    not yet differentiated, it was believed that there is more than one valid
    mode of knowing, more than one valid mode of knowledge.

    "The traditional view of epistemological pluralism was given perhaps its
    clearest statement by such Christian mystics as St. Bonaventure and Hugh of
    St. Victor; every human being has the eye of flesh, the eye of mind and the
    eye of contemplation. Each of these modes of knowing discloses its own
    correspoinding dimension of geing and thus each is valid and important when
    addressing it own realm. This gives us a balance of empirical knowledge
    (science), rational knowledge (logic and mathematics), and spiritual
    knowledge (gnosis). These three eyes of knowing are, of course, just a
    simplified version of the unversal Great Chain of Being."

    dmb resumes:
    The epistemological pluralism of the classical world was rejected by
    Modernity in favor of a single vision. It was based entirely of the eye of
    the flesh and its extensions. We can hear this in Pirsig's complaint that
    morals, the President of the US and the mystical experience can ever be seen
    in a microscope. We can see this in Pirsig's explicit description of an
    expanded empiricism, one which includes experiences beyond the biological
    senses. That, along with his evolutionary levels of static quality, in
    effect, re-asserts the epistemological pluralism of antiquity. (The oldest
    idea known to Man)

    Wilber insists that this is essentially if there is to be reconciliation and
    a re-integration of science and religion. It is the rejection of this kind
    of pluralism that has cause the rift between the two. If, he says,...

    "all three eyes of knowing were a commonly accepted fact in modernity, the
    relation of science and relgion would be no problem whatsoever. Empirical
    science would pronounce on facts delivered by the eye of flesh, and religion
    would pronounce on the facts deleivered by the eye of contemplation. But
    mainstream Modernity has soundly and thoroughly denied reality to the eye of
    spirit. Modernity recognizes only the eye of reason yoked to the eye of
    flesh - in Whitehead's phrase, the dominant worldview of modenity is

    In other words, SOM, the metaphysics of substance, or as Wilber calls it,
    Flatland. Sure, we want to move beyond our premodern, mytholgical religions,
    but we want to make sure that we properly sort out the baby from the
    bathwater in that process. And we want to move beyond the monological gaze
    of Modernity's representational paradigm too. Surely there is a core to each
    of the world's great religions, an original insight disclosed by the eye of
    contemplation, that we'd wish to preserve. Surely there is a dignity and
    freedom in scientific inquiry that we just can't give up. In other words,
    both science and religion are going to have to make adjustments if they are
    to be reconciled.

    It seems to me that Sam's solution serves as a good example of what this
    DOES NOT mean. I mean, I can see that his Christian views are based on the
    classical forms of the religion and so the idea of epistemolgical pluralism
    is detectable his recent flurry of posts. But he has turned to
    postmodernism's attack on Modernity's representational paradigm - in order
    to re-assert premodern social values. But postmodernism does not help here.
    It too inherits the gutted interior of SOM. Its valid and important insights
    are taken to extremes so that both science and religion can appear on equal
    footing - because they are both as valid and arbitrary as poetry. It
    equalizes science and religion by shooting them both in the head, as Wilber
    puts it. I think Sam has confused the epistemological pluralism of the
    classical world with this postmodern stance. The former implies a hierarchy
    of being and a ranking of modes of knowing, while the latter is "the
    contradictory belief that no belief is better than any other - a total
    paralysis of thought, will, and action in the face of a million perspectives
    all given exactly the same depth, namely, zero." Or put more simply, Sam
    points to the linguistic turn to make his claim that mythology is true, but
    need not correspond to evidence.

    It is as if Sam, horrified that Modernity has thrown the baby out with the
    bathwater, has enlisted the help of postModernity in a desperate attempt to
    retrieve the BATHWATER.

    "It is only when religion emphasizes its heart and soul and essence -
    namely, direct mystical experience and trancendental consciousness, which is
    disclosed not by the eye of the flesh (give that to science) nor by the eye
    of mind (give that to philosophy) but rather by the eye of contemplation -
    that religion can both stand up to modernity and offer something for which
    modenity has desperate need; a genuine, verifiable, repeatable injunction to
    bring forth the spiritual domain. Religion in the modern and postmodern
    world will rest on its unique strength - namely, contemplation- or it will
    serve merely to support a premodern, predifferentiated level of development
    in its own adherents; not an engine of growth and tranformation, but a
    regressive, antiliberal, reactionary force of lesser engagements."


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