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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Monday, May 09, 2011

"Spiritual Atheists"

I stumbled upon THIS article late last week and thought it interesting given my last post. I thought the article starts off on the wrong foot right off the bat with this odd statement: "The pursuit of science can be compatible with spirituality." Keeping in mind what I wrote before, this statement is running the red lights in both directions - I think.

I would say that actually a large number of people self-identify as "spiritual" and usually do so to escape the negative image associated these days with being "religious." Similarly many evangelicals will reject being called "religious" in favor of having a "relationship with Jesus." Cynics will of course be quick to tell the evangelical: "Same difference" and they are right. But I'd suggest it's also the same difference for those without a distinct Christian identity who yet call themselves "spiritual." Oddly enough, this article goes on to suggests a big difference between being "spiritual" and being "religious."

According to Ecklund, many of the scientists viewed both science and spirituality as "quests for meaning" that do not invoke faith. Religion, on the other hand, requires belief without empirical evidence, and is thus incompatible with the pursuit of science.

Huh? Ummm....where exactly is the "empirical evidence" people have to support their "spirituality"? I've never seen it and furthermore I'm willing to bet that the 2 out of 5 scientists who are "spiritual" have fairly different ideas of what they actually believe about "spirituality" since as far as I am aware there are no experiments to repeat and no data to be published on the topic. So to suggest that religion is incompatible with the pursuit of science whereas spirituality is not just seems absurd.

And the article isn't done telling us about the differences, but in this example I totally agree:

Another difference between religion and spirituality, according to the atheistic scientists who were interviewed, is that the former is a communal, collective endeavor, while the latter is personal.

Yes indeed. In spirituality you rely solely on yourself. You may look at external data, but you are free to accept or reject it without much consideration - you know, if it doesn't "work" for you. Religion is communal. Amen. But here's something to consider for those seeking to have their "spirituality" be compatible with science:

SCIENCE is also very much communal. I do not go into my lab each day and reinvent the wheel. I build upon centuries (more actually) of experience. And we collaborate. We share ideas and we rest upon the foundation of what we know to be so already. "Standing on the shoulders of giants." Science, in this regard is not all that different from religious tradition...to some degree at least.

To dismiss centuries of spiritual wisdom under the notion that *I* in my own vast wisdom, insight, enlightenment, and knowledge can discern truth (for me?) best is as absurd as me tossing aside the immunology texts and setting out on my own to discern how our bodies manage to fight diseases. I can figure out this truth on my own.

Of course these analogies aren't perfect. But I would simply suggest that neither spirituality nor religion ought to be anymore personal than is science. Discerning truth on your own is a dangerous game. The father and mothers of the Church would agree as much as would all the fathers and mothers of science. If, as the article implies, religion is incompatible with science then I am in big trouble.

:)

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:35 AM [+]
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