#219 Letters in Comment to Rev. Robert M______s’ Forum article 10-9-13

  • Robert, I can appreciate your wrestling in that swamp of questions which seem so profound and impenetrable to you. It saddens me how you settled on antique scriptures for guidance in the vast realms of mystery beyond understanding. Familiar superstitions are comforting. Ignorance is not bliss, so to take comfort in the grand promise and psychological reality of Jesus feels elevating and liberating. I grew up with that combination of comfort and self-challenge, but (I know this sounds arrogant to you) I kept growing, decade after decade, until I have worked through and grasped that reality which is simultaneously both spiritual and physical. Outside the metaphysics of conceptual divisions, polarizations and fragmented bifurcation is the fount of Transtheism. Deism/theism, agnosticism and atheism are thenceforth moot and not worth argument or speculation. The whole subject is semantically encompassed and, for myself, retired. Does this make me heartless? No. Head and heart have become free to be one thing, not two things apart from each other or in conflict.
  • You haven’t read Darwin, and that’s okay because he’s merely a starting reference point in a subject that has grown immensely. Robert, the biological data is overwhelming. It extends from Geology to Paleontology, Genetics and Genomics. And, it is not true that the subject of origins goes neglected. You just aren’t in touch with any of that literature, which is a shame because you are far, far from stupid. Cosmologists are hard at work with all manner of physicists. Science is not antithetical to religion, but religions often negate spirituality.
    • Science is a spiritual quest, though areas of this or that discipline sometimes devolve into types of religiosity by getting lost in pet theories contingent on big, academic personalities with intra-field axes to grind and political aims. Ongoing time tends to cure these aberrations. Science is self-correcting. There is a science of humanity composed of many fields, including the humanity of science. Mistake neither of these for some model called “Humanism” for like “Socialism” it has become a broken toy abused as by  children. Like “Capitalism” and “Enterprise” these words are hollowed out, defined superficially by dictionaries.
    • _______________________________________________________ Dear Rev. M______s, everyone knows you’re a good fellow. We like you. I am not “condescending” when I say YOU are worth careful response with analysis of the too-often misplaced poetry in your discourse and the hoary context of its framing and informing ideas. Your orientation comports with that of myriad people who are mentally left over from former ages, left over because they have never recognized or responded to the ways up-to-date data and thinking challenges their whole mental apparatus. It is a matter of living “spirituality” over age-old “literality.” This gives us a correct slant on the notion of “Left Behind-ism.” (It is not that our folks with state-of-the-art minds will be left to scrabble a mean, declining existence after the “faithful elect” of traditional mind are raptured away on clouds of morning, perhaps on magic carpets or heavenly spaceships, or transcendental “beamings up,” but that contemporary outlook is a light-year past tradition.) Heaven, after all, is not “up there” anywhere in some separate domain of non-natural existence, but potentially and immanently all around those who can let it happen. The ultra-right radicals cannot let heaven happen for others without laying their specially exclusive conditions upon it, playing a stern God themselves while pretending to be loving, caring Followers of some one of three versions of The Book.
    •  You say we have “a common sense … to discern what is true and … false.” That is false, Robert. It is not an automatic sense but procedures of interpretation, evaluation and testing, applied and reapplied that lets us discriminate the valid from invalid and real from unreal. Science uses sense-data only in the early stage of making observations. Then the work starts — work which in common life outside laboratories and studios takes place unconsciously or in low awareness. In those places mentioned, awareness gets widely broadened and highly refined.
    • You say when we behold [great art, craft & literature] we “determine there was a master … author.” This reveals two things: (1) deficient grasp of creative process and (2) a rhetorical bent to LEAP from a cultural context to the ground of nature, which is not valid. [In Greek terms, this is applying nomos to physis or subordinating physis to nomos.] Then, you say we deny intelligence when we consider the universe. You claim “sophistication” for DNA, atoms, molecules and natural “laws” and that this “proclaims [divinity]” and “boasts unparalleled omnipotence.” Robert, the sidereal universe boasts nothing! You do that. There is no evidence but scripture- induced emotion for a category of divinity separate from humanity and human cultures. You suggest we should be astonished by our sensations and bio-diversity. Why any more so than by the facts of continuity, inertia and momentum? These apply in the minute realms of genetics and wave/particle physics, though not clearly farther down into the levels presented by quantum and string theory. Were they God-created, would He not perpetuate them?
    • You suggest humans are unique. Yes, but far from completely so. There is no distinct separation of humanity from animality, any more than between gods-and-demons and the human mind. Nature provides few sharp distinctions. We do that. Nature is a realm of continua and gradual differentiation between one “thing” and another “thing” or set of things [we create the sets, nature provides our possibilities.]
    • You next make an issue of conscience. Conscience is not a faculty but a function of whole mind in making judgments of value in previewing behavioral outcomes. In each population, some people show no conscience. We regard this as pathological. Many people show limited or compartmentalized conscience. These folks also are often dangerous to others and to the community. (The Tea Party folks have grown a bubble of illusions about themselves and what is good for everyone, and thrust their heads into it, disrupting good order in the nation.) You talk about “observable evidence of a Creator” but the most “creative” thing you have done is to manufacture that “evidence” unconsciously under influence of your prior, religious culture. You ask where is the science of all this “accident.” Robert, the academies, labs, libraries and institutes are bursting with these sciences and you ignore everything going on. Ignorance in our world is the most appalling cultural deficit we face, today. It is threatening everything.
    • Ignorance is not validated by resort to anachronistic thought-ways. No dinosaur suddenly became a bird. You know this, so you’re speaking tendentiously. You know we have minute, step by step evidences of the transitions in geologic and genetic record. OR, MAYBE YOU STILL DON’T. You discount generations of dedicated work by legions of people sincerely committed to learning the truth of things. And you think accident and mutation require “intelligent assistance” in causing them, more than in perceiving them?
    • Lastly, you talk about atheists (whose positions are usually knee-high) and nothing? What do you know about nothing? Eastern wisdom has it that you and nothing are a “joint event.” This requires “non-Aristotelian logic. Opposites participate in unity. Atheists are guilty of blind faith? No more than you, sir. And, here I quit. I have no need to tangle with shadows on the walls of the cave you live within. Keep your blessed scriptures if you must, they have significant literary value. But, take a look outside your warm cave? Do avoid going blind as Paul did, from ocular exposure to the sun while he was fallen unconscious.

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