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The Faith versus Reason Debate

Faith versus Reason

There can be no doubt that "Modernity", in the westernised world, holds Rationality and Science in very high esteem whilst the relevance, or validity, of any attempts at Spiritual Insight are widely dismissed and disregarded.
Yet, over earlier centuries, Spiritual Insights were considered to be of great importance and Spiritual Wisdoms were sincerely repected.


Whether we realise it or not most people, even though they might consider themselves to be quite un-spiritual and rather un-poetic, have a capacity which allows for a recognition of Profund Truths.

...the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God:
for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned.

St. Paul


The soul is the perceiver and revealer of truth. We know truth when we see it, let skeptic and scoffer say what they choose ... 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.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


If such a thing as Spiritual Enlightenment is held to be possible surely it should be considered to be moreso a form of Cognition or Perception than believed to be a result of Thought or a product of Rational Mental Processes!


It may well be the case that spirituality-related, or poetically inspired, glimpses of Profound Truths can help us towards the appreciation of important insights that are otherwise largely beyond our reach!


Wisdoms of the Ages

Across civilizations, and across centuries, it has happened that Profound Truths have come to be "somehow encapsulated" within certain quotations and quotes and are now there waiting to be more fully appreciated!!!
We have found it possible to research into the Important Truths that have been "captured" within such spiritual, and also poetical, quotes.


We would actually go so far as to portray these Truths as being "Wisdoms of the Ages".


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


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Some words of background context introduction to the important wisdoms we have attempted to identify are probably necessary:-

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."

The results of exhaustive studies conducted by ourselves at Age-of-the-Sage.org into The Perennial Philosophy were such as to lead us to also accept that "divine Reality" is better discerned by those spiritually endowed with Charity, Purity of Heart and Humility. However, we came to believe Meekness to be another spiritual endowment which may well tend to contribute towards heightened powers of discernment.
This suggestion that Meekness is of immense spiritual value may not surprise.
More unexpectedly, perhaps, the outcomes of our comprehensive researches into the mysteries of Deep Spiritual Truth were also such as to suggest that it is appropriate to fully associate 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), with the centralities of The Perennial Philosophy.


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, (to be again closely followed by what seems to be a broadly comparable selection of "Central Poetry Insights").

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 and from the 'Of the Imitation of Christ'; a fifteenth century devotional work that has long been the second most widely read Christian book after The Bible itself.
A Disdain for Materialism
Some have Me in their mouths, but little in their hearts.
There are others who, being enlightened in their understanding and purified in their affection, always breathe after things eternal, are unwilling to hear of earthly things, and grieve to be subject to the necessities of nature; and such as these perceive what the Spirit of Truth speaketh in them.
For it teacheth them to despise the things of the earth and to love heavenly things; to disregard the world, and all the day and night to aspire after heaven.

Thomas a Kempis - Of the Imitation of Christ Book 3 Ch. 4 v. 4

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

A Yearning for Divine Edification
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

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 - (Islam)

A Yearning for Divine Edification
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)


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

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The Great Poets have also won many profoundly instructive insights.
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

A Yearning for Divine Edification
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.

One of the most evident ways in which this site's content "pushes boundaries" is through the inclusion of key quotes deriving from several World Religions.
Whilst quotations, from no fewer than seven prominent World Faiths, (including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism), that express an acceptance that "valuable Spiritual Insights are possible" and an associated "Distrust of Reason", are available on our pages just two such quotes will now be offered, as particularly noteworthy examples, from "non-Christian" sources:-


"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 ~ a celebrated Sufi poet and mystic who lived 1207 - 1273, (by the western calendar), and of whom a BBC "Culture" web page of April, 2014 could say:-
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."


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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.)


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 biography 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 this assistant 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 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 'Darwin's Bulldog' Thomas Henry Huxley; who wrote 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).


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

The New Atheism

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


Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris the Four Horsemen of New Atheism

 

logo of the Global Atheist Convention of 2012
Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens (health permitting), Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris were announced, in the summer of 2011, as keynote speakers at a Global Atheist Convention - "A Celebration of Reason" - to be held in Australia early in 2012.

"This is the first time that the Four Horsemen have spoken together publicly in five years," said Atheist Foundation President David Nicholls. "Their best-selling books on atheism earned the group the moniker 'The Four Horseman of the Anti-Apocalypse', and fittingly so as they have been instrumental in bringing forth a new enlightenment in the face of growing irrationality, fundamentalism and superstitious thinking around the world."


[Christopher Hitchens was included in the projected panel of speakers at this event because of his high profile as a critic of religion and of what he articulately sought to portray as its negative influences on society.
It happened, however, that the ill-health he was known to have been suffering from actually claimed his life in December, 2011].


Pictures of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris

 

We at Age-of-the-Sage would like to sympathise with Christopher Hitchens' family and friends in their personal loss.
Whilst we did not share his views on Religion, or Politics, we found it necessary to maintain a healthy respect for his eloquence whilst accepting that he always sought to act as a person of principle in line with his own beliefs.
The 2012 Global Atheist Convention Opening Address was delivered by David Nicholls as president of the Atheist Foundation of Australia.

A key section of this opening address being:-
... And where are we at this moment in time? We are celebrating reason, for as Bertrand Russell stated, "to save the world requires faith and courage: faith in reason, and courage to proclaim what reason shows to be true."

No holy book has promoted reason and no religion has even attempted to do so. In fact, revealed writings depend on the reader suspending reason in preference to believing statements on faith.

We should not be against people suspending reason, after all, it is their life, but we must be totally opposed to suspended reason being forced into the minds of children as a way of thinking. Children grow into voting adults, some become politicians, making laws for everyone.

Teaching young people how to think and not what to think is a prerequisite for a good and equitable civilisation. To avoid furture divisive sectarian societal dysfunction, faith indoctrination supported by secular governments must cease.

Reason has exponentially increased human understanding about medicine, food production, electronics, engineering, transport and population friendly political systems.

It is responsible for bringing us down from the trees and placing people on the moon, where the Earth has for the first time been viewed from a completely new perspective.

Reason has allowed us to work out that the universe is "very big indeed" with black holes comprised of millions of stars, with some stars billions of kilometres in diameter and trillions of planets orbiting others in a others in a cosmos nearly beyond description.

Reason has sent spacecraft from Earth to explore the far reaches of our solar system. It has enabled information about humans and other species to escape purposely into cosmos in a never-ending journey.

Reason has provided the tools to glimpse the smallest particles in huge atom-smashing colliders when brought together at nearly the speed of light. Most profoundly, reason has for a minute part of history, shown a few lucky generations how evolution has shaped everything we see about us.

Reason has brought humanity out of the dark-ages of superstition into the light of authenticated knowledge, based in empirical peer reviewed evidence.

The speakers and entertainers at the 2012 Global Atheist Convention are here to provide various perspectives about the ability of humans to use reason in problem solving, in improving the quality of life, in enhancing happiness and in being kinder to each other and the planet. ...

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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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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 of Darwin's "Origin of Species").


Emerson interested himself deeply in scientific matters. He had given consideration to other, less persuasive, evolutionary theorisings prior to the publication of 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.

Emerson had actually himself given voice 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 ~ (and hence more than twenty-five years prior to the public availability of Darwin and Wallace's theorisings about Species broke open new and often perplexing vistas before an hitherto unsuspecting world.)

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!

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."

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 selection from Emerson's "Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England", (penned circa 1867 ~ some six years after his reading of Darwin's "Origin of Species"), quoted above can thus be seen as being cohernetly made by someone who was open both to Religion and to Science!
... 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.

Emerson had been invited to prepare and deliver the aforementioned 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


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.

Vivekananda - Religion and Science


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

 ... 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.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
~ (presented as "one of those fables which out of an unknown antiquity convey an unlooked-for wisdom").


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, tripartite human nature and darwinism

 

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
~ (wherein Jesus refers to such persons as follow this spiritual teaching as being "the salt of the earth" and as being "the light of the world")


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!

The presentation of "Tripartite" Human Nature posited above, together with this 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" and these two domains do not overlap, is a view advocated by 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 operate, (thanks mainly to the Humanities), then the Sciences could be brought to bear to effectively seek to attain those aims ~ (alongside inherently desireable advances in such fields as Medicine, Food Production and Global Warming Limitation that we might perhaps hope for from The Sciences in any case).


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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.

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?


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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)


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".

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. ...


Within western philosophy Plato and Kant 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

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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."


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


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.



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