Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Well can you?

Reading goes ever so slowly with me. I can't just read a book. Mulling it over and thinking about a book's ideas, reading tends to be a very emotional experience for me and thus a slow process. Unfortunately, this does little for my memory, as I forget almost as soon as my eyes leave the page. The reason I mention this is because often I feel what I can most accurately describe as religious euphoria while reading certain books. Not too long ago, I read Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" and my mind was blown and I was ecstatic so often while my eyes feasted on its pages. Not seldomly, the book would lie on my lap closed, with my finger in it so as not to lose my spot, as I shook my head, then stared blankly, reveling in exultation at the ideas to which I had just been introduced. This is a common experience for me, especially when reading books of the scientific milieu.

Orthoprax introduced me to pantheism and I was immediately enthralled. I read several articles about it and was especially keen on Paul Harrison's outlook on the matter. It seemed to be the gateway back into religious fervor and awe, without having to sign a bill of divorce to my newly beloved scientific skepticism. But emotionally, the scars were too fresh from the thorn of religious belief that had finally been removed from my side. I swiftly returned to my quest to make it known to whomever would listen that religious beliefs were false and bad for humanity. This quest was reactionary and all but futile. It does little good for my well being and is largely unnecessary, as my views on religious belief as evil and the recognition that there are millions of false beliefs polluting the consciousness of humanity, many of which are FAR worse, have been treated by time with temperance.

So the question that arises is that which the title of this post purports. Can you have Religious Fervor without Religious Beliefs? And secondly, and perhaps more importantly, can Religious Fervor be a co-wife with Scientific Skepticism? I have some thoughts of my own but I would like to hear what my readers have to say on these questions. Please comment uninhibitedly.