Thursday, 17 July 2008

Spirituality, science, etc: a couple of links

Following on from this post, in which I expressed my doubts about Jill Bolte Taylor's interpretation of her experience of stroke, and rehearsed my arguments with Buddhism and other kinds of New Age spirituality: here's an interview with Taylor which is refreshingly balanced, and a rather old piece (but I've only just come across it) by John Horgan articulating his own journey away from Buddhism, which says some of the things I was trying to say, but does it somewhat better.


Eve Garrard said...

Martin, you say in one of your earlier posts that you've linked to here that 'As a humanist, I would argue that it's precisely our capacity to reason, articulate and communicate that makes it possible for us to escape from the prison-house of self and make connexions with other human beings.' I largely agree with all this, but do you think it's a distinctively *humanist* position? Couldn't an orthodox religious believer who thought that reason is God-given also endorse this claim?



Martin said...

Hello Eve
Yes, I think you're absolutely right. I wasn't sure if 'humanist' was quite the word I was searching for, but if it was, then I meant it to include (besides secular humanists) Christian, Jewish and other kinds of religious humanists, who - as you suggest - allow a privileged place for reason in their theological thinking...and whose theology includes a sense of the human cultural and social world as imbued with meaning and significance, rather than merely as a distraction from the divine. What I find disturbing in the current fad for Buddhism and eastern spirituality, and in the wider New Age movements, is their gnostic or manichean view of 'salvation', nirvana, whatever, as an escape from the material, human, everyday - and especially from the social/historical/political - which, as I said in the post, I think could be dangerous.
Thanks for the comment.