Sunday, April 13, 2008

Prophet in the Brothel of Iniquity

I lately find myself fascinated by the surging anti-religious mood in this country. It is both heartening and worrisome to me at the same time. I applaud the modern atheist assault on religious hypocrisy, especially in fundamentalist sects of all stripes. Religion has caused a great deal more problems than it has solved, it seems to me, so it's high time to set it in its place. But at the same time, I also worry about the atheists' denial of any kind of symbolic, spiritual life.

A number of the folks I've linked to in my list to the right are atheists, but the site I'd most recommend is Sacred Slut in the Temple of Reason. I recommend it not only because her site features one of the best layouts and great writing, but because its a blog that serves as a clearing house for lots of extremely reasonable voices in this community. It's also a site where I can occasionally play devil's advocate and actually get reasonable arguments rather than shouts.

Deep in Sacred's archives there is a post (read it here) in which she describes her "deconversion"--her move from a religious perspective to a secular, atheistic one. The story is that she came to a point where she began to shine the light of practical sense and reason on her beliefs, and found them wanting. Her investigation was a courageous one, and I admire her for it.

Except for one thing, Sacred's story is a lot like my own. Though my religious upbringing was different (I was raised a Lutheran), I too came to a point where I realized that the tenets of my religion were nonsense, and that I'd need to find truth elsewhere.

Sacred and I came to different conclusions, however. As she describes in her early post, Sacred came to the conclusion that there is no spirit, no reality separate from the body. Her conclusion was that everything commonly called mind or spirit or soul is in fact a manifestation of body, and that there is no supernatural reality separate from the physical.

But while I agree in the falseness of the religious premise, a similar investigation caused me to reach different conclusions from Sacred's.

The premise of the modern atheist is that all spiritual endeavor is inherently false. The belief is that what passes for mind or spirit in fact emanates from the physical. Our sensation of soul, in other words, is nothing more than a highly refined manifestation of matter.

My own investigations, on the other hand, continually point to another equally likely explanation: that the physical emanates from the energetic. What we know as "spiritual" in the end, simply refers to the realities we can't immediately see or grasp. The energy rather than the matter.

It's likely that neither Sacred nor myself is right or wrong. In the end, as Einstein showed, matter and energy are exactly the same thing.

And taking both meditation and daily vitamins is probably a better prescription for happiness than either one alone.

3 comments:

Michelle O'Neil said...

In Gregg Braden's new book, The Spontaneous Healing of Belief, he refers to one of Einstein's colleagues,John Wheeler who had radically different views from the famous professor. That of a an ever-expanding reality in which all of us have an integral part.A "participatory universe."
Athiest or not, you're still participating. Science and spirituality (not religion) are merging in a most amazing way. Talking about the same thing, calling it by different names. It's a very exciting time to be alive.

sacred slut said...

Thanks for the kind words. You write such nice things. Brothel of Iniquity, though - I think I'm offended.

The premise of the modern atheist is that all spiritual endeavor is inherently false. The belief is that what passes for mind or spirit in fact emanates from the physical. Our sensation of soul, in other words, is nothing more than a highly refined manifestation of matter.

I think you are somewhat wrong here. While most atheists believe that the mind is a function of the brain, that does not necessarily mean that all spiritual endeavor is false. I do think "spirit" has to be redefined, however, and I would define it differently. Humans have an emotional, feeling side to our nature that I would call "spirit" and which should not be ignored and which most materialists do ignore.

You will find there are quite a lot of atheists, myself included, who feel the need for something like a spiritual connection that does not involve supernatural beliefs. However, I've yet to see any real exploration or proposal of how we atheists do this. Mainly, I think, because atheism does not purport to address these issues. Atheism just says there are no gods.

As to energy being spirit, I find that an interesting idea but I would like to know what you have by way of support. As much as I'd love to imagine that "I" will continue to exist after death, it seems more likely that the energy will continue but the consciousness will cease.

Send me a reading list if you have one, seriously. templewhore at gmail

August said...

Whatever nugget you bring to the table is always worth chewing on.

Both you & Sacred have a sober, non-hostile way of sharing your beliefs, which I appreciate.

August