Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spiritual Humanism

In an article I haven’t posted yet, I mentioned “spiritual” humanism as a worthy alternative to the “secular” humanism that dominates the nonreligious aspects of today’s global empire.

First, let’s look at some short definitions of secular humanism:

* The doctrine emphasizing a person's capacity for self-realization through reason; rejects religion and the supernatural.

* A humanist philosophy that espouses reason, ethics, and justice, and specifically rejects the supernatural and religious dogma as the basis of morality and decision-making.

* A philosophy based on weighing and testing beliefs whether they be religious, political or social. Using critical reasoning and logic instead of faith and mysticism to help solve our problems.

There’s a lot here I agree with: reason, weighing and testing beliefs, critical reasoning, rejection of religious dogma and faith. Anybody who knows me knows that “Faith” not my middle name. I have always been a skeptic.

Now, about secular humanism’s rejection of mysticism and “the supernatural.” I have always had a scientific mind. I used to have a credo: “Keep yer eyes open and the wax outta yer ears.” Which means: keep an open mind, keep your senses open, and be as clear an observer as possible. Then when you observe a phenomenon (even a nonverifiable phenomenon), you will be in the best possible position to draw the logical conclusions (if any) from your observations.

I would define the “supernatural” as being aspects of the universe that are not commonly observed or experienced by humans, due to the overwhelming domination by our survival software. I call the consciousness engendered by this software “throwing rocks at rabbits mode.” Humans who didn’t have this survival software, or enough of it, tended to starve or be eaten by predators, and their DNA tended to die off. So it’s no wonder that humans are such a thick lot when it comes to the supernatural.

One possible definition of mysticism is that it’s an often-heroic attempt by humans to shake off the domination of their survival software so that they may, in William Blake’s memorable phrase, “see the universe as it really is: infinite.”

Actually, mysticism is the very opposite of woo-woo. Mysticism is the attempt to come back to reality from the survival software’s dream state. Of course, the experience of reality as filtered through the survival software is “real,” it’s just that it lacks a certain richness, a certain quality, that the poet William Wordsworth described as “the sense sublime of something greater interfused.”

I’ve never considered myself a secular humanist. Secular humanism leaves out too much. I found the scientific world way too sterile for my taste and left it in 1971.

Our planet today is dominated by two main paradigms:

* Religions of various sorts which depend on “received truths” from the past, and the faith of the followers to believe that these “truths” come from a “higher source” and are therefore to be believed and revered.

* Secular humanism, in which nothing is sacred.

What a choice! No wonder our planet is being destroyed!

Last week it seemed to me that spiritual humanism would be just the right combination of spirituality and humanism. So I made myself a clergyman in the Church of Spiritual Humanism. I did this as a joke of course, and to keep up with my son, who is not only a Universal Life Church minister, but he paid extra and had himself made a Prophet as well. Even though I’ve been a ULC minister myself since 1968, I threw away my wallet card long ago, and discovered that the ULC suffered a discontinuity when the founder died, so there is no record of my ministerhood, except for the events engraved upon my heart.

So I am now an “Ordained Clergy Person,” or “O.C.P.” within the Church of Spiritual Humanism. (You can just call me “Reverend Father.”) Of course, I don’t believe that humans can really ordain each other. (We do tend to overestimate ourselves.) The only real ordination comes from God, and I haven’t received this yet. (I’m just a writer with an entertaining style.)

So... after being ordained into the Church of Spiritual Humanism, I decided to read the fine print:

Does Spiritual Humanism include belief in God or other supernatural beings?

The idea of God as a supernatural force, or entity, is a matter of faith and cannot be verified by scientific method. Until verifiable evidence that stands up to scientific method can be presented to prove the existence of the supernatural, we cannot adopt the idea of God as an entity into our religious system. We feel that belief in God is not a necessary component to having spiritual experiences.

The part that hung me up was this:

Until verifiable evidence that stands up to scientific method can be presented to prove the existence of the supernatural...

In my personal reality, the scientific method (which means making accurate observations, and then drawing logical conclusions (if any can indeed be drawn) from these observations) works just as well for personal experiences, which are by definition nonverifiable. Personal experiences are the only evidence we have of the supernatural, unless you want to throw in miracles, and sometimes I think it would be beneficial, would shake things up a little, if we had a million or two miracle workers walking the highways, healing the sick, raising the dead, whatever seemed appropriate at the time.

It’s funny – after not using the “G” word for over 20 years, I’m now starting to use it again. “God” is the most precise word in my lexicon for certain contexts. But that’s just me. My own personal experiences will convince only me, and can never convince a skeptic. By insisting on “verifiable evidence... to prove the existence of the supernatural,” spiritual humanism has shown itself to be secular humanism in another guise. The “spiritual” in spiritual humanism is just another concept, and concepts can never feed the soul. All that really counts to the experiencer, at the soul level, is the lived experience of Spirit. That’s why it’s called Spirituality.

It looks like I’ll never be using my spiritual humanist credential after all, not that I ever would have, except as a private family joke with my son. But to continue the joke, I have now registered as a Universal Life Church minister, even though my son will always outrank me within the “modern” ULC. But I bet he’ll never match my one and only “official” act as a ULC Minister: the time I baptized the gangbang queen of Howell County, Missouri.

Next: The Gangbang Queen of Howell County.


Blogger Jacques Conejo said...

Well, I guess that just about covers it huh?

It seems you point out the impossibility of verifying the existence of the "mystery" in scientific terms...

It seems you declare that the personal experience is the only link. Ok...

So, too it seems you say that "to prove the existence of the supernatural" - is not only impossible (beyond personal experience), but a sort of fools errand... (my inference).

You say - "Actually, mysticism is the very opposite of woo-woo. Mysticism is the attempt to come back to reality..." Is that a big "R" reality, that supersedes our interpretation of our everyday small "r" reality? Or do they exist as parts of an integrated whole? Can one be separated from the other... Can they be distinguished one from the other, except by the "personal" probing by the minds of those who tend to spend most of their consciousness in the state of “throwing rocks at rabbits mode.”?

I'm wondering how all this fits with your apparent withdrawing from the "distractions of the world".

Your "two main paradigms" seem to preclude your own paradigm... It seems that your own is one of a "belief" in a higher source, but not engaged in "religion" as you've described. it...

How's that working for you? Are you having personal experiences of the supernatural, that beget the revisiting of the "G" word?


5:57 AM  
Blogger Gordon Solberg said...

I don't think I'm following your logic here. I had Laura read it and she's not sure, either.

There's only one reality, but different ways of experiencing it. It's up to the individual to sort this out. This blog is about my personal sorting out process. Hopefully as time goes on I'll have a deeper understanding of what's really happening here, and will be able to write with greater clarity.

My media fast is about catering to my own special needs. I have been, in many ways, "withdrawn from the distractions of the world" for the past 40 years. It's just that I've now decided to get good at it.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Jacques Conejo said...

I'm probably not being clear enough. I like the "It's just that I've now decided to get good at it" statement...

Keep up the great work...


9:33 AM  

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