History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Re/de-constructing the spiritual in a secular context

July 18th, 2015 · No Comments


The reconstruction of religion in the secular context might just as well be called its deconstruction. But scientific and secular humanists have failed at this. The problem is the self-limitation of scientism and its inability to connect with the core issues. First: the secular must include religion by definition. Any other view is to use bad science to outlaw freedom of religion. Next, the issue with religion is the issue of metaphysics and someone like Kant is a far better starting point than positivism which has made science into a very narrow perspective. The spiritual domain is real but its character is not easily understood by ‘species man’ who intersects with the spiritual realm without the necessary comprehension. Some issues have to be taken on faith, and there the trouble starts. In fact the exploiters soon discovered the trap of ‘faith’ while those inside religion often prospered up to a point with this stance. But faith abused is faith set to crumble, and we are back at the question of the ‘noumenal’ and its apprehension. We should at least consider the Kantian perspective which is a modernist, Enlightenment critique of religion and a guide to navigating through its metaphysics. The Kantian stance, although not first appearing in a society with religious free speech, is open to theism and atheism and has a few suggestions about morality and the failure of monotheistic religions to deal with that.

We cannot in any case expect scientism to get religious issues correct. To reconstruct religion in the context of a secular culture can be done in many ways. Hegel suggested that religion would pass into philosophy. Completely simple. Schopenhauer was able to reinvent buddhism in a thimble size version of considerable elegance.
The issues of Xtianity can be studied in a new way via their place in a larger scheme of history such as the macro model and its take on the Axial Age. This shows that the mythic version of the emergence of Xtianity fails, but so does the reductionist version of biblical criticism. We can see ‘spiritual’ powers operating in history, and the irony is that secularism and religion are both the outcomes in part of this larger dynamic.
The spiritual is not in contradiction to the material. We must assume two ways to take the spiritual: the ‘material/spiritual’ as the realm within greater nature of the manifestations of the old-fashioned idea of the spiritual, and the real ‘spiritual’ beyond the manifest forms. This and many other confusions pervade religion and the temptation to invent myth is endemic.

We can reconstruct religion in a secular context with two broad avenues of study: the ‘cosmological’ and its inherent antinomial character which generates ‘god’ ideas, and also ideas of the void. And the remain of human (spiritual?) psychology at its high end, as portrayed in terms of the toolkit of homo sapiens: the classic states, sleep/dreaming, conciousness at the organismic level, and ‘self-consciousness’ as a gateway to a final consciousness, sometimes called ‘enlightened’, a term suffering semantic entropy. These two graduate from Xtianity/Islam (monotheism) and ‘macro-buddhism’, the buddhism of the ‘santana dharma’.
That’s it.
It is thus very easy to reconstruct religion inside the secular and it is useful to do so as long as we don’t create the Problem in reverse. In fact, in the critiques of the mindfulness we see how the secular reconstruction of buddhism is tending to chaotification. But that does not negate the potential of the basic reconstructions.

In general, the story resembles the tale of The Seven Samurai: ordinary man is beset with the spiritual demonic realms and his is subject to the hope of some kind of help. The danger is the demonic invading the secular and perverting its logic. But there is no inherent need for the spiritual protection of tradition. The story asks for new exemplars.

The situation we can see is highly confusing to a being with the limits pointed to by Kant. So we can manage a partial interpretation of religious tradition, until their time is up, so to speak. And that is the coming chaos we face: the collapse of religious perceptions and the instant failure of the ‘spiritual/material’ rendered via scientism…

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