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Spirits in a Material World: A Multi-Blog Conversation

Spirits in a Material World: A Multi-Blog Conversation May 17, 2008

There is a conversation going on around the blogosphere. It includes Larry Moran’s posts on “Sophisticated Religion“, “Sophisticated Believers“, and most recently “Clear as Mud”. Drew Tatusko has contributed a post on “God and Supernaturalism“as well as “Dear Atheist“. My own posts include “Does Being Exist?” and “Not Getting Through“. Carlo posted on “How To Speak To Scientists” and Qalmlea posted “Dragon Winds Around the Pillar“.

Would if be going too far to say that those who have had mystical experiences are in very much the position of sighted people trying to explain color to the blind, or music lovers trying to explain why a piece moves them so much to someone who is tone deaf? In this conversation, however, it is not clear that the other side of the conversation is “disabled”. They simply have no interest in understanding the experience or appreciating the music. And there is no way I can introduce someone to the music or why it moves me just by talking in abstract terms about something that is deeply experiential.

On the other hand, part of the issue is that I have no interest in defending any particular doctrines about God, and so my “views” seem hard to pin down, because I hold them so loosely. I realized long ago that the life-changing experience I had when I cried out to God in surrender and felt a sense of peace wash over me does not prove that a tomb was empty 2,000 or so years ago, or that God is 3-in-one, or any other such claims. What seems to confuse some people is that I still can find Trinitarian language helpful and inspiring and meaningful, not as a statement about what God is “really like” (as though I had a means to study that scientifically or objectively), but as an image of how this God that we speak of only in inadequate symbols and metaphors can be eternal love (since love requires more than one person).

So I’m something of an unusual case. A born again Christian who is not going to try to claim more than he can demonstrate with evidence about history or doctrine. My experience does not allow me to bypass the scientific method for investigating matters of science, or the need for historical inquiry to settle matters of history. But my life and the universe as I experience it is much more than the language of biology or of history will do justice to.

I do not particularly mind if you explore spirituality via another path. But reductionism that leaves no room for the spiritual even as an emergent phenomenon of the material world simply cannot do justice to the world as I and many others perceive it. And so perhaps it does boil down to “art appreciation” – some love it, and some “don’t get” why those others love it.


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