Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Religion and Spirituality

Today you get two for the price of one because I was zonked out of my head on medicine yesterday. Of course, I'm in serious need of a good sleep at the moment, so it may just be six of one and half a dozen of the other. Anyway, let's get on with this.

Religion is like dandruff: almost everyone has it and most people seem to derive a fair bit of pleasure from fiddling with it. That's paraphrasing Heinlein, since I can't lay my hands on the book to check the exact words. The point is well made, though. As humans, historically we like our religion. We like to play with it, just like we like to play with all our other toys, in the same competitive fashion. The whole "My God's better than your God" thing.

It's tied up with a way of thinking that should run directly counter to our evolution. Religion is based on the concept that belief should override the evidence of the senses. It's a very antiquated way of looking at things, and yet shockingly applicable to modern times as well. Because as I posted earlier, how many of us are really scientifically literate? This continued ignorance definitely fosters religion in society, because if we can not understand everyday things and yet they still work, why shouldn't there be gods who are just as mysterious?

But I think ignorance and the search for mental and emotional comfort is only part of the answer. The rest is spirituality. Or at least, what I take to be spirituality. Bear with me.

We have a need to not only be part of something greater than ourselves, but to invest qualities, values, even emotions into things that really don't (sometimes shouldn't) have them already. From this need spring morality, ethics, religion, patriotism and so on.

Please note: I'm not saying that either religion or spirituality are bad things. I am both religious and spiritual myself and I expect to hear about this post from my gods in no uncertain terms. We just have a problem with accepting this need as a part of ourselves. We make excuses: "It's how I was raised." or "God told me so." or "Such and such a book spoke to me." And then we get defensive when we're called on it.

I am of the opinion that just as the more rational parts of the mind developed to understand and use the world around us more efficiently, so did the irrational parts develop to help us understand and use the subtler connections between us and between us and the world. Just like any other trait some people have a more pronounced tendency to display one or the other, but I think we all have the capacity for both rational and irrational (magical, mystical, whatever) thought.

Just my opinion. I'm now going to go and make sure my house is well-grounded.

1 comment:

Pterotank said...

well what is rationality without some irrational parts, if tht didn't make sense i am only half awake. but anyway i'm chiming in to say i got most of tht... but between one god no god or however many gods i'm still fairly certain they don't control any one person, actions, thoughts, and wills included.