punk wrote:You can presume that those who accept the best descriptions of the premiere specialists in contemporary science are somehow deficient, duller or more miserable by not accepting the word of mystics or not focusing on the unprovable, but unless someone nearby is spouting unadulterated bullshit I personally am pretty happy with stuff in general. Why don't you turn that quote above around: de-metaphor it? Why not take it at face value: the splendour of the natural world is enough, but you don't see it? Forest for the trees. Equally valid interpretation, don't you think?
Since you acknowledge you've invented a new language for certain words, I hope you're aware that you're also redefining empirical. And yes, it's unnecessarily difficult to have a dialogue under those circumstances. Perhaps you could condescend to parlay in the prevailing patois, as I'm unaware of the dictionary of Dumbo.
I said "as empirically valid" which I meant as "not empirically valid" because you can't prove empirically, at least according to my little Schrodinger book, that there is an external reality. If there is an argument that refutes his, I haven't seen it yet. Now I don't mean to say that you chose to be in the "external reality" camp or the Vedantic camp. But if we are to be good little rational humanists who only believe in fact based stuff, then on this point, perhaps the only proper response is to shrug our shoulders and say "f**k, who knows?", which is a liberating attitude I think.
As for the Kingdom of God is spread on the earth but we do not see it, do you know we are LITERALLY illuminated by creation but we cannot see it? The Big Bang maaaan! The light, like, is still raining down on us! But because it's travelled so far, 13.7 billion years, which is, like, a really long time, it's red-shifted so that we cannot see it with our eyes. And the primordial sound of the universe being created, it's still reaching us, but we cannot hear it!##@!@
Yep, I know all about the ol' 'using cosmological facts to imitate awe' ploy. In fact, I used this very example on a card-carrying new atheist Minchin fan as a chat up line. But seriously, these scientific facts are cool, and help us see things in completely different lights, because in the end, the time, distances, energies, and forces involved are so completely incomprehensible to us that they sort of short circuit the mind and take us back to the state of unknowing. I don't think I ever said this was drudgery. I actually get a semi over cosmology.
But it's interesting you use the forest and the trees image in terms of the splendour of nature, because you could counter argue that by looking at nature through a scientific lens, you are seeing everything as separate trees and not getting the coherent forest. If you classify something as a "tree", then you don't really see the tree anymore, but your concept of the tree. I don't wanna sound gay or nuffin', but you don't see it as a child would see it anymore. And, as we both know, our concepts are incomplete and/or inaccurate. It seems plausible that our cosmological ideas will be just as laughable to people four thousand years from now as the bible's cosmology is to us. But if you see the forest without concepts, then you are really seeing the double rainbow, plus we can see it through our conceptual lens as well.
As for the other terms I apparently make up my own definitions for... well, if we group terms such as God, Love, Happiness, Truth, the Kingdom, Nirvana, etc, together, then the mystic's view is that these are beyond our terms and concepts, so we cannot directly describe them, but only point towards them (the finger and the moon etc).
Urgh, you're erratic. It's hard to respond to any one coherent line of thought. By religious I presume you mean spiritual? What more should I subtract from my rapturous enjoyment of staring at the stars and thinking of the distances, the time, the magnitudes? I call it a spiritual experience to be contrary and yet collegial with those here who claim that anyone with a rational bent has perforce excluded themselves from experiences more 'essential' than others. Perhaps you think I'm therefore guilty of redefining terms. Meh. Anyway, it seems to me that my limited knowledge of astrophsyics only adds to that experience, and to subtract that deeper understanding would impoverish the wonder. Wild invention of gods and fairies in the night sky may be amusing but inherently less meaningful, if not utterly denigrating, so it's nice to read that you believe the supernatural is the bathwater while the supernova is the baby.
If we define religion as an organised collection of philosophy, poetry, superstitions, morality, rituals and fantasy, then I see no reason why you cannot easily filter out the superstition, morality, ritual and fantasy side of it. And if you realise these myths ARE poetry, then there is no fantasy, just metaphor (why do we need metaphors? because we cannot directly describe the experience, only point towards it). What's left behind are some pretty powerful ideas and metaphors about how one can practise spirituality (again, my made up definition of spirituality may be different from yours). I find the whole religious debate here and elsewhere pretty asinine. Of course they are myths and not facts. Why waste time on it? Like that Hitchens book about how religion poisons everything. "Buddhism is bad because I've found evidence of Buddhist monks offending my morality, so the whole thing stinks blah blah". I'm sure he was smart, but he was blinded by whatever prejudices he had.
As for what is essential and superfluous, well, that's the whole thing isn't it? I think we have all the tools we need within us to reach ->insert term here<- , but most people are perpetually searching outside of themselves trying to find an answer, which is a shame, I think. Perhaps it's because of our culture that we always think we need to strive for something better. But I would say essential = eternal, which does not mean everlasting, but rather constant and outside of time. Our myths, scientific viewpoint, and drugs are all constantly changing, which means they are superfluous, although they can be a help, if used in the right way, and a hinderance if used the wrong way, which I think most of us are guilty of. But I think the 'Kingdom', or whatever, should be available to the very first human, and the very last human.
I actually have a whole bunch of R A Winston on my computer, but haven't looked at it yet. He was a big fan of Joyce and Finnegans Wake, dontchaknow? But the psychotropic thing about being needed to get to the 'next level' is fairly embedded. There's even that 'Stoned Ape' theory. But I think it's self serving bullshit trying to rationalise getting off your tits. Joyce was madder than the lot of them, and he was strictly a booze man. Although Jung did think he was a schizophrenic.