Philisophical Musings

of an agnostic polyamorous heterosexual artistic soul

Archive for the ‘Voices:’ 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?

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Written by Philoman

February 20, 2011 at 10:15 am

An Absolutist’s Mind

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Absolutist minds can be a menace. They cause real misery, human misery.

– Richard Dawkins

Written by Philoman

June 14, 2010 at 9:47 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

Readings: Letter to a Christian Nation

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One reader’s review of “Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris: (which I have not read, but plan to)
“…Christianity’s maniacal obsession with people having sex is revealed as morally destitute – religious right political mandates that keep condoms out of Africa only increase the staggering AIDS death toll. Earlier this year Christian luddites unsuccessfully attempted to block the life saving Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, which will prevent many cases of cervical cancer because – in their twisted moral calculus – it might lead to teenagers having a little more sex. In this latter case what is deeply evil – immoral doesn’t begin to describe it – is that Christians have decided that dying of a preventable disease is the price teenagers should pay – their punishment for a capriciously and arbitrarily defined concept known as sin – for daring to enjoy each other’s bodies.… In a world where people are killed every day because they hold different views about which internally inconsistent and ultimately incomprehensible book God supposedly wrote, and mail-order ministers or medieval mullahs impose the ravings of bronze to iron age mystics on impressionable children, scientific marvels save and improve countless lives every day – what excuse is their for belief in a God who slaughters innocent children by the tens of thousands in tsunamis, or the global genocide euphemistically glorified as the Noachian deluge? Or a God seemingly obsessed with who has sex with who and how they have it?”

Written by Philoman

April 29, 2010 at 10:27 pm

What is love?

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According to René Gude, Dutch philosopher, Love is “Het verlangen om weer een te worden met iets waarvan je nooit geweten hebt dat je erbij horde” (The desire to once again become one with something which you never even knew you belonged to) or “een verlangen zonder te weten waarnaar” (A desire without knowing exactly what is being desired).

Stand-up Philosophers video. (Dutch)

Written by Philoman

April 27, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Love, René Gude, Video

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

Critique: The Reason for God

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I have been reading “The Reason for God – Belief in an Age of Skepticism”  by Timothy Keller, as part of my continual search for answers to my many questions. I am not one to take things at face value, or to necessarily trust my “hunches” and “emotions”, and therefore I also strongly believe in challenging myself by taking seriously “answers” from all walks of life, religious or not. Not one of us can be completely non-biased when trying to formulate what we believe. I continually have to struggle against many years of Christian religious teachings, which though I now for the most part reject, still have undeniably had a part in forming the person which I am today.

Tim Keller is a superb speaker. Gifted, talented, engaging, interesting. He is certainly not a poor writer either. And these are of course reasons why he has a great deal of committed followers. As I am starting this critique, I am only half way through the book. The first half deals with all the “reasons” which moften are used in trying to refute the plausability of Christianity in specific or religion in general. Because there is a lot in the book to react to, I need to start getting things down before I have too many loose thoughts floating through my head.

So far, I have found the book to be an interesting and engaging read. Keller certainly seems to be a well read author, and I would say he has done a lot of his homework for this book. Most of what he claims is supported by footnotes which lead to the sources of his propositions. It would naturally be a huge task to also verify all those sources, and one must, as always, work on an assumption that such statements are basically accurate. However accurate though, all the footnoted sources are subject to personal interpretation. What I am saying is, I certainly do not have the time to verify all the sources, and therefore, will base my critique mostly on what Keller himself makes of those sources.

This critique will proceed chapter by chapter. This not only serves to keep things more organized, but also allows commenting (which I would encourage) to also follow that same organization. My hope is two fold. First of all, this method of critiquing a book is for myself a personal method to really absorb, understand and make my own a writers ideas. Secondly, I hope to encourage healthy and respectful dialog  within a wider community. We all have a lot to learn about life, and inevitably, we will all have to make our own choices in how to best go about life. But without true, open and respectful dialog, life will only stagnate. And stagnation is never a good thing.

So, on to it…

Written by Philoman

March 7, 2010 at 8:10 pm