[Sayma-Discuss] Response to George Amoss, Jr. | QUF Facebook Page

Mike Shell bright_crow at mindspring.com
Thu Nov 9 05:58:37 EST 2017



There's a very interesting discussion in the comments that follow the Quaker
Universalist Page's posting of Tim Crane's Times Literary Supplement essay
about religion, atheists an humanists. (see


This morning I added the following response to a thread of comments by
George Amoss, Jr. (http://tinyurl.com/709009655956662):


"What the cosmology-plus-morality picture leaves out is something that is
central to most of the things we call religions: religious practice." - Tim


My apologies, Friend George, for not giving this discussion the singleness
of eye it deserves. One of the worst pitfalls of this e-world we pretend to
live in is that we pay attention to too many things, scurrying from one to
the next, and we rarely sit with one for long enough to listen to it and
give it a response from our true centers.


Of course you are correct that "if we're making choices, we're doing so for
a reason. That reason, I suggest, is produced via our worldview, to which
what Crane calls 'cosmology' is integral."


What I am a still articulating too clumsily, after decades of trying, is
that cosmologies are all merely artifices. They are messy, non-rational,
non-linear attempts to describe to ourselves and to each other how we
experience our interaction with the real-that is, not descriptions of the
real but of how we perceive and interpret our experience of it.


Quite a few removes from the real, quite a few from our ever-changing
interactions with it. All a product of human consciousness, seeking
evocative images to represent what precedes and contains consciousness.


The greatest tragedy of humankind, I think, is our fallacious belief that
only what we can describe is real. Every violence done in the name of belief
systems arises from this fallacy-coupled, of course, with the false claim of
authority to require subservience to one's belief system by others. These
dynamics are always about human struggles for power, even if the powerful
are convinced that they really do have that authority.


I embrace James P. Carse's discernment, expressed in his 2008 book, The
Religious Case Against Belief (http://tinyurl.com/Carse-Religion-Belief),
that "religion" is the mystery which binds a community gathered by a shared
seeking after the sacred, not the "believe systems" used by some to draw
boundaries around what one ought or ought not to consider sacred. (See my
2010 blog post, "Beyond agnosticism"


Yes, I am informed and influenced by cosmologies: the liberal Lutheran
cosmology of my 1950s Ohio preacher's family; the fervent hope of those of
us in the 1960s who embraced the peace and justice movement not as a fad but
as a lifelong commitment; the nontheistic Buddhist psychology that gets me
beneath the need for "belief"; and the archetypal man Jesus, who-whether or
not he existed historically-exemplifies the replacement of human-defined
moral notions with the face-to-face reality of other people.


I know it is ridiculously poetic to say this, but my faith comes from
experience, not from cosmologies. Those cosmologies which have directed my
attention over almost seven decades always leave me sitting-often befuddled
or fearful or in pain-with unconditioned experience. My practice is to
notice when cosmologies, beliefs, fears and pain get in the way of opening
to other people.







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