Archive for the ‘religion’ 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’ve been poking around on BlogHer recently, and ran across this post, which got me musing about Christianity. Most of these ponderings occurred to me many years ago, back in the day when I hadn’t yet rejected Christianity for myself. I was raised Methodist, in a small town, and around this time of year often get nostalgic for when the religious side of Christmas meant more to me. But–well, whatever. On to the ponderings. Which I decided to post here instead of in a comment on SandyHov’s blog because they will seem blasphemous, and possibly offensive, to many Christians, and I have no desire to offend her. (more…)

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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’ve been following, sort of, a conversation here that started out to be about meaning, delved into questions having to do with “is there anything more/other than the physical universe?”, and recently turned to the basis of morality and our sense of morality. This led me to this post, which discusses the matter of consciousness and feelings (qualia of consciousness).

I’ve posted a few comments in these other conversations, but decided to save my snippier comments for my own blog, so here goes: (more…)

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I wrote the folowing in a comment I made on another blog, and I’ve been turning it over in my mind ever since:

We often hear that it’s the journey that’s the point, and maybe that’s true. I know my own persistent underlying agnosticism is oddly comforting to me at times. It’s as though I’m searching for something, I know not what, but something in me is sure it’s there and that I’ll recognize it if/when I find it. Which, if you think about it, is faith of a kind.

The reason is stuck in my head is because of the combination of facts that (more…)

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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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“You see but your shadow when you turn your back to the sun.”

  1. Kahlil Gibran

The obvious (to me) meaning in this has to do with turning away from the source of life/understanding/love etc. and how that leaves one seeing and feeling only the painful, dark, negative things in oneself and in life. But shadows, at least our own shadows, offer us other very interesting metaphors. (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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Some posts on Diane’s blog reminded me of the book Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen. I love her books; this one helped me a lot several years ago when I was feeling a bit beat up by life and somewhat useless. So I thought I’d come back here and share some of it, and encourage people to get it and read it.

This is from the introduction to the book.

All real stories are true. Sometimes when a patient tells me their story, someone in their family will protest. “But it didn’t happen quite that way, it happened more like this.” Over the years I have come to know that the stories both these people tell me are equally true, equally genuine, and that neither of them may be “correct,” an exact description of the event much as a video camera might have recorded it. Stories are someone’s experience of the events of their life, they are not the events themselves. Most of us experience the same event very differently. We have seen it in our own unique way and the story we tell has more than a bit of ourselves in it. Truth is highly subjective.

All stories are full of bias and uniqueness; they mix fact with meaning. This is the root of their power. Stories allow us to see something familiar through new eyes. We become in that moment a guest in someone else’s life, and together with them sit at the feet of their teacher. The meaning we draw from someone’s story may be different from the meaning they themselves have drawn. No matter. Facts bring us knowledge, but stories lead to wisdom.

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A Blessing

A thought and a wish for those who visit today:

My definition of a miracle is ‘just exactly the right thing, in just exactly the right way, at just exactly the right time.’ Neale Donald Walsh

May we all experience–and notice–miracles today.

(BTW–if you do, I’d love for you to come back and tell about it in a comment, in a spirit of “share the good stuff”.)

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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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I posted this as a comment in response to a discussion on someone else’s blog, but decided it’s worth posting on my own.

I should add that I am thoroughly agnostic, not to say confused, about the existence or the nature of God, but that doesn’t stop me from talking as though there’s no question that God exists. I know this doesn’t quite make sense, but that’s part of the purpose of my blogging–to help me sort such matters out.

Sometimes I suspect that some fundamentalists who claim to be monotheists don’t really get the logic of what they are claiming. (more…)

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I’m working a long post that is taking awhile to gel. So in the meanwhile, thought I’d post a few quotes that say more poetically and succinctly some of what I was tryig to say here.

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.
Living Philosophies, 1931

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

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Dr. William Vallicella, a professional philosopher, posted a list of principles or standards for philosophy on his blog. (All of them involve absoluteness—interesting to me since he’s politically conservative; I suspect a connection.) The one I thought worth responding to is the following:

    “Nothing matters unless it matters absolutely.”

My response is below.

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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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The known and the unknown are blessings. The unknowable is both a mystery and a blessing, a blessing because it is a mystery.

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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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