Friday, January 16, 2009

Splash du Jour: Friday

We have Ten Commandments in the West. Why is there no commandment exhorting us to learn? “Thou shalt understand the world. Figure things out.” There’s nothing like that. And very few religions urge us to enhance our understanding of the natural world. I think it is striking how poorly religions, by and large, have accommodated to the astonishing truths that have emerged in the last few centuries.
-- Carl Sagan --

Have a great Friday!



Merisi said...

I loved Sagan. His PBS shows were always superb; however, I am getting a bit tired of de rigueur religion bashing

Anonymous said...

Merisi, do you mean that you feel that Sagan is "religion bashing"?

If so, I suppose it could seem that way, but I find Sagan's view (have only read two of his books) to be reasoned, clear, fair and anything but strident.

In the book mentioned on this site, I felt he took great pains to avoid anything that a believer might find overly caustic.

He simply asks a lot of questions and answers them from a considered viewpoint, noting all the time that this is a "personal" view of the search for God. His.

Isn't that what we all claim that we are after in our belief systems?

To me, Sagan, and others like him, are trying to find (not destroy) a way to maintain some kind of "religion" or belief, in an age where we no longer are willing to swallow the so-called authorities' views - often contradictory and illogical - as having the final say.

Sagan throws another hat into the ring, in other words.

I personally find this refusal to stubbornly (and often thoughtLESSly) adhere to a path which is, in an age of science and technology, increasingly wearing thin, to be an admirable - perhaps even courageous - stance.

No one wants to give up on belief.
No. I don't think we do. Obviously, far too much is at stake.

So all I see thinkers like Sagan trying to do is get their bearings.
To re-group.


In the text that cip is quoting, Sagan is asked, after one of the lectures, how we would recognize truth when it is upon us.

Sagan readily replies that it is difficult.

But "there are a few simple rules. The truth ought to be logically consistent. It should not contradict itself; that is, when there are some logical criteria."

He adds that we should also pay attention to "how badly we want to believe a given contention."

Might we all not do well to ask these questions of the very things by which we frame our existence?

As Sagan says, "It involves a kind of courageous self-discipline."

Cipriano, in light of all that you have recently experienced, I personally find your search nothing short of what Sagan there is describing. Self-disciplined...and courageous.

Let us - in a spirit of discovery and respect for the limits and the potential of the human animal - continue the dialogue rather than shut down the presses.

I always enjoy your work here, cipriano.

Cipriano said...

Merisi, thank you for teaching me a new word --> "de rigueur" I just looked it up. I had no idea what it meant, but now I know.
It is true that lately I've had a bit of a spate of "religion bashing", even though I myself do not at all think of my selection of comments and reading material as anything even close to religion bashing, per se.
There is not one thing I have said about "religion" on this page [or on my "godpuddle" page, in the past] that I do not feel 100% convinced of being true as to its unbiased irrefutability. If I were only 99% convinced, I would not say the things that I do end up saying, and quoting.
This means, however, that occasionally some things may be offensive to some readers. Just as what some readers believe may be offensive to my own sensibilities.
Rightly or wrongly, personal conviction is always more important to me than consensus.
The thing to remember is that I am very much a believer in God... but my definition of that word would have to be looked up by the uninitiated... even as I had to look up "de rigeur" a few minutes ago.
It is true though that I am very much a "basher" of anything that does not make communicable sense... whether that be some of the claims of exclusivistic religion, or any number of other irrational ideas that are out there in the world.
Of this, yes, I am guilty as charged.

Anonymous here should get the Nobel Prize for Blog-Commenting because... well... I could not have said it better, and therefore shall not try to do so.

Anonymous said...

Does Jesus not count then?

"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:13)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29)

Matthew 24:32 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.

John 6:45 "It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me."

or Paul...?

2 Timothy 3:14 "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it"

I think it is striking how poorly academics, by and large, have accommodated to the astonishing truths that have emerged in those last few verses.