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Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God 
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 Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God



Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:57 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
Well, shoot. All those hours going to church when I was younger without ever feeling much (except for extreme boredom). Apparently I should have taken LSD.


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Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:09 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
geo wrote:
Well, shoot. All those hours going to church when I was younger without ever feeling much (except for extreme boredom). Apparently I should have taken LSD.

I haven't finished this chapter, so I haven't gotten to the LSD part. But it's interesting about your experience attending church as a young'un. What young person really could get anything from church? With apologies to the religious, I just don't think the church experience can appeal to children. The type of uplift that Haidt says religion gives is an adult thing, by and large.

I really think that the vertical axis leading people to something higher is the true "God gene," even though God doesn't have to be involved. It's universal that we experience this sense of moving to a higher plane, i.e., divinity, and that gives us a true common vocabulary with which to talk to each other, whether we're atheist or theist. This chapter brings things into focus and reconciles (potentially) the two opposing sides.

The critique of Enlightenment rationalism, with regard to a fuller view of morality, is trenchant. There is a tradeoff to be incorporated with every advancement in civilization.



Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:59 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
"With apologies to the religious, I just don't think the church experience can appeal to children"

Tell that to Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thats a bit presumptuous my friend. Some have heard their calling early



Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:07 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
geo wrote:
Apparently I should have taken LSD.


well it worked for Crick :-D , (not to mention Hendrix, Floyd, and countless others throughout.)

faint heart ne'er won fair maiden :wink:



Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:51 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
ant wrote:
"With apologies to the religious, I just don't think the church experience can appeal to children"

Tell that to Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thats a bit presumptuous my friend. Some have heard their calling early

Ah, I was too categorical.

But think about when as people we (generally) begin to be able to feel the elevation that Haidt talks about, and in what circumstances.



Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:14 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
Just look at Jesus Camp




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Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:28 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
Well, the Catholics at least aren't that great at indoctrination. I've even heard Catholicism is an almost sure path to atheism. :-)

I'll have more to say later. Not quite finshed the chapter yet either.


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Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:49 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
Okay, I was thinking more about when kids hang out in the regular church services with their parents, and how that's likely to bore them. On the other hand, there's nothing that bad about boredom. Boy is that video hard to watch.



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Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:54 am
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
DWill wrote:
Boy is that video hard to watch.

My “theory” is some of us are oriented to belief in God and some of us aren't. That sounds a little too much like the woman in the beginning of that video who says there are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Jesus and those who don't.

But what Haidt seems to be saying and what I’ve always suspected is that all of us are capable of that feeling of “oneness” with the universe. It’s just that believers—those with an orientation towards God—will usually interpret that feeling as a connection to God, while an atheist will interpret it as something else entirely.

Haidt wrote:
Even atheists have intimations of sacredness, particularly when in love or in nature. We just don’t infer that God caused those feelings.

I kind of bristle at the “even atheists” part even if I agree with his statement. A great word for this feeling is numinous - having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of a divinity.

Not sure about Haidt’s “third dimension”— the Z axis—which he correlates as the opposite of disgust. To me he doesn’t quite connect the dots and moves quickly into more political territory. Or does Haidt's third dimension include political thought as well? I may need to reread this chapter.

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My claim is that the human mind perceives a third dimension, a specifically moral dimension that I will call “divinity.” (See the Z axis, coming up out of the plane of the page in figure 9.1). In choosing the label “divinity,” I am not assuming that God exists and is there to be perceived. (I myself am a Jewish atheist.)

Image

Back to Jesus Camp, I'd like to see some data on the long-term consequences of Jesus-camp style of indoctrination. How many of these kids actually became mindless devoticons (a word I just made up)? Does such indoctrination actually enable these kids to feel that sense of “oneness” in a church setting as opposed to a nature setting? I suspect it does. This is nature's way perhaps, giving us those bursts of dopamine, as the carrot to guide us into bonding with the group. And if that's true, it seems rather like a function of natural selection that is increasingly at odds with the modern environment. Haidt sees some good or at least empathizes with the conservative ethos of elevating our society with sacral elements:

Haidt wrote:
I believe it is dangerous for the ethic of divinity to supersede the ethic of autonomy in the governance of a diverse modern democracy. However, I also believe that life in a society that entirely ignored the ethic of divinity would be ugly and unsatisfying.


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Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:55 am
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
geo wrote:
My “theory” is some of us are oriented to belief in God and some of us aren't. That sounds a little too much like the woman in the beginning of that video who says there are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Jesus and those who don't.

But what Haidt seems to be saying and what I’ve always suspected is that all of us are capable of that feeling of “oneness” with the universe. It’s just that believers—those with an orientation towards God—will usually interpret that feeling as a connection to God, while an atheist will interpret it as something else entirely.

The reason I like Haidt's z-axis isn't that I find it so compelling conceptually in combination with the X- and y-axes, but that it strikes me as unequivocally true that an impulse toward the sacred is universal. If we don't have the sacred writings, objects, histories, rituals, etc. already given to us by an institutionalized religion, we'll find something else to sacralize; we have to. For many people, family becomes the primary sacred grouping, but there are many other instances, and I think the feeling of oneness or vastness in the presence of nature is just one type. Secular societies have, though, drained everyday life of the sacred, and many rational moderns like it this way. When Haidt lived in India for a brief time, he saw how the Indians had conceived of life as a complex interplay of sacred elements. When he returned, he experienced a carry-over, adopting at least the Indian custom of removing his shoes on entering his house. He could appreciate the reasons that Indians felt it was essential to continue these seemingly arbitrary customs.

I appreciate what Haidt has done because I feel I have a better basis for using the word 'spiritual.' That has long been a problem for me. What does it really mean? It means that we feel this significance in things and experiences that the things and experiences would not seem to possess inherently. But we invest them with something that is akin to love. I'm not ready yet to embrace 'transcendence,' but I'll let it be known if I do.
Quote:
Back to Jesus Camp, I'd like to see some data on the long-term consequences of Jesus-camp style of indoctrination. How many of these kids actually became mindless devoticons (a word I just made up)? Does such indoctrination actually enable these kids to feel that sense of “oneness” in a church setting as opposed to a nature setting? I suspect it does. This is nature's way perhaps, giving us those bursts of dopamine, as the carrot to guide us into bonding with the group. And if that's true, it seems rather like a function of natural selection that is increasingly at odds with the modern environment. Haidt sees some good or at least empathizes with the conservative ethos of elevating our society with sacral elements:

Here's where I could agree with Richard Dawkins, who famously equated religion with child abuse. It's unconscionable to take brains that are not fully formed and subject them to this treatment. Mystical sensations of oneness I believe are reserved for mature brains. Kids are different. In any event, what this horrible woman is doing is nowhere close to opening up spiritual experience.
Haidt wrote:
I believe it is dangerous for the ethic of divinity to supersede the ethic of autonomy in the governance of a diverse modern democracy. However, I also believe that life in a society that entirely ignored the ethic of divinity would be ugly and unsatisfying.

He's all about the trade-offs. He can't be a partisan these days, is what he tells us. To be one, you probably need to maintain belief in pure evil.



Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:26 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
DWill wrote:
The reason I like Haidt's z-axis isn't that I find it so compelling conceptually in combination with the X- and y-axes, but that it strikes me as unequivocally true that an impulse toward the sacred is universal. If we don't have the sacred writings, objects, histories, rituals, etc. already given to us by an institutionalized religion, we'll find something else to sacralize; we have to. For many people, family becomes the primary sacred grouping, but there are many other instances, and I think the feeling of oneness or vastness in the presence of nature is just one type. Secular societies have, though, drained everyday life of the sacred, and many rational moderns like it this way.

I heard an old CBS Radio Mystery Theater show last night based on the short story, The Doll by Algernon Blackwood. The host, E. G. Marshall, said this between the second and third acts:

“It is said that once a westerner has come into contact with the east, his eyes are opened. His values warp and he accepts phenomenon his own culture would reject. As if the magnetic needle of one’s beliefs inexplicably change direction from pointing north to pointing east.”

What a great line! In context with the story, he was probably talking about the dark side of humanity—evil. I thought of Wright’s course on Buddhism when I heard it, but it seems to apply to what Haidt is saying in this chapter about the spiritual dimension. Haidt’s own needle changed direction after spending some time in India when he was a graduate student, seeing a complex interplay of sacred elements there.

Here’s what I've always liked about Haidt. He holds fairly nuanced views of political thought and religion too. I saw one of his TED talks a couple of years ago and it was refreshing to see a discussion without the judgment (which comes from the myth of true evil). Haidt talks about liberals and conservatives as if each has something legitimate to bring to the table instead of just belittling the “other side” which many of us tend to do.

Likewise, this chapter gives me a better understanding of the religious perspective or at least a different way to look at it. I tend to grope around this z axis. But clearly Haidt is on to something—what's missing in western society. Joseph Campbell, too, noted the lack of spiritual dimension in our modern “bottom-line” society, which is evident in the prominence of our buildings. In medieval times, the cathedral was the tallest building in town; in the 16th, 17th, 18th centuries, the political buildings were tallest; and today, the office buildings (economic, financial centers) have become the tallest.

At the very least, Haidt’s research on morality may help us stop bickering for a moment—“how easy it is to divide people into hostile groups based on trivial differences”—and see the anomie that pervades modern society.

“We can’t go back, either to a pre-consumer society or to ethnically homogeneous enclaves. All we can do is search for ways that we might reduce our anomie without excluding large classes of people.”


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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
Thanks--terrific summary. Now I'm thinking again of Stuart Kauffman's book, Reinventing the Sacred. I'm not actually so certain that sacredness needs to be reinvented, or even that it can be, in the way that religions have captured the sacred. I was a member of a Unitarian Church for a few years, and I have to say that the Unitarians' attempts to create a sacred sense through ritual and symbols struck me as artificial. But I don't see a contradiction in cultivating awareness within secularism of how much we may be in danger of losing if we overemphasize the material and rational. Emerson had something to say about that in his Divinity School Address, which I might look up again. Well, I do remember something of it. He says the solution to the inadequacy of Christianity is not to create another cultus to take the place of it.

I agree about Haidt being one of the best people around to bridge the liberal-conservative divide. It would worry me to see either side carry the day, as they're currently constituted.



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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
DWill wrote:
I agree about Haidt being one of the best people around to bridge the liberal-conservative divide.

Haidt seems a good one to bridge the gap between atheism and spirituality as well. I'd like to see Emerson's piece. Do you remember what it was called?

This environmental essay by Wendell Berry seems to resonate with similar themes of a spiritual deficit, but in more explicitly Christian terms. I can't find the entire article, but here's a condensed version.

First, an excerpt:

Quote:
. . . I am well aware of what I risk in bringing this language of religion into what is normally a scientific discussion. I do so because I doubt that we can define our present problems adequately, let alone solve them, without some recourse to our cultural heritage. We are, after all, trying now to deal with the failure of scientists, technicians, and politicians to “think up” a version of human continuance that is economically probable and ecologically responsible, or perhaps even imaginable. If we go back into our tradition, we are going to find a concern with religion, which at a minimum shatters the selfish context of the individual life, and thus forces a consideration of what human beings are and ought to be.

http://thebloath.wordpress.com/2009/05/ ... ell-berry/


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Post Re: Ch. 9 - Divinity With or Without God
youkrst wrote:
geo wrote:
Apparently I should have taken LSD.


well it worked for Crick :-D , (not to mention Hendrix, Floyd, and countless others throughout.)

faint heart ne'er won fair maiden :wink:


I still think LSD and church is a winning combination.

Apparently Graham Nash thought so too. He wrote a song about an LSD experience he had in Winchester Cathedral.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGgiTwsfHlE


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Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:20 am
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