Philisophical Musings

of an agnostic polyamorous heterosexual artistic soul

Archive for the ‘Philosophers:’ Category

The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by André Comte-Sponville

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I have started reading this small book, literally ‘little’, about how spiritualism can be found, even in a world where God might not exist. Atheism, even in my short experience, gets a bad rap, not only because we claim there might not be a God. It is often, as an afterthought, assumed that atheists therefore are not even spiritual, or at least, if they claim to be, it is not a ‘legitimate’ spirituality. The French philosopher André Comte-Sponville wants to put forth the idea that Religion and Spirituality need not be so intertwined as they are in our western culture. But more than just stating that one can choose for a spiritual life even in the absence of God, this book carries a powerful message of tolerance.

In the introduction we read:

Is it a struggle against religion? No; rather, it is a struggle in favor of tolerance, in favor of the separation of church and state, in favor of the freedom to believe or not believe. The spirit is no one’s private property, nor is freedom.

And further on, we can begin to get a taste of where this desire for tolerance starts:

Even my way of being an atheist bears the imprint of the faith to which I subscribed throughout my childhood and adolescence. This is nothing to be ashamed of or even surprised at. It is part of my history – or rather, it is part of our history. …Being an atheist in no way entails being amnesiac. Humanity is one; both religion and irreligion are part of it; neither are sufficient unto themselves.

According to the author, the separation of church and state is the tool with which to combat fanaticism on the one side and nihilism on the other. It remains for atheists to invent the spirituality that goes with this. This book sets out to describe how that spirituality could look like by attempting to answer three ‘essential’ questions. Firstly, ‘can we do without religion’? Secondly, ‘does God exist’? And thirdly, ‘can there be an atheist spirituality’?

Atheists have as much spirit as everyone else; why would they be less interested in spiritual life?


Written by Philoman

February 20, 2011 at 10:15 am

Religion vs Science

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While reading the very fascinating explanation of the “Diagram of the tree of life” by Daniel Dennet, I read these words:

As our understanding of life’s history improves (by further discoveries in the fossil record and genetics), some of the branching relationships and times of common ancestors depicted on this tree of life will inevitably become outdated.

Here is, as I see it, the whole difference between Religion and Science. The first will never admit being wrong, nor accept correction, while the second ultimately only makes the arguments sounder by allowing criticism, rebuttals and, most importantly, the graciousness to say “OK, we were wrong on that count”.

That is what makes Science so exciting; It is constantly changing…or rather, our understanding is constantly changing.

Written by Philoman

June 10, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Why philosophy?

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“Man has no reason to philosophize, except with a view to happiness”

– Saint Augustine

Written by Philoman

March 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm

The Importance of Unbelief | Stephen Fry | Big Think

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The Importance of Unbelief | Stephen Fry | Big Think.

Comedian, actor and writer Stephen Fry was born in 1957 in London and brought up in Norfolk. His latest book is Stephen Fry in America (Harper Collins 2008). This clip is a [part of a longer interview on Big Think where Stephen Fry discusses God and religion from his perspective.

Written by Philoman

March 6, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Superiority of Insight

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“…it absolutely forbids us to be forward in pronouncing on the meaninglessness of forms of existence other than our own; and it commands us to tolerate, respect, and indulge those whom we see harmlessly interested and happy in thier own ways, however unintelligible these may be to us. Hands off; neither the whole of truth nor the whole of good is revealed to any single observer, although each observer gains a partial superiority of insight from the peculiar position in which he stands. Even prisons and sickrooms have their special revelations. It is enough to ask of each of us that he should be faithful to his own opportunities and make the most of his own blessings, without presuming to regulate the rest of the vast field. ”

William James from On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings

Written by Philoman

January 28, 2010 at 6:26 pm