Salon-a-thon

I found three interesting articles on Salon.com today, all related to my interest in theology and teleology.

The first is one of Salon’s lead-off articles for today, an interview with religious historian James Carse (professor emeritus at NYU).  He takes a very iconoclastic approach to religion, at least, one rather at odds with my understanding. And, that of most other people I’ve read, heard, talked to, or corresponded with. Hmm.  Personally, he finds religious ritual and poetry more rewarding than “spiritual” and “transcendental” endeavors. Joseph Campbell would likely lump him in with those who “mistake the lightbulb for the light”.

Second, an interview from 2006 in which Karen Armstrong makes some interesting points about the intersections of world belief systems.  For one, she sees the afterlife as a “red herring” found mostly in Islam and Christianity.  (She is a self-proclaimed “freelance monotheist.”) Though I part ways with her on several finer points, I like her ecumenical approach very much with its call for a healthy blend of faith and reason, as I’ve frequently noted in my writing.

Third, also from 2006, an interview with E.O. Wilson about the intersection of biology and religion, including his own beliefs.  The upshot is that he is a “deist” with a great distaste for current constructions of heaven. His personal religious views notwithstanding, I think his ideas on social evolution might well be creatively combined with those of Teilhard de Chardin’s Noosphere. (I’m still thinking on that one…)

I’d love to know what you think about the intersections or juxtapositions between their methods.

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Comments
One Response to “Salon-a-thon”
  1. Kristine says:

    What great articles! It’s so exciting to see the comparison of so many groups of thought seeking to explain the same state of “awareness” (the only term that seems to fit all of them). She also stated that religion is meant to be the loss of the ego, not about its eternal survival. Hmmm. I’m not sure if she means that she does not believe in the afterlife, or if it is something that should not be obsessed about. That would make sense though.

    Carse was interesting, especially when he says “you can be religious without being a believer” and vise verse. That is a struggle/ lack of communication between a lot of people that causes misinterpretation of the two terms. But I don’t know if people who are totally set in either one; complete religion or spirituality know this difference. While religion can be stagnant, it is also celebratory. While spirituality is inspiring, it can be too based on the self. But what about just a relationship with God himself? Is that a separate category in itself?

    Up until I read Wilson’s interview, I was under the impression that non-believing scientists probably felt a divine connection, an awe-inspiring”awareness”…but according to him that is rare. Of course to be a great scientist, one needs to be quite skeptical in their search for answers so it only makes sense that they would be skeptical of that experience. But that is just what it is, a completely unique experience…so how could language ever describe it? Maybe it’s meant to be unique so that it cannot be justified, just felt. It’s such a tangling pursuit to try to bridge secularism and spirituality because one usually has to almost accept it before believing it.

    I would assume that in that moment where everything comes together for a scientist at the height of discovery, they would feel something divine…but maybe they believe it all to be the workings of their mind, whereas believers would call it something else. It seems like the difference between religion and science is simply that between placing all faith in the God vs all faith in humans. Surely there is a happy medium, but then again…that too could be God. But I’m just one perspective out of how many?

    Those articles really were great though. I’ll probably think of more as I absorb them.

    PS-I remember you mentioning an article about a leap of faith in science being required to find out about another dimension…or something. Um, clearly I don’t know much about it but do you remember where you found it? I’d like to read about that scientist.

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