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The Faith versus Reason Debate

Spirituality and Science are both valid!

Our coverage of the Faith versus Reason Debate begins with a brief overview of the Spirituality taught by Christianity and of the, highly similar, Spiritualities upheld by ALL of the non-Christian World Religions.

Further down this page Charles Darwin's explanation of the Origin of Species is "acceptingly" considered and mention is made of Alfred Russel Wallace as an independent formulator of the Theory of Evolution.

We are very hopeful that the content of this page will be seen as tending to better establish the claims of Spirituality to a fully respected validity without any attempt to dismiss the contributions of Science.

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Religion was almost universally practiced by people living in "the West" prior to the impact of such things as Charles Darwin proposing a Theory of Evolution of Species. There can be no doubt that "Modernity," in the westernised world, holds Rationality and Science in very high esteem whilst the validity, or importance, of any attempts at Spiritual Insight are widely dismissed and disregarded.

It is surely of the utmost relevance to the Faith versus Reason Debate that an acceptance that

"Valuable Spiritual Insights are possible"

and an associated

"Distrust of Reason"   ~   (in matters related to Spirituality!)

are clearly evident amongst the more profound insights shared by ALL the Great Faiths of the World.

"Scientific and Rational" Western Modernity needs to sit up and take notice that such ancient and widespread World Religions as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism and Judaism are all in agreement that "Human Intellect is to be in some ways distrusted" and that "Spiritual Insight is possible, desirable and profoundly important."

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Some truly extra-ordinary wisdoms ~ a brief selection of "Central Spiritual Insights" gleaned from Christian sources closely followed by another brief selection of "Central Spiritual Insights" drawn from "non-Christian" Inter-Faith sources ~ are set out below!

A selection of "Central Spiritual Insights" gleaned from Christian sources

These Christian quotations have been selected based on their inherent Spiritual Impact, (rather than whether they might be deemed to be Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox), and come from The New International Version of The Bible.


A Disdain for Materialism
Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Jesus

A Distrust of Intellect
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

St. Paul

Spiritual Insights are possible!
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

St. Paul

Charity
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

St. John

Purity of Heart
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life...

St. Paul

Humility
Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Jesus

Meekness
Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

St. James


"Central Spiritual Insights" drawn from "non-Christian" Inter-Faith sources

Our world seems to be becoming more and more "globalised" presenting us with new challenges of co-existence between cultural communities and of toleration between faith communities!

Extensive studies have been conducted into Comparative Spirituality by ourselves at age-of-the-sage and were actually undertaken before 2000 A.D. and hence prior to that difficult situation, often overstated as being an actual "Clash of Cultures," that has (however that situation should be depicted) been all too evident in recent years.
As such these studies will hopefully qualify to be considered as having adopted a somewhat open and unprejudiced consideration of the spiritual teachings of such major World Religions as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism and Judaism.

In the following brief overview one or two quotes are presented from Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Sikh and Taoist sources respectively.
Such inclusivity as this is quite clearly necessary in any genuine attempt to present a wide-ranging and profound overview of non-Christian spiritual insights.

Those inclined to look further into Comparative Spirituality can find a link to more detailed studies at the end of this initial presentation.

A Disdain for Materialism
Chuang Tzu put on cotton clothes with patches in them, and arranging his girdle and tying on his shoes, (i.e. to keep them from falling off), went to see the prince of Wei.
"How miserable you look, Sir!" Cried the prince. "It is poverty, not misery," replied Chuang Tzu. "A man who has TAO cannot be miserable. Ragged clothes and old boots make poverty, not misery."

Chuang Tzu - (Taoism)

A Distrust of Intellect
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment; Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment intuition.

Rumi - (Sufism ~ a notably mystical, minority, tradition associable with both Sunni and Shia Islam)

Spiritual Insights are possible!
The intelligence of the mean man does not rise beyond bribes and letters of recommendation. His mind is beclouded with trivialities. Yet he would penetrate the mystery of TAO and of creation, and rise to participation in the ONE. The result is that he is confounded by time and space; and that trammelled by objective existences, that he fails apprehension of that age before anything was. But the perfect man, - he carries his mind back to the period before the beginning. Content to rest in the oblivion of nowhere, passing away like flowing water, he is merged in the clear depths of the infinite.

Chuang Tzu - (Taoism)

Charity
He that does everything for Me, whose supreme object I am, who worships Me, being free from attachment and without hatred to any creature, this man, Arjuna!, comes to Me.

Bhagavad Gita ~ (Hinduism) ~ also known as ~ (Vedanta).

And my soul is absorbed
In the Love of My Lord.
Bow humbly to the saint
That is a pious act.
Bow to the ground before him
That is devotion, indeed.

The faithless know not,
The joy of the love of the Lord;

From Sohila-Arti ~ a bed-time prayer
This section of which is attributed to Guru Ram Das - (Sikhism)

Purity of Heart
The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

Solomon - (Judaism)

Humility
Would you become a pilgrim on the road of love? The first condition is that you make yourself humble as dust and ashes.

Ansari of Herat - (Islam)

Meekness
Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth! Speak the truth, do not yield to anger; give, if thou art asked for little; by these three steps thou wilt go near the gods.

Dhammapada - (Buddhism)


Two particularly noteworthy Faith versus Reason quotes from "non-Christian" sources now follow:-
"Would he had been less full of borrowed knowledge! Then he would have accepted inspired knowledge from his father. When, with inspiration at hand, you seek book-learning, your heart, as if inspired, loads you with reproach. Traditional knowledge, when inspiration is available, is like making ablutions in sand when water is near. Make yourself ignorant, be submissive, and then you will obtain release from your ignorance."
Rumi - (Sufism / Islam)

Rumi lived 1207 - 1273, (by the western calendar).
A BBC "Culture" web page of April, 2014 has said of him:-

The ecstatic poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master born 807 years ago in 1207, have sold millions of copies in recent years, making him the most popular poet in the US. Globally, his fans are legion.

Vivekananda, (the name-in-religion Vivekananda translates as - The Bliss of Discerning Wisdom), was a Vedic scholar and Hindu sage who made an appearance at the Parliament of World Religions that convened in Chicago in 1893 and was generally recognised as having made a singularly important contribution to the proceedings:-

picture of Vivekananda
"When there is conflict between the heart and the brain, let the heart be followed, because intellect has only one state, reason, and within that intellect works, and cannot get beyond. It is the heart which takes one to the highest plane, which intellect can never reach; it goes beyond the intellect, and reaches what is called inspiration. Intellect can never become inspired; only the heart when it is enlightened, becomes inspired. An intellectual, heartless man can never become an inspired man. It is always the heart that speaks in the man of love; it discovers a greater instrument than intellect can give you, the instrument of inspiration. Just as the intellect is the instrument of knowledge, so is the heart the instrument of inspiration."




Whilst many of our visitors may be now prepared to accept that it has been shown that Faiths can value "Spiritual Insight" over "Rationality" fuller evidence is available on our pages that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism and Judaism are all in agreement that "Human Intellect is to be in some ways distrusted" and that "Spiritual Insight is possible, desirable and profoundly important."

An in-depth coverage of many such identifiable similarities between the Core Mystical Teachings of the major World Religions is available ~ here ~ for those interested!!!

(Feedback on all of this is welcome. E-mail: aots_quotes at hotmail.com)

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pictures of Charles Darwin at different stages of his life
It has been stated that some "accepting" consideration of Charles Darwin's views on the Origin of Species will appear on this page. This does occur, quite a way further on, after a selection of Central Poetry insights, Jesus' Parable of the Sower, some quotations from Aldous Huxley and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and some mention of Richard Dawkins.
(The scientist and author Dr. Richard Dawkins being "one of today's arch-skeptics".)

As we have explicitly expressed an aspiration "to better establish the claims of Spirituality to a fully respected validity without any attempt to dismiss the contributions of Science", it may suit some visitors to fast-forward over much of this intervening content and proceed fairly directly to the beginning of our consideration of Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution by following this link:-



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Central Poetry Insights

The Great Poets have also won many truly instructive insights.

Secular, Literary, but nevertheless Profound, Poetical Wisdom can be shown to complement Spiritual Wisdom!!!
Saints have no moderation, nor do poets, just exuberance. ~ Anne Sexton

The following "Central Poetry Insights" quotations could be said to "somehow encapsulate" the same Truths just presented from Christian sources, and from "non-Christian" Inter-Faith sources.
A Disdain for Materialism
Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.

Shakespeare

A Distrust of Intellect
The intellectual power, through words and things,
Went sounding on, a dim and perilous way!

Wordsworth

Profound Insights are possible!
God guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;

Yeats

Charity
That best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love.

Wordsworth

Purity of Heart
A peace above all earthly dignities,
A still and quiet conscience.

Shakespeare

Humility
The best of men
That e'er wore earth about him, was a sufferer,
A soft, meek, patient, humble, tranquil spirit,
The first true gentleman that ever breathed.

Thomas Dekker

Meekness
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,
And could of men distinguish her election,
Sh'hath sealed thee for herself, for thou hast been
As one in suff'ring all that suffers nothing,
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and blest are those
Whose blood and judgement are so well co-medled,
That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please: give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.

Shakespeare


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Our page-content will now turn to a more explicit coverage of the faith versus reason debate.

The Great Poets join with The Great Faiths in tending to show an awareness of the importance of non-rational appreciation of divine truths:-

Distrust of the Intellect

Errors like straws, upon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls must dive below.
John Dryden

Into the eye and prospect of his soul.
William Shakespeare

Here the heart
May give a useful lesson to the head,
And learning wiser grow without his books
William Cowper


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The Great Faiths tend to prefer "Inspiration" over "Thought":-

Enlightenment is not 'Intellectual'

A University Professor went to see Nan-in, a Zen Master, to find out more about Zen.
As their meeting continued Nan-in was pouring Tea and continued to pour even though the cup was overflowing. The Professor cried. "Enough! No more will go in!"
Nan-in replied "Like this cup you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"


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Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
The Book of Proverbs



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The Parable of the Sower is, perhaps, the most "Enlightenment" related teaching of Jesus!!!

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times."

Then Jesus said, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." ...

... Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop - some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.
He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear."

Jesus' teaching ~ as set out in St Mark's gospel Chapter 4


The Parable of the Sower actually features in three of the four, primary, "Canonical" Gospels, (i.e. of Matthew, of Mark, of Luke, and of John), - such that it is possible to attempt to derive deeper meaning by presenting the following alternative ending ~

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."
~ as set out in St Luke's gospel Chapter 8

This "Parable of the Sower" could be said to suggest that Enlightenment does not appear to be Intellectual but may principally arise from keeping to spiritual teachings!!!


We can surely readily accept that saints, sages and holy men are different from most other persons.

And that -

Powers of insight could well be usually necessary to the discerning of important spiritual truths.
(With poetic inspiration also being possible.)

We distinguish the announcements of the soul, its manifestations of its own nature, by the term Revelation. These are always attended by the emotion of the sublime. For this communication is an influx of the Divine mind into our mind. It is an ebb of the individual rivulet before the flowing surges of the sea of life. Every distinct apprehension of this central commandment agitates men with awe and delight. A thrill passes through all men at the reception of new truth …
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Aldous Huxley &
The Perennial Philosophy

Many commentators have claimed to have identified agreement about a range of "Spiritual-Divine Truths" between the Great Religions of the World across the ages!!!

The fly-leaf to the first (1946) UK edition of Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy begins:-

picture of the fly-leaf of Aldous Huxley's - The Perennial Philosophy
"Beneath the revelations of all the great world religions, the teaching of the wise and holy of all faiths and the mystical experiences of every race and age, there lies a basic unity of belief which is the closest approximation man can attain to truth and ultimate reality.
The Perennial Philosophy is an attempt to present this Highest Common Factor of all theologies by assembling passages from the writings of those saints and prophets who have approached a direct spiritual knowledge of the Divine, and who have recorded not only the method of that approach but also the clarity of soul they derived from it."

In this major anthology, (which has never gone out-of-print since first publication), Huxley accepted the proposition that Religions concern themselves

"with the one, divine Reality"

and that

"the nature of this one Reality is such that it cannot be directly or immediately apprehended except by those who have chosen to fulfill certain conditions, making themselves loving, pure in heart, and poor in spirit."

A few quotes suggesting that Spiritual Wisdom,
although rare, is nevertheless attainable

In the Introduction to The Perennial Philosophy Aldous Huxley explicitly asserts that:-
"Knowledge is a function of being."
In other words, if you are not suited to knowing something, you can not know it.


From time to time we hear people sincerely describing other persons as being, or having been, "Wise and Good."
"Wisdom has its root in goodness, not goodness its root in wisdom."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We find this passage in Aldous Huxley's Introduction to The Perennial Philosophy -
"In regard to few professional philosophers and men of letters is there any evidence that they did very much in the way of fulfilling the necessary conditions of direct spiritual knowledge. When poets and metaphysicians talk about the subject matter of the Perennial Philosophy, it is generally at second hand. But in every age there have been some men and women who chose to fulfil the conditions upon which alone, as a matter of brute empirical fact, such immediate knowledge can be had"...

Emerson included this passage in his Essay "The Over-Soul":-
..."After its own law and not by arithmetic is the rate of the soul's progress to be computed. The soul's advances are not made by gradation, such as can be represented by motion in a straight line; but rather by ascension of state, such as can be represented by metamorphosis, ~ from the egg to the worm, from the worm to the fly. The growths of genius are of a certain total character, that does not advance the elect individual first over John, then Adam, then Richard, and give to each the pain of discovered inferiority, but by every throe of growth the man expands there where he works, passing, at each pulsation, classes, populations, of men. With each divine impulse the mind rends the thin rinds of the visible and finite, and comes out into eternity, and inspires and expires its air. It converses with truths that have always been spoken in the world"...

Emerson is fairly well known-of as having been an influential writer and, as such, may be considered to have had many words at his disposal.
That being said the above selection may seem, in some readers' estimations, to be "wordy exaggeration."
In fairness to Emerson a few details from his life story may persuade that he personally "walked-the-walk" as a person-of-spirit as a younger man and that such "spiritual goodness" as he himself attained unto may have helped him to also attain unto "a degree of wisdom."

Emerson was born in 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts, into familial circumstances where seven close ancestors had been ministers of religion. Following on from graduating from Harvard University's Divinity School he himself extended that family tradition, becoming "approbated to preach" by an Association of Ministers in 1826, gaining an assistant minister's appointment in 1829, and then - resigning from ministry - in 1832.
Paradoxically, Emerson's resignation can be seen as an utterly sincere "Testament of Faith" rather than as a lapse in belief.

In one of his sermons of 1831 Emerson said:-
… Are men afraid that their reason will outsee God? "lest their own judgments should become too bright"? that the faculties which God hath made will see sharper than is good? will find something more or different from what they should find? If they apprehend this, then I say, they do not believe in the true God, in God as he is, and the sooner their idol is over thrown the better. And it is because men have been content to be religious by rote, to make piety to consist in giving verbal assent to articles of faith, and in giving bodily obedience to forms of worship, that theology has been so false, and that goodness has been so low. Religion has been asleep this thousand years. I do not speak of any one sect. I speak of all. I speak of us. I think almost all of us are content to be religious by education and not by realizing its truths. The only way for a man to be religious is to be so by himself. …

In his private journals over a few short weeks in the summer of 1832, just prior to this actual resignation of September, 1832, Emerson inscribed such passages as these:-

  I have sometimes thought that in order to be a good minister it was necessary to leave the ministry. The profession is antiquated. In an altered age, we worship in the dead forms of our forefathers. Were not a Socratic paganism better than an effete superannuated Christianity?
June 2, 1832


  Here among the mountains the pinions of thought should be strong and one should see the errors of men from a calmer height of love & wisdom. What is the message that is given me to communicate next Sunday? Religion in the mind is not credulity & in the practice is not form. It is a life. It is the order & soundness of a man. It is not something else to be got, to be added, but is new life of those faculties you have. It is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.
July 6, 1832


  I would think - I would feel. I would be the vehicle of that divine principle that lurks within & of which life has afforded only glimpses enough to assure me of its being. ...
July 14, 1832


And in concluding a sermon delivered to the congregation at the time of his resignation Emerson said:-

I am about to resign into your hands that office which you have confided in me. It has many duties for which I am feebly qualified. It has some which it will always be my delight to discharge according to my ability, wherever I exist. And whilst the recollection of its claims oppresses me with a sense of my unworthiness, I am consoled by the hope that no time and no change can deprive me of the satisfaction of pursuing and exercising its highest functions.
At that time Emerson had no sufficient reason to believe that he could establish himself as the most notable Essayist, Lecturer and Man-of-Letters that he would eventually become ~ some years later.
An Emerson scholar named Alfred Riggs Ferguson has suggested that by "doffing the decent black of the pastor, he was free to choose the gown of the lecturer and teacher, of the thinker not confined within the limits of an institution or a tradition." This, later, Emerson has been described by Lawrence Buell in a prize-winning major biography, published to coincide with the two hundredth anniversary of Emerson's birth by a press affiliated with Harvard University, as having become "the leading voice of intellectual culture in the United States"!

Emerson's principled Testament of Faith of 1832, associated as it would have been with a significant loss of worldly security consequent to his resignation, surely stands in contrast to the Agnosticism and Atheism so widespread today.


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Some famously skeptical Huxleys

It should not be overlooked that Aldous Huxley came from the famously skeptical Huxley family and went against an high-profile and established family tradition in becoming fascinated by faith spirituality!!!

His paternal grand-father was none other than the same Thomas Henry Huxley who became regarded as being Darwin's "Bulldog" due to his vocal championing of the Theory of Evolution as presented by Charles Darwin and, independently, by Alfred Russel Wallace.

Thomas Henry Huxley was quite prominent as a scientist and may considered to have been the first "Agnostic", having written of himself in 1880:-
Some twenty years ago, or thereabouts, I invented the word 'Agnostic' to denote people who, like myself, confess themselves to be hopelessly ignorant concerning a variety of matters, about which metaphysicians and theologians, both orthodox and heterodox, dogmatise with utmost confidence.
Thomas Henry Huxley described how he came to originate the term "agnostic" as follows:-
When I reached intellectual maturity, and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; a Christian or a freethinker, I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until at last I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure that they had attained a certain "gnosis"--had more or less successfully solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble ... So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of "agnostic." It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant; and I took the earliest opportunity of parading it at our Society ...
Perhaps equally remarkably Julian Huxley, an older brother to Aldous, was "the Richard Dawkins" of his day helping to found the American Humanist Association in 1933, becoming the first President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union in 1952, and of the British Humanist Association in 1963 (besides early in his career being an Oxford academic and later serving as the first appointee as Director-General of U.N.E.S.C.O. - the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation).

Richard Dawkins


It may be that such a consideration of the Faith versus Reason debate as is offered on our pages has some definite potential as a decisive challenge to the "New Atheism" of Richard Dawkins and others.


Richard Dawkins skeptical about religion

Richard Dawkins ~ Oxford University professor,
scientific author, promoter of skepticism.


Richard Dawkins associated with a so-called atheist bus campaign

Richard Dawkins agreed to become associated with a
London-based "Atheist Bus Campaign" circa 2008-2009.

He did however state that he would have preferred the wording:
"There is almost certainly no God."

This campaign was widely emulated internationally in the such places as the United States, Canada and Brazil.
Seriously intentioned, but not always successful, attempts being made to similarly promote atheism on public transport in Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Russia and Switzerland.

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The Faith and Reason Debate
could actually be conducted
"at cross-purposes"


Despite the fact that World Faith Teachings, (and Great Poets), can be shown to value "Inspiration" over "Thought" agnostics and atheists often seem to be totally "Intellectually Convinced" of the reasonableness of their own positions!!!

In 1889, after a Reverend Dr. Wace, Principal of King's College, London, had, at an high-profile Church Congress in 1888, poured scorn on agnostics as being "infidels" and "unbelievers" Thomas Henry Huxley's published response included this:-
... Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle ... it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science. Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him. ...

Ralph Waldo Emerson took a rather different view:-
It is a secret which every intellectual man quickly learns, that, beyond the energy of his possessed and conscious intellect, he is capable of a new energy (as of an intellect doubled on itself), by abandonment to the nature of things; that, beside his privacy of power as an individual man, there is a great public power, on which he can draw, by unlocking, at all risks, his human doors, and suffering the ethereal tides to roll and circulate through him: then he is caught up into the life of the Universe, his speech is thunder, his thought is law, and his words are universally intelligible...

A prominent public service broadcaster based in the United States is frequently referred to there as the PBS.
A one-hour special under the title Faith and Reason, and with funding support from the John Templeton Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Counterbalance Foundation, was broadcast on the PBS channel in September, 1998.
An associated press release listed the interviewees as: Francis Collins - director of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health and self-described "serious Christian;" Father George Coyne - Jesuit priest, astronomer and Director of the Vatican Observatory; Robert Russell - physicist, theologian, Director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences; Paul Davies - physicist and author of "The Mind of God"; Steven Weinberg - theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate; Arthur Peacocke - evolutionary biologist and Anglican priest; Nancey Murphy - Christian philosopher; Richard Dawkins - evolutionary biologist; Ted Peters - Lutheran theologian; and Charles Birch - one of the founders of modern ecology.

The press release mentions that those who attended the Science and Spiritual Quest conference in Berkeley in June, 1998, had had an opportunity to preview the show.
This high-profile conference was hosted by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at Berkeley. The John Templeton Foundation gave the center $1.4 million as funding support to the conference. For four days scientists, most of them Christians, Jews or Muslims, testified about their efforts to resolve personal conflicts over science and religion.

A transcript of an interview segment between Richard Dawkins and Margaret Wertheim includes these sentences:-
QUESTION: What is your view of more liberal religious views that are held by people like your Oxford colleage Arthur Peacocke, who is both a biochemist and an Anglican minister?

MR. DAWKINS: More sophisticated theological views, people like Arthur Peacocke and John Polkinghorne -- obviously they're not creationists in any simple sense -- they're not fundamentalists, they're not stupid. So do I respect them more? Well, in one respect obviously I do, because really you could have an intelligent conversation with them -- they're not ignorant. On the other hand, I can't understand what they're doing it for. I mean, I don't understand what it is that is being added, either to their lives or to the storehouse of human wisdom by bringing in this additional dimension of explanation. We have science. Science is by no means complete -- there's a lot that we don't know -- but we're working on it. Both of those two gentlemen are scientists, and they know what that means. They understand it and they respect it. We're working on building up a complete picture of the universe, which if we succeed will be a complete understanding of the universe and everything that is in it. So I don't understand why they waste their time going into this other stuff which never has added anything to the storehouse of human wisdom, and I don't see that it ever will.

Vivekananda, in his work Religion and Science, tells us that:-
Religion deals with the truths of the metaphysical world just as chemistry and the other natural sciences deal with the truths of the physical world. The book one must read to learn chemistry is the book of nature. The book from which to learn religion is your own mind and heart. The sage is often ignorant of physical science, because he reads the wrong book - the book within; and the scientist is too often ignorant of religion, because he too reads the wrong book - the book without.

St Paul, in one of his letters to faith communities he was attempting to nurture, states that:-
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
From St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 2

In late January 1839 a sincerely religious young lady named Emma Wedgwood married her cousin Charles Darwin.

Darwin tree of life 1837 At this time Charles Darwin was twenty-nine years old and the "Darwinian" Theory of Evolution had not yet been fully formulated by him.

He had, in 1837, accepted that he had arrived at a ~ "Tree of Life" ~ insight which proposed that forms of life could naturally tend to feature some instances of variation in physical form as generation followed generation. Such variation tending to allow possible "branchings" away from an ancestor species.
He had also, after reading an Essay on Population by Thomas Malthus late in 1838, accepted that life forms would be obliged to engage in desperate competition for scarce food supplies. Those slightly adapted life forms better able to secure food could be held to have distinct, and absolutely crucial, survival advantages such that they would be in a better position to live, and live robustly, long enough to reproduce and to pass on to their variation to descendants.
This differential in the survival and reproductive success of some variations would, over time, tend to explain "branching" divergences from a common ancestral type.
As Charles Darwin's theorising continued his views of the Origin of Species broadened considerably away from being fully associable with the securing of sufficient nourishment. Such inter-generational "branching", however sustained, ultimately provided much of the argument that would be central to Darwin's "descent with modification through natural selection" related Theory of Evolution.


In these times it was generally believed that species had been created, and been given their respective forms, by God. It was virtually unthinkable that new species could be formed by processes of "Transmutation", or what we now refer to as Evolution.
"I have been now ever since my return [from the Beagle voyage] engaged in a very presumptuous work & which I know no one individual who would not say a very foolish one ... I determined to collect ... every sort of fact, which could bear any way on what are species ... I have read heaps of agricultural & horticultural books, & have not ceased collecting facts ... At last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing to a murder) immutable ... I think I have found out (here's presumption!) the simple way by which species become exquisitely adapted to various ends ... You will now groan, & think to yourself 'on what a man have I been wasting my time in writing to.'"
Charles Darwin, in a letter written in January, 1844 to Joseph Hooker.

At this time Joseph Hooker was one of the very few people that Darwin was prepared to allow even a glimpse of where his thinking was leading him. Hooker later became notably prominent in British scientific circles serving as Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and becoming President of one of Britain's pre-eminent Scientific Institutions ~ The Royal Society.


In July of 1844 Charles Darwin wrote, in a rather seriously intentioned letter, to Emma:-
My. Dear. Emma.
I have just finished my sketch of my species theory. If, as I believe that my theory is true & if it be accepted even by one competent judge, it will be a considerable step in science.

I therefore write this, in case of my sudden death, as my most solemn & last request, which I am sure you will consider the same as if legally entered in my will, that you will devote 400£ to its publication & further will yourself, or through Hensleigh, take trouble in promoting it …


Darwin's On the Origin of Species was actually first published in 1859 after Darwin had been motivated to prepare "an abstract" based on his own researches for publication after he had been made aware, in the summer of 1858, by Alfred Russel Wallace that he had himself devised a virtually identical theory.


Darwin was known to Wallace. Wallace wrote to Darwin asking him to forward his own theorising to a notably eminent scientist named Sir Charles Lyell for his assessment.
Darwin was on friendly terms with Lyell and wrote, in a covering letter that would accompany Wallace's outlined theory in being mailed to Lyell:-
… I never saw a more striking coincidence. if Wallace had my manuscript sketch written out in 1842 he could not have made a better short abstract! Even his terms now stand as Heads of my Chapters …


The full title of Charles Darwin's notable work on Evolution is quite lengthy:-
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life


Whilst in his private correspondence the scientific and rational Charles Darwin tended to see life as originating through natural, chemical, processes; (the phrase "spontaneous generation not improbable" was used by him in one of his notebooks as early as 1837), perhaps not wishing to appear as being completely faithless he nevertheless included the following sentence, as the concluding sentence, in the second, (1860), and subsequent editions of the "Origin of Species".
"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved".

The first edition phrasing was similar but did not feature the words "by the Creator".
In a letter to Joseph Hooker of March, 1863, Darwin stated that he had "truckled to public opinion" in adding these few words, that he had long regretted this addition and that he would have been more comfortable in being able to use words which implied that life "appeared", (Darwin himself uses these quotation marks), and that such appearance had come about "by some wholly unknown process".

Ralph Waldo Emerson has offered the opinion that:-
"Men seem to be constitutionally believers and unbelievers".

and that:-

"There is no bridge that can cross from a mind in one state to a mind in the other".

Given his practice of scientific theorising in ways that distinctly contrasted with the accepted, and religiously informed, wisdoms of the day it seems reasonable to depict Charles Darwin as having been more of a skeptical Man of Science than a believing Man of Faith.


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Attention will now return to the wider issues and to our declared aim of tending to better establish the claims of Spirituality to a fully respected validity without any attempt to dismiss the contributions of Science.


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A somewhat profound and rather interesting Faith versus Reason Debate arose between the skeptical Charles Darwin and the religious Emma Darwin at the time of their marriage in 1839.

pictures of Charles Darwin as a younger man Charles Darwin had made a proposal of marriage to Emma Wedgwood in early November of 1838 and she had accepted him as a good-hearted and companionable man with whom she hoped to live a happy life.

As Emma Darwin wrote to an aunt soon after their engagement:-
I must now tell you what I think of him, first premising that Eliz. thinks pretty nearly the same, as my opinion may not go for much with you. He is the most open, transparent man I ever saw, and every word expresses his real thoughts. He is particularly affectionate and very nice to his father and sisters, and perfectly sweet tempered, and possesses some minor qualities that add particularly to one's happiness, such as not being fastidious, and being humane to animals.
We shall live in London, where he is fully occupied with being Secretary to the Geological Society and conducting a publication upon the animals of Australia.
(The publication Emma's letter refers to eventually became Darwin's first best-seller: The Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle.)

Darwin's scientific outlook was accompanied by somewhat skeptical views on religion which he thought it necessary to make known to Emma. The disclosure of his skepticism caused her some distress and she wrote to him a little on this theme late in November, 1838:-
…When I am with you I think all melancholy thoughts keep out of my head but since you are gone some sad ones have forced themselves in, of fear that our opinions on the most important subject should differ widely. My reason tells me that honest & conscientious doubts cannot be a sin, but I feel it would be a painful void between us. I thank you from my heart for your openness with me & I should dread the feeling that you were concealing your opinions from the fear of giving me pain. It is perhaps foolish of me to say this much but my own dear Charley we now do belong to each other & I cannot help being open with you.…
A few days before the marriage ceremony Charles Darwin wrote to Emma Wedgwood:-
…I was thinking this morning how on earth it came, that I, who am fond of talking & am scarcely ever out of spirits, should so entirely rest my notions of happiness on quietness & a good deal of solitude; but I believe the explanation is very simple, & I mention it, because it will give you hopes, that I shall gradually grow less of a brute, -it is that during the five years of my voyage (& indeed I may add these two last) which from the active manner in which they have been passed, may be said to be the commencement of my real life, the whole of my pleasure was derived, from what passed in my mind, whilst admiring views by myself, travelling across the wild deserts or glorious forests, or pacing the deck of the poor little Beagle at night.- Excuse this much egotism,- I give it you, because, I think you will humanize me, & soon teach me there is greater happiness, than building theories, & accumulating facts in silence & solitude. My own dearest Emma, I earnestly pray, you may never regret the great, & I will add very good, deed, you are to perform on the Tuesday: my own dear future wife, God bless you. But I will not be solemn any more,…

In direct reply Emma Wedgewood wrote:-
…You need not fear my own dear Charles that I shall not be quite as happy as you are & I shall always look upon the event of the 29th as a most happy one on my part though perhaps not so great or so good as you do. There is only one subject in the world that ever gives me a moments uneasiness & I believe I think about that very little when I am with you & I do hope that though our opinions may not agree upon all points of religion we may sympathize a good deal in our feelings on the subject. I believe my chief danger will be that I shall lead so happy comfortable & amusing a life that I shall be careless & good for nothing & think of nothing serious in this world or the next. However I won't be solemn either…

Emma seems to have found it easier to write than to talk about her beliefs and some of her thoughts in early February 1839, i.e. the earliest days of her marriage, are set out in a letter written to her scientifically-minded and skeptical husband.

Emma's letter begins:-
The state of mind that I wish to preserve with respect to you, is to feel that while you are acting conscientiously & sincerely wishing, & trying to learn the truth, you cannot be wrong; but there are some reasons that force themselves upon me & prevent my being always able to give myself this comfort. I dare say you have often thought of them before, but I will write down what has been in my head, knowing that my own dearest will indulge me. Your mind & time are full of the most interesting subjects & thoughts of the most absorbing kind, viz following up your own discoveries - but which make it very difficult for you to avoid casting out as interruptions other sorts of thoughts which have no relation to what you are pursuing or to to be able to give your whole attention to both sides of the question. …
and a few sentences later features this passage:-
…May not the habit in scientific pursuits of believing nothing till it is proved, influence your mind too much in other things which cannot be proved in the same way, and which if true are likely to be above our comprehension…


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This, Emma Darwin's ~ 'likely to be above our comprehension letter', seems to have been actually written by her, as a new wife to her husband, to precisely express her points of view on issues that were of the first importance to her:-

"…I do not wish for any answer to all this - it is a satisfaction to me to write it & when I talk to you about it I cannot say exactly what I wish to say, & I know you will have patience, with your own dear wife. Don't think that it is not my affair & that it does not much signify to me. Every thing that concerns you concerns me & I should be most unhappy if I thought we did not belong to each other forever…"


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All things considered it becomes distinctly possible to suggest that the Faith and Reason debate has long been conducted "at cross-purposes" with Faith upholding what it believes of as being Spiritual Truth, (whilst tending in many cases to regard scientific truth as being of importance but of ultimately lesser significance), and Reason upholding what it perceives of as being Scientific Truth (whilst often having little or no conception that Spiritual Truth could be of value or even exist).

In relation to the Faith and Reason Debate then, the inherently contradictory approaches adopted by the protagonists do not readily permit of the attainment of a consensus and also tend to provide reasons for the parties involved to stick to their respective outlooks and to continue to determinedly enter into the unresolved debate.

Most people like to think that they hold a coherent view of the World and of Humanity's place in it.
In this regard it cannot be denied that here seems to be a divergency between deep-seated wellsprings of spiritual-poetic inspiration and feeling, and the more conceptual reasonings of the intellect, that continues to be difficult to reconcile.

The "Enlightenment is not Intellectual" specific and "Distrust of the Intellect" specific quotes sourced from persons of faith and the great poets displayed earlier featured contributions by some undoubted, (and ~ in cases ~ largely, or completely, undoubtable), authorities including A Zen Master, Solomon the Wise (often mooted as the principal author of the Book of Proverbs), Jesus' Parable of the Sower, and such celebrated poets as John Dryden, William Shakespeare and William Cowper.

Spiritual Authorities would have us believe in "Faith-Related" Truths ~ scientists would have us believe in other Truths which they hold to be "Scientifically Valid."

Could it be that Human Beings are capable of d-e-e-p spirituality notwithstanding the "Rational" theories offered by Science?

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Ralph Waldo Emerson saw scientific discoveries as tending to bring with them associated transformative, and often significantly disruptive, effects on human lives and beliefs across the centuries. He accepted that society had tended to undergo very significant change due to the wider implications of initially, Copernicus' astronomical theory and also of other, subsequent, scientific theorisings.
He nevertheless persisted as a person-of-faith holding sincere spiritual beliefs!
... I think the paramount source of the religious revolution was Modern Science; beginning with Copernicus, who destroyed the pagan fictions of the Church, by showing mankind that the earth on which we live was not the centre of the Universe, around which the sun and stars revolved every day, and thus fitted to be the platform on which the Drama of the Divine Judgment was played before the assembled Angels of Heaven, ... This correction of our superstitions was confirmed by the new science of Geology, and the whole train of discoveries in every department. But we presently saw also that the religious nature in man was not affected by these errors in his understanding. The religious sentiment made nothing of bulk or size, or far or near; triumphed over time as well as space; and every lesson of humility, or justice, or charity, which the old ignorant saints had taught him, was still forever true.

From Emerson's "Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England"
(penned circa 1867 ~ some six years after his reading about a persuasive Theory of Evolution as set out in Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species").

Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution


Emerson interested himself deeply in scientific matters. He had given consideration to other, less persuasive, evolutionary theorisings prior to the publication of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species" and made strenuous efforts to obtain Darwin's book at the time of its first publication!

According to the reminiscences of Charles C. Caverno:-
Some time in the winter of 1859-60 Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the Newhall House in Milwaukee, asked me if I could procure him a copy of a book on Species which an Englishman had published lately - and he added, " From what I have heard it is likely to make the dry bones rattle." I told Mr. Emerson I had not seen the book, but that I was after it myself and had an order for it already in New York.

How this conversation happened to come about in a hotel in Milwaukee was because Mr. Emerson was stopping there to fulfill engagements for lectures in that city and in other cities round about. Why he asked of me the question he did was because I was President of the Young Men's Association before which he lectured. I was also chairman of the Library Committee of the Association - a somewhat exacting post, as that library was the only public library in the city.

I have given Mr. Emerson's description of the book he was after for he gave no name of author nor definite title to the book.

And then in a letter home to his wife from Lafayette, Indiana, dated 5 February 1860 and written whilst Emerson was on one of his lecture tours:-
I have not yet been able to obtain Darwin's book which I had depended on as a road book. You must read it, - "Darwin on Species." It has not arrived in these dark lands.

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As a younger man Emerson suffered bouts of ill-health and on 10 December, 1832, wrote to his brother William :-
My dear Brother, My malady has proved so obstinate and comes back as often as it goes away, that I am now bent on taking Dr. Ware's advice, and seeing if I cannot prevent these ruinous relapses by a sea-voyage. I proposed to make a modest trip to the West Indies, ... but in a few hours the dream changed into a purpureal vision of Naples and Italy, and that is the rage of yesterday and to-day in Chardon Street. A vessel sails this week for Sicily, and at this moment it seems quite probable I shall embark in her.

This trip to Europe brought with it several life-altering experiences and included Emerson's giving expression to "somewhat evolutionistic?" opinions in his journals after viewing some Comparative Anatomy exhibits during a visit to a scientific institution in Paris in July, 1833.

Key sections from said Journals read:-
Here we are impressed with the inexhaustible riches of nature. The universe is a more amazing puzzle than ever, as you glance along this bewildering series of animated forms... Not a form so grotesque, so savage, nor so beautiful but is an expression of some property inherent in man the observer, -an occult relation between the very scorpions and man. I feel the centipede in me, - cayman, carp, eagle, and fox. I am moved by strange sympathies. I say continually " I will be a naturalist."

This journal entry being made only some eight months after his resignation from his post as a Christian minister "consoled by the hope that no time and no change can deprive me of the satisfaction of pursuing and exercising the highest functions" of that calling! It was also made more than twenty-five years prior to the public availability of Darwin's Theory of Evolution!

In these times "Nature" may well have been viewed by Emerson as resulting from "Creation" in ways which might be inferred from these selections from his lecture "On the Relation of Man to the Globe" (1834):-
... "man is no upstart in the creation, but has been prophesied in nature for a thousand thousand ages before he appeared; that, from times incalculably remote, there has been a progressive preparation for him, an effort to produce him; the meaner creatures containing the elements of his structure and pointing at it from every side. ...
His limbs are only a more exquisite organization say rather the finish of the rudimental forms that have been already sweeping the sea and creeping in the mud: the brother of his hand is even now cleaving the Arctic Sea in the fin of the whale, and innumerable ages since was pawing the marsh in the flipper of the saurian."

Further inferences can be reliably drawn from the following sentences:-
... "Geology has initiated us into the secularity of nature, and taught us to disuse our dame-school measures, and exchange our Mosaic and Ptolemaic schemes for her large style. We knew nothing rightly, for want of perspective. Now we learn what patient periods must round themselves before the rock is formed; then before the rock is broken, and the first lichen race has disintegrated the thinnest external plate into soil, and opened the door for the remote Flora, Fauna … to come in. How far off yet is the trilobite! how far the quadruped! how inconceivably remote is man! All duly arrive, and then race after race of men. It is a long way from granite to the oyster; farther yet to Plato and the preaching of the immortality of the soul."
Emerson - Nature (1836)

Emerson seems to have been capable of envisioning such theistic "almost evolutionism?" whilst also continuing to see potentially redemptive and illuminatory powers, highly beneficial to the individual and to society, to being accessible through spirituality!
... the doors of the temple stand open, night and day, before every man, and the oracles of this truth cease never, it is guarded by one stern condition; this, namely; it is an intuition. It cannot be received at second hand. ...

... it is still true, that tradition characterizes the preaching of this country; that it comes out of the memory, and not out of the soul; that it aims at what is usual, and not at what is necessary and eternal; that thus, historical Christianity destroys the power of preaching, by withdrawing it from the exploration of the moral nature of man, where the sublime is, where are the resources of astonishment and power. ...

... And what greater calamity can fall upon a nation, than the loss of worship? Then all things go to decay. Genius leaves the temple, to haunt the senate, or the market. Literature becomes frivolous. Science is cold. ...

... We have contrasted the Church with the Soul. In the soul, then, let the redemption be sought. ... It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake. ...None believeth in the soul of man, but only in some man or person old and departed. Ah me! no man goeth alone. All men go in flocks to this saint or that poet, avoiding the God who seeth in secret. They cannot see in secret; they love to be blind in public. They think society wiser than their soul, and know not that one soul, and their soul, is wiser than the whole world. ...
(These selections are from Emerson's Divinity School Address of 1838.)

The "the paramount source of the religious revolution was Modern Science; beginning with Copernicus" passage from Emerson's "Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England" quoted above can thus be seen as being coherently made by someone who was open both to Religion and to Science!
… The Religion that is afraid of science dishonours God and commits suicide. It acknowledges that it is not equal to the whole of truth, that it legislates, tyrannizes over a village of God's empires but is not the immutable universal law. Every influx of atheism, of skepticism is thus made useful as a mercury pill assaulting and removing a diseased religion and making way for truth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journal entry for March 4, 1831


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Emerson had been invited to prepare and deliver the aforementioned Divinity School Address by the graduating students from Harvard Divinity School of 1838 themselves, rather than by the "traditionalist?" faculty of that school.
The Harvard University administrators, and the then existing religious authorities in north America, tended to be more than a little disconcerted by the content of Emerson's Address.
More than thirty years ran their respective courses before Emerson was again invited to speak publicly at Harvard despite his increasing celebrity as a lecturer and writer and despite the fact that he was himself a graduate of the theological college there.

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Religions have comforted and guided most of Mankind for many thousands of years.


Global map of the distribution of regionally predominant religions

 

Although the "Westernised" world is currently going through a particularly agnostic and atheistic phase we like to think that our Spiritual Insights Quotations related contribution to the Faith vs. Reason Debate or Controversy will help to remind people of the profundities possible to faith.


The findings of our investigations into the Timeless Wisdoms that have been handed down as World Faith Teachings help to richly demonstrate that there are Central teachings about Spirituality which can definitely be shown to retain an unimpaired relevance to peoples lives alongside the Creationism which is most directly challenged by Science.

"You will hear things like, 'Science doesn't know everything.' Well, of course science doesn't know everything. But, because science doesn't know everything, it doesn't mean that science knows nothing. Science knows enough for us to be watched by a few million people now on television, for these lights to be working, for quite extraordinary miracles to have taken place in terms of the harnessing of the physical world and our dim approaches towards understanding it. And as Wittgenstein quite rightly said, 'When we understand every single secret of the universe, there will still be left the eternal mystery of the human heart.'"

Stephen Fry quoting Wittgenstein during a Room 101 TV program of March 2001


There are two worlds, the microcosm, and the macrocosm, the internal and the external. We get truth from both of these by means of experience. The truth gathered from internal experience is psychology, metaphysics, and religion; from external experience, the physical sciences. Now a perfect truth should be in harmony with experiences in both these worlds. The microcosm must bear testimony to the macrocosm, and the macrocosm to the microcosm; physical truth must have its counterpart in the internal world, and the internal world must have its verification outside. Yet, as a rule, we find that many of these truths are in conflict. At one period of the world's history, the internals become supreme, and they begin to fight the externals. At the present time the externals, the physicists, have become supreme, and they have put down many claims of psychologists and metaphysicians.

Vivekananda
It may be that those who gain "immediate spiritual knowledge" become unusually capable of metaphysical insight alongside possessing enhanced spiritual insight.

In Philosophy "Metaphysics" is the branch of Philosophy dealing with "being": how things exist, what things really are, what essence is, what it is 'to be' something, etc. The word comes from a "book" of some thirteen treatises written by Aristotle which were traditionally arranged, by scholars who lived in the centuries after Aristotle's life-time in the fourth century B.C., after those of his "books" which considered physics and natural science.
It may be that for want of other terminology directly suited to reference such elusive subject matter the term MetaPhysica, (in Greek it means "after physics" or "beyond physics"), was adopted in relation to Aristotle's "book" of "metaphysical" treatises.

Huxley concludes his Introduction to The Perennial Philosophy with these words:-
"If one is not oneself a sage or saint, the best thing one can do, in the field of metaphysics, is to study the works of those who were, and who, because they had modified their merely human mode of being, were capable of a more than merely human kind and amount of knowledge."

Human Existence

In all districts of all lands, in all the classes of communities thousands of minds are intently occupied, the merchant in his compting house, the mechanist over his plans, the statesman at his map, his treaty, & his tariff, the scholar in the skilful history & eloquence of antiquity, each stung to the quick with the desire of exalting himself to a hasty & yet unfound height above the level of his peers. Each is absorbed in the prospect of good accruing to himself but each is no less contributing to the utmost of his ability to fix & adorn human civilization.
In William H. Gilman (ed.) The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol II, 1822-1826, 305




It is one of those fables, which, out of an unknown antiquity, convey an unlooked-for wisdom, that the gods, in the beginning, divided Man into men, that he might be more helpful to himself; just as the hand was divided into fingers, the better to answer its end.

The old fable covers a doctrine ever new and sublime; that there is One Man, - present to all particular men only partially, or through one faculty; and that you must take the whole society to find the whole man. Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. In the divided or social state, these functions are parcelled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, whilst each other performs his. The fable implies, that the individual, to possess himself, must sometimes return from his own labor to embrace all the other laborers. But unfortunately, this original unit, this fountain of power, has been so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops, and cannot be gathered. The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters, - a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man.
From Ralph Waldo Emerson's 'The American Scholar' address


Pythaoras was a prominent figure in the intellectual life of the Greek world of the sixth century B.C. Alongside his widely recognised contributions to mathematics and geometry Pythogoras is also considered to have recognised that there was evidently a "three-way" complexity to Human Nature:-
Pythagoras who, according to Heraclides of Pontus, the pupil of Plato and a learned man of the first rank, came, the story goes, to Philus and with a wealth of learning and words discussed certain subjects with Leon the ruler of the Philasians. And Leon after wondering at his talent and eloquence asked him to name the art in which he put most reliance. But Pythagoras said that for his part he had no acquaintance with any art, but was a philosopher. Leon was astonished at the novelty of the term and asked who philosophers were and in what they differed from the rest of the world.

Pythagoras, the story continues, replied that the life of man seemed to him to resemble the festival which was celebrated with most magnificent games before a concourse collected from the whole of Greece. For at this festival some men whose bodies had been trained sought to win the glorious distinction of a crown, others were attracted by the prospect of making gains by buying or selling, whilst there was on the other hand a certain class, and that quite the best class of free-born men, who looked neither for applause no gain, but came for the sake of the spectacle and closely watched what was done and how it was done: So also we, as though we had come from some city to a kind of crowded festival, leaving in like fashion another life and nature of being, entered upon this life, and some were slaves of ambition, some of money; there were a special few who, counting all else as nothing, ardently contemplated the nature of things. These men he would call "lovers of wisdom" (for that is the meaning of the word philo-sopher).
~ (Pythagoras was an acknowledged wordsmith and is often credited with originating the term "Philosopher")!


Ancient, classical, Greek philosophy also evidences cogent suggestions that Human Nature is complex:-

Plato was a pupil and friend of the greek philosopher Socrates. Amongst the many works attributed to Plato's authorship is his "The Republic," (composed circa 375 B.C.), wherein is set out a series of discourses that allegedly took place between Socrates and a number of other persons who variously arrived and departed as the discussions continued.
It is in this record, made by Plato, of "Socrates? " philosophising that most intriguing themes are developed -

 ...can we possibly refuse to admit that there exist in each of us the same generic parts and characteristics as are found in the state? For I presume the state has not received them from any other source. It would be ridiculous to imagine that the presence of the spirited element in cities is not to be traced to individuals, wherever this character is imputed to the people, as it is to the natives of Thrace, and Scythia, and generally speaking, of the northern countries; or the love of knowledge, which would be chiefly attributed to our own country; or the love of riches, which people would especially connect with the Phoenicians and the Egyptians.
 Certainly.
 This then is a fact so far, and one which it is not difficult to apprehend.
 No, it is not. ...

As has already been related The Parable of the Sower features these words in depicting different persons' reactions to spiritual teachings:-
... Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop ...



How far can it be accepted, in all this evidence of three-way dispositional potential in human behaviours, that Jesus, (very significantly), in The Parable of the Sower, effectively presents a view of earthly Human Existence that is, (significantly), "broadly shared," by Emerson, Pythagoras, and Plato / Socrates?

Is Human Being more truly
Metaphysical than Physical?

metaphysics and tripartite human nature

 

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge.
Daniel J. Boorstin

~ Our Human Nature - Tripartite Soul page ~


The Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount is generally accepted as being the most important of all the teachings of Jesus.

This Sermon can be regarded as being composed of several themes including:-


An invocation towards leading a spiritually centred life

An encouragement of mild forbearance

A litany against materialistic worldliness


We would suggest that this demonstrates an acceptance-in-principle of a three-way pattern in Human Dispositional Potential!

An invocation towards leading
a spiritually centered life

  And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
  And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Jesus' Sermon on the Mount from St. Matthew, Chapter 5




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The presentation of "Tripartite" Human Nature posited above, together with the assertion that the Sermon of the Mount might be held to feature "Themes" consistent with such, ( ~ or similar?), "Existential Tripartism," could prove to be rather controversial.
Given this possibility a full consideration of all of this is given on ~ Our Human Nature - Tripartite Soul page ~ for the benefit of interested readers, but also to provide defensive argument against challenge from potential detractors!
Such defence would, undoubtedly, arise from the evidence on that page that not only, (very significantly), Jesus' central teachings and (significantly), Emerson, Pythagoras and Plato / Socrates but also, (very significantly), Islam, Hinduism-Vedanta, Buddhism and Sikhism, and (significantly), Shakespeare offer substantial implicit support to the presence of an already established, if largely unappreciated, universal recognition that an "Existential Tripartism" is present in all Human Beings.


Emerson what lies within quote

 

An acceptance that there are Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA), that science and religion each have "a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority" "where one form of teaching holds the appropriate tools for meaningful discourse and resolution" is a view advocated by the prominent popular scientist Stephen Jay Gould.
According to Gould's NOMA principle "the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value."

Gould saw the NOMA principle as offering "a blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution to . . . the supposed conflict between science and religion."
Gould argued that if indeed the polling data was correct ~ and that 80 to 90% of Americans believe in a supreme being, and such a belief is misunderstood to be at odds with evolution ~ then "we have to keep stressing that religion is a different matter, and science is not in any sense opposed to it," otherwise "we're not going to get very far."
He did not, however, consider this proposed diplomatic approach to the resolution to "the supposed conflict between science and religion" to be paramount, writing in 1997: "NOMA represents a principled position on moral and intellectual grounds, not a mere diplomatic stance."


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We live in a Physical World which can be meaningfully investigated, and transformed, by physicists, mathematicians, chemists, biologists and engineers but we also live in a Human World which is perhaps open to being "broadly appreciated" by theologians, economists, historians, poets, philosophers and metaphysicians.

Einstein said something about Science and Religion where ignorance of each others powers left one lame and the other blind.

He also said:-
"Science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary. Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action: it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts."
If there was "ball-park" agreement about how the Human World "ought to socially and politically operate", (thanks mainly to the Humanities), then the Sciences, not least Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, could be more effectively brought to bear to seek to define what is technically possibly and desireable towards the attainment those aims.


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The lives we lead are "Human" lives, simultaneously Intellectual, Materialistic, Spiritual and Ethnic.

It is to be hoped that physicists, mathematicians, chemists, biologists, engineers, theologians, economists, historians, poets, philosophers, metaphysicians and other specialisms can somehow pool their talents to allow Intellectual, Materialistic, Spiritual and Ethnic Human Civilisation every chance of future progress.

"We need a worldview grounded in science that does not deny the richness of human nature and the validity of modes of knowing other than the scientific. If we can bring our spirituality, the richness and wholesomeness of our basic human values, to bear upon the course of science in human society, then the different approaches of science and spirituality will contribute together to the betterment of humanity."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
(In a comment on "War of the Worldviews: Science vs Spirituality," a faith vs. reason debate or controversy related book written by the scientist Leonard Mlodinow and by the prominent spiritual writer Deepak Chopra.

Leonard Mlodinow has previously co-authored with Stephen Hawking on scientific subjects).


Leonard Mlodinow, Deepak Chopra and Stephen Hawking

 
N.B. This page is NOT particularly intended to be a presentation "in appreciation of Emerson."

He was in his own times, and for his own reasons, sincerely a person-of-faith whose works, as has been shown above, can be drawn on to yield many quotes very relevant not only to a demonstration of that sincere faith but also to providing some cogent input into diverse aspects of the Faith vs Reason debate.
Besides which there may well be great potential advantage, in terms of establishing credibility for the content of this page, in reminding "modernity" that such views were held by a notable figure who not only was, but also remains, a source of profound cultural influence!

Our page content will now turn again towards the elusive subject of Metaphysics ~ featuring yet more directly relevant quotes from Emerson.

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The most significant "original" suggestions forwarded by the present writer being probably rather disconcerting ones for many readers, (and indeed, it must be admitted, for said "present writer"), about "Existential Tripartism."


a speculative depiction of tripartite human nature

 

Such originality is itself capable of being shown to be something of an add-on to Emerson's own thoughts (or divinations?):-

"In old Rome the public roads beginning at the Forum proceeded north, south, east, west, to the centre of every province of the empire, making each market-town of Persia, Spain, and Britain pervious to the soldiers of the capital: so out of the human heart go, as it were, highways to the heart of every object in nature, to reduce it under the dominion of man. A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, whose flower and fruitage is the world. His faculties refer to natures out of him, and predict the world he is to inhabit, as the fins of the fish foreshow that water exists, or the wings of an eagle in the egg presuppose air. He cannot live without a world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
History ~ an essay of 1841

Diagram suggesting that Human Societies often demonstrate capacities for Spiritual, Materialistic and Tribal / Ethnic 'Tripartism'

A Societal "Human Tripartism"

This view suggests that Societies themselves!!! have a Tripartite character.

The evidence presented on this page, and other of our pages, that the World Religions share profound similarities in their respective spiritual teachings will, it is to be hoped, allow for greater possibilities of mutual toleration.
It may be that the most that can be hoped for is that majorities will feel able to offer some acceptable degree of protection to minorities. Majorities, as well as minorities, could well have an understandable preference to maintain what might be regarded as "their historic communality".
(For what it is worth The Golden Rule that we should do unto others as we would that they do unto us is accepted by all of the major World Religions.)


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What is the business of history? What is the stuff of which it is made? Who is the personage of history? Man : evidently man and human nature. There are many different elements in history. What are they? Evidently again, the elements of human nature. History is therefore the development of humanity, and of humanity only; for nothing else but humanity develops itself, for nothing else than humanity is free. ...
... Moreover, when we have all the elements, I mean all the essential elements, their mutual relations do, as it were, discover themselves. We draw from the nature of these different elements, if not all their possible relations, at least their general and fundamental relations.

Victor Cousin
Introduction to the History of Philosophy (1832)

Whilst he preferred to consult reliable translations Emerson could attempt to read works in French and it is worth noting that he read, and was influenced by ideas offered in, Victor Cousin's "History of Philosophy" prior to the English language edition of 1832 - as this excerpt from a letter to his brother William demonstrates:-



Footnote mentioning Victor Cousin as an influence

 

Footnote from - The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson
English traits, Volume 5
by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Alfred Riggs Ferguson, Joseph Slater - 1971)

Note Emerson's enthusiasm for Cousin's views in this particular sentence:-
"A master of history, an epic he makes of man & of the world - & excels all men in giving effect, yea, éclat, to metaphysical theory."

We may wonder - did Cousin's metaphysics influence, perhaps significantly, the construction by Emerson of aspects of his own essay, History?

In his essay "History" Ralph Waldo Emerson sets out an approach to History where the "innate Humanity" that is common to all of mankind is seen as operating throughout the ages in the shaping of events.
The first two paragraphs include such sentiments as:-
 "There is one mind common to all individual men.

 Of the works of this mind history is the record. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. All the facts of history pre-exist as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of this manifold spirit to the manifold world."

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"Whatever concept one may hold, from a metaphysical point of view, concerning the freedom of the will, certainly its appearances, which are human actions, like every other natural event, are determined by universal laws. However obscure their causes, history, which is concerned with narrating these appearances, permits us to hope that if we attend to the play of freedom of the human will in the large, we may be able to discern a regular movement in it, and that what seems complex and chaotic in the single individual may be seen from the standpoint of the human race as a whole to be a steady and progressive though slow evolution of its original endowment."
Immanuel Kant
Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View (1784)

The quote from Plato's "The Republic" set out above possibly bears repetition here:-

 ...can we possibly refuse to admit that there exist in each of us the same generic parts and characteristics as are found in the state? For I presume the state has not received them from any other source. It would be ridiculous to imagine that the presence of the spirited element in cities is not to be traced to individuals, wherever this character is imputed to the people, as it is to the natives of Thrace, and Scythia, and generally speaking, of the northern countries; or the love of knowledge, which would be chiefly attributed to our own country; or the love of riches, which people would especially connect with the Phoenicians and the Egyptians.
 Certainly.
 This then is a fact so far, and one which it is not difficult to apprehend.
 No, it is not. ...

East meets West?


Within western philosophy Kant and Plato are definitely extremely highly regarded whilst Vivekananda can be seen to have been particularly prominent within the "Eastern" and "Vedic" traditions of Advaita Vedanta. This being a mainstream approach within Hinduism-Vedanta that was initiated by Gaudapada more than one thousand years ago and then disseminated across the Indian sub-continent by an emergent luminary named Shankara who had, as a younger man, lived under the personal guidance of a teacher named Govinda who had himself been taught by Gaudapada.
Advaita Vedanta proposes a non-dualism wherein the individual spirit (Atman) is seen as being identical with ultimate reality (Brahman).


Stand upon the Atman, then only can we truly love the world. Take a very, very high stand; knowing our universal nature, we must look with perfect calmness upon all the panorama of the world.

Vivekananda



This is the secret of spiritual life: to think that I am the Atman and not the body, and that the whole of this universe with all its relations, with all its good and all its evil, is but as a series of paintings - scenes on a canvas - of which I am the witness.

Vivekananda

A Shankara quotation relating to metaphysics
and The Atman which is Brahman

"The entire universe is truly the Self. There exists nothing at all other than the Self. The enlightened person sees everything in the world as his own Self, just as one views earthenware jars and pots as nothing but clay".


The Perennial Philosophy

Emerson was open to engaging in investigations into "The Perennial Philosophy" as the following announcement of an "Ethnical Scriptures" series of articles featuring extracts from non-Western scriptures makes clear:-

"We commence in the present number the printing of a series of selections from the oldest ethical and religious writings of men, exclusive of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. Each nation has its bible more or less pure; none has yet been willing or able in a wise and devout spirit to collate its own with those of other nations, and sinking the civil-historical and ritual portions to bring together the grand expressions of the moral sentiment in different ages and races, the rules for the guidance of life, the bursts of piety and of abandonment to the Invisible and Eternal; - a work inevitable sooner or later, and which we hope is to be done by religion and not by literature."
The Dial, III, July 1842, 82; (quoted in R. K. Dhawan, Henry David Thoreau, a Study in Indian Influence, 1985, 27-28)

"The Dial" being a quarterly magazine associated with the so-called "New England Transcendentalism" within which Emerson was a leading figure.
Emerson, who acted as editor of The Dial, is considered to have prepared the above note whilst Thoreau, a close protégé of Emerson's, was actually later responsible for initial stages of the preparation, (including the acceptance of submissions from interested colonial administrators, traders etc.), of most of the articles in this series.


This next quotation appears - (in the closing paragraph) - in Emerson's "Essential Principles of Religion" lecture of 1862.
"Can any one doubt that if the noblest saint among the Buddhists, the noblest Mahometan, the highest Stoic of Athens, the purest and wisest Christian, - Buddha and Menu in India, Confucius in China, Spinoza in Holland, could somewhere meet and converse, - they would all find themselves of one religion, - would find themselves denounced by their own sects," …

Mahatma Gandhi, one of the "Great Souls" of the 20th century, when asked if he was a Hindu replied:-

"Yes I am, I am also a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Jew."


I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal."
(Quoted from Vivekananda's address to the Parliament of World Religions)


Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, "Brother, yours is an impossible hope." Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.

The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.

Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.

If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: "Help and not fight," "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."

Vivekananda

Vivekanada may have been prepared to take such an inclusive approach by the influence of his own, famous, teacher ~ Ramakrishna:-

"God has made different religions to suit different aspirants, times and countries. All doctrines are so many paths; but a path is by no means God Himself. Indeed, one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with whole-hearted devotion."

Ramakrishna

It is said of Ramakrishna that:-
"It must be borne in mind that Ramakrishna cannot be identified with any sect. He did not preach a religion. He lived a life that verified the inner reality of all religions. And, what is more important, all people must develop from their own unique heritage a full spiritual life of their own. Though Ramakrishna inherited Hinduism, he developed a unique soul-experience whose magnitude went beyond the limits of one religion. He lived so that by his example a Muslim was heartened to be a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian, and a Buddhist a better Buddhist. This was not the outcome of a wishy-washy eclecticism, but a realization achieved after years of spiritual experiments that he made with all those religions."


Whilst doubtlessly making no concessions as to their own perceptions of the primacy of Mohammed as Prophet of God it has been the case that several most notable historical figures in the Islamic World have expressed some preparedness to extend a generous toleration to other Faiths.

One such historical figure being the philosopher, mystic, and prolific author Ibn 'Arabi.
Ibn 'Arabi was born in Andalusia in 1165 and lived in the earlier years of his life in Murcia and in Seville in an environment where Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Greek traditions mutually interacted in the blossoming of a rich scholarly culture.
From this formational background Ibn Arabi travelled widely in the Islamic world and went on to write some 400 books many of which propose the recognition of the unity of being, and the unity of religions.

Rumi was similarly inclined to be tolerant of other faiths:-
"Listen with ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love."


The extent of ~ the discernible agreement between the major world religions as to core Spiritual Truths ~ may go some way to establishing that it is actually "more or less possible" for a spiritual person, (although they might personally self-identify with a particular religion), to also deem themselves to be, simultaneously, something of a follower of other spiritual traditions ~ because the spirituality they are encouraged to fulfil within their religion of choice can be shown to be similar to the spiritualities upheld within other religious traditions!


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Emerson and a very highly regarded Oxford professor named Friedrich Max Müller carried on a correspondence by letter for many years prior to their first meeting during a visit Emerson made to Europe between the closing weeks of 1872 and the early summer of 1873.
Max Müller was long familiar with, and approved of, Emerson's works and had invited Emerson to visit him personally and to stay at his home for a few days whilst he was in England.

Max Müller's famous work Introduction to the Science of Religion, which was published shortly after this meeting, was explicitly dedicated:-


To Ralph Waldo Emerson
in memory of his visit to Oxford
in May, 1873,
and in acknowledgement of constant refreshment
of head and heart
derived from his writings
during the last twenty-five years.


Max Müller is held to be the originator of the term "The Science of Religion" and of the dictum ~ 'he who knows one, knows none' ~ that is often quoted in relation to the study of Religion.

Eric Sharpe in his definitive history of Comparative Religion as a field of study says this of Friedrich Max Müller and his works:-
There are perhaps, perhaps only two serious contenders for the title 'the father of comparative religion' - the Dutch Egyptologist C. P. Tiele and the great philologist, German by birth, British by adoption, Friedrich Max Müller (1823- 1900). In choosing to give the accolade to the latter, we have to wish to minimize Tiele's outstanding work. But Max Müller was the more universal figure, much of whose work was carried out during the critical decade, 1859-1869; we have already quoted him on two occasions: from what we have presumed to identify as the foundation document of comparative religion, his Introduction to the Science of Religion (1873), and from the slightly earlier preface to Chips from a German Workshop. In both we see him not only as a scholar, but also as the advocate of a new science - and it is for this advocacy that we select him.



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The relevance of investigation into, and appreciation of, The Perennial Philosophy is becoming more and more evident due to the disparity of birth-rates between the existing civilizational regions of the world and due to mass movements of populations bringing, in particular, Muslims, Hindus and Africans often accepting of a vibrant Christian faith, into what have been largely secularised western states.
Also of significance is the fact that there is often a disparity of birth-rates between what might be referred to as "longstanding" and "migrant" communities within modern states.


According Johnathan Sacks, an astute and humane observer of society:-
While the 17th Century was the dawn of an age of secularisation, the 21st Century will be the start of an age of desecularisation. Worldwide, religious groups have the highest birth rates. Over the next half-century, there will be a massive transformation in the religious make-up of much of the world, with Europe leading the way.

Whilst there is no certainty that events will occur as Johnathan Sacks predicts it does seem to be possible that they could do so given the ways in which events seem to be unfolding.

Somewhat similar developments to those predicted by Sacks for Europe relating to religious adherence have already become apparent in the United States of America!

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The Non-Christian faiths moved from 4.7 to 5.9
this being a 25% increase over seven years!!!
2007-2014 'Unaffiliated' increase being 40%

It seems to be the case that categorisation based on identifiable Belief, Agnosticism and Atheism is becoming more and more inappropriate with categorisation based on more subtle and complex positions in relation to Faith, Spirituality and the place of Science becoming more valid.

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  (So-called progressive believers tending to be more acknowledging of the value of what Science holds to be true.)

The World Religions &
their Spirituality Quotations

The following linked pages are intended to more fully demonstrate a degree of Common Ground between the Inner-most Spiritual Teachings of several major World Religions on Charity, Purity of Heart, Humility, Meekness, A Disdain for Materialism (compared to the Spiritual), A Distrust of the Intellect (compared to Divine Inspiration) and A Yearning for Divine Edification (or A Thirst for Spiritual Enlightenment).
These quotations are presented on a series of very brief pages where each faith is considered individually.

We have seen it as worthwhile to add another category of quotation ~ where recognition has been given "by the wise and holy of several faiths" to the possibility of Mystical Communion with God ~ as this addition may rather directly tend the range of agreement from Comparative Religion studies about "Core Spiritual Truths" already demonstrated towards actually becoming real evidence of the existence of "Spiritually Discernible" aspects to the one God or Spirit which is central to Mystical Faith.


World Religions Spirituality Quotations


Buddhist       Islamic       Hindu


Christian


Sikh       Taoist       Jewish




Given the similarities in accepted Spiritual Truth between the major religions it is surely reasonable to view with respect the profound spiritualities that exist at the cores of ALL of the enduring and widespread faiths just explicitly mentioned.
The table of links displayed above is thus intented to be presented in a manner consistent with aspirations towards promoting a mutually respectful co-existence of The Great Faiths of the World.




It is hoped that it will be possible to see any contributions, made on this page, to the Faith vs Reason debate as being consistent with such Sermons and Parables of Jesus as The Sermon on the Mount and The Parable of the Sower.




An attempt was made earlier on this page to present a few Central? poetry insights.
A more extensive gathering of such proposed Central? poetry insights ~ from such celebrated poets as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Cowper and Dryden ~ is available here




A representative collection of the Spiritual and Poetic wisdoms as recently presented is available to download from this page