ControversialH Chris Ransford on November 14, 2016 at 2:22 pm
As David Mitchell wrote in ‘The Bones Clock’, the ongoing existence of mystical experiences is what has led, to this day, to the extraordinary resilience and robustness of religions. Nevertheless, it is also increasingly obvious that the reality of unexplainable mystical experiences on the one hand and organized religion on the other hand have very little in common. Organized religions seem to mostly co-opt the people’s search for explanations & sense of purpose, and channel those into directions useful to whatever powers may happen to be in power.
Atheistic scientists are not helping either – they may be perceived as arrogant and as sweeping the questions under the rug with a dismissive shrug, rather than examining them fairly and attempting to answer them in a cold light-of-day, scientific manner.
We cannot go on into the next century however as if the Enlightenment had not happened, as if the scientific age had not dawned, with all matters of spirituality still co-opted by those with a worldly agenda. We cannot continue to hew to religions plagued by lack of logic, circular reasoning, unwarranted leaps of faith, and the like.
I would submit it is high time to both abandon religions based on various works of ancient literature and to abandon glib dismissal of matters spiritual by reductionist thought-leader scientists who believe they have all the answers. The time has come for a form of ‘mathematical theology’, where mathematics that ultimately reduces to 1+1=2 is called upon to examine spirituality and the possible attributes and possible form of existence of Godhood: you’d be surprised how powerful this approach can be.
Religion influences many people’s lives in many ways, and religious institutions, groups and communities play an important role in shaping our societies. The IPSP chapter on religion argues that religions offer a great diversity of cases and experiences, some fostering and others hindering social progress. Moreover, it argues that the best way to engage with religions and religious groups is to build “creative partnerships” that take the best of their potential contribution to social progress. Do you agree?
In this forum, we invite you to share your view and, if you wish, your experience, or things you have witnessed, about the role of religion in relation to such social and collective issues as poverty and welfare, education and science, health, community life, inclusion or discrimination of minorities, gender equality, attitudes about nature and animals, environmental preservation, and so on. By bringing your experience, you will enrich the information available to the panelists about concrete cases.