Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Atheist Cosmic Consciousness

+I got all cosmic about atheist spirituality in a recent book report. This is an excerpt.

Spirituality equals inter/connectedness, an idea which involves unity, transcendence, and presence. When things are connected, that which appears other is actually bound up with thesame. Thus, in connection, things are unified, and so things extend beyond their apparent boundaries, and so things that appear discrete actually have a certain presence in others. The universe is a complex and deeply mysterious place in which, as science progressively shows us, all the parts are interconnected. Given this interconnection, and man’s increasingly cataclysmic power over the Earth, it might be argued that it is of spiritual importance to modern individuals and pluralities to have an engaged “relationship to the Whole.”

I use this expression “the Whole” to refer to the unity-in-multiplicity without falling prey to other mistakes. “The Whole” is conceptually separate from the parts, in that it represents ‘all things at once and in connection,’ but it’s still difficult to predicate agency to the object of such a phrase. Thus I feel that I can have love and awe of “the Whole” but cannot imagine how it might say “I am.” I can relate to the Whole without having to give it a face and thinking it loves me. By my very existence I can tell that the Whole “abides” me (at least for the time being), and isn’t that enough? I don’t need the Whole to delight in my existence—I can do that myself. I can delight in the “endlessly diverse manifestations” of being, without having to imagine Being-Itself doing the delighting also. Can I appreciate that life is a dance without needing to call the Universe a dancer? Can I typify evolution as “serendipitous Creativity” (Gordon Kaufman) instead of “self-disclosure” and “inner drive”? (20) Most importantly, can I share the universal human imperatives of “justice, decency, and civility” without the concept of tselem elohim (image of God)? (30) Must we call reality “God” in order to inspire humans to be good?

The fact that humans are unique in their ability for self-reflection and world-understanding is what truly matters.That, and the fact that we are powerful. The combination of power and self-reflection produces the fact of responsibility towards The Whole. God doesn’t need to call out to us, asking about our treatment of the world. We can ask it ourselves. We are the only consciousness in/of our world.

1 comment:

  1. Some of this reminded me of a Buber thought - the I-Thou "stuff." Any chance he's an influence for you? In any case, I enjoyed reading this. :) Keep the writing coming!