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The Changing Face of Secularism
Posted: 16 July 2008 08:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]  
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Wotansson - 16 July 2008 11:47 PM

GPS requires an antenna which is open to the sky so you might spend a long time in Plato’s Cave.

Then I’ll either stare at the wall and believe it is my reality or I’ll repeat the mantra, “I believe Fox News” until all truth is magically revealed to me.

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Real honesty is accepting the theories that best explain the actual data even if those explanations contradict our cherished beliefs.-Scotty

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Posted: 16 July 2008 09:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]  
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Beam_Me_Up - 17 July 2008 12:20 AM
Wotansson - 16 July 2008 11:47 PM

GPS requires an antenna which is open to the sky so you might spend a long time in Plato’s Cave.

Then I’ll either stare at the wall and believe it is my reality or I’ll repeat the mantra, “I believe Fox News” until all truth is magically revealed to me.


Or you could just ask to be beamed up but I am not sure to where.

Wassail

Wot

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Posted: 17 July 2008 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]  
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Wotansson - 16 July 2008 08:15 PM

So the fact that a religion requires belief in its myths for its followers is no problem, so long as it doesn’t attempt to impose those beliefs on the rest of us.  While religions that gain complete political power may attempt that, a secular society makes sure that that doesn’t happen.  That is one of the things that religions will have to get use to if they want to function in the modern world.  You are prejudice against religion, and so are not in any real position to evaluate other than in the negative.  Jack is prejudice in favor of Islam, so also is in no real position to evaluate other than in favor of Islam.  I think you have an idealized image that a secular society would abolish religion, I don’t think that is the case, it would only deny it political power.

I fear that you refuse to recognize the true evangelistic nature of religion and faith. Religions, in general, require the conversion of the non-believer/infidel to their particular persuasion, even unto death. If you need specific examples from their text books, I would be happy to provide them. So, not imposing their beliefs on the rest of us, is not an option in their eyes. You keep insisting that religion will need to “get used to it” but history, up till today shows that they will not and that you are mistaken. You misjudge me by saying that I am opposed to religion. I insist that all are free to believe as they wish, under the conditions that they do not insist on imposting it on me, and that it does me no harm. This is the tenet of secular society, pure and simple. If I have a bias against religion is is purely based on their failure to comply with my two, very reasonable, requirements. I have no ambition to abolish religion.

The Ideal of a perfected human being is important, but has to be considered from the view of the potential development of the individual consciousness, not something based on scientism or economic materialism.  In other words, it has to be a “spiritual” ideal (although not a “religions” one).  The only ideals that have come out of modern philosophy are the “Superman” of Nieche (certainly misspelled), and the fumbling idiocy of Ayn Rand.  They both suffer, especially Rand, from restriction to a materialist and economic view.  The best place to look for a “new enlightenment” might be in the idea of a Taoist Sage, but the Eastern ideals aren’t really a good fit for Western urban society.  Another place to look for clues might be in some of the Western occult traditions, although these are pretty much degenerated versions of Roman philosophical and magical systems driven underground when Christianity took over, and strongly tainted by Christianity.  My own view on is that something will emerge out of our new understandings of human nature and its possibility, but this work is still in an early stage.

If by scientism (?) you mean science, I would remind you that scientific inquiry has revealed all the truths concerning the world in which we live and religion has provided none. Religion has only served to hamper the truths revealed by science.
Concerning Nietzsche, he speaks of the “unter mensch” ( under person) and the “ueber mensch” (over person). The unter mensch is the raw human material - the unenlightened person. The ueber mensch is the enlightened person the lies within us all, which is the transcendental state of the enlightened person. How? By education and meditation. The Portable Nietzsche - Walter Kaufmann, is a good place to start.
You seem hung up on the emergence of some future guru who will show the way. The understandings are in no early stages and all the tools of enlightenment are at our disposal but time and effort are required. For a current day (living) guide try Deepak Chopra who is nothing less than excellent (IMO). Books by Deepak and videos on YouTube are available.
Do you want to see God? He is currently in your bathroom. Go there and gaze into the mirror. That is God looking back at you.

Wassail
Wot

Well, some religions are evangelical, others are not: I’ve never been accosted by a Jew trying to get me to join up, of by Hindu’s Buddhists, Shintoists, and so on.  Unitarians seem like nice people, etc.  That’s what I mean by religions adapting, or being adapted to modern pluralistic society. 

By scientism I mean the 19th century idea that science was already set as the only to gain knowledge of the world, and would soon explain not only the physical and biological world but also the social and psychological as well.  (Or, rampant reductionism par excellance.)  And, no, I’m not waiting for a guru or anything like that, what I would like to see is the emergence of a cultural/philosophical gestalt pointing people in the direction of spiritual development outside of religions that are either outdated, or merely social clubs—I see it coming, but it ain’t here yet. (BTW, you mention Chopra, better watch out for Salt Creek…).  (Also, thanks for the correct spelling of Nietzsche, I never get that right.)  You are correct, we do have the tools at our disposal, but so far have not really made use of them on a cultural level (one reason, of course, there would be a huge Christian backlash against “occult” teaching).  That is one of the themes in Doris Lessings book Prisons We Choose to Live Inside: we have a tremendous amount of new scientific information coming out of the human sciences and we have not used it (except for the advertising agencies who use it to sell us stuff).

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Posted: 18 July 2008 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]  
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Well, some religions are evangelical, others are not: I’ve never been accosted by a Jew trying to get me to join up, of by Hindu’s Buddhists, Shintoists, and so on.  Unitarians seem like nice people, etc.  That’s what I mean by religions adapting, or being adapted to modern pluralistic society.

Which of these faiths have “adapted” ,i.e. changed, to modern pluralistic society? Are they not always as they were at their beginning? Even if they don’t evangelize you, you could still be killed for your infidel ways. The mutual killing of Hindus and Muslims in India is well known. Jews never killed the non-believers? Evangelism has more than one form.
As an aside, I had a Unitarian friend who described Unitarians as “atheists who can’t kick the church habit”. He only went there to meet vulnerable women and had lots of success.

And, no, I’m not waiting for a guru or anything like that, what I would like to see is the emergence of a cultural/philosophical gestalt pointing people in the direction of spiritual development outside of religions that are either outdated, or merely social clubs—I see it coming, but it ain’t here yet.

If it does not begin with you and your enlightened mind then where exactly will it come from? Don’t look for a movement, look to yourself.

“...I am a sect of one, as far as I know”
- Thomas Jefferson

You are correct, we do have the tools at our disposal, but so far have not really made use of them on a cultural level (one reason, of course, there would be a huge Christian backlash against “occult” teaching)

I think you understate the applications of the available tools. Are you suggesting that we should stunt progress and knowledge for fear of a Christian backlash? Well…that certainly is part of our history but it is time it stopped. Sam makes this point with more eloquence that I ever could. Give no deference to the religious, even to the moderates.

That is one of the themes in Doris Lessings book Prisons We Choose to Live Inside: we have a tremendous amount of new scientific information coming out of the human sciences and we have not used it (except for the advertising agencies who use it to sell us stuff).

I hope you are not suggesting that this statement has any validity. Scientific information has been a cornucopia to expand our understanding and to relieve human suffering.

Wassail
Wot

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Posted: 18 July 2008 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]  
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Wotansson - 18 July 2008 09:28 AM

And, no, I’m not waiting for a guru or anything like that, what I would like to see is the emergence of a cultural/philosophical gestalt pointing people in the direction of spiritual development outside of religions that are either outdated, or merely social clubs—I see it coming, but it ain’t here yet.

If it does not begin with you and your enlightened mind then where exactly will it come from? Don’t look for a movement, look to yourself.

“...I am a sect of one, as far as I know”
- Thomas Jefferson

Well, we all do what we can.  I do my own work, and you apparently do yours….  But the state of the world today is such that individuals coming into an enlightened state is fine, but we need a movement to really have a transformed society.  After all, individuals have been becoming enlightened since the beginning of time but few enlightened cultures have ever existed.  As I said, I see the cultural shift coming, but ain’t here yet.  Of course, it’s arrival certainly depends on individual efforts. 

Wotansson - 18 July 2008 09:28 AM

And, no, I’m not waiting for a guru or anything like that, what I would like to see is the emergence of a cultural/philosophical gestalt pointing people in the direction of spiritual development outside of religions that are either outdated, or merely social clubs—I see it coming, but it ain’t here yet.

You are correct, we do have the tools at our disposal, but so far have not really made use of them on a cultural level (one reason, of course, there would be a huge Christian backlash against “occult” teaching)

I think you understate the applications of the available tools. Are you suggesting that we should stunt progress and knowledge for fear of a Christian backlash?

No, but it is good to know what to expect, and take appropriate actions to minimize the inevitable resistance.

Wotansson - 18 July 2008 09:28 AM

That is one of the themes in Doris Lessings book Prisons We Choose to Live Inside: we have a tremendous amount of new scientific information coming out of the human sciences and we have not used it (except for the advertising agencies who use it to sell us stuff).

I hope you are not suggesting that this statement has any validity. Scientific information has been a cornucopia to expand our understanding and to relieve human suffering.

Wassail
Wot

I don’t understand your response to that statement: What I indicated was that one of the themes of a book published in 1987 was that we do have a tremendous amount of information in the human sciences, but this information has not been applied to look at ourselves and improve our condition.  We have applied information from physics and biology all over the place with great results, but have not applied what is known about the way we, as human beings, behave (other than, as I indicated, in the advertising industry and political campaigns).  For example, there are years of research results on brainwashing and conditioning, but nobody in the education system has developed social studies courses for high school that tell students “here are ways to resist brainwashing and conditioning, to maintain a detached view and avoid the impulse, which may appear irresistible, to just ‘go along with the crowd.’”  Some parents do this in one way or another, but again it is an individual thing and those of us who have such parents are lucky.  Most parents still raise their children to be good Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Conservatives, Liberals, etc., and to fit in with their peers, without providing them any defense against social pressure or the sort of advertising that saturates their environment.

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Posted: 18 July 2008 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]  
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Dee - 14 July 2008 05:31 AM
Jack Shooter - 20 June 2008 01:01 AM

The Changing Face of Secularism
Imam Zaid Shakir

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

If we are to intelligently discuss issues related to secularism it is imperative that we first define the term. Secularism is the divorcing of religious belief, religious ritual, or a sense of community based on religious affiliation from the moral life of society. Secularism has manifested itself historically in both a subjective and an objective sense. Subjectively, or at the level of individual experience, secularism involves the disappearance of religious thought, feeling and imagery from the understanding of worldly things. At this level of experience, many people who may appear outwardly extremely religious, may in fact be thoroughly secularized as their thought processes, sentiments, and worldview are void of any truly religious referents.

At the objective level secularism involves the exclusion of religious offices, institutions, and ceremonies from public life. All modern states are thoroughly secularized. This reality also includes the states of the Muslim world as our countries are ruled by elites who have adopted the secular institutional and bureaucratic structure of the Western Kafir state. Even those states, which have undergone some degree of Islamic reform, have done little to alter those structures.

The roots of secularism have been variously identified as emanating from Hellenic rationalism, the civil and communal values of Greco-Roman life, the Renaissance, the Reformation, Calvinism, and most prominently the moral and empirical philosophies spawned by the Enlightenment. Regardless of which of these developments we view as being pivotal in the development of secularism, we must return to one salient fact: Secularism constitutes open rebellion against Allah.

We are informed that the rationale for the creation of the human being is to worship Allah, and that the Islamic polity and the principles, which underlie it, are instituted to facilitate that worship. Hence, Islam is fundamentally anti-secular. Allah informs us in the Qur’an:

I have only created the Jinn and Humans that they worship Me.

Al-Dhariyyat: 56

He also informs us that the rejection of that worship involves grave consequences. He says:

Whoever turns away from My Remembrance will have a wretched life and We shall resurrect him blind on the Day of Judgment.

Ta Ha: 124

Whoever rejects the Remembrance of his Lord, He [Allah] will lead him into a severe, unbearable punishment.

Al-Jinn: 17

Having thus defined secularism, we turn to the second theme introduced by the title of this lecture: secularism’s changing face. If we understand that secularism initially involved a struggle between its advocates and the European Church, we can see that it has indeed undergone significant changes. The first major change occurred during the latter 19th Century when the struggle between secularism and the church was replaced by a struggle between two competing versions of secularism: the Marxist/Socialist version and the liberal version. With the victory of the liberal version, a victory finalized by the falling of the “Iron Curtain” and the subsequent demise of the Soviet Union, a set of circumstances was created which led to the return of the debate between secularism and religion. Secularism was to indeed change faces, or more precisely to reveal a new manifestation of an old face.

In the new debate between secularism and religion, Islam emerged as the standard bearer of religion. The reason for this is that Islam is, as admitted by Ernest Gellner, Zbigniew Brezinski and other leading Western intellectuals, the last true, or normative religion. The current secularist assault against Islam is thus assuming the intensity that characterized the earlier attack on Christianity. It is our contention that the origin of this assault lies in the rebellion of Satan against Allah, and his subsequent declaration of war against the descendants of Adam. The Qur’an describes that declaration in the following words:

Because you have caused me to stray, I’m going to lie waiting to ambush them [humankind] along your Straight Path. I’m going to assault them from in front, from behind, from the right and from the left; and you won’t find most of them thankful [for you blessings].

Al-‘Araf: 16

It is interesting to note that the earliest Muslim commentators as producing all of the psychological and behavioral traits that characterize the contemporary secular individual have understood this assault of Satan. Ibn Kathir relates the following passage in his commentary on this verse:

‘Ali ibn Abi Talha relates from Ibn ‘Abbas (May be Pleased with them both) that Satan’s assault from in front means he will cause them to doubt about the Hereafter. From behind means he will make them excessive in their craving for the World. From the right means he will cause them confusion concerning their religion. From the left means he will make sin appealing to them. (This quote is from memory thus there may be slight changes from the original wording)

When it comes to secularism versus religion- why so many words ?  It’s simple : down through the years religion has been a cage; a and chain around the neck of mankind—-and secularism has set it free. 

You seem to think you are intelligent Shooter. It’s a puzzle to me how anyone can be intelligent and believe a pie-in - the - sky “God” something they have never seen or heard ,can lead a person around by the nose throughout his/her life. The truth is you didn’t decide to believe in Islam—you were hypnotized into believing it was the right thing to do from the time you were very, very young. Why would anyone choose Islam ? It’s backward and brutal and painful .It’s an ugly and accurate example of how screwy and corrupt a religion can be. It’s the kind of religion Sam Harris had in mind when he wrote his books about religious nonsense and and what a damaging burden it has been to humankind. You are a loser from the begining because Islam cannot come out on top in an arguement . Truth shall prevail and Islam is a pitiful lie. All religions are ,—but none as bad as Islam.

I understand your fear of Islam.  Like all fears, however, it is rooted in ignorance.  The cure: education.  Get one.  I can help, God willing.  Just ask.

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Posted: 19 July 2008 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]  
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Wotansson - 18 July 2008 05:28 AM

      That is one of the themes in Doris Lessings book Prisons We Choose to Live Inside: we have a tremendous amount of new scientific information coming out of the human sciences and we have not used it (except for the advertising agencies who use it to sell us stuff).

  I hope you are not suggesting that this statement has any validity. Scientific information has been a cornucopia to expand our understanding and to relieve human suffering.

  Wassail
  Wot

Burt said:

I don’t understand your response to that statement: What I indicated was that one of the themes of a book published in 1987 was that we do have a tremendous amount of information in the human sciences, but this information has not been applied to look at ourselves and improve our condition.  We have applied information from physics and biology all over the place with great results, but have not applied what is known about the way we, as human beings, behave (other than, as I indicated, in the advertising industry and political campaigns).  For example, there are years of research results on brainwashing and conditioning, but nobody in the education system has developed social studies courses for high school that tell students “here are ways to resist brainwashing and conditioning, to maintain a detached view and avoid the impulse, which may appear irresistible, to just ‘go along with the crowd.’” Some parents do this in one way or another, but again it is an individual thing and those of us who have such parents are lucky.  Most parents still raise their children to be good Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Conservatives, Liberals, etc., and to fit in with their peers, without providing them any defense against social pressure or the sort of advertising that saturates their environment.

I see your point now. Sorry I misunderstood.
I do think that you (and perhaps Doris) understate the progress that has been made. Perhaps understanding human behavior is an eternal objective.
I recall that “going along with the crowd” is referred to by psychologists as over-socialization which is understood as the suppression of individuality in the interests of conformity. This is especially rampant in adolescence in the interests of establishing oneself as “one of the crowd - a normal person”, a state that some chronologically mature people never overcome. So when you ask a “mature” person - are you a Christan/Catholic/Mormon/Muslim etc., the answer is likely to be “sure” in the interests of conformity and the desire to appear normal. Their actions and actual beliefs are not the issue. Such is the way I was raised in my main-line Christian/Protestant family but I think I am recovering nicely. My children were raised without this handicap and I still have hope for their emergence as “individuals”.

Wassail
Wot

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