Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Doesn't everyone want world peace? I hate to sound like I'm auditioning for the Miss America beauty pagent, or a one-too-many-acid-trips hippy but don't we?

Ever since my faith in God was removed, I've been all the more concerned about morality and unity. Gora, the noted Indian Atheist said, “Because morality is a social necessity, the moment faith in god is banished, man’s gaze turns from god to man and he becomes socially conscious. Religious belief prevented the growth of a sense of realism. But atheism at once makes man realistic and alive to the needs of morality.”

Sam Harris has spoken out against using the labels, like "atheist." I am forced to agree with him. The more labels, the more division. Labels point out our differences when the similarities are so much greater. I just don't believe in God or the divinity of any books. I have no reason to believe in the supernatural but there are many things that we can all agree on. It's our similarities, our common goals and aspirations that can bind us together.

This polarity, with the believers clinging to religious dogma, and the non-believers clinging to science will get us nowhere in the end. Few will cross over and the wall will just keep getting harder to cross .

It is only the unfounded, unevidenced dogma of religion that I reject. However, as Sam Harris said, "A kernel of truth lurks at the heart of religion, because spiritual experience, ethical behavior, and strong communities are essential for human happiness... Clearly it must be possible to bring reason, spirituality, and ethics together in our thinking about the world."

We are all connected by the mere fact that we are all humans experiencing this world. Ethics and Morality naturally lead one to go beyond yourself through spiritual experience. Feelings of love and unity greatly enhance contemplative arts which in turn enhance those feelings. Spiritual experience is an empirical fact. It has nothing to do with proving religious dogma and everything to do with enhancing and better understanding human experience. These experiences can be meaningful without the irrational dogmas that so often accompany them.

Perhaps it is here in the realm of unique human experience and spirituality, the point between religious dogma and the cold facts of science that we can find a common ground to build on.

I still reserve the right to criticize religious dogma, don't misunderstand me. Ultimately, religious dogma and superstition must be erased from mankind. It can only continue to divide us and hold us back from personal, social, and scientific progress. Inter-faith relationships are certainly admirable but appear to be mere band-aids covering an immeasurable gap. The graphic above can only work long term when those symbols represent a culture or historical point of view, not a dogma.

However, I'm writing this now because I've been reading "Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James as well as some articles about rational mysticism and religious experience from a psychological and scientific viewpoint. Kudos to arama, EJ, and the gang at XGH's blog for showing me the light. Empirical facts are undeniable. Admit to the truth when you see it.