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Religious people have a brain so why don’t some use it?

 

Star Trek – All Our Yesterdays via http://tos.trekcore.com

The title of this article is meant to be tongue in cheek. Obviously some religious people are bright and apply intelligence to their faith and practice. But there is a sector that seems to blindly accept whatever a particular religion teaches.

I met one of these folks last night at church. S/he seemed like a nice person but after speaking with him/her for a while, I automatically tuned out while s/he rambled on with the usual Catholico-paranoido-hypocritico Beware! The world is sending you to hell! preaching.

Walking back to where I had parked, it felt like I had time traveled in a way. I’d just spoken to a medieval person. That is, someone with a medieval mindset. It reminded me of the Star Trek TOS episode “All Our Yesterdays” where Captain Kirk is sent to a planet resembling Earth’s Middle Ages. An unkempt woman hears Kirk speaking to his invisible crewmates through a portal and hisses that Kirk is a witch. Meanwhile, the fearful and rigid male authorities imprison him.

“Witch… Witch… you’re going to burn, WITCH!” – Star Trek – All Our Yesterdays via http://tos.trekcore.com

That scenario of the Middles Ages, however, is a simplification. Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D. points out that Medieval people could be just as complex as us—despite not having access to computers, the internet and smartphones.

So what is going on with some religious people these days?

We all have pretty much the same sized brain. But apparently there’s a catch. Neuropsychology tells us that some brain regions are more specialized than others. So we develop a greater density of neural pathways in our strong areas, usually at the expense of other less developed areas. Everyone differs here. Some might be strong in abstract thinking, like Einstein. Others in artistic processing, like Picasso.

To be fair, the person I spoke with last night did make me think. Sometimes it’s good to get the Beware of Hell! sermon. It makes us look at ourselves and clean up any areas in need of improvement. If we’re sincere, that is. I know some Christians who are so distasteful or obsessive that I can’t associate with them.

But I digress.

The upshot of last night’s encounter was that I felt like I’m still on track with Earthpages. I imagine some religious persons will see the site as satanic and delving into the devil’s paranormal world. Especially with recent articles like Psi – Good, evil, real or fantasy?

To me, these people are like those stubborn, ignorant characters in Trek’s “All Our Yesterdays.” For some reason they have developed a bigotry-fear complex, and so far haven’t cultivated the knowledge and analytical skills to circumvent it.

I mean, what else would it be?

 Trinity reveal eight rare and fascinating ancient manuscripts online (irishcentral.com)

 Is this blasphemous? (quinersdiner.com)

 Does Religious Liberty Apply to All Religions? (washingtonmonthly.com)

 Our Calvinism Spared Us From Modernity: (brothersjuddblog.com)

 Civilization VI To Deepen Religion And Fix Various Annoyances In Its Next Big Update (wccftech.com)

 Bow down to the new robot religion (hotair.com)

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The Near Death Experience and the Universal Connectivity

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By TC Gopalakrishnan

Among the many important messages from near death experiences (NDEs), the one thing that stands out is the sensing of the Universal Connectivity between all manifestations.  This is in contrast to the individuation which currently drives the human psychology on this planet.   In the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung (Ref. 1), individuation is defined as the process by which the self is formed by integrating elements of the conscious and the unconscious mind.

This identification is a result of two things: 1. Limited awareness and 2. the Instinct of self-preservation in living beings.  When awareness expands, we sense the source of this limited self and talk about the Universal Self.  In Sanatana Dharma, the ancient philosophy of India, this Universal Self is called the Purusha – the source of all manifestations in the universe.  Purusha is like a primordial fire from which many sparks leave, get embroiled with the nature and, at the culmination of their awareness, rejoin the flame to complete the cycle.

Carl Sagan, the noted astrophysicist, writes in his book ‘Cosmos’ that only a cyclic process can be eternal.

In the early stages of development, human beings must have thought that the moon is self-luminant and that moonlight emanates from it.  With widening awareness, they understood that it is actually the sunlight reflected by the moon.  This metaphor can be used to explain the relationship between the limited self (the moon) and the Universal Self (the sun).  During the NDE, the human being is temporarily thrown into the Universal Consciousness and, hence, feels the source of all things.  That is the basis for sensing the connectivity between all beings during the expansive awareness.  In the next paragraph, we see the expression of an NDEer (Lori, E; nderf.org) about this connectivity.

‘We are all made of the same light, the same energy Being so connected, and seeing the similarities in myself and others has made it extremely easy for me to communicate with people and to support their journeys here on earth.  I am able to tell people with complete certainty that we are all connected, that we are all one. I know there is absolutely nothing to fear about death; it is just a transition away from the physical.’

Another NDEer, Victor Solow, has given an interesting account of his NDE in the October 1974 issue of the Reader’s Digest.  The following lines appear in it:

‘A recurrent nostalgia remains for that other reality, that condition of indescribable stillness and quiet where the ‘I’ is part of a harmonious whole.  The memory softens the old drives for possession, approval and success.’

The above perceptions are a far cry from that of the habitual neurology in which the present humanity is caught.  The very fact that sectarian practices are thriving and creating serious conflicts among the various groups indicates that the connectivity mentioned above is expressly denied by them. What is needed is a revolution in the outlook of people which is currently being guided by individuation – both in pampering the ego at the level of a person and, at the level of groups, in being at logger heads with each other through identification with a nation, belief system etc.  Many Enlightened Masters – like Krishna, Buddha, Jesus Christ, to name a few – have come and gone but, as of now, the universal connectivity is sensed only by a very small part of the human population.  In that respect, the current research on near death experiences has been playing a supportive role to that of the Masters.

The Sanskrit word ‘Athma’ is usually translated as ‘Soul’ in English. However, there is a lot of difference between the content of those words.  While ‘Athma’ is considered a spark of the Divine and so is the same in all beings, the ‘Soul’ is meant to mean a separate entity identified with each person.  For the ‘Soul’ the individuation applies.  That is how they can talk about a particular ‘Soul’ going to eternal heaven or hell maintaining its separate identity.  In contrast, the ‘Athma’ has no separate identity.  At nirvana or liberation, the spark rejoins the flame whence it came.  It is like the space in a pot merging with the expansive space outside when the pot is broken; the inner space has always been of the same nature as the outer space but the pot, by its shape, gave it an illusory identity.  Thus, the ancient philosophy of Sanatana Dhrama has emphasized the connectivity between all beings through the quality of oneness at their essence.

Truth has to be universal and cannot be the exclusive property of any sectarian group.  Connectivity also being universal, it can chime in with Truth.  Reflections on this matter of connectivity and the associated oneness can lift us to higher levels of esoteric perception.  That would make us look at all beings with respect and dignity, leading to global unity and a caring humanity.  The joy of global cooperation and international camaraderie would become a day-to-day reality.  Harmony and joy would then reign on this wonderful planet.

Related matters are covered in the author’s website.

Ref. 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individuation

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/mysticism-articles/the-near-death-experience-and-the-universal-connectivity-an-esoteric-revelation-6849435.html

About the Author

The Author: T.C. Gopalakrishnan was born in Madras (now Chennai), India, in 1941. He received his doctoral degree in Coastal Engineering from the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA in 1978. He served on the research and teaching faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, the North Carolina State University and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait. Aside from his professional involvements, he was interested in the philosophic issues of life for the last forty years or so. This led him to the messages of Ramana Maharishi, Lao Tzu, J Krishnamurthy, UG Krishnamurthy, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Eckhart Tolle, Marcus Aurelius and similar Masters. His book entitled ‘In Quest of the Deeper Self’ is the outcome of his reflections on those and his wish to share the outcome with others.

Gopalakrishnan is a member of the International Association for Near Death Studies. He presented a paper at the 2011 conference of the International Association for Near Death Studies, Durham, NC, USA.  Functions as a freelance counselor for peaceful living.  He lives in Kodaikanal, a hill town in south India, with his family.  Now he and his wife are both retired and currently involved in developing a fruit farm at a village 20 km from their residence.

Website:  http://spirituality.yolasite.com      Blog: http://nde-thedeeperself.blogspot.com

Following this article’s initial publication articlesbase.com has undergone some changes. The original links have been left intact. 


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Postmodernism – Not necessarily absurd or without wings

Inside My Secret Cloning Chamber

Inside My Secret Cloning Chamber: Stuck in Customs / Trey Ratcliff

The term postmodernism became popular in the 1970s and 80s but has roots reaching back through the centuries.

Social theorists usually try to define concepts through a key set of ideas and parameters. Postmodernism challenges conventional perceptions of “the definition” and few seem to clearly agree on its meaning. This is partly because postmoderns questions the very act of defining, labeling and signifying.

If postmodernism has a core idea, it might be that it paradoxically has no core idea upon which to stand. Some say that makes postmodernism absurd. But that stance seems intellectually childish.  Questioning something doesn’t render the process meaningless, as amorphous as outcomes may be. Truth isn’t always black and white and only conceptual control freaks reject uncertainty.

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The Origins And Influence Of The Celtic Cross

Photo: John Trainor

Image by John Trainor via Flickr

By Rob Mabry

The Celtic cross is a cross whose four “arms” are intersected by a central, circular ring – a function of both structural form and symbolism. While the roots of the Celtic Cross are likely in Paganism with the ring symbolizing the sun and “renewal,” it has become a potent symbol of Christianity and Irish heritage. The roots of the Celtic Cross can be traced back to Prehistoric Europe where the “sun cross” – a circle with an “x” or cross shape scratched inside began to appear on cave drawings and burial sites. The image persisted through the Bronze and Iron ages evolving into the Celtic Cross. It’s likely that the “cross” symbolized North, South, East and West.

Irish folklore tells the story of how Saint Patrick combined the Christian Cross with the “sun” to emphasize the importance of the cross to the Pagan followers, giving birth to the Celtic Cross. Though there is likely little truth to the tale. Around the 7th Century, Irish monks in the Celtic regions of Ireland and Great Britian began to erect upright or “high” crosses, many incorporating the Celtic Cross’ characteristic ringed structure. Many of these crosses survive today in Cornwall, Wales and on the island of Iona along with many others in Ireland.

Early Celtic Crosses often bore zoomorphic, or animal imagery, carved in the stone due to the influence of the animal style common in the Iron age. Not surprising given that warrior-herdsmen were so dependent on wildlife for food and clothing. This influence died off after the Iron Age as art in Ireland and Britian moved into the “Insular Period.” Artists during the Insular Art period produced many Celtic Crosses throughout Ireland, Wales and Scotland in the Hiberno-Saxon style. The “Insular Art” movement takes its name from the Latin word “Insula” which means “island.” This applied to the Isles of Britian and Ireland, and spoke to the shared nature of the artwork between the two regions that were vastly different than what was being produced throughout the rest of Europe. The Celtic crosses of this time were ornate and often bore spiraling geometric patterns that likely symbolized man’s “twisting” journey through life.

English: Photo of Muiredach's High Cross, loca...

Photo of Muiredach’s High Cross, located at Monasterboice, County Louth, in the Republic of Ireland. -Wikipedia

Around the 15th century, interest in the Celtic Cross and its influence as an art form waned. In the mid-19th century, a Celtic Revivial began that resulted in increased display and use of Celtic crosses in Ireland. The Celtic cross became fashionable as a cemetary marker in Victorian Dublin around the 1860s. This revival continued to spread across the whole of Irland and beyond and the symbol began to take on importance as a symbol of Irish heritage in addition to its religious conotation.

Today, the Celtic cross is commonly used as a gravemarker, though this is a departure from both medieval and Celtic revival periods when the symbol was used mainly as a monument and had little association with grave markings. The imagery of the Celtic cross has expanded its influence even in modern times, often spotted in jewelry as an expression of Irish pride and Christianity. The symbol is also seen in everything from T-shirts to tattoos. The Northern Ireland national football team use the Celtic Cross imagery in their logo and branding. The symbol has had some unfortunate attention as well and was recently banned from display in Germany when a prohibited neo-Nazi party co-opted the image as a symbol of their movement.

Famous Celtic Crosses that can still be seen today are at the Cross of Kells, County Meath, Ireland; Ardboe Auld Cross, Ardboe, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland; the crosses at Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland; and the Cross of the Scriptures, Clonmacnoise, Ireland.

Article Source: articlesbase.com

About the Author

Rob Mabry is a former Army journalist, screenwriter and technologist. He is owner of Balance Bikes 4 Kids, specializing in bikes and scooters to help your child learn to ride.

Since this article was first published, there have been changes to articlesbase.com. The original links have been left intact. 

Related articles

 Dublin and Ireland’s Secret Heartland (telegraph.co.uk)


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Pablo Picasso and the art of living

Pablo Picasso – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon via Flickr

Pablo (Ruiz y) Picasso (1881-1973) was a Spanish artist, born at Málaga.

In 1901 Picasso painted in Montmartre, Paris, during his so-called blue period (1901-4). This produced a series of satirical, tragic pictures focusing on the poor, the anguished and the lonely.

Next was the pink period (1904-6). A celebration of life, this period depicted young nudes and that great 20th century spectacle, the circus.

Picasso’s innovative bent lead him toward Cubism (rendering three-dimensions without perspective). The most critical step in creating this new school was probably taken with the completion of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907).

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 11 Hidden Secrets in Famous Works of Art (livescience.com)

 Rayo Withanage – An apology (telegraph.co.uk)


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Why religion is not going away and science will not destroy it

In 1966, just over 50 years ago, the distinguished Canadian-born anthropologist Anthony Wallace confidently predicted the global demise of religion at the hands of an advancing science: ‘belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge’. Wallace’s vision was not exceptional. On the contrary, the modern social sciences, which took shape in 19th-century western Europe, took their own recent historical experience of secularisation as a universal model. An assumption lay at the core of the social sciences, either presuming or sometimes predicting that all cultures would eventually converge on something roughly approximating secular, Western, liberal democracy. Then something closer to the opposite happened.

Not only has secularism failed to continue its steady global march but countries as varied as Iran, India, Israel, Algeria and Turkey have either had their secular governments replaced by religious ones, or have seen the rise of influential religious nationalist movements. Secularisation, as predicted by the social sciences, has failed.

To be sure, this failure is not unqualified. Many Western countries continue to witness decline in religious belief and practice. The most recent census data released in Australia, for example, shows that 30 per cent of the population identify as having ‘no religion’, and that this percentage is increasing. International surveys confirm comparatively low levels of religious commitment in western Europe and Australasia. Even the United States, a long-time source of embarrassment for the secularisation thesis, has seen a rise in unbelief. The percentage of atheists in the US now sits at an all-time high (if ‘high’ is the right word) of around 3 per cent. Yet, for all that, globally, the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious remains high, and demographic trends suggest that the overall pattern for the immediate future will be one of religious growth. But this isn’t the only failure of the secularisation thesis.

Scientists, intellectuals and social scientists expected that the spread of modern science would drive secularisation – that science would be a secularising force. But that simply hasn’t been the case. If we look at those societies where religion remains vibrant, their key common features are less to do with science, and more to do with feelings of existential security and protection from some of the basic uncertainties of life in the form of public goods. A social safety net might be correlated with scientific advances but only loosely, and again the case of the US is instructive. The US is arguably the most scientifically and technologically advanced society in the world, and yet at the same time the most religious of Western societies. As the British sociologist David Martin concluded in The Future of Christianity (2011): ‘There is no consistent relation between the degree of scientific advance and a reduced profile of religious influence, belief and practice.’

The story of science and secularisation becomes even more intriguing when we consider those societies that have witnessed significant reactions against secularist agendas. India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru championed secular and scientific ideals, and enlisted scientific education in the project of modernisation. Nehru was confident that Hindu visions of a Vedic past and Muslim dreams of an Islamic theocracy would both succumb to the inexorable historical march of secularisation. ‘There is only one-way traffic in Time,’ he declared. But as the subsequent rise of Hindu and Islamic fundamentalism adequately attests, Nehru was wrong. Moreover, the association of science with a secularising agenda has backfired, with science becoming a collateral casualty of resistance to secularism.

Turkey provides an even more revealing case. Like most pioneering nationalists, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish republic, was a committed secularist. Atatürk believed that science was destined to displace religion. In order to make sure that Turkey was on the right side of history, he gave science, in particular evolutionary biology, a central place in the state education system of the fledgling Turkish republic. As a result, evolution came to be associated with Atatürk’s entire political programme, including secularism. Islamist parties in Turkey, seeking to counter the secularist ideals of the nation’s founders, have also attacked the teaching of evolution. For them, evolution is associated with secular materialism. This sentiment culminated in the decision this June to remove the teaching of evolution from the high-school classroom. Again, science has become a victim of guilt by association.

The US represents a different cultural context, where it might seem that the key issue is a conflict between literal readings of Genesis and key features of evolutionary history. But in fact, much of the creationist discourse centres on moral values. In the US case too, we see anti-evolutionism motivated at least in part by the assumption that evolutionary theory is a stalking horse for secular materialism and its attendant moral commitments. As in India and Turkey, secularism is actually hurting science.

In brief, global secularisation is not inevitable and, when it does happen, it is not caused by science. Further, when the attempt is made to use science to advance secularism, the results can damage science. The thesis that ‘science causes secularisation’ simply fails the empirical test, and enlisting science as an instrument of secularisation turns out to be poor strategy. The science and secularism pairing is so awkward that it raises the question: why did anyone think otherwise?

Historically, two related sources advanced the idea that science would displace religion. First, 19th-century progressivist conceptions of history, particularly associated with the French philosopher Auguste Comte, held to a theory of history in which societies pass through three stages – religious, metaphysical and scientific (or ‘positive’). Comte coined the term ‘sociology’ and he wanted to diminish the social influence of religion and replace it with a new science of society. Comte’s influence extended to the ‘young Turks’ and Atatürk.

The 19th century also witnessed the inception of the ‘conflict model’ of science and religion. This was the view that history can be understood in terms of a ‘conflict between two epochs in the evolution of human thought – the theological and the scientific’. This description comes from Andrew Dickson White’s influential A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896), the title of which nicely encapsulates its author’s general theory. White’s work, as well as John William Draper’s earlier History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (1874), firmly established the conflict thesis as the default way of thinking about the historical relations between science and religion. Both works were translated into multiple languages. Draper’s History went through more than 50 printings in the US alone, was translated into 20 languages and, notably, became a bestseller in the late Ottoman empire, where it informed Atatürk’s understanding that progress meant science superseding religion.

Today, people are less confident that history moves through a series of set stages toward a single destination. Nor, despite its popular persistence, do most historians of science support the idea of an enduring conflict between science and religion. Renowned collisions, such as the Galileo affair, turned on politics and personalities, not just science and religion. Darwin had significant religious supporters and scientific detractors, as well as vice versa. Many other alleged instances of science-religion conflict have now been exposed as pure inventions. In fact, contrary to conflict, the historical norm has more often been one of mutual support between science and religion. In its formative years in the 17th century, modern science relied on religious legitimation. During the 18th and 19th centuries, natural theology helped to popularise science.

The conflict model of science and religion offered a mistaken view of the past and, when combined with expectations of secularisation, led to a flawed vision of the future. Secularisation theory failed at both description and prediction. The real question is why we continue to encounter proponents of science-religion conflict. Many are prominent scientists. It would be superfluous to rehearse Richard Dawkins’s musings on this topic, but he is by no means a solitary voice. Stephen Hawking thinks that ‘science will win because it works’; Sam Harris has declared that ‘science must destroy religion’; Stephen Weinberg thinks that science has weakened religious certitude; Colin Blakemore predicts that science will eventually make religion unnecessary. Historical evidence simply does not support such contentions. Indeed, it suggests that they are misguided.

So why do they persist? The answers are political. Leaving aside any lingering fondness for quaint 19th-century understandings of history, we must look to the fear of Islamic fundamentalism, exasperation with creationism, an aversion to alliances between the religious Right and climate-change denial, and worries about the erosion of scientific authority. While we might be sympathetic to these concerns, there is no disguising the fact that they arise out of an unhelpful intrusion of normative commitments into the discussion. Wishful thinking – hoping that science will vanquish religion – is no substitute for a sober assessment of present realities. Continuing with this advocacy is likely to have an effect opposite to that intended.

Religion is not going away any time soon, and science will not destroy it. If anything, it is science that is subject to increasing threats to its authority and social legitimacy. Given this, science needs all the friends it can get. Its advocates would be well advised to stop fabricating an enemy out of religion, or insisting that the only path to a secure future lies in a marriage of science and secularism.Aeon counter – do not remove

Peter Harrison

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.


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Philia – One of many loves

Brotherly Love Series via Wikipedia

Philia is a Greek term usually translated as brotherly or friendly love.

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle says there are three types of philia:

  1. Love for what is of practical use
  2. Love for what is pleasing
  3. Love for the good

Aristotle is a powerful thinker but, unlike Plato, not a mystical one. And he himself realizes that his three types of philia are not watertight categories.

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