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The Problem of Religious Philosophy

 
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:15 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:
Thank you for educating me concerning this distinction, I wasn't aware.

But something about this just doesn't sit right with me. I understand how you've presented spirituality as this transcendent, traditional experience, and any deviation leaves spirituality for spiritual materialism, but I just cannot agree with this at this moment in time. I feel like I'm not being fair to those that may seek spirituality outside of this scope. Perhaps "spirituality" just isn't the right word for the concept I'm trying to express. I will seek other words.


I can understand your concern for being fair to people who search for meaning outside of spirituality, and who also call their search a spiritual search. I sympathize with them. But I also find the distinction between spirituality and spiritual materialism compelling. Both the spiritual seeker and the spiritual materialist are seeking meaning, and typically this search is honest and well intentioned. The difference is that the spiritual materialist gets tricked into mistaking egocentric meaning with spiritual meaning.

Meaning may be the word you are looking for: meaning in life, to be more specific.


Zetherin wrote:
I must warn you, the interpretation I'm about to present is not taking into account Rumi as a person, his intentions as a poet/writer/mystic, or the context with which the quote was intended. It is only my third-party interpretation.

I interpreted "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing" as enlightenment, transcending all human application of reason, judgment, and emotion. Instead of anything being inherently "wrong" or "right" it is a reminder that things just are -- no existence is greater and any other, no judgment better or worse. "The field" is a figurative position where things just are, no judgment elicited, things just exist -- I find tremendous beauty in this. It's about placing everyone on the same 'grounds', no pedastals or floor caves, each experience as important as the next.


I can see that: a sort of Taoist the way that can be spoken is not the Way sort of thing.

Zetherin wrote:
When he speaks,

"What can I do, Submitters to God? I do not know myself.
I am neither Christian nor Jew, neither Zoroastrian nor Muslim,
I am not from east or west, not from land or sea,
not from the shafts of nature nor from the spheres of the firmament,
not of the earth, not of water, not of air, not of fire.
I am not from the highest heaven, not from this world,
not from existence, not from being."

I get a sense of spirituality absent of any tradition -- and this is what I was trying to articulate above. One can journey their own spiritual path without any defined instruction. Again, I know you understand this, and I'm trying to figure a better word, and better way, to articulate this thought.
I think my position leans towards non-cognitivist, in that I don't believe there is objective truth in moral propositions, but this does not mean I don't feel morality and ethics are of value to humanity...


And that's the interesting thing: Rumi was a Muslim. But there comes a point when those labels do not mean anything: and this is why I argue, following some Baha'i teaching, that all of the major faith traditions are working towards the same experience, of God, of enlightenment, whatever we call it. So, I do not think it is necessarily spirituality absent from any tradition, but spirituality encompassing all traditions.

Hunter Thompson had a saying, "At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards." In Buddhist, a snow leopard is someone who attains enlightenment without the aid of a sangha (religious community) and without the aid of teachings: the spiritual seeker truly outside of any tradition. So to say that once enlightened (at the top of the mountain) we are all snow leopards means that with enlightenment we are beyond traditions, teachings, dogmas, ect: we have experienced, we know, the truth ourselves.

Ultimately, we are spiritual seekers on our own. These traditions and teachings are guides, helpful hints, and wisdom for those of us on the path up the mountain, but we must make our own way. The teachings, scripture, community: all of these things may be useful, but the path we make must be our own.

Zetherin wrote:
I find myself agnostic throughout many of my handlings, not even always metaphysically-inclined, as I try to consistently reevaluate why I've come to the conclusion I've come to. I come up for air in order to stay sane, but I feel I'm drowning most of the time. You could say I have little "Peace of Mind".


"Why in the world are we here?
Surely not to live in pain and fear.
Why on earth are you there,
When you're everywhere?
Come and get your share."
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:24 pm
@de Silentio,
Quote:
Ultimately, we are spiritual seekers on our own. These traditions and teachings are guides, helpful hints, and wisdom for those of us on the path up the mountain, but we must make our own way. The teachings, scripture, community: all of these things may be useful, but the path we make must be our own.
These are my sentiments exactly. And the snow leopard was the perfect example of the type of individual I was referring.

Quote:
The difference is that the spiritual materialist gets tricked into mistaking egocentric meaning with spiritual meaning.
I feel this begs the question: Who's the arbitrator to draw the line? I mean, those followers worshiping Jose could genuinely be on a spiritual path. Jose himself could honestly believe what he's preaching, and even though I'm inclined to say it's just his ego speaking, I can't be certain. If it's not, couldn't he be on a spiritual path?

I think we see eye to eye, I just don't really know where to draw the line when it comes to spirituality. I get the impression this is something that will take more time for me to discover.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:36 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:
These are my sentiments exactly. And the snow leopard was the perfect example of the type of individual I was referring.


If I ever find my way to Dharamsala I may have to convert.

Zetherin wrote:
I feel this begs the question: Who's the arbitrator to draw the line? I mean, those followers worshiping Jose could genuinely be on a spiritual path. Jose himself could honestly believe what he's preaching, and even though I'm inclined to say it's just his ego speaking, I can't be certain. If it's not, couldn't he be on a spiritual path?


There is no end all be all judge. It's up to each of us to make the evaluation as best we can: and remain humble enough to be open to reevaluation.

We have to be careful, though: the difference between spiritual materialism and spirituality is not whether or not some person honestly believes in what they are doing; one could honestly believe their path is spiritual and be mistaken.

Could it be that what this man is teaching is good spiritual teaching? Perhaps. But what's the more likely situation? This is a man who has called the Catholic Church evil, which is a broad statement for someone who is supposed to be an enlightened teacher, and he has also said that we should no longer give credence to the teachings of Jesus, but that we should instead follow the teachings of Paul as understood by "De Jesus". Personally, I'd rather get lessons from a Catholic monk.

Zetherin wrote:
I think we see eye to eye, I just don't really know where to draw the line when it comes to spirituality. I get the impression this is something that will take more time for me to discover.


It's a process. Like that De Jesus guy: he may or may not be teaching honest spirituality, but we cannot know for sure until we check up on his teachings (in depth research, attending this groups meetings, ect). What are we supposed to do: study every cult and sect known to man? That's not very practical. Instead, check up on what strikes you as interesting. If that's Buddhism, awesome, if that's Islam, great. Check up and decide for yourself.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:42 pm
@de Silentio,
The personal-evaluation you articulate in your above post was exactly what I was aiming for, and is exactly what I try to advocate on a daily basis. It appears to me we've been expressing the same thought, just differently, the entire time.

Once again, I appreciate your contributions, and it's been a pleasure as always.

Be well,

Zetherin
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:49 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:
It appears to me we've been expressing the same thought, just differently, the entire time.


That's typically what happens when you get two people honestly interested in this subject.

Zetherin wrote:
Once again, I appreciate your contributions, and it's been a pleasure as always.

Be well,

Zetherin


Likewise, brother.
0 Replies
 
democritus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 03:04 am
@Zetherin,
[quote=Zetherin] Democritus, If I were to share something that I deemed spiritual with the forum, unrelated to religion, I would feel it would be appropriately placed here.[/quote]
It would be appropriately placed here unless you have a sound argument for the existing of "spirit".


[quote=Zetherin] Rationalism should be a part of this forum, but why all?[/quote]
There is no half-way "rationalism" - we are not allowed to suspend reasoning.

[quote=Zetherin] Philosophy of Religion should encompass all that culminates to religion, and spirituality, whether it's evaluated under a scope of logic and reason or not. [/quote]
This is exactly what "Theology" is all about, why don't people like to debate these subjects in the Theology Forum?

Thanks,
democritus
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 03:11 am
@de Silentio,
Quote:
It would be appropriately placed here unless you have a sound argument for the existing of "spirit".
If by sound, you mean logical, rational, or reasonable, no I do not. I'm still exploring the matter myself, but theological conversations, in whatever context, help me to explore.

Quote:
This is exactly what "Theology" is all about, why don't people like to debate these subjects in the Theology Forum?
I understand you don't want reason suspended. That is fair. Is there a Theology forum on this site I'm missing ie. a place I can suspend reason, if only for a few moments, to explore some things within myself?

Since I cannot find a Theology forum, I chose Philosophy of Religion as the forum most relevant. Your contention is fair, but I don't know where else to go. Where would you like me to go to probe questions concerning my introspection (that don't necessarily stay the rationalism course)?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 05:26 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:

Is there a Theology forum on this site I'm missing ie. a place I can suspend reason, if only for a few moments, to explore some things within myself?


You can do so anywhere on this forum. We are about friendly conversation and debate on topics related to philosophy. If in the process of some such conversation or debate you would like to enunciate some thoughts without presenting those thoughts in the form of rational arguments you are free to do so.

That said, you can also expect those same thoughts to be evaluated by others with rational criticism. But this, it seems to me, is precisely why a person would want to express their thoughts in a form other than a rational argument in the first place.

The result: a forum which neither stifles the creative expression of members nor their critical analysis of ideas.
0 Replies
 
democritus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 07:44 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:
Since I cannot find a Theology forum, I chose Philosophy of Religion as the forum most relevant. Your contention is fair, but I don't know where else to go.

Zetherin, if you go to the Google search page and type "theology forum" you will see many sites offering excellent debating platforms for people interested in Theology.

I have informed the administrator about my concern that, this site is in danger of becoming a Theology Forum instead of Philosophy.

Thanks,
democritus
Axis Austin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 11:54 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Thomas: I will first state that I will not respond to your further posts as long as you continue to claim that language about God is necessarily figurative without adequately defending this statement. I know this is a bit rude on my part, and I apologize. But I have not yet seen you adequately do so, while you challenge me by asking why anybody would buy into my notions. Also, sorry to note quote the post to make it easier, but it was a rather long one.

What you say about the difference between knowing about the center of the earth and knowing about God is essentially the claim that we can't literally know anything metaphysical. To that, I have no response, I simply disagree.

Your assertion that every theologian, bible scholar, etc. says the Bible isn't to be read literally is bogus. Perhaps I am wrong in thinking that it's the complete opposite: that most scholars think at least some things can be read literally (you're probably a lot more well-read than I). But I know numerous serious scholars you think it can. I would argue that you're notion that language about God is necessarily metaphorical is more out of line with common thinking, and thus requires more defense than my idea. But I'll meet you in the middle and agree that we should both support our claims. But to say that all the scholars agree is simply not true.

No, I am not confusing the terms literal and figurative, and I take slight offense at that notion. I agree that an accurate description isn't necessarily literal, but you're missing the fact that it can be. If I accurately (assuming it's true) state that Jesus rose from the dead, sure I could be speaking figuratively. But I could just as well be speaking literally.

For the next response, you've changed the question. Now you're limiting things to spiritual practice. But that's not the only part of religion, as you agree at the end. We both agree experience is at least the most important part of spiritual practice and that spiritual practice is part of religion. So we have no disagreements. Earlier it seemed like you were saying that experience is the only important thing in religion, which is different than saying it's the most important part of one aspect of religion.

You didn't address your take on whether we can speak literally about metaphysics.

I disagree that experience is the only way to know. But I don't want to get into it here, as I've been having a lengthy discussion about what constitutes knowledge, in relation to rocks breaking windows, in another post.
0 Replies
 
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 12:27 pm
@democritus,
"I have informed the administrator about my concern that, this site is in danger of becoming a Theology Forum instead of Philosophy. Thanks,
democritus[/quote]

democritus,Smile

What was their response, the reason I ask is that a number of people here on staff I think would not mind that at all. So, again what was their response?
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 12:37 pm
@democritus,
democritus wrote:
Zetherin, if you go to the Google search page and type "theology forum" you will see many sites offering excellent debating platforms for people interested in Theology.

I have informed the administrator about my concern that, this site is in danger of becoming a Theology Forum instead of Philosophy.

Thanks,
democritus


The whole site is not in danger of becoming a Theology Forum, I haven't a clue where you've derived this conclusion. Perhaps the Philosophy of Religion forum, but DT just clarified that -- Non-rational arguments can be presented, and are just susceptible to the same rational criticism as anything else. That's fair.
democritus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 05:13 pm
@Zetherin,
Boagie, important thing is not what I think but what is true. Initially this site attracts people because of its name the "Philosophy Forum" and its sub-title "science - religion - philosophy - humanity" gives the impression that "philosophy" is a separate [and unique] inquiry as there are other branches of inquiries like science and religion.

Before participating in this particular debate, I have made other comments on metaphysics, logic, epistemology, philosophy of mind and philosophy of religion.

I expect that those moderators who have had direct dispute with me should refrain to judge my complaint. The issue is serious and I argue that , this particular site is in danger of becoming a Theology Forum instead of Philosophy of Religion forum. I shall let you know the result of the administrator's inquiry.

Zetherin, I haven't seen all debates and can't possible generalise "the whole site". It is clear from my argument that I am talking about the direction of the Philosophy of Religion site. I disagree with the moderator DT's opinion in this particular dispute and that is why I had to talk to Administrator. If they want to make this site a Theology Forum I have to move to a genuine Philosophy site at somewhere else.

Thanks for the support I have received from individual members.
democritus
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 06:08 pm
@democritus,
democritus wrote:
Zetherin, I haven't seen all debates and can't possible generalise "the whole site". It is clear from my argument that I am talking about the direction of the Philosophy of Religion site. I disagree with the moderator DT's opinion in this particular dispute and that is why I had to talk to Administrator. If they want to make this site a Theology Forum I have to move to a genuine Philosophy site at somewhere else.

Thanks for the support I have received from individual members.
democritus


Next time, for clarification purposes, make sure you use "forum" instead of "site". It may seem nitpicky, but they are profoundly different, and anyone tech-savvy will be confused.

Anyway, good luck!
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 06:34 pm
@democritus,
democritus wrote:
... The issue is serious and I argue that , this particular site is in danger of becoming a Theology Forum instead of Philosophy of Religion forum. I shall let you know the result of the administrator's inquiry...


I wondered how long it'd be before someone brought this up. Good on ya Democritus...

Take any issue, any subject and it can end up stuck in the mud on religious concepts. It needn't be this way; but we've seen thread after thread end up being just another god-this, no-god-that jibber session. Yes, I think Theology is an important part of philosophy - Yes, I think it's good to discuss, but I fear we minimize the philosophical experience when so many perfectly-innocuous discussions suffer this fate; one that often gets quite testy.

I'm not sure its an issue that's solvable. Perhaps we moderators ought to step in more; unfortunately, we don't want to "steer" conversations. I must admit that the extent to which so many good discussions do the god-crash (that initially seem to be on 'common, amicable ground') has had a detrimental effect on my enthusiasm here.

Thanks for bringing it up.
0 Replies
 
de Silentio
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 08:10 pm
@democritus,
democritus wrote:
Zetherin, if you go to the Google search page and type "theology forum" you will see many sites offering excellent debating platforms for people interested in Theology.

I have informed the administrator about my concern that, this site is in danger of becoming a Theology Forum instead of Philosophy.

Thanks,
democritus


Theology and philosophy are not that different. Either way, perhaps you missed the graphic at the top of this site.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Mar, 2009 08:18 pm
@de Silentio,
Khethil and democritus,

If you're referring to evangelizing, I couldn't agree more, but I rarely see that here.

May I ask what bothers you about discussing theological matters that aren't necessarily under a reason/logic light? What DT says seems perfectly fair to me: One may post what they wish, whether it's rational or not, and anyone has the opportunity to criticize as they wish. What's more fair than that? Again, evangelizing is an exception -- as long as someone shares their views in a fair light without force-feeding, I don't have a problem at all.

And I ask once again, if not here (in Philosophy of Religion), where else shall I go to further my introspection concerning spiritual matters (that may not be rational)? Just for example, I veered off being rational throughout some of posts to DT during our last discussion, but we both showed respect, open-minds, and grew from the experience (perhaps I more than DT). These genuine discussions which allow me to further understand my being are why I'm here. I'm not saying I'm illogical all the time, or that I even favor illogicality, but frankly I felt this was a comfortable place for any illogical thoughts I would like to share.

If we begin to limit these forums, then tell me which way to go!
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Mar, 2009 06:53 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:
May I ask what bothers you about discussing theological matters that aren't necessarily under a reason/logic light?


Nothing per say. Theological discussions are good, on the whole! (refer to my 2nd paragraph). But to restate, it's only the profuseness with which so many discussions devolved into senseless god-bickering. That's all

As far as "evangelizing" goes: The people who do this feel some need (the nature of which I can't speak to). They feel strongly about what they're saying so; as long as they leave me "my space", even this is tolerable and often quite entertaining (as long as its done in the proper area).

Zetherin wrote:
And I ask once again, if not here (in Philosophy of Religion), where else shall I go to further my introspection concerning spiritual matters (that may not be rational)?


If I may offer some advice on this: This site - and it's theological, religious and spiritual areas/threads - is a fine place to do it. But when we start a discussion on (for example) "Methods and relative Prioritization of Epistemological Methods" and two pages later the thread gets locked because two numb-skulls decide it's time to go fists-to-cuffs with whether or not jesus lived, it bums me out.

And let's not, again, gravitate towards the two dimensional thinking: To say that not all discussions should end up in a theological argument is not to say that it's always 'undesirable'. There's a time and place and over-saturation with any issue can get tiresome. I have a distaste for the view that says: If you don't like X when Y is present, you therefore are saying X is always wrong. ugh.

Hope this helps, thanks Smile
hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Mar, 2009 07:52 am
@Khethil,
The problem with religious philosophy and theology is that it's the exact same thing. Both involve looking at religions and developing rational conclusions about God and the world from them; but the reason they are inquiries of study (rather than just blind faith) is because they are beholden to reason: they can be built up and they can be torn down. Only when people refuse to look at a piece of theology on its logical merits and instead take it as end-all be-all proof of/expounding on God does it become dogma, and that is a very dangerous thing indeed.

By and large, we today divide theology and religious philosophy thus:
Theology is the systematic study of a particular religion (usu. Christianity), and
Religious Philosophy is the comparative study of a religions.

Now, I would reverse these, because I think that if God is truly all-pervasive He must necessarily pervade and inspire all religions; therefore a rational comparative study of extant traditions would be the truest theology (and thus "religious philosophy" and "theology" can and ought to be used interchangeably) and that under general theology the categories of study of a single religion (threscaeology from Gk. threskeia, "religion", perhaps?), the study of the evolution of religion--either particular religion or of religion as a whole, and a study of historical religions: why they rose, why they fell: taken together, these fields of inquiry would tell us a great deal about both God and ourselves.
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Mar, 2009 09:25 am
@hammersklavier,
Smile

Perhaps there should be introduced a forum for comparative mythology and religion, though it is all mythology, the distinction I think is made in reguard to the sensitivity of those adhering to a particular system/religion. It is often said, mythology is the other man's religion. When a mythology is believed whole heartedly it becomes religion, one would need suppose.


God is a metaphor for that which trancends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that.
Joseph Campbell

"Have you discerned just what man is? A magic lantern with a light within." Sufism:)
0 Replies
 
 

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