Religion and Faith seem to be the primary problem and mental occupation of our modern world…..liable to be exploited, manipulated and so on… with the resulting polarisation of all involved and the ensueing sufferings, like political ideologies did during the “cold war” or for that matter all wars and conflicts of our human history before..Robert Wright, has done a great job in bringing together all these scholars to talk to him. Scholars, who have a lot to say and tell on the subject of the matter. Scholars from Edwar O. Wilson (sociobiology) via Daniel Dennett (Philosophy) or Brian Swimme, Freeman Dyson (cosmology), Steven Pinker (Psychology)…. upto Karen Armstrong (literate, former nun, theology), Lorenzo Albecete (Catholic) Robert Pollack( Scientist and a believer – Judaism) etc etc…..
In case you would be weary to listen to the interviews, or to get the touch of the reflections made, I have compiled a few of the “transcripts” in the folllowing document (only for private use) for your reference.
I believe any political activity or social involvement devoid of a serious reflection on “faith and religion” wouldn’t do a good job; unless one is still inclined to live in the legacy and still active shadow of “Machiavellianism”, which caused so much sufferings in the social complex of our human history all over the globe and every corner of our society, in what ever form it has been manifested., be it ideological, religious or political…..
For the correct perception and appreciation of the thoughts which the scholars try to make….listening to the video-interviews is of course more animating and lively .(It is a fortune and a priviledge for the new generation that “Internet” is around to make all these stuffs widely available…) By the way, of all things I was surprised to know in one of these interviews, there is one fact I would like to reiterate here, at all costs (specially fo all those who may not make the trouble of going through all this substance). It is: The fact that Islam praises the pluralism of religion and faith, overwelmed by the contemporary fundamentalism, a fact rather contrary to what I assumed so far…..Please look at what Karen Armstrong has to say on this interesting fact; just as a matter of apeasing the state of affairs, which may hover among most polarized christian minds.:
She says, (http://bigthink.com/ideas/17654)
Elaborating further on what she learnt from the other major religions….
>>> From Judaism….it is its constant questioning…..
>>> From Christianity…at its best..has been luminous …in its stress on compassion…
More and more …..on compassion…….from all religions……
To get an idea of who is who …just a few of the interviewees……..you can have a look at the following excerpts from the transcript/ video:
( I know some of the scientists and thinkers presented here from their presentations on “edge”; the platform called -The THIRD Culture: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/)
On Meanings Of Life:
(Source of all the following and the trascript texts is http://meaningoflife.tv/)
with Karen Armstrong (No trascript yet)
Karen Armstrong’s mega-bestselling book A History of God revealed just about everything you’d want to know about God–with one possible exception: Does Armstrong, a former nun, believe in Him? Armstrong’s answer is… well, not as direct as you might hope. She says she doesn’t like to talk about belief. Yet the more she talks, the clearer it becomes that she actually does believe in… something. And if it isn’t the anthropomorphic God found in much ancient scripture, Armstrong says this more modern-sounding conception of the divine does nonetheless go back to ancient times. In her latest book, The Great Transformation, she traces it to a burst of enlightenment during the “axial age,” in the first millennium BCE.
with Robert Pollack
Note: This transcript has not been proofread, and therefore its accuracy is not guaranteed.
Wright: Robert Pollack is a professor of biological sciences at Columbia University and director of the Centre for the Study of Science and Religion. He’s the author of “The Missing Moment,” “Signs of Life” and “The Faith of Biology and the Biology of Faith.” I interviewed him at Columbia University.
With Huston Smith
Wright: Huston Smith, an authority on the world’s major religions, has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Washington University and the University of California. His books include “Why Religion Matters” and the classic text “The World’s Religions.” I interviewed him in Berkeley, California.
With Omid Safi
Wright: Omid Safi teaches in the Religion department at Colgate University. He is editor of the book “Progressive Muslims” and is writing about the mentor of the 13th Century Sufi poet Rummi. I interviewed him at Colgate University.
With Francis Fukuyam
Wright: Francis Fukuyama is a professor of public policy at George Mason University. His books include “The End of History and The Last Man” and “The
Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order.” I interviewed him at the George Mason University School of Public Policy in Fairfax, Virginia. Well, thanks for letting me come here and talk to you today. I was just thinking this morning that I still remember the moment when you became famous. I was at the New Republic magazine here in Washington and you know the Cold War was winding down and everyone was trying to figure out how to make sense of this new era and how to orient themselves. Then suddenly the talk to the town was an essay in the Journal of the National Interest by someone named Francis Fukuyama called “The End of History.” You probably remember the essay…
With Freeman Dyson
Wright: Freeman Dyson is professor Emeritus of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study and winner of the 1999 Templeton prize for progress in religion. His books include “Disturbing the Universe,” “Infinite in all Directions,” and “The Sun, The Genome, and the Internet.” I interviewed him in his office at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
With Sharon Salzburg
Wright: Sharon Salzberg is a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barrie, Massachusetts and of the Barrie Centre for Buddhist Studies. She is the author of “A Heart As Wide As The World,” “Loving Kindness,” and “Faith.” I interviewed her in Barrie.
With Daniel Dennett
Wright: Daniel Dennett is Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. His books include “Consciousness Explained,” “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,” and “Freedom Evolves.” I interviewed him at his home in Massachusetts.
With Brian Swimme
Wright: Brian Swimme, a mathematical cosmologist, teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is the author of “The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos” and “The Universe is a Green Dragon” and co-author with Thomas Berry of “The Universe Story.” I interviewed him in San Francisco.
With Keith Ward
Wright: Keith Ward is the Regis professor of divinity at Oxford University, a canon of Christ’s Church Cathedral and the author of many books on religion including “God, Chance and Necessity” and “Defending the Soul.” I interviewed him at Oxford’s Christ’s Church College and focused especially on his book “Concepts of God.”
With Steven Pinker
Wright: Steven Pinker is a professor of psychology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His books include “The Language Instinct” “How the Mind Works” and “The Blank Slate.” I interviewed him at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
With Arthur Peacocke
Wright: Arthur Peacocke, originally a biochemist, went on to become an Anglican priest and member of the theology faculty at Oxford university. He is now honorary canon at Christ’s Church Cathedral at Oxford. His books include “Paths from Science Towards God,” “Theology for a Scientific age” and “God and the new Biology.” I interviewed him at Oxford. Well first of all congratulations on having just won the Templeton prize. ***
At any rate…TO MAKE the CIRCLE complete don’t leave without listening to ( the famous socio-biologist) Edward O. Wilson
With Edward O. Wilson
Wright: First of all, thanks for taking the time. I wanted to start out by asking you how vindication feels… about 30 years ago you published “Sociobiology” and you proclaimed that you were going to see a revolution in the Darwinian understanding of behavior… animal behavior but including human behavior. You took a lot of heat for it, not just intellectual criticism but some really nasty ad hominim stuff and I know you’ve had some unpleasant times here at Harvard. Now, 30 years later, as far as I can tell, it looks like you were right. This whole worldview that you outline is much more widely accepted. It seems to be gaining momentum.
>>>>>>>>>>>>here….a little bit…from the last part of the trascript….(emphasis is mine):
Wright: It’s interesting you said Darwinian … gives you a sense of belonging because of course some conventionally religious people would say they have a sense of belonging because they think that there is a God that intended them to be here.
Edward O. Wilson: That’s how they get their sense of belonging.
Wright: And yours derives? How would you characterize exactly what your sense of belonging derives from?
Edward O. Wilson: It derives from a realistic science-based view of what individual human beings are and where they came from and their species. You belong to the species and you belong to this world that created the species.
Wright: So you’re part of a family of organic life in a literal sense? You can actually trace the family tree?
Edward O. Wilson: That, f anything, is an essential statement of what could be called a philosophy of naturalism.
Wright: But some people say they don’t like about thinking about themselves as animals in light of sociobology or evolutionary psychology or whatever… some of the things they say are that to think of love or altruism as being ultimately in some sense self-interested, even though it may be a remote sense, it may just be that the altruism was in the interest of your genes in the environment of our evolution and it may or may not serve your interest or your genes interest…but still, the very idea that these thing originated for self-interested reasons and sometimes are still deployed in a covertly selfish way, a lot of people say this devalues love or somehow unsettles them…
Edward O. Wilson: I don’t think so. I don’t think it does devalue it, I imagine that some feel that it might but it’s somewhat comparable to the truth that would come from thinking of the brain as the instrument … musical instrument that has been developed over millions of years and of the playing out of human nature …evolving culture as a beautiful melody and the emotions felt as part of it and when you look at it that way and you realize there is almost infinite beauty possible from the instrument from the premutations and creations of the melodies then an organic origin who seem quite… does not become debasing at all. What’s debasing in my mind is the thought that we’re just creatures that are almost like puppets put on earth by a superior being who we really can’t quite understand and whose dicta that we are to follow are laid down appropriate to dessert partiarchal tribes some three millenium ago and do not apply easily to most of humanity so that is what’s restricting and also when seen as a source of unending tribal conflict — my God is superior to your idol — my purity of thought and belief is high above your corruption of error — I think then that the naturalistic view which allows adaptation of the mind and a much broader seeking of truth in the natural world from Interviewerard examination is the much better way to go.
Wright: It’s funny that you use the word puppets in describing what bothers you about a religious world view because, I don’t know if you remember, but the Time magazine cover in the mid-1970s about a sociobiology controversy had marionettes…actual people but rigged up as marionettes so clearly the view from the other side was that yours is the worldview that would have us as puppets…
Edward O. Wilson: Seen from the left, that’s true.. isn’t that interesting? But that was due to a misconception about what human nature is. It was a view of human genetic determinism that no one believe, sociobiologists or anyone else believed that could easily see that that was not true and it was never anything I proposed.
Wright: Do you think believing in God would make it easier to be a moral person or — in other words — do you find it harder to be good without God?
Edward O. Wilson: I find it easier to be good.
Wright: What’s the secret?
Edward O. Wilson: Internalization … a sense of responsibility and understand of the necessity of moral beliefs. Furthermore, and I think you’ve even published a book on the subject, that we are — whether we evolved by kin selection primarily or group selection — that we are hard-wired to make moral decision or operate for the good of others and that is not overthrown by rejecting particular mythology involving the divine creation of the species.
Wright: So understanding the utility of the moral impulses, the fact that they had to earn their way into our lineage by being useful in some sense and possibly useful on a social level…
Edward O. Wilson: Certainly that but also you just feel good when you do something that is right…. when you do something brave, when you take care of others, when you are honest…. you feel good whether you are a devout Christian or secular humanist, it’s because your brain is wired that way.
Wright: Do you get a great feeling when somebody stops and asks you directions and you know and you can give them directions? Does that make you feel really good?
Edward O. Wilson: Sure it does.
Wright: That’s interesting because there are people you don’t know and they will never return the favor. So it’s not ultimately self-interested behavior, a lot of people would argue that it was in the environment of evolution you would’ve seen people again and again but anyway it’s just interesting… it’s one of the most gratifying parts of my life…
A heated weekend of football is coming………as “hardwired and heated”as we all are to some extent; approved by God or nature or both or NOT…the point is to contain it around an axis, which is tolerable for most us…
In this sense I AM…I…. 🙂 I am for
………..Germany vs Ghana…in the Final…since dreaming is also a legitimate part of life.
If ever it comes to that, I will let the “microparticles” of the mind to decide on the day to come….
And you know that the strong Force is mostly the winner….It is The Culture, which makes a difference….. the small difference….look like Big….unnecessarily so big that we miss its affirmative….even thereby thereatening our common survival…