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Rev. Michael Dowd: Thank God For Evolution
Posted: 06 November 2008 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 136 ]
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Jackson - 06 November 2008 04:34 PM

give me a break.

You cited an article that expressed an opinion. That opinion could be based on nothing more than the author’s biases. The merits or lack thereof are in the original source.

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Posted: 07 November 2008 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 137 ]
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PLaClair - 06 November 2008 04:34 AM

... In particular, I’m looking for evidence of supernaturalism or magical thinking in Michael’s work. I have not seen it.

Michael posted the conclusion to his book in an earlier post—and I’m including phrases relevant to your question/quest.  Michael intentionally uses an ambiguous wording which supports both a theistic and an atheistic interpretation.  I think you and I must just read this stuff differently.  Whether he believes it himself or not, to me his metaphorical language supports “magical thinking”. 

Michael Dowd - 27 August 2008 07:37 AM

This may be my last post on this forum.
.....
Here’s my vision in nutshell (it’s how I conclude my book). I’m fully aware of how corny this will sound in the context of this forum. I share it here because it expresses my values and is the vision that wakes me up excited to be alive and play my role in the body of life each day.
....

I envision the day when facts are universally celebrated as God’s native tongue, when evidence is honored as divine clues, ....
... Oh, would it come to pass that millions of people wait with eager anticipation for the next revelations from God that appear in journals like Nature and Science. ...
...
I cherish the day when awareness of the nested emergent nature of divine creativity will be universal, and when people everywhere understand that words create worlds. ....
I hunger for the day when most of the world’s religious believers see themselves as religious knowers; when the majority of Christians are Evolutionary Christians, the majority of Muslims are Evolutionary Muslims . . .
...

From http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/4519/P75/#47390

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Posted: 07 November 2008 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 138 ]
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Jackson - 07 November 2008 05:49 AM
PLaClair - 06 November 2008 04:34 AM

... In particular, I’m looking for evidence of supernaturalism or magical thinking in Michael’s work. I have not seen it.

Michael posted the conclusion to his book in an earlier post—and I’m including phrases relevant to your question/quest.  Michael intentionally uses an ambiguous wording which supports both a theistic and an atheistic interpretation.  I think you and I must just read this stuff differently.  Whether he believes it himself or not, to me his metaphorical language supports “magical thinking”. 

Michael Dowd - 27 August 2008 07:37 AM

This may be my last post on this forum.
.....
Here’s my vision in nutshell (it’s how I conclude my book). I’m fully aware of how corny this will sound in the context of this forum. I share it here because it expresses my values and is the vision that wakes me up excited to be alive and play my role in the body of life each day.
....

I envision the day when facts are universally celebrated as God’s native tongue, when evidence is honored as divine clues, ....
... Oh, would it come to pass that millions of people wait with eager anticipation for the next revelations from God that appear in journals like Nature and Science. ...
...
I cherish the day when awareness of the nested emergent nature of divine creativity will be universal, and when people everywhere understand that words create worlds. ....
I hunger for the day when most of the world’s religious believers see themselves as religious knowers; when the majority of Christians are Evolutionary Christians, the majority of Muslims are Evolutionary Muslims . . .
...

From http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/4519/P75/#47390

I’ve spoken with Michael and yes, I do read it differently. He’s putting the supernaturlism on the side. It’s the equivalent of assuming the other person’s point of view for the sake of argument, but if it’s done that way it will be resisted. He’s doing it in a way that will encounter less resistance.

Whether Michael believes in a god-being or not, his approach is more likely to succeed than any other. Insisting that people start free of magical or supernatural thinking won’t get them there. Instead, find a creative way to put the issue aside, and let them figure it out for themselves once the evolutionary principle has fully permeated their thinking. That’s why his ambiguities make sense.

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Posted: 08 November 2008 01:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 139 ]
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PLaClair - 06 November 2008 04:34 AM
Jackofreason - 05 November 2008 09:24 PM

His use of mythical and pantheistic language to create an evolutionary-based religion is one of the vast array of Creationist offshoots that bear no weight within either the religion or science based communities. It is a form of evolving religion which, until every last facet of its entity is discredited by modern science or deemed unsociable by contemporary secular values, will always have an answer and will exist until the end of time, metaphorically of course.

I disagree. First, language alone does not create meaning; language in context does. For example, Einstein and Hawking both refer to “God.”

Second, what evidence do you have to support your charge that Michael’s work is a Creationist offshoot? For that matter, what does that mean? Are you charging him with deliberate deception: trying to sneak Creationism in the back door? Are you diminishing his work because he uses the same words as are used in theism? What exactly is your charge, and then what is your basis?

My impression of what you’ve written is that you’re trying to smash every vestige of theism, even its emotional roots. That’s not reasonable, or necessary. I don’t know you, and this is your first post at CFI, but the impression I get from your post is that of the absolutism that says we must burn down the churches and smash the statues. I believe the better, evolutionary approach is to get people to look at them in a different way. I would never want to scrape the paint of the ceiling in the Sistine chapel, for example, or burn the manuscripts of Bach’s passions. This art is part of our history, and it’s beautiful. I would prefer it had a different history, but we can’t change that now.

Michael’s point is that it’s easier to get people to secularism through the language and images they’re comfortable with, than it is to insist that they renounce everything in their religions while they still adhere to them. The latter approach makes no sense from a scientific, evolutionary perspective. It will never happen that way. Michael is saying that we can and should use language and image to move people toward a scientific world view; you’re saying this only reinforces unscientific thinking.

I’m rambling to make myself as clear as possible. I’d be interested in seeing you support your charge. In particular, I’m looking for evidence of supernaturalism or magical thinking in Michael’s work. I have not seen it.

Firstly, I am sure that whatever I say, I have already dug my own grave with my initial absolutist language . He got to me. He is clearly a Christian in atheist’s clothing. He supports one part of an “evidencial worldview” (his words) and “empirically based” practices, but also supports a worldview that is totally opposite, ie without evidence “we are the Universe becoming conscious of itself” – quite supernatural to me. He also never said he came to terms with the idea that Christ clearly didn’t walk on water or that talking burning bushes exist. What he’s trying to do is to bring people across from the religious side of the fence using religious language as you said – but only in one area. While this is noble, it is impractical. It doesn’t address core prejudices such as homosexual intolerance, or intolerance of Jews (they did after all kill Christ and don’t tell me they aren’t persecuted for that – I saw it daily after bible studies at my high school). Why not address these concepts if he wants to change Christianity’s worldview?

Why Michael’s work is a Creationist offshoot – It doesn’t remove a form of divine input from the equation. He doesn’t say that we were just a product of natural evolution. He suggests that we are the will of the Universe or something like that – from what I could gather. While this isn’t really creationist, it isn’t evolution either. Its pseudo-evolution. Which as we both agree is a sensible way to move the religious among us to a more secular position, but is it the most pertinent problem.

I also agree that religion has given us beautiful things but has also given us some pretty bad things. Read The End of Faith by Sam Harris if you haven’t already – I’m sure you have as you seem to know a bit more about his than I do.

And before you suggest it, I know that religion is not going to be wiped from the face of the planet overnight, I just think there are more important ideals that it inflicts on our culture that are of prime concern.

“I would never want to scrape the paint of the ceiling in the Sistine chapel, for example, or burn the manuscripts of Bach’s passions. This art is part of our history, and it’s beautiful. I would prefer it had a different history, but we can’t change that now.” – I don’t think this has anything to do with the necessity or reasonableness of removing religion. We have no need for religion in terms of the hunter gatherer sense of the word. Religion – at least the concept that many seem to adhere to, the afterlife – gives us reason to not lose our minds in the knowledge that we will cease to exist at some point. Secular Humanism tells us that we can do this without religion. Religion is just more tantalising in what it delivers. As Im sure you are no doubt aware.

[ Edited: 08 November 2008 01:26 AM by Jackofreason ]
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Posted: 08 November 2008 02:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 140 ]
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Jackofreason - 08 November 2008 01:19 AM

Firstly, I am sure that whatever I say, I have already dug my own grave with my initial absolutist language . He got to me. He is clearly a Christian in atheist’s clothing. He supports one part of an “evidencial worldview” (his words) and “empirically based” practices, but also supports a worldview that is totally opposite, ie without evidence “we are the Universe becoming conscious of itself” – quite supernatural to me. He also never said he came to terms with the idea that Christ clearly didn’t walk on water or that talking burning bushes exist. What he’s trying to do is to bring people across from the religious side of the fence using religious language as you said – but only in one area. While this is noble, it is impractical. It doesn’t address core prejudices such as homosexual intolerance, or intolerance of Jews (they did after all kill Christ and don’t tell me they aren’t persecuted for that – I saw it daily after bible studies at my high school). Why not address these concepts if he wants to change Christianity’s worldview?

Why Michael’s work is a Creationist offshoot – It doesn’t remove a form of divine input from the equation. He doesn’t say that we were just a product of natural evolution. He suggests that we are the will of the Universe or something like that – from what I could gather. While this isn’t really creationist, it isn’t evolution either. Its pseudo-evolution. Which as we both agree is a sensible way to move the religious among us to a more secular position, but is it the most pertinent problem.

I also agree that religion has given us beautiful things but has also given us some pretty bad things. Read The End of Faith by Sam Harris if you haven’t already – I’m sure you have as you seem to know a bit more about his than I do.

And before you suggest it, I know that religion is not going to be wiped from the face of the planet overnight, I just think there are more important ideals that it inflicts on our culture that are of prime concern.

“I would never want to scrape the paint of the ceiling in the Sistine chapel, for example, or burn the manuscripts of Bach’s passions. This art is part of our history, and it’s beautiful. I would prefer it had a different history, but we can’t change that now.” – I don’t think this has anything to do with the necessity or reasonableness of removing religion. We have no need for religion in terms of the hunter gatherer sense of the word. Religion – at least the concept that many seem to adhere to, the afterlife – gives us reason to not lose our minds in the knowledge that we will cease to exist at some point. Secular Humanism tells us that we can do this without religion. Religion is just more tantalising in what it delivers. As Im sure you are no doubt aware.

I”ll answer your questions to the best of my ability. Of course, I don’t speak for Michael. He is clearly coming from a Christian background, but so is John Shelby Spong. That doesn’t mean that he shares Jerry Falwell’s theology, or even that he is a “kinder and gentler” kind of theist.

Belief systems change through interpretation, not merely their approach to tolerance and intolerance. For many theists, perhaps most, interpretation is at the core of religion. It isn’t limited to how one interprets scripture; it also covers how one interprets life within the universe. Saying that he should address intolerance is like saying that a species evolves by mending the wounds suffered by its constituent organisms. That’s not how evolution works. Criticism of Michael’s work misses the point completely if it overlooks how belief systems evolve.

This is a fascinating statement: “Why Michael’s work is a Creationist offshoot – It doesn’t remove a form of divine input from the equation.” Jack, you sound like a theist yourself—- “a form of divine input”? What is that? Why did you use that language? If I criticize you for it, does that advance the discussion?

Of course his work is a Creationist offshoot. And I’m a farmer’s son. So what? The point is to find an evolutionary path out of Creationism. Who is better placed to do it than someone who understands it from within? Michael’s central point is that this is rarely accomplished by insisting that people throw off every element of their belief system all at once. Again, with utmost respect, you’re completely overlooking how evolution works.

The point about art and music is relevant because many secularists recoil from it. I did that myself for many years. In those years, I was not appreciating how belief systems really work, or in particular how they are changed.

Jackofreason, the best I can do is make an observation and a suggestion. The observation is that I see no evidence in your writing that you’re employing an evolutionary understanding; on the contrary, you seem to be ignoring it. My suggestion is to re-read Michael’s work with the evolutionary principle firmly in mind. Such a reading made his argument eminently sensible to me. Maybe it will have the same effect for you. Try to make your argument about intolerance, for example, from that perspective. I think you’ll find that you’re comparing apples to oranges.

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Posted: 08 November 2008 03:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 141 ]
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I”ll answer your questions to the best of my ability. Of course, I don’t speak for Michael. He is clearly coming from a Christian background, but so is John Shelby Spong. That doesn’t mean that he shares Jerry Falwell’s theology, or even that he is a “kinder and gentler” kind of theist.

Belief systems change through interpretation, not merely their approach to tolerance and intolerance. For many theists, perhaps most, interpretation is at the core of religion. It isn’t limited to how one interprets scripture; it also covers how one interprets life within the universe. Saying that he should address intolerance is like saying that a species evolves by mending the wounds suffered by its constituent organisms. That’s not how evolution works. Criticism of Michael’s work misses the point completely if it overlooks how belief systems evolve.

This is a fascinating statement: “Why Michael’s work is a Creationist offshoot – It doesn’t remove a form of divine input from the equation.” Jack, you sound like a theist yourself—- “a form of divine input”? What is that? Why did you use that language? If I criticize you for it, does that advance the discussion?

Of course his work is a Creationist offshoot. And I’m a farmer’s son. So what? The point is to find an evolutionary path out of Creationism. Who is better placed to do it than someone who understands it from within? Michael’s central point is that this is rarely accomplished by insisting that people throw off every element of their belief system all at once. Again, with utmost respect, you’re completely overlooking how evolution works.

The point about art and music is relevant because many secularists recoil from it. I did that myself for many years. In those years, I was not appreciating how belief systems really work, or in particular how they are changed.

Jackofreason, the best I can do is make an observation and a suggestion. The observation is that I see no evidence in your writing that you’re employing an evolutionary understanding; on the contrary, you seem to be ignoring it. My suggestion is to re-read Michael’s work with the evolutionary principle firmly in mind. Such a reading made his argument eminently sensible to me. Maybe it will have the same effect for you. Try to make your argument about intolerance, for example, from that perspective. I think you’ll find that you’re comparing apples to oranges.[

Firstly, I feel like David taking on Goliath in one of my first theological debates. Let me find a rock.
Secondly, Im not a theist at all. Quite the opposite. Please critique my theistic language.

I appreciate that religion can evolve as interpretation dictates. I wont dispute this, and encouraging it will be beneficial. However I feel from my deeply secular absolutist beliefs that the debate between evolution and creationism is a debate of ideals. We cant be silent and wait for religion to come around to see the world in a truly scientific light, that would take a millenia. To paraphrase Dawkins, “the battle to fight for evolution education is part of a bigger battle againts religion/irrational thought and thats the fight that I want to win”. Im not discounting an evolutionary method of bringing religion out of the dark ages. I just dont want to have my beliefs turned into some form of theistic-scientific mish mash in the name of progression. I think the method of speaking the truth consistantly without wavering is just as effective a conversion method to bring people to lead completely rational lives. If Dawkins converts one theist a day through his true-to-self beliefs and Dowd brings 10 people 1/10th of the way to becoming secular, wont this result in the same thing. Why must we all march to the beat of the same drum.  Am I wrong?

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Posted: 08 November 2008 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 142 ]
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Jackofreason - 08 November 2008 03:29 AM

Firstly, I feel like David taking on Goliath in one of my first theological debates. Let me find a rock.

Secondly, Im not a theist at all. Quite the opposite. Please critique my theistic language.

I appreciate that religion can evolve as interpretation dictates. I wont dispute this, and encouraging it will be beneficial. However I feel from my deeply secular absolutist beliefs that the debate between evolution and creationism is a debate of ideals. We cant be silent and wait for religion to come around to see the world in a truly scientific light, that would take a millenia. To paraphrase Dawkins, “the battle to fight for evolution education is part of a bigger battle againts religion/irrational thought and thats the fight that I want to win”. Im not discounting an evolutionary method of bringing religion out of the dark ages. I just dont want to have my beliefs turned into some form of theistic-scientific mish mash in the name of progression. I think the method of speaking the truth consistantly without wavering is just as effective a conversion method to bring people to lead completely rational lives. If Dawkins converts one theist a day through his true-to-self beliefs and Dowd brings 10 people 1/10th of the way to becoming secular, wont this result in the same thing. Why must we all march to the beat of the same drum.  Am I wrong?

I share your concern. I think every secularist shares your concern. My concern about your concern is that it ends up being the tail that wags the dog. As a group, we tend to dismiss approaches that seem “too nice,” or that don’t explicitly reject theistic ideas. As Jackson observed, Dowd uses ambiguous language in that respect. That doesn’t make him a theist. It does allow him to work on the foundations of theistic thought without being dismissed out-of-hand. Once those foundations collapse, theistic belief will go with them. It’s an example of giving people a set of facts and letting them draw their own conclusions. It’s a more effective way of getting people to change their minds. People don’t like being told how to think.

Therefore, I don’t accept the presmise behind your Dawkins-Dowd comparison, either the hypothetical math of the suggested tradeoff or the idea that there is a tradeoff at all. There is no alternative, non-evolutionary means of getting from one species to another. Dawkins and others play a role, but they haven’t been very successful, and that’s why. They’re not paying enough attention to how people think. Most respectfully, the idea that this approach is effective is an illusion; it’s based on a wish and it’s contrary to all the evidence. Unless we keep in mind how belief systems evolve, we’re not going to succeed. The proof is in the fact that we have not succeeded with that approach. If we’re going to succeed where we have not succeeded before, I think we need to understand what has been missing in our approach and incorporate it. It’s ironic that the secularist community has overlooked the evolutionary principle. It’s not an option, in my view. It’s a necessary part of a successful strategy.

So instead of seeing this as a debate, try out my suggestion. Think about Michael’s argument from an evolutionary perspective.

[ Edited: 08 November 2008 04:36 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 08 November 2008 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 143 ]
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.

[ Edited: 10 December 2008 11:09 AM by Luke Vogel ]
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Posted: 08 November 2008 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 144 ]
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I don’t know how many of you have heard Dowd on ‘The Infidel Guy’ podcast, but I felt like I ‘got his point’ more from that particular podcast/interview than the Point of Inquiry one (perhaps simply because the Infidel Guy podcast was a little longer and the interview was a little ‘looser’ in structure/questions).  Anyway, in case anyone is interested:

Thank God for evolution: Michael Dowd

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‘we are so fundamentally constituted of desire that we go on hearing music…...even though we know the band is gone and the stage is silent’

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Posted: 06 April 2009 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 145 ]
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I saw Michael’s presentation yesterday in New York City. He was superb.

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Posted: 24 August 2009 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 146 ]
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I come from a Christian background, though I no longer subscribe, and I found myself utterly confused by Rev. Dowd’s point.  I had to listen to his 2-part interview twice to really start to get the idea a bit.  Some of the things he said, I find pretty insightful, but contrasted with the religious portion of what he talks about, I ultimately found his entire argument contradictory.  I actually really dug what he had to say about why religions need to adopt a naturalistic framework, but just simply feel that it is not realistic.  What DJ said about Dowd being a Christian-Lite made perfect sense in that, without Christ and the literal (or mostly literal) Bible how can he even define himself as a Christian. 

I feel that his overall argument is that religion and metaphorical language (or night language) are somehow necessary to humanity, and that we must adapt Evolution as a religion to have a stable, rational society.  To do this all religions must drop the doctrinal, irrational beliefs from their structure and focus more on the facts of the universe.  It sounded like he was trying to create a new religion, but he is not.  He is trying to create a Meta-Religion that can advance all religions.  My only question then, is how can you justify belief in any religion?  If all the core beliefs are now gone from every religion, then they have lost their essence and are essentially all the same.  It sounds like he is really just asking us to choose the metaphors that we wish to use to describe nature and that is all. 

Through all of this, I could not shake the feeling that he understands that what he is peddling is not religion (and certainly not Christianity.  If you take a literal Jesus out of the equation, is it not now Judaism?) and that all this is a disguised effort to lure the religious masses into a rational, scientific world-view that he feels cannot accept a naturalistic world-view otherwise.  At the end of the 2nd interview, I really could not tell you what differentiates him from his atheist wife.  It seemed like they believed the same things, just talked about them differently. 

I should note, that I have not been able to hear him speak and have not yet read his books (though I plan to) so all this is based solely on his interviews with DJ.

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Posted: 24 August 2009 07:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 147 ]
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Eternally Learning, welcome. Interesting moniker for someone expressing your views.

As a strong proponent of Michael Dowd’s work, I’ll go to bat for him here.

Think of it in evolutionary terms. We have to start from where we are. We don’t have the option of evolving from a non-religious culture, because that’s not where we are. Michael’s point, as I understand it, is that if we want to get from A to M, we can’t jump to Z and hope to make our way back to M; or jump to Z and hope to stay there, for that matter. It’s important that we use the language in which people think.

I met Michael a few months ago and spent some time speaking with him. He’s a Christian by background but is no longer a theist. Most likely, his language will always contain signs of his background. That’s to be expected.

If he’s trying to create a meta-religion free of supernaturalism, I don’t see the problem. It seems to me that would be an ideal state of affairs for secularists. Saying that this strategy would denude each of the religions of its “core beliefs” begs the question: if people ever come to the view that a humanist ethic was the core message of religion all along, or just the message they wish to carry forward, and then live according to such an ethic without resorting to supernaturalism or divisive theologies any more, we will have arrived at John Lennon’s “Imagine” point. I’d be hard pressed to think how this wouldn’t be a major leap forward.

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Posted: 25 August 2009 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 148 ]
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Hi PLaClair, thanks for the welcome!  I think that I may not have clearly stated where I am coming from in my last post.  To clarify, I do not have any problem with the thought behind what he is doing, the end goal, or really even the methods.  In fact, I think that what he is doing is admirable, I merely think that it is unrealistic, and maybe even a little deceptive.  Reading your reply prompted me to go back to the podcast again, after which I realized that I misheard some of what he was talking about.  What primarily threw me off I think, is that when DJ commented that when Michael says “god” he doesn’t mean “GOD” he means the universe and humanity, Michael said that that was not the case.  When I listened closer, I understood that Michael is not promoting the idea of a literal deity, so that took some of the confusion out of it.

All that being said though, I still hold to my point that he still basically seems like he wants to lure the religious away from their doctrine by stating that his Meta-Religion will offer the best of both worlds and will lead to a more harmonious Earth, and from your response it doesn’t seem like you really disagree with me on this point.  Maybe you misinterpreted what I meant by “lure” as I suppose that implies some sort of malicious intent, but that is not how I meant it.  What I am trying to convey is that I feel that he is basically saying that by offering the religious their metaphors they will be more inclined to leave behind the superstitious portions of their religion and thereby evolving towards a naturalistic, atheistic worldview.  Another way I look at it is that while people like Dawkins take the strategy of attacking the superstition in religions, Dowd takes the opposite strategy of appealing to the metaphorical in religion.  I think that was your point when talking about what the “real” core beliefs of religion are.  The inherent problem (or maybe I should say difficulty) with this strategy is that looking at it from this view creates this question of what the core of a religion is, and the answer is ultimately debatable and would likely be different for every religion.  Additionally, both Dowd’s strategy and Dawkins’ have the same big hurdle to overcome; convincing the religious that their beliefs are not factual and have not come from a god, but rather from nature.  As we see time and time again though, when people have an irrational belief in something, rational arguments don’t do much to move them from it.

As I write this though, I am realizing something else; the strength in Dowd’s strategy is that it is can bypass the need to reach the religious logically.  If he can move them emotionally by speaking of Evolution and science in a metaphorical way, the logic will then follow.  There are still some things about his language that will be pretty off-putting to most Christians at least (I can’t really speak for other religions), but as far as I’m concerned he seems to be coming from a good place and is not watering down science so I have no gripe with him.  He had a lot of new (to me at any rate) concepts to relay in just a couple of short interviews so it took me a bit to really work it through my head, but I am glad I did.  No one can say that he is not thought provoking   I look forward to reading his book.

PLaClair, I also want to respond directly to what you had to say as well.  Like I already stated, your reply prompted me to take a 3rd listen to the interviews, so thanks for your honest comments.  I wanted to first ask you what you meant in your opening statement by “Interesting moniker for someone expressing your views.”  Intention often gets lost in text and I wasn’t sure what you were commenting on.  Also, in response to the A to M to Z comment; what are A, M, and Z?  Do we all agree on where we are and more importantly, where we want to be?  I think that my life story of being raised an adamant believer and gradually transitioning away from that through logic and science, is proof positive that the goal of reaching the believer through logic is possible, and I would guess that there is at least one person out there who was in a similar position to me who came to a similar position to what I currently hold through Rev. Dowd’s evangelism.  The other item from your reply I wanted to comment on is where you state that the humanist ethics may well be the actual core beliefs of religions.  I would say that the core beliefs are the superstitions portions, the literal mythology.  The humanist ethic, as you put it, is more about the ideals that each religion has.  In other words, belief refers to god, morals and ethics refer to god’s commandments and laws.  It’s still debatable which of the two is more important in each religion, and the answer will likely vary from person to person.  My only concern is about the aspects of religion that are not superstitious, but are also not moral in an Evolutionary sense?  Gays, for instance are considered immoral in the Bible.  There are dangerous things in most religions besides the superstitions.  Let’s also not forget that underneath all of this is the fact that regardless of the ideologies that people have created to justify their misdeeds, all of the evil that has happened in humanity’s history was caused by humans.  I can already see the beginnings in even this thread of new ideological battles to be waged.  Let’s try not to make this a future like South Park joked where we have just found new things to kill each other over and remember that self-correction and an honest exchange of ideas are at the core of science, and are truly ideals that we can live our lives by.

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Posted: 25 August 2009 08:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 149 ]
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EL,

Good post! You clarified plenty and I agree with most of it. Just a couple comments.

“. . . looking at it from this view creates this question of what the core of a religion is.” There’s no “there” there. The core of an abstraction is whatever people say it is.

“Interesting moniker” refers to your use of the word “Eternally.”

A to M to Z just refers to the evolutionary process. Occasionally people make big jumps in their thinking but more often our views evolve.

Here is my vision about the kind of luring we might wish to do:
http://quotations.about.com/cs/poemlyrics/a/The_Pasture.htm

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 27 August 2009 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 150 ]
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PLaClair, thanks for the kudos!  I think what we have here is another need for me to clarify : ) 

As far as what the core of a religion is, it does not matter what reality is.  Since the religious are those we wish to persuade, it is only what they perceive the core to be that truly matters.  That is why I state that what the core is, is debatable.  Obviously for Michael’s message to have any effect, they would first need to feel that the ethics and morals are at the core.  This still leaves the problem of intolerant, not to mention violent, morals and ethics that many religions have deep within their doctrine and tradition.  I think though that if facts, reason and rational-thinking are truly being worshiped in this Meta-Religion though, that it is likely those aspects will gradually disappear. 

I’m glad you were referring to “Eternally” and not “Learning,” as I initially thought you were trying to say that because I had opposing views, I was not learning.  Just goes to show how reading emotion into non-living text can cause problems : )  As for using the word “Eternally,” I did not intend to use night language as it were, but rather just meant to convey a sense that I never intend to stop learning.

When I was talking about the A to M to Z statement, I understood what you were trying to convey about it representing Evolution.  I simply meant that it is up for debate what “A” represents as surely many people have different views of our current situation, what “Z” represents as the end goal of all this is likely different for those involved, and what “M” represents since the midway point is even harder to come to a consensus on when “Z” is still up for grabs.  I do agree though that methods are needed for the lowest common denominator as well as the highest.  As the Sunday church-goers who likely never give any thought to their beliefs are not likely to be persuaded by well thought out and demonstrated facts, logic, and reason, theologians are just as unlikely to be persuaded by this meta-religion concept.

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