Having started this churchless blog way back (in Internet time) in 2004, I've been able to follow a lot of interesting comment conversations about many subjects related to God, soul, spirit, consciousness, life after death, and such.
Naturally I've also been able to follow the continuing progress of my own irreligious evolution. In both cases -- looking at how other people regard supernaturalism, and how I do -- I'm struck by how difficult it is for us humans to let go of blind faith.
Religious true believers who come to embrace agnosticism or atheism find it fairly easy to discard traditional dogma -- such as that God is a being with person-like characteristics who resides in heaven and intervenes in worldly affairs.
But it's a lot tougher to go completely cold-turkey on blind faith. Or, to give the benefit of the doubt to supernaturalists, extremely-limited-vision faith.
Meaning, they continue to believe in some sort of enduring soul that is separate from the brain, a universal consciousness, unseen powers distinct from the laws of nature which affect the world, and other sorts of unproven supernatural phenomena.
Today a Church of the Churchless commenter, "cc," left these cogent thoughts on a recent blog post:
If there does exist a soul or unified consciousness, it doesn't need anyone testifying on its behalf. Denied or acknowledged, it would remain untouched, unphased [sic] by everything said about it, so why speak of such things at all? Stay within the realm of what can be verified or hypothesized and you approach the unknown with respect. But speak knowingly of what you can provide no evidence of and you're a religious nut.
l responded with my own comment:
cc, that's just how I see it. I can understand why people hang onto notions of "soul," "spirit," "life after death," "universal consciousness" and such after they supposedly have given up a belief in some traditional form of God.
However, those other notions are founded on the same blind faith as a belief in God is. It reminds me of Christians I've known who thought that they were discarding rigid dogma by embracing an Indian guru.
But then they'd look upon the guru almost exactly as they did Jesus. They simply transferred their blind faith into another form.
Where's the evidence? Like you said, without that, someone is a religious nut even if they don't belong to an organized religion. They've formed their own faith-based Religion of Me.
There's nothing inherently wrong with that. We all have unproven subjective beliefs. What I object to is when people say that scientific facts are wrong, even though they can't provide any more convincing alternative facts.
Meaning, they want other people to believe that their subjectivity is objective fact.
It's like telling me, "Dude, you've got a beautiful garden. But you've got to start believing that fairies are making the flowers grow."
I reply, "I don't believe in fairies. My flowers grow just fine with water, earth, air, all that natural stuff."
But the true believer persists. "No, man, you don't get it. Behind all that are FAIRIES!. I know they're real. You need to believe in them too!"
I'd respond with: "Hey, if you want to believe in fairies, go ahead. But unless you can show me evidence that is more convincing than what botanists tell me about how flowers grow, I'm going to ignore what you say."
When I told my wife about this comment conversation, she said:
"What's even crazier is that people will start to believe that the fairies want us to act in certain ways. They'll make up fairy commandments which people are supposed to follow, and claim that we need to pray to the fairies so our flowers will grow. If it's pointed out that flowers grow with or without prayers, then the believers will reply, It's the Will of Fairies that this be so. And if the flowers die, they'll also say that it was the will of fairies."
The way I see it, what's going on here is akin to the Zen adage, "First there is a mountain, then there isn't, then there is."
Many people get stuck in "isn't," even if they cease being traditionally religious. Meaning, they continue to believe that really real reality isn't this world; a meaningful life isn't achieved by living normally and naturally; how science understands the laws of nature isn't how things genuinely are.
I'm not saying that I know for certain this viewpoint is wrong. I've just come to see it as being less likely to be right than the "is" viewpoint.
Because "is" is where we live right now. "Is" is the reality we experience right now. "Is" is directly known right now. "Isn't" is a hypothesis, a conjecture, a concept. There's no evidence of "isn't," no proof of a mountain that isn't there.
I'm not saying that I'm an enlightened Zen master. (Though if you want to say that I am, that'd be cool.)
My claim simply is that realizing there's no such thing as enlightenment; there's no such thing as a supernatural world apart from this one; there's no such thing as a meaningful life different from the one each of us is living now -- this is what spiritual realization is all about.
Hey Brian, maybe it depends on what you're labelling "enlightenment". If it's the realisation that life is simply what it appears to be at this moment, and what you've been searching for all this time is life, just exactly as it is (or as it has always seemed to be at any rate), and that what you've been looking for is what has been doing the looking, or that "there's no such thing as a meaningful life different from the one each of us is living now", perhaps there IS something that we can call "enlightenment". By that definition, Brian, you are one cool enlightened Guru-Dude.
Posted by: Suzanne Foxton | July 08, 2011 at 11:05 PM
Suzanne, you've convinced me: I am One Cool Enlightened Guru Dude. Now I just need a t-shirt that will allow me to proclaim my enlightened state to the world.
(But if you check out an upcoming HinesSight blog post about the visit my wife and I made today to the marvelous hippy'ish Oregon Country Fair, you'll see some photos of me that definitely prove I'm One Cool Enlightened Guru Dude. Or, insane. If there's a difference.)
Posted by: Blogger Brian | July 08, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Posted by: Dogribb | July 08, 2011 at 11:37 PM
I think the only way to approach "truth" is to find out what is false, and invariably you find that falsehood is a statement of so-called truth that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Science is essentially the business of disproving or superceding the current standing theory of what-is.
Posted by: cc | July 09, 2011 at 09:28 AM
I need a refresher course on what 'proof' and 'evidence' is. I seem to prefer 'raw' data, that is, some sort of something that hasn't gone through someone's filtering mechanism. Now, nothing wrong with someone's filtering gismo, just that I may not give my valued blind faith to such.
Give me some raw data, and let me chew on it for a while.
Posted by: Roger | July 09, 2011 at 10:25 AM
Reminds me of Deuteronomy 29:29.
Posted by: Abraham was not a Jew (yet) | July 12, 2011 at 12:02 PM
Kind of reminds me of Plato's cave, when he emerges and sees a shadow of a Bhuddist Monk at a hot-dog stand, who says, "make me one with everything."
I also don't think your proposed 'is' or 'being' theory is any different than YHWH or logos.
Also reminds me of the America's 4 gods quiz: http://www.thearda.com/whoisyourgod/
- God Test
- Images of God quiz
Posted by: Meteoric Iron | July 12, 2011 at 09:13 PM