“Wonderful Tradition of Philosophy and Science”

28 12 2008

. . .[and] the beauty of reason, too. Philosophy grows from religion as astronomy grew from astrology, chemistry from alchemy.

So sayeth Christopher Hitchens.

But as intelligent and reasonable as humans now may be, people the world over including our own American media when the cartoonish becomes scary enough, still pretend and defer to religious claims that divinity plays humanity like puppets in a scripted play, a play that casts most humans as unworthy and doomed no matter what.

Thus in the third millennium “there is no bigger subject than God” and religious leaders still can bully this modern world into abandoning it all — our hard-earned philosophy, science and reason — via their (heavenly or hellish?) weapons of mass destruction, from controlling education, information and economic progress, to genital mutilation and genocide, to the increasing threat of nuclear bombs.

Frisky cock of the snook to Lynn for this six-and-a-half-minute CNN video of Lou Dobbs and Christopher Hitchens talking about the danger of organized religion as politics and policy. The interview ends with Hitchens’ own citizenship journey as Thomas Jefferson’s biographer and finally becoming our “fellow American” on Thomas Jefferson’s birthday at Jefferson’s memorial in America’s capital, in the name of the First Amendment and the essential wall of separation Jefferson himself once imposed between church and state in Virginia.

Mortimer Adler’s definition of education was “the freeing discipline of wonder.” Religious education seems like an oxymoron then, unless we change our definition of religion, to match. Make it freeing rather than oppressive, wondrous rather than warlike, open to questions and new discovery and change. That was the thought when I wrote this:

Maybe human spirituality is evolving [for the next cultural era] as we discover and accept truths not through patriarchal personification and studying “authoritative” writings spelled out for our dutiful performance on demand, but through an “unschooled” direct [and democratic if you will] personal connection to each other, and to the universe as a system?

Maybe that’s what the Don Beck-Ken Wilber cultural “meme” dynamics mean to express? . . .personally I’d rather interpret power of story with blue versus green memes, than try to make sense of religious wars by poring over holy prophecy as written by men to be beaten into women and children. . .

Magical worldviews went with a foraging base, mythic worldviews went with an agrarian base, rational worldviews went with an industrial base, and so on.

But with the rise of modernity (rational-industrial), the increasing globalization of economic exchange made a very intense type of cross-level phenomenon possible: for example, tribal cultures could gain access to rational-industrial technology, often with horrifying results.

Moreover, the same sort of cross-level access could occur within a given culture: Auschwitz was the product of rational-technological capacity (orange) pressed into the hands of intensely pre-rational (red/blue) ethnocentric aggression.

Today, almost any ethnic tribe or feudal order can gain access to nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons that historically they would never have been able to produce themselves, and the results are literally explosive. . . These types of phenomena make cross-level analysis of quadrants, levels, and lines absolutely mandatory in today’s world politics, and it dooms analyses that do less than that.

p.s. — to any conservative evangelical homeschooler whose hair bursts into flames at the mention of Christopher Hitchens, consider that he sees the social controls of School as dangerous and beneath us, too:

Hitchens on school as society in the Christian-criticized Harry Potter books:
“I would give a lot to understand this phenomenon better. Part of it must have to do with the extreme banality and conformity of school life as it is experienced today, with everything oriented toward safety on the one hand and correctness on the other. . .”



12 responses

28 12 2008

Rick Warren somehow seems to be claiming a reputation as a moderate, reasonable, civil and compassionate religious leader. That’s what I thought listening to another Hitchens video, about what’s wrong with the media and journalistic objectivity when it comes to “faith” news:

What the media generally do is reinforce what people already think . . .it makes people dumber, and then it takes them as BEING dumb. . .

Again, sounds like School! 😉

28 12 2008

I think what Dale McGowan as Harvard Humanist of 2008 has been blogging relates too, how humanists do share ethics and philosophy (but not as religion) and therefore need to find community with other parents and families who see the world as they do — and how the media pander rather than educating or informing us, based on their own unexamined beliefs mixed up with professional guesswork about what society believes and wants to hear.

Humanist Parents Seek Communion Outside Church

Follow the Bouncing Meme

29 12 2008

Actually, I’ve seen the hair of liberal Christians burst into flames at the mention of Hitchens, too 😀

29 12 2008

Well yes — but that quote about Hitchens and school wouldn’t extinguish THEIR problem! 😉

29 12 2008

While I applaud Christopher Hitchens and his brave and intelligent thought processes, I am somewhat apprehensive to embrace secular humanism as a savior of mankind any more than I would be to embrace a religious leader. We do have to look at secular humanism as a “government” brand and consider the results….Stalin, Mao, Putin. At least I wonder and reason at that thought, that somehow secular humanist thinking is any better equipped to “lead” a countries thought processes?

29 12 2008

But that said, JJ, I love your thinking, the connections you made in this post between your previous writings on this subject..and this current discussion of religion. How can we deny the power or the tyranny of religion when we look at what’s happening in the Mideast as we type and talk? Between both parties or all three Big R’s.. I think Karen Armstrong’s amazing book, The History of God, laid some of the groundwork for understanding much of this. AT least for me, it did. I highly recommend it. But, yes, as I wrote today at writestuff444.wordpress.com… I think that it’s as simple as acknowledging that some people, many people still need religion..but how to transform that religious yearning into a more philosophical understanding of their world that prevents harm to others, that declares that tolerance of religious belief is truly what most great religious leaders have avowed. It’s the followers…who distort the teachings of Jesus. His were pretty simple..Love thy neighbor as thyself.

But all movements…hey, even homeschool movements get distorted by the followers…into something different, something not quite as simple, don’t they? 🙂

29 12 2008

I don’t get that, Betty. You understand Hitchens as advocate for Stalin, Mao, Putin?

29 12 2008

Whoops, my furrowed brow response crossed with your longer second comment. So I think I see your concern, something along the lines of cautioning that we shouldn’t just jump from Church frying pan into State fire?

The Karen Armstrong book I’ve read large chunks of so far, was “The Great Transformation.” What an evolved and well-educated mind! I like how you describe the transformational journey of those who think and study and are capable, to move from religion toward a larger philosophical understanding of what it means to love thy neighbor as thyself (surely the real humanism!)

I notice it’s been a long time since I’ve heard much talk of Christianity as led by “The Prince of Peace.”

29 12 2008

A female writer and teacher argues here that whatever we call our ethical systems and philosophy, we’re accountable as humans for hurting each other and screwing things up, so that our transcendent New Year’s Resolution now should be for a return to “integrity” and “reality” :

As we prepare to usher in a new year and a new administration, let’s all pledge to rediscover our moral way in this country.

29 12 2008

And Betty, did you see this?! 😀

What on earth does this mean?

One very plausible explanation is that Americans just want good things to come to good people, regardless of their faith. . .we meet so many good people of different faiths that it’s hard for us to imagine God letting them go to hell.

. . .Nearly as many Christians said you could achieve eternal life by just being a good person as said that you had to believe in Jesus.

[See Lewis’ “The Last Battle” — Tash and Aslan as competing god figures divide up mortal souls based on everyday human-scale good or bad, regardless of worship in either name]

Also, many Christians apparently view their didactic text as flexible.

According to Pew’s August survey, only 39 percent of Christians believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, and 18 percent think that it’s just a book written by men and not the word of God at all. In fact, on the question in the Pew survey about what it would take to achieve eternal life, only 1 percent of Christians said living life in accordance with the Bible. . .

29 12 2008

No…almost laughing at the thought of Hitchens and Stalin..No comparison, but…one….both aetheist who believe God has no part in government or life for that matter. One, a gentle intellectual, the other…a rebel who became a tyrant. And yeah!! I knew there were more of us reasoning Christians than those media hogs, the religious right.

9 09 2010
Consider “Parental Rights” in Light of Friendly Atheist Advice to 14-Year-Old « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Wonderful Tradition of Philosophy and Science: . . .as intelligent and reasonable as humans now may be, people the world over including our own American media when the cartoonish becomes scary enough, still pretend and defer to religious claims that divinity plays humanity like puppets in a scripted play, a play that casts most humans as unworthy and doomed no matter what. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: