This is a deeply thoughtful piece, a model of its kind, and deserves to be readfullu and pondered long. Here are a couple of things I thought on a first read.
In a religious worldview, one can say that what grounds one’s commitment to treating people decently is that the will of God makes everyone sacred. But then what grounds one’s belief in God? We have moved from one shaky foundation to another; there is no gain in confidence.Which brings to mind this:
... what could be the cause of being as being? Certainly not a being of the universe. For whatever being one would want to indicate as the cause of being as being, it would always be a participating being, a contingent being and, therefore, a caused being. Being, however, is not the cuase-of-being, for it is caused-being. Precisely under the aspects under which it would be indicated as the cause of being - namely, as being - it is not cause but caused, because it is participating and contingent-being. ... Nothing appears much simpler as soon as it is understood that the universe, conceived as the universality of all beings does not have the ground "to be" in itself. However, there is not nothing. There are beings, the universe is. Being is being-caused, being-under-the-influence-of-something-else; therefore it is excluded that this "influencing reality" would not be, for otherwise nothing would be. But something is.
- William A. Luijpen, Existential Phenomenology
There certainly is something mysterious about strong evaluation in a materialistic universe. The Transcendent Something toward which all this points is, however, obscure.Which brings to mind this:
But if the stuff of the universe that we know directly is mind, and matter is the same thing known only by means of conceptual symbols created by mind, it would seem as reasonable to call that part of reality mind as to call it matter. And matter, even crude matter, is not what it was. It has turned into energy, and the atom has become a pattern and the molecule a pattern of patterns, till all the different physical substances and their behaviour have come to be regarded as the outcome of their primitive components. But we have already met with pattern in the nervous system, underlying and rendering possible the most fundamental characteristics of mind. And pattern in some mysterious way possesses a life of its own, for it can survive a change in the identity of its component parts as long as its structure remains the same. ... The pattern of our personalities though it changes slowly remains substantially the same, though every protein molecule in the body, including the nervous system, is changed three times a year. The ingredients have altered but not the structure. ... This world surely is very different from the world of the older materialists.
- W. Russell Brain, Mind, Perception and Science
I don't know how to read this review and maybe you could help. In the 4th para. down the author asserts with confidence his own view of religion:
In the primitive world of nature rituals and tribal deities, there was no clear distinction between the immanent and the transcendent. The sense of cosmic order pervaded everything; there were no clear boundaries between self and non-self, personal agency and impersonal force. Possession by demons was a real and terrifying possibility. In such circumstances, unbelief was unthinkable.
Rodney Stark -- an anthopologist and author of some great work in the anthropology of religion has stated the new standard model of religion pretty well: Religion is not a function of a primitive superstitious mind. Field work, the best and only true evidence we have of a "primitive" mind, shows there is no such thing.
So I know the author is wrong on that foundational fact.
How much of the rest can I read with any sort of confidence?
That is a very good point. I think a good bit of the article is grounded in what the author has heard about things and takes, shall we say, for gospel. That said, and within those limitations, I think he is trying to open a line of communication without the tiresome secularist rancor. The passages from Luijpen and Brain that I cite were meant to suggest that some what he thinks is so ain't necessarily so. Re the passage you cite: Maybe the people in that "primitive world" were on to something with their "sense of cosmic order [pervading] everything.ReplyDelete