New Fodder for Our “Choose a New Religion” Essays!

21 07 2010

Remember COD’s rollicking Thinking Parent essay prompts at the Evolved Homeschooler wiki?

If you had to pick a new religion, which one would it be, and why? You can not pick any religion that you have been part of in your past, and you can not pick none of the above. You can be as serious or as fanciful about this as you want.”

JJ responded first with It’s not just a religion, it’s an adventure and then Doctor JJ’s religion-choosing up in the air while Nance wrote Thinking about choosing my religion, and a good time was had by all. (Good as in fun, not necessarily good as the opposite of evil.)

But now I demand a recount, er, rewrite, retrial? — that’s it, I appeal for a retrial by reason and faith, to revisit my options and consider new evidence from Killing the Buddha, a revolutionary new choice rich in both science and story, that might fit my theory of the case perfectly: I coulda been a possibilian! Heck, I may convert before the end of this post . . .

Welcome to the world of “possibilian” neuroscientist-writer David Eagleman, to life in the space between what-is and what-if, between the facts we think we know and the fictions that illuminate what we don’t know.

Eagleman-the-scientist would love to rev up his high-tech neuroimaging machines to answer the enduring questions about the brain and the mind, the body and the soul. But Eagleman-the-writer knows that those machines aren’t going to answer those questions.

Eagleman rejects not only conventional religion but also the labels of agnostic and atheist. In their place, he has coined the term possibilian: a word to describe those who “celebrate the vastness of our ignorance, are unwilling to commit to any particular made-up story, and take pleasure in entertaining multiple hypotheses.”



9 responses

21 07 2010
Crimson Wife

I’ve always had a fascination with Eastern Orthodox Christianity. All the ritual & tradition, the gorgeous churches- it’s like Catholicism on steroids.

But if that isn’t considered different enough from my own faith, I’d go with “high church” Anglican or Lutheran. If I had to choose a non-Christian faith, then Orthodox Judaism. For me to find it appealing, there would have to a lot of ritual, a rich historical tradition, and a high level of intellectualism.

21 07 2010

Power of story? 🙂

21 07 2010

I just don’t like the ring of “possibilian,” so I can’t become one. It makes me think those annoying “possibilities” people who tape uplifting affirmations to their bathroom mirrors and always think “on the bright side.”

If that weren’t enough, the word “possibilian” also sounds a lot like “repitilian,” which makes me think of this guy, who scares the **** out of me everytime I accidentally see him on tv. Who in their right lizard brain would do such a thing. [sigh] I guess I’ll just stay an atheist until something better comes along.

21 07 2010

Oh, hiss. My lizard brain misspelled reptilian.

22 07 2010

I must admit, reptilian popped into my lizard brain too, the moment I saw possibilian.

If a cleverly preferable alternative had come along with it, we probably could take over the lucrative A-team (atheist, agnostic, amygdala . . .)

But all I got is possibilly, which has that unfortunate Jethro twang to it or worse, possibasist (like racist) and possibaathist (Saddam’s religion) or maybe possibarrel, like my shape? Then possibilian starts sounding better. 😉

22 07 2010
Nance Confer

I really don’t understand how atheist is not a “word to describe those who “celebrate the vastness of our ignorance, are unwilling to commit to any particular made-up story, and take pleasure in entertaining multiple hypotheses.””

You can be an atheist and still believe in all sorts of non-God nonsense.

Or you can just be a dull-as-dishwater atheist all hung up on that science thing.

Or some other version of atheist. But being an atheist certainly doesn’t rule out acknowledging that we don’t know a lot of things, that we shouldn’t believe made-up stories and that there are multiple hypotheseseseses (tough one to type) on some questions.

Maybe fewer than a “possibilian” might enjoy but there are still some mysteries in the world.

And why isn’t neuroimaging satisfying for this guy? He can see the brain working when subjected to various stimuli and that doesn’t answer his questions? Or does it answer them too readily and leave nothing much to be mystified about?


22 07 2010

Good questions.

About the word a-theist particularly, I wonder if it’s that “party of no” problem at work, you know, labeling someone by what they don’t buy into, rather than what they do? Possibilities is a positive thing to be “for” like wonder, say, a la Mortimer Adler (oh dear, but now do I have to deal nor just with the reptilian thing but the white wonder bread thing too??)

Wonder bread believer will NOT be my new religion!

22 07 2010
Nance Confer

Like “homeschooler,” “atheist” can be self-defined to be a negative or a positive, or a bit of both.

22 07 2010

Definitely! I was only speaking linguistically: a-theist as literally “not theist.” Same thing with un-schooler (not so much home-schooler)

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