Thursday, January 8, 2009

It Sounds Better When They Edit

A link to an interview in the Rochester alternative paper City. Thank you Ron Nesky for turning my rambling into something that sounded coherent.

I have gotten the most comments on this quote

"I would love to get Deepak Chopra alone in a dark alley, because it's such crap"

Sigh.... everybody loves the promise of a good brawl.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Work

"If I know your sect I anticipate your argument"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The work, the creative work, before us all is to stop having the same argument over and over again and see if there is a way to realign and reimagine the topic. Science and Spiritual Endeavor are each the locus of enormous human effort. Much of our best and most imaginative creations have come from these two activities. It is for that reason that we owe it to ourselves to try and rise above a reliance on habitual understandings of what each means on its own and in relation to the other. We owe it to ourselves, given the big fat mess we are in a'la climate change and resource ceilings, to go beyond anticipating the argument and actually listen, actually imagine that their might be something that has not been heard before.

Re-examining history gives us this opportunity as does the exploration of pre-history. What was the impulse which become religion before it became codified into the major forms we see today? What forces shaped the development of science before it became an institutional power in its own right? Expanding our understanding of other cultural perspectives can also free us from anticipating the argument. The western intellectual and spiritual traditions have grown around certain poles which have not been the focus of other societies. What can be learned from those very different evolutions.

In all cases we standard of the past need to be transcended because the no longer serve our needs. We need to stop jumping to a conclusion which deadens our creative response and limits our options.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


'A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it'

Max Planck

This quote is really sums up what we are talking about when it comes to moving beyond the traditional debate between science and religion. The point is not to get Richard Dawkins and Jerry Falwell (or whomever) to agree. They aren't and never will. Religious fundamentalists will never see their scriptures as anything other than literal revealed Truth. Funde-atheists will never see anything but human suffering and intolerance in anything that touches the domains of the sacred. Ok. Whatever.

But what about all the rest of us? Based on my experience there are a lot of people who simply are not literalists of any persuasion. They may be scientists who have never been part of any organized religion and don't hold a belief in a Deity. They may church-goers who have spent their lives trying to understand their experiences within a particular tradition. They may be people who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious". For all those who respect the open ended nature of life and inquiry literalism just doesn't satisfy when compared to the richness of what actually happens. For all these people I think its possible to move in a different direction. Let the media hype the yelling and screaming of the old battle, maybe the rest of us are ready to do the work of moving on.

Given the state of affairs and the challenges we face on the planet I don't think it is really an option to keep the old debate going. We will need narratives of the sacred to motivate our collective will and we need science to tell us how to put that will into action.