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Tony Grist

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Rebellious [Feb. 8th, 2009|09:31 am]
Tony Grist
We're not going to church today. There's still ice on the ground- and Ailz is afraid of falling- or of me losing control of the wheelchair on the hill.

Isn't it odd? I've been going to church for just over a month- and already I see it as some sort of an obligation. Do I think God will be angry if I don't go? Well, maybe, because that's how I thought as a child and we never entirely shrug off such things. Of course with my upper- adult- mind I scorn the idea. Why I don't even believe in God.

So why am I going at all? Is it because I feel I owe it to the people?

Here's something I haven't written about yet- or only hinted at.  It's about feeling the need to choose sides. I've been getting increasingly annoyed over the past few years with what I see as the largely mindless embrace of atheistic materialism by the intelligentsia, the commentariat, by the sort of people who set the tone in our world. I don't mean David Attenborough- because his atheism is clearly part of a well-articulated, Darwinian world-view.  I mean journalists, reviewers, comedians, actors- that sort of cannaille. They haven't thought things through or considered the evidence- how could they when they're so busy with their careers?-  they're merely conforming to the fashionable philosophy of the day.  They make me cross.

And rebellious.

Yes, I believe in ghosts/fairies/aliens/angels. Why not?  Show me the evidence that they don't exist. In a quantum universe where over 90% of the matter that must exist is invisible to us I don't see how anything can be ruled out as too far-fetched.

The materialists are still working with a mid-nineteenth century model of the universe.

"What do you believe in, Johnny?"

"Whaddaya got?"

Anyway, that's one of the many reasons I'm going to church- to take my stand alongside the believers- even though their beliefs are not exactly mine.

Oh, and another thing I believe in is intelligent design. Not Genesis, not the Biblical account- which is plainly myth- but in the possibility that evolution is a process set in motion and helped along by intelligence.  Yes I know that's not science- and I don't care. I don't think science- with its dogmatically materialist,19th century guidelines - is capable of giving us a full account of the universe.

[User Picture]From: frumiousb
2009-02-08 11:14 am (UTC)
I guess that I'm with you on that one, and for similar reasons. I still consider myself a Catholic, even though I guess that most Catholics would look askance at my belief matrix. Faith for me provides room for both humbleness and wonder-- I tend to think those qualities are important.

I *do* have trouble with the notion of ID, although less for the idea itself and more for the pernicious way many of its believers try to force it to be taught along side evolution in the schools. I believe in science. I don't think that believing in God contradicts the need and obligation to explore the rules of the world in a wide awake fashion.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-08 12:21 pm (UTC)
ID needs to be rescued from the Biblical fundamentalists.

I believe in science too. ID belongs to the realm of philosophy or theology- and has no place in the science curriculum.
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[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2009-02-08 12:03 pm (UTC)
I hadn't thought of it this way before, but I think I'm going through at least somewhat the same thing -- the need to choose sides against materialism, against positivism, against the idea that humanity is supreme in the universe. I'm immensely uncomfortable with both where atheistic materialism has got us, and where it is leading us, and I think humanity needs God or religion in some form. I'm just having a hard time deciding which form.

I believe in intelligent design too. I think of the Genesis account as a myth that is "true" in some Mysterious sense but not literally. I disagree with the lunatics who want ID taught in science classes -- but on the other hand, I disagree with the other side that wants religion excluded from schools entirely. Like I said above, I think we need it. If nothing else, we pretty desperately need the humility that good religion ought to teach us.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-08 12:29 pm (UTC)
The increasing triumphalism of the scientific materialists suggests that the tide is turning against them. Believers always shout louder when they feel themselves under threat. Witness- for example- the theatricality, hysteria, and brassiness of Counter-Reformation Catholic art.

Religion should be taught in schools- if only as an integral part of human history.
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[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2009-02-08 12:42 pm (UTC)
*stands with you*
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-08 12:47 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: upasaka
2009-02-08 12:58 pm (UTC)
Well said! Part of the reason I have remained active in Freemasonry (which does not allow atheist members, at least in all but one large French jurisdiction) is that very desire to stand with the believers. To most of the guys in my lodge, that means Protestant Christianity -- post-Wesleyan Methodism in particular -- but the details are not as important as is broader idea.

I'm not sure I like the phrase "intelligent Design" because it puts a picture in my mind of God As Behavioural Psychologist with the earth as his Great Maze and Humans as lab rats, but I don't for a momet believe that all this has happened completely randomly, either. It's also a phrase that in this country has become associated with evangelical fundamentalism, which I have very little patience with.

And I haven't seen the word cannaille since I was preparing for the SATs in 1978. Thanks for reminding me of it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-08 02:53 pm (UTC)
Intelligent design is a tainted phrase, but I don't know of a better one that's in common use. "Creationism" is even ghastlier.

Sometimes the right word is the French word- especially when one is curling one's lip in elegant scorn.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2009-02-08 06:08 pm (UTC)
"There must be more to life than having it all."

(Jennie the Sealyham Terrier, in Maurice Sendak's Higgelty-Piggelty-Pop")

Something I've firmly believed for a long time, by the way.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-08 08:07 pm (UTC)
Amen to that.
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[User Picture]From: happydog
2009-02-08 06:54 pm (UTC)
Personally I have to go along with you.

Here in the United States, atheistic materialism seems to be the unspoken creed, especially among the well-to-do, politicians, talking heads and intellectuals. They pay lip service to various creeds and faiths, and then tend to act like atheists otherwise.

I agree that science is incapable of giving us a full account of the universe - inner or outer. Working in the mental health field it quickly becomes apparent how much of our inner space, however well mapped by x-rays and MRI, is unknown territory.

A guy I feel kin to a lot these days is from your neck of the woods - William Blake. He too was unsatisfied with pseudoscientific, atheist materialism, and he saw acutely the difference between the lipservice paid to faith in his day and the actions of those in power.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-02-08 07:34 pm (UTC)
Yep, I dig Blake, too.
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[User Picture]From: petercampbell
2009-02-08 07:08 pm (UTC)
Your attitude to religion is a healthy one - it's when people insist on a fundamentalist attitude that it becomes scary for me.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-08 08:22 pm (UTC)
Fundamentalism is very tiresome. Yes- and scary.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-02-08 07:35 pm (UTC)
Wow! That's is quite a philosophy! Please do keep up posting about your search. Amazing!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-08 08:23 pm (UTC)

I'll keep on posting about this stuff- as it arises. :)
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From: sculptruth
2009-02-08 08:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, I believe in ghosts/fairies/aliens/angels. Why not? Show me the evidence that they don't exist. In a quantum universe where over 90% of the matter that must exist is invisible to us I don't see how anything can be ruled out as too far-fetched.

This is what I carry with me daily. I love your search, your openness, your philosophy. There are so many variables. We have to be true to ourselves.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-08 08:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

"we have to be true to ourselves." Yes. Absolutely!
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-02-08 10:39 pm (UTC)
Oh no, I don't think atheism is at all fashionable. Religion and cod spirituality is the dominant view in the "media" and there is too much tolerance for the madness that results from it. Atheists are always portrayed as ruthless fascists who have no compassion.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-09 11:12 am (UTC)
I disagree. But maybe it depends on the media one consumes.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-02-08 10:45 pm (UTC)
Evolution doesn't need intelligence - it just needs imperfect duplication, changing habitats, and lots and lots of time...

I'm afraid I tend to believe, most of the time, that we are all living in a random bubble caused by the splitting up of nothingness into matter and anti-matter, who knows how or why...

Ascribing life and its diversity to an anthropomorphic God is caused by a limitation of the human brain, which evolved to live in social heirarchies. God is the Tribal Chief to top all Tribal Chiefs IMHO.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-09 11:17 am (UTC)
I don't believe in an anthropomorphic God. I believe in- well- I don't know quite what I believe in because I know my human intelligence isn't capable of imagining It.
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[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2009-02-09 12:39 am (UTC)
Not only dull, but a lack of an open mind about such things leads one down very wrong-headed roads... like the tendency to believe that all questions can be answered and all experiences can be reduced to data, along with the attendant feelings of complete power.

Very little about this life can be known completely; to think anything less is either hubris or delusion.

Science used to be about the quest. Now it is about control. Not about being the one who seeks to know, but about being the one who knows.

Very different things.
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[User Picture]From: currawong
2009-02-09 05:25 am (UTC)
I disagree ... but that's OK ... I love disagreeing.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-09 11:24 am (UTC)
But of course.

I love disagreeing too.
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From: ext_127439
2009-02-10 09:36 am (UTC)
One of your commenters said it would be foolish to think we can quantify all of human experience as data, and would be missing out on something very important. I'd say quite the opposite, not to be contrary- as I've no wish to knock anybody down, but just to put it out there.

I think it can all be quantified, or let me amend that to say 'could'. Right now we have no way of doing it. In fact, to do it we'd probably need a computer just as big and complex as the Universe itself, because the Universe is basically a massive computer constantly jotting out it's lines of fate and Brownian motion. It's all random, but if you know all of the facts, then nothing is random.

Probably the best we'll get to then is very good models. Even understanding ourselves, we're part of a mega-complex labyrinth of DNA and jumbled ideas, blurring with chemicals and seemingly random interactions. It's sufficiently complex to allow for belief in just about anything to never be disproved or proved.

Ghosts and monsters etc, sure, why not. I don't think they're real, as I don't believe in ID, but have no proof either way, the same for everyone- so what does it matter? You take what you want. I'm increasingly coming to think we'll be in post-faith days soon. You can believe or not, but it won't matter, as increasingly whether you're gay or not, black or not, will come to matter less and just be another characteristic- as in, people won't use it to identify themselves.

Iain Banks writes about a post-faith culture, called 'the Culture', in which the greatest good is hedonism and works of amazing scale and beauty. Humans become god-like in their capacity to create stellar architecture, massive worlds, manipulate light and time and etc.. I think that's a great goal, and probably where we're headed.

A for Dawkins and Bill Maher and others- they're in it for the personal glory of being a rebel, basically putting out a fundamentalist message to counter that put out by other fundamentalists. I listen to his lot now about as much as I listen to any religious person. None of them really know, so why sweat it?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-10 03:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, I think it's theoretically possible we could quantify everything as data- that there's no point beyond which our science cannot reach. It's just that our brains are still fairly primitive- and we've a lot of evolving (or whatever) to do before we really become contenders.

I view religion as an interest or hobby. Some of us enjoy it and some of us don't. It's like trainspotting or piano-playing. For that reason I don't suppose it's likely to die out anytime soon. The mistake- of which both the Pope and Bill Maher are guilty- is to take belief seriously. Morality is serious, aesthetics is serious; belief- except as it impinges on morality and aesthetics- is trivial.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-02-10 08:07 pm (UTC)
When iread your passion in words dad it whimsys me in to a soft lullaby, like a bed time story softly spoken but with such underlying power.

Fuckin ausome

love joe
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-11 10:23 am (UTC)
Thanks, Joe.

A bedtime story- like Father Brown, eh?


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