A Modern View of Religion by a Spiritual Person
Dear Faithful Readers:
I introduce to you my Friend and Guest Blogger David Powell. David, a WVU graduate, is a true West Virginian and a freelance writer and videographer. To me, his claim to fame is his loving family and his standing as the founder of WV Irish Road Bowling. You may meet David at the WV Irish Spring Festival in Ireland WV in March 14-16, 2014. www.wvirishroadbowling.com.
This is David’s thoughtful response to a T.E.D.com presentation by celebrated Scientist, Author, and atheist, Richard Dawkins, which I sent to David a month ago. David shares with me great curiosity about why we are here and where we are going, and a concern that the mainstream church is not adapting well or quickly to the reality and challenges of the modern world. Perhaps it is “evolving” too slowly?
Thank you David for allowing me to share your private musings with my “vast readership”. jbh.
A few weeks ago you asked me to view the 29 minute TED talk by Richard Dawkins and respond to you. When you asked me that, I had already watched 11 minutes.
At that time, I decided to write a couple of sentences on my concept on the meaning of God. However, once I started, a whole bunch of paragraphs spilled out.
I decided not to send this to you until I had seen the other 18 minutes of Dawkins‘ presentation.
Now I have seen the entire 29 minute presentation.
Don’t forget Burt, you asked for it.
Written in January before I watched it all:
1. God – The Hindu religion believes that “God” is a limiting concept, and creation and reality are much greater, bigger, more profound than man’s concept of “God.”
2. I like that and have been drawn to Charles Darwin’s “Mystery of Mysteries” also. (For some interesting reading, just Google “Darwin’s Mystery of Mysteries”. ed.)
3. Some say Darwin is the greatest human being ever because he is the first person to see and describe to us what was happening every day, right before our eyes – how “natural selection,” “survival of the fittest,” was evolving all living things, all the time.
4. Maybe evolution is God, and for humans that makes some sense, scientists have thought that the human species is by far the most numerous large mammals in the history of Planet Earth, at more than six billion.
5. So, survival of the fittest has proved that despite, or maybe because of, disease and war, homo sapiens is victorious over all other species, with their brain power and understanding of science.
6. I have not read Spinoza (The Jewish Philosopher Baruch Spinoza, “The Great Heretic”, ed.) since I was in my 20’s, but I remember his concept that God permeates all things, is not a part from the world, and that today’s everyday reality is itself God.
7. I personally feel closest to God in the West Virginia woods, experiencing plants and animals and the beauty of nature; also, being with friends and family.
8. I have long thought of myself as agnostic, not having ultimate answers.
9. At the same time, I have seen Jesus as mankind’s greatest teacher ever, and with all due respect to Buddha, Mohamed, Abraham, Confucius and many more, I accept Jesus as the greatest model and teacher ever presented to man. I learned that as a child and believe it still.
10. As we get older, I think it is possible to be agnostic or uncertain about what God, “The Mystery of Mysteries”, is.
11. Maybe God is nothing more than the concept in our hearts and minds, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You.”
12. And the concept of God might be placed in our consciousness by evolution – humans can live and multiply because they understand what a “norm” of human behavior is, so they can build families and societies on that one concept.
13.I think you can be agnostic (not sure) but get more interested in religion and Jesus as you get older, not because your beliefs change but because you choose to devote more time to thinking about it. I notice that other interests become more boring and less important.
14. My Mother’s funeral (David’s Mother Marie Powell died this year at age 90, ed.) brought me to Jesus, not as a religious revelation or an epiphany, but her passing just reminded me how interesting Jesus was as a person, and as a great teacher, and how useful, utilitarian, his teachings are; very practical in everyday life.
15. You cannot confront faith with logic and rationality.
16. When Dawkins attacks and ridicules religious faith with logic he is absolutely correct. Faith cannot be defended by logic. “Intelligent Design” is Glenn Beck hokum, “phony malarkey”.
17. However, what is it that impels man, at least since the days of cave paintings, 30,000 B.C. to come up with the concept of something or someone greater than us which forms our world?
18. Supernatural? False? Massive error by billions and billions of human minds over thousands of years of history? Maybe, yes.
19. Yet it seems to me there is massive hubris and ego involved on Dawkins’ part to assert that he has this answer in the face of 30,000 years of human history.
20. Dawkins may be correct, but I am not buying it. My perception of reality, or anyone’s, is as valid as his, and so is any man’s, even if he is more articulate than I am in expressing it.
21. Maybe all this can be summarized in a personal sense that there is something called “Justice” that created us and sustains us.
22. Another name for it is The Golden Rule, and another is Faith.
23. I don’t know what it is. I am agnostic as to certainty, whether it is God or God working through science and evolution, or Spinoza’s “everyday reality”, or, better yet, Darwin’s Mystery of Mysteries.
24. I do not presume to know the answers. But, I intend to spend more time reading about Jesus, the premier teacher and example for mankind.
25. For me, natural selection, survival of the fittest, is a neutral baseline, zero, and God, or Darwin’s Mystery of Mysteries, is a “plus one” arcing toward Justice, even if Justice is only a concept in our own mind.
26. I would not presume to any certainty and I think it is naïve (and perhaps a tad arrogant? ed.) of Dawkins to profess certainty.
27. I am sure my concepts are quite commonplace, but I am comfortable with them. They cannot be proved or disproved with logic.
28. If I cannot pray to a Father on a Golden Throne in Heaven, at least I can hope for Justice and have faith it is there somewhere. And anyone can pour their heart and soul into that Hope and Faith.
1. Burt – I just watched the entire 29-minute Richard Dawkins TED talk, and was not enlightened or impressed. He was funny and entertaining. Most of the talk was a political and economic discussion about the cost and tactics setting up an atheist movement, not a discussion of the science vs. religion debate at all, he simply took it for granted that religion is false. He never mentioned that the beauty of scientific discovery could make religious belief more and more awesome and profound as we learn more about science and our world.
2. Dawkins did allude to Charles Darwin’s defending the possibility of religion by recounting when Darwin mentioned the “deep mysterious part of physics we don’t yet understand ….”
3. That is what I cited when I first wrote this a couple weeks ago, about Darwin’s “Mystery of Mysteries.”
4. To me, Dawkins came across as an unconvincing Brit, disparaging religious belief, with a lot of wit and funny jokes, but really focusing on a political talk, not a scientific talk.
5. At least Charles Darwin, far more insightful than Richard Dawkins, could imagine a greater mystery than we can understand.
6. And, I have no disrespect for atheists. I am thankful that we in America have the freedom to think and believe as we wish.
7. One of my favorite quotes is from “my hero” Thomas Jefferson,
“I have sworn, upon the altar of God,
against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
This post was written by Burton Hunter