History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Beyond the ‘god’ question to the question of the ‘spiritual’

April 6th, 2015 · 5 Comments

The problem with secular humanism is not the question of ‘god’ which cannot be resolved, but the issue of so-called spiritual dimensions whose reality is not so easily dismissed, but knowledge of which, as per Kant’s famous treatise Visions of a Ghostseer, is not easily arrived at. The latter cannot be easily resolved either, but a sense of their ‘reality’ is an almost universal accompaniment of religious/philosophical discourse.
I think Kant in many ways acknowledged his own versions of this in some of this thinking on the subject of ethics, and if we survey a group of new agers we would find very few debating the existence of god but many positing forms of the mind, soul, spirit, enlightened consciousness and much else that positivistic humanists declare unreal, with equal metaphysical presumption.


I think we cannot displace the ‘spiritual’ through logic alone, and the attempts to use reductionist scientism to resolve the issues has always failed.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 NK // Apr 7, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Speaking for myself, I’ve never found the “God” concept remotely interesting and I’ve never even entertained the idea that it explains anything deep about the universe…even as a child. Bryan Magee’s own experiences as a child mirror my own in a lot of ways:


  • 2 nemo // Apr 7, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Welcome back. We know that muslims don’t agree with you, but what about sufis? (Their public statements may not count)

  • 3 NK // Apr 7, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I can’t take Islam or any of the Abrahamic monotheisms very seriously. Ibn Arabi is an interesting character, but the more recondite aspects of his ideas came from Neo-Platonism. You might as well just go to the Enneads.

  • 4 NK // Apr 7, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    …and “real Islam” hates the Sufis:


  • 5 nemo // Apr 7, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    The question of sufism is confusing and its history is hard to study. I recall reading Idries Shah’s books almost a generation ago, and I can see that where the works of buddhists are chronicled and made available many of the important texts, not including the most famous like Rumi et al., are unknown and unfound, and require a knowledge of Arabic, no doubt. I think the question of realization in sufism is tricky and more than that never discussed in any literature. Recently Gurdjieff has thrown a curve ball into the this arena with a set of questions about good and evil that have thrown discussion of out whack. The issue of sufism is not about defending Gurdjieff or making Beelzebub a normative spirirtual reference.
    The issue may explain the eistence of so many ‘shady characters’ in sufism. Since I have never met any sufis I can’t confirm this statistic, although figures like Gold freely confessing to eating little children is a good recent example. I have no connections with sufism, and try to avoid sufis if possible. To be sure, I have dropped names as to my ‘Near Eastern connections’, but the reality is I have none. I do have a photograph of Mulla Nasrudin, and I guess talking to his photograph is as far as I got with ‘esoteric sufism’. I do however consider that I have reached the first level of the sufi hierarchy, ‘fakir’, or beggar, in an economic recession of the seventies.

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