Archive for the ‘metaphysics’ Category

The problem of evil—how could an omnipotent-omniscient-omnipresent-all-good god create or allow to exist a universe containing evil and arbitrary suffering—has always been a, if not the, major barrier for me to believing in any approximation of God. The following represents a way of tackling the question in non-didactic terms. The question at the end is not merely rhetorical—I’d really like to know what people think.


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(I started this one a long time ago, and browsing through old drafts decided it’s close enough to being coherent to publish. At one point I probably thought I had more to say about it–but thanks to memory loss, I no longer know what that might have been.)

People, particularly religious conservatives, often assert that truth, to be true in any meaningful sense, must be absolutely true. In keeping with my tenet that

We learn most from those who are different from us; they help us walk around our piece of reality and see it in new ways,

my discomfort with that assertion inspires me to write the following. (more…)

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I haven’t gotten into it very far yet–I’m on page xii of the Preface–but for anyone interested in grappling with questions such as, What is consciousness? What is mind? What is/am “I”? How are these related to the brain? What about “soul”? or esoterica of language, the book

I Am Strange Loop

by Douglas Hofstadter*

will be of interest.

I know, I’m only on page xii. So if you don’t believe me–here’s a review. Or click on the title link and dip into it on Amazon.

* For those who might remember it, he wrote “Godel, Escher, Bach” back in 1979

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Belief can be shared, but certainty is private.

What do I mean by that? And why do I think it’s worth saying? (more…)

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I just finished reading Speaking of Faith, by Krista Tippett, the host of the public radio program of the same title. A really excellent book–I would encourage everyone to get it and read it. I kept running across snippets of wisdom on which I thought I might compose a post for the blog, but was pulled to keep on reading instead.

A few quotes from it to whet your appetite: (more…)

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This post is an effort to move toward a metaphysics that works for me, as I discussed here. I haven’t made a lot of progress, though I have generated a number of questions, and clarified for myself a few more things I don’t believe, that don’t satisfy me. Or maybe that’s progress of a kind. Anyway, here I start with a few things I do believe and take for granted–and end with some questions. (more…)

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I’ve been reading threads lately on whether or not there is or can be an objective basis for morality. [Here and here if you’d like to see them for yourself–they make interesting reading, but the second in particular is quite long (and more academic in flavor)–I had to read it in multiple sittings.] I decided to post my own take on the question here. (more…)

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Most religious and spiritual traditions seem to talk in terms of absolutes and of “all or nothing”. Christian and Islamic fundamentalists are particularly inclined to this, but so are mystics of all stripes, and Zen Buddhism is also inclined in that direction when discussing satori, or enlightenment. Me, however–I seek a religion of “something”.

I think all-or-nothing thinking gets a lot of people in a lot of trouble. (more…)

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This is a follow-up to this previous post.

OK, this is going to be highly spectulative and/or naive, but here goes anyway.

Suppose we accept that inter-subjective exploration of phenomena helps us toward coming closer and closer to truth. It certainly seems to work relative to the physical world, to the extent that we can conceive of objective truth about the physical world, at least. But can it help us with regard to approaching spiritual truth?

I think/suspect/hope that the answer is a qualified “yes”. (more…)

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Oh, boy, have I ever stepped into deep water with this one. But let me persevere.

I was thinking the concept I want to communicate would be fairly quick and straightforward to capture in writing, but then I made the mistake of deciding I should start with a quick statement of generally accepted meaning of “objective truth”. Ha! I should have known better.

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God is . . . our name for that which is greater than all and present in each. God is a symbol expressive of ultimate mystery, meaning and power, . . . .

Forrest Church, from a sermon preached at All Souls UU Church 6/5/05

I quote this just to clarify my use of “God” below. I use the term in the fuzziest possible way here–literally, if I knew what I was talking about–if I knew what I mean by “God”–I wouldn’t be writing this. (Interesting that greater clarity, in this case, implies greater fuzziness. Somehow that tickles me.) (more…)

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