Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Soft Semi-atheists of Today

I was writing something entirely different elsewhere when my mind shot off on a tangent and the title above dropped in to my brain.  Oh, I remember the chain of events!  I am writing a blog post on my writing blog about how writers can write love.  I started by toying with definitions, and in that process, the basic Christian idea of God, that God is Love had to be mentioned.  That blog being wholly secular then required me to apologize for mentioning something so crass as God in a rational forum.  Something like farting while being presented to the Queen I would guess.

Despite all the evangelical preaching of public atheists such as Richard Dawkins, I don't really believe most people are convinced.  Perhaps they want to be convinced there is no supernatural sphere as this would justify any sort of behaviour in this life, or at least allow a cleverly rational person to find a justification.   At this moment in history, of course atheists and soft semi-atheists [I suppose, structurally, I should have defined this term by now... but bear with me], are required to publicly assent to the morality taught by religion - I don't mean here the nut bar fringe and their moral imperative to handle poisonous snakes or have sister wives, but basic moral precepts - play nice, in other words.  All religions teach us to play nice.....and both evangelical atheists and soft semi-atheists who make up the core of their congregation must assent to this precept at this moment in history.  They must because the habit of religion over a million years of humanity has ingrained this into their psychological makeup. Internal restraints then are more important than outward forces such as law, or social sanctions.

Soft semi-atheist [definition]:  Those who are not quite sure if there is a God, god, goddess, supernatural order, etc. but devoutly hope there is not as that frees the individual person from internal restraints. Hence the eager, laughing, clapping crowds at hard, pure atheists' sermons.

Internal Restraints [definition]:  now termed 'freedom' - freedom used to have a different meaning but this is its current usage. [freedom used to involve knowing or seeking, truth]

Friday, February 14, 2014

An interesting man

Muhammad Iqbal

Like Gökalp in Turkey, Muhammad Iqbal (1873–1939) is also widely known as the ideological father of a modern state (in his case, Pakistan). He first proposed a Muslim state in northwestern India as early as 1930, and was a much-loved national poet. However, his most lasting legacy may well be as a philosopher who regarded the kernel of Islam as being the betterment of the individual. Iqbal took the earlier Islamic modernist approach to science one crucial step further: for him, the study of nature was itself a religious act since natural laws were created by God. As he said: “Nature is to the Divine Self as character is to the human self ...[and] knowledge of Nature is the knowledge of God’s behaviour.”6

At the same time, Iqbal felt that the Qur’an pointed toward the spiritual nature of reality. In his view, religion provided answers to questions beyond the scope of science, which ultimately has only a “sectional view of Reality.” Indeed, only religion enables human beings to understand their cosmic purpose, which is to be God’s representatives in this world, despite all their failings. In this context, Iqbal interpreted the expulsion of Adam and Eve from heaven not as a fall, but as an elevation to another plane of consciousness. Adam—and by extension every human being—was a free agent, capable of disobedience and doubt.

Iqbal’s worldview was a positive one. The universe was forever growing and improving, and humans would ultimately triumph over evil. But that required each and every individual to strive toward self-improvement, in the full knowledge that they bore responsibility for representing God in the universe. In many respects, these ideas reflected the prevalent attitude of European thinking, and indeed Iqbal enjoyed the benefits of a European education—first at a British missionary college in his native town, then at Government College, Lahore, and later at Cambridge, Heidelberg, and Munich. Yet his ideas also flowed directly from the Qur’an. The conclusions he drew, though, were revolutionary: self- perfection, in and of itself, becomes an act of prayer, and thus prayer need not be limited to Islamic ritual.

From:  Islam, by Jamal J.Elias

Amherst College, Massachusetts 

Taylor & Francis e-library, 2005