We've all heard about Harris' scathing criticisms of religions of all flavor, including Buddhism. In this 2-part talk at You Tube he defends meditation and contemplation and criticizes the atheist community for throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In my atheistic mind this is indeed a step towards re-visioning the great traditions by nourishing the baby while also pulling the plug on the dirty bathwater.

Also of note is that he echoes kennilingus in claiming one must take up the injunction of meditation before one can criticize its phenomenal experience. He does qualify that one can certainly criticize based on reason alone the metaphysical accoutrements of those who have such experiences. Yet the experiences themselves cannot be refuted by reason alone. And that such experience must be translated into postmetaphysical terms shorn of religious dogma to be of pertinent use in today's world.

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Dear Andrew, 

I am not an atheist (although, of course, the notion of a supra-daemonic "creator" is factually false) but I will say something about the so-called "atheist immoralists who run the world".  Unlike the theistic immoralists who run the world, the atheistic ones at least take personal ownership of their debased drives.  That seems to be a step up!

Now you ask for some more words about my final two paragraphs.  I would add this: An infidel is someone who believes that there are alternative religious possibilities.  Someone who believes that "they" (some other group) are religious in contrast to "us" or "me" -- that is my definition of a sectarian, an infidel, a person who does not understand the living nature of religion.     

Spirituality is an inward integration resulting in an qualitative and functional increase of coherence.  Religion is simply that phenomenon occurring in the collective quadrants. Just as spirituality succeeds only in the degree to which it constructively and creatively integrates all the different possibilities of the individual psycho-biological entity... so does the degree-of-religion depend on how well ALL the existing social components are integrated.  And what are those components today?  They are the entire cultural background of planetary humanity.  Even those who pursue old-fashioned ethnic goals are aware, painfully perhaps, that this occurs within the framing-realm of inter-cultural, trans-geographic, modern and post-modern humanity.  This background frame does not vanish merely because we dislike it or are not adaptively prepared for it.  It is the general cultural frame of today -- just as the general Roman Empire, including all its sciences and arts and philosophy, was the general frame for the religion that we now (retroactively) call Christianity.  

If we continue to think of Religion as pre-established nouns then we are no better or different than sectarians.  That IS the essence of their problematic understanding on this topic.  We must understand religion as an activity, a creativity, a progression, an integration.  Otherwise it does not meet OUR standard and we have "ceded the battlefield in advance".  

Unless religion is healthy and rational it must not be allowed to claim the word.  Sciences would not progress if sociopaths, primitives and regressives were considered as viable sources for the definitions of their central terms.  Social, spiritual and religious thinkers must have a similar critical and positively assertive approach to these words. 

I appreciate the civil discourse LP! On your first paragraph: I can't really say that I'm thrilled about that step up the amoral and unethical ladder, but at the same time don't really disagree with your assessment.

I agree that the nouns of god are irrelevant to spiritual discourse; or at the very least, the nouns become a stumbling block, or hindrance to civil dialogue within this field of inquiry. "Unless religion is healthy and rational it must not be allowed to claim the word." I certainly agree with this statement. This is a very large part of what I am arguing for on the Noah thread. But  over here on Sam's atheist thread ( or could we call this spiritual atheism?), I'm trying to flesh out why atheists should consider spiritual notions at all. If I'm out on the golf course quite comfortable in my material atheist existence , why should i consider any spirituality at all? Why should atheists consider post -metaphysical  spirituality? And I was wondering if you think that spiritual post- metaphysics offers any guarantee of ethical behaviour? Are there unhealthy post-metaphysicians? And if there are, why should healthy ethical atheists see this possibility as an advancement on their beliefs of ethical materialist atheism?


Let me give you a definitive example: if we consider Harris to be an ethical atheist , then why exactly should he consider an *unethical post-metaphysician like Andrew Cohen as being more advanced? 

* From all the info I have gathered this does seem a rather justifiable description.

LOL, Andrew Cohen is hardly post-metaphysical!

"Frankly it is RIDICULOUS to keep letting THEM have a basic human term simply because there appear to be a lot of them.  The "few and far between" of counter-examples is irrelevant to establishing a functional postmetaphysical definition of religion."

I obviously think developing a postmetaphysical spirituality and religion are necessary or I wouldn't spend time here. But as I said, it's for a very few. And it's questionable whether it makes one whit in getting the majority of religious believers up to religious thinkers. Sure it sets up some parameters for after that, but before that there is a lot of work to be done to get religion up to the rational level. And by and large that is not even close to the case. That is where the likes of Harris, Batchelor and others come in. And God bless them every one (with tongue in cheek).

PS: As I said in the Rifkin book thread, he too is setting up the next wave. But he is paltry on the transition to get there, and where the progressive politics of Sanders and Warren come in. Same notion, different discipline. A key difference though is that religion has been kept sacrosanct from rational analysis, as if it didn't apply to faith. Hence it is much farther behind in the spectrum.

DoH! OMG! Then Edward is right that Kenny isn't post- metaphysical either! Oh my, what are we to do?

"LOL, Andrew Cohen is hardly post-metaphysical!"

I resoundingly and vociferously second that motion.

"Then Edward is right that Kenny isn't post- metaphysical either! Oh my, what are we to do?"

Only in some ways. In others he is, and I've been quite specific as to which is which. (And who is who.)

I'm not sure that the issue comes down to thinking alone. Surely, someone like Francis Collins is capable of critical thinking? So, there seems to be more going on here than the ability to think ones way out of a conundrum.

Dowd might be useful here.

Balder, perhaps you can tell us why you chose the word 'spirituality' for the forum instead of 'religion'?

Honestly, I chose it because the forum was inspired, at the time I started it, by Wilber's new book, Integral Spirituality.  I wasn't intending with it to exclude 'religion,' at least in the broad sense of the word.  Popularly, spirituality is now seen as an alternative to religion, but I've long felt that religion is in some sense inescapable: if we see it as the collective (LL/LR) expression of spiritual concern and practice, for instance, we have to acknowledge that it will (and should) appear at multiple levels of development, not just the mythic-traditional one.

At each level, the definition of religion is bound to change -- and I like the one Layman has proposed.  But I guess another strategy is open to us as well.  I've just started reading Sloterdijk's book, You Must Change Your Life.  It's early to say much about it, but I think it will be relevant to this thread (and others on our forum).  I mention it now because Sloterdijk appears to be following the same line as some OOO folks.  Morton and others, for instance, have started challenging the use of the word 'nature' in the ecological sciences -- arguing it is a modernist artifact that should be dropped.  Sloterdijk similarly challenges 'religion' as a modernist invention (it wasn't used before the 1700s) that may have outworn its usefulness, and proposes some other words as well, such as anthropotechnics.  Postmodern process theologians like John Cobb caution against presupposing a common essence of religion: we use it as a catch-all for a broad range of lifeways and traditions, not all of which neatly conform to the Judeo-Christian presuppositions that have informed our most common definitions of the word.  So ... we can scrap the word, or we can redefine it, perhaps by searching out more of those things which these disparate traditions do have in common.  Sloterdijk appears to take that route, but then decides that in identifying these common elements (which also can be found in practices that are not typically considered 'religious' at all), we might as well come up with a new unifying term...

Whatever the new tern or social arrangement it better find a very fast way to check the shadow/pathologies of secularism which has managed to do what toxic religion didn't even do: bring the earth's living systems to its knees. Free passes have been given to big money, big petro, big sugar, big alcohol, big pharma, big land owners, and list list could go on and on. Secularism has opened the door to the worst impulses in human nature to run civilization through its various mafias. I see that Edward sees this and I think Harris should spend as much time on this topic as he does on correctly calling out toxic religionists. What's really even more dangerous though, is the collusion between toxic religionists and big money and petro. The worst thing to ever happen to Islam was oil! Saudia Arabia and petro Christian Zioinists are one deadly cocktail.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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