Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter and Opposing Tales of Spirituality

It was an interesting week leading up to Easter. Surely the most important event on the Christian Calendar. For me it isn't a special spiritual time, which I think reflects my growing up in the Bible belt where wearing a new suit and going Easter egg hunting were the most important points. But I was exposed to two views of spirituality this week and I would like to challenge both. The first one I challenge on philosophical levels and the second is purely a personal taste with no philosophical implications, or at least I think.

 I am a great fan of Science Friday on NPR. I only get to listen to 30 minutes each week as I'm at work and get mostly 30 minutes to swallow lunch and a coffee in a hurry. So I sit in my car and tune in. Here is a link to the part I listed to this past Friday. As you will see, it was about the concept that real science, mostly talking about quantum mechanics, is far more interesting than science fiction . . . for which I will agree. But questioners in the audience got the scientist to take a detour and talk about science vs religious spirituality.

 Once again these scientist cheated and cheated in a huge way that is only rivaled by the most simple-minded evangelicals. They got to the point of absurdity and inject a huge, may I say HUGE level of personality where there can be only inanimate. So, the scientist on the panel make the statement that not only is quantum mechanics more interesting (and bizarre) than science fiction but also more spiritual than the Bible. They said that when they ponder the incredible events, say at the edge of a black hole, it is a very spiritual thing and is better than the Bible because the bizarre twisting of time and matter is real and the Bible is fake.

 But here is where they insert the linguistic gymnastics that gives some feelings of peace in the absurdity. They use the term "spiritual" when they mean "emotional." Emotional, in their sense at least, is a function of a highly evolved limbic system of the brain. So I can understand what they mean by having an emotional response to the strange world (not even mentioning the beautiful world as captured with Hubble) of special relativity and incredible forces.

 But true spirituality is about a personal creator, not pure chance of something out of nothing. In something, by chance, out of nothing . . . then the sum of all the parts is nothing.

 If I save the world from cancer it is nothing in that paradigm. If I torture and murder all the children of the world it is nothing. If I ponder the beauty of the universe 24-7 it is nothing and if I crawl into a hole and become completely self-absorbed it is nothing. Trying to add anything to nothing is a celestial scam. They need to come clean and live consistently with their claims of atheism. If God is not there, you cannot create meaning, but they use words like "spiritual" to give the illusion of substance . . . a personal substance . . . as substance of a personal beginning.

The second part of this post was long and I drifted into some emotional chatter so I came back and deleted it. But what I was trying to say, that my other event on Friday was going to a Good Friday service at my wife's evangelical church.  There spirituality was displayed by emotional singing. That doesn't work for me anymore, when it is described as the Holy Spirit. I think it is simply emotions and nothing is wrong with that. But then the singing was followed by a Easter message from my old pastor.

The last time I heard from him was when he was screaming at me in a state of rage two years ago after I, as pleasantly as I could, told him I was leaving his church.  He verbally eviscerated me in front of my family with such hostility that my son thought he was going to punch me in the face.  The whole circumstances around that event was one of the most painful in my life.  It was a feeling of total betrayal and I felt totally alone. My crime was simply serving his church well for many years and politely saying that I loved everyone there but believed I would fit in better someone else. 

So Friday I had to endure his spiritual message.  I think I felt the same way, and it has happened many times in history, where someone was raped or molested but then had to bear the sermons of the rapist every morning in church as he donned his big smile and his praise of Jesus. Words can't describe and when I tried to describe this when I first wrote it I went off on a very emotional path, so I will try to avoid that this time.

No comments: