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  1. #11
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    There's a school of thought quite big in Anglicanism that we're now in an era of post-Christianity, where Christianity is no longer (in Europe anyway) a major force in the shaping of society.

    The "answer" (they say) is to quit working in an institutional mode which was developed for a majority-church-going society, stop thinking of ourselves as a major force or mainstream or anything and "go back" to thinking as an underground, minority movement as in the early days of the Apostles.
    By "institutional mode", do you mean established religion with (mostly symbolic) institutional perks, like in Europe, or something else? I am all for disestablishment as a matter of principle (I'm an American). I think the idea is that such retrenchment would entail a partial withdrawal from mainstream secular society and greater interaction between like-minded people, leading to fewer people falling away from the faith (both those born within the movement and new recruits). Also, an emphasis on "traditional values" within a socially withdrawn movement usually leads to higher birthrates than that of irreligious populations. I'm not sure how viable such a effort would be in the context of unitary, statist societies with mass media and universal education, though.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Apollonian's Avatar
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    One thing is clear to me: The Emerging Church movement is decidedly not unitarian universalist. It is true that the Emerging Church is open to conversing about ideas which fall outside the bounds of Christianity. However, it does not advance the idea that all religious thought ultimately leads to the same place. There is still the notion that people can be wrong in their beliefs. It is simply that people who are not Christians are encouraged to join the conversation in order to become more Christian.

    Ultimately, a Muslim or Buddhist still remains distinct from Emerging Christians.

    The idea of cultural inflexibility is an important one, though. A church which is open to new cultures and new perspectives is far more likely to withstand the test of time than one which refuses to adapt. That said, there is a difference between adapting practices to cultural ideas and "adapting" fundamental truths in the worldview to make it more pleasant to a changing culture. I would argue that the Emerging Church does the former, not the latter. They may reinterpret Christianity to ensure it is not overstepping its bounds, but the point is not to reinvent Christianity or include elements from other (non-Christian) orthodoxies.

  3. #13
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    I think that it may be necessary to reconsider what "believing" means, rather than revising beliefs. Some beliefs should be reconsidered and revised (the role of women is one that most mainstream, moderate churches have managed to revise), but I think sometimes the main problem lies in belief about belief... I like the idea of rejecting the terms "believer" and "nonbeliever".

    I guess I'm just orthodox enough to be repelled by the idea of "revising the Christian message" because I do think (perhaps idealistically) at its purest, the Christian message has always been the same--it's always been about loving and serving your neighbor, self sacrifice, and deep and abiding compassion. I would prefer the term "recontextualizing" to "revising." We can put the Christian message into new contexts and make the church more gloriously (and I might say righteously) inclusive.

    I can concede that all the human institutions are in some form corrupt, but I also don't see the need to throw the baby out with the bath water. I'm part of the Episcopal church (actually, my "home" is an Episcopal church that has sympathies with the Emerging Church movement). There are things going on in the ECUSA that make me sad and frustrated to call myself Episcopalian, but I'd prefer to work within the institution and change those things, rather than turning my back on it entirely. The ritual and ceremony does matter to me, but I don't do it mindlessly... for some people, ritual is a really valid way to experience spirituality and religion. I'm one of those. I see no need to throw it out--just... recontextualize it. Make it meaningful in our time.


    Those are just a few thoughts. Here's a good quote from William Sloane Coffin for controversy and conversation.

    Quote Originally Posted by William Sloane Coffin
    “Christians have to listen to the world as well as to the Word -- to science, to history, to what reason and our own experience tell us. We do not honor the higher truth we find in Christ by ignoring truths found elsewhere.”
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    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apollonian View Post
    One thing is clear to me: The Emerging Church movement is decidedly not unitarian universalist. It is true that the Emerging Church is open to conversing about ideas which fall outside the bounds of Christianity. However, it does not advance the idea that all religious thought ultimately leads to the same place. There is still the notion that people can be wrong in their beliefs. It is simply that people who are not Christians are encouraged to join the conversation in order to become more Christian.

    Ultimately, a Muslim or Buddhist still remains distinct from Emerging Christians.

    The idea of cultural inflexibility is an important one, though. A church which is open to new cultures and new perspectives is far more likely to withstand the test of time than one which refuses to adapt. That said, there is a difference between adapting practices to cultural ideas and "adapting" fundamental truths in the worldview to make it more pleasant to a changing culture. I would argue that the Emerging Church does the former, not the latter. They may reinterpret Christianity to ensure it is not overstepping its bounds, but the point is not to reinvent Christianity or include elements from other (non-Christian) orthodoxies.

    heh--may it be noted that i really only read the OP before posting my previous response...
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  5. #15
    Senior Member Apollonian's Avatar
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    Eileen, you bring up an excellent point by asking what "believing" means, and I sympathize with your ideas of "recontextualization".

    How about we go a little further? What do you all believe about Truth? Not just any truth, but absolute Truth? Do you believe that it exists? If so, can we ever hope to truly know what that Truth is?

    Many people in postmodernism (in part due to the paradigm shifts started by quantum mechanics) have started to lean toward believing that we can never know what the absolute truth is in the universe. Then, there are two camps:

    First, there are people who believe that not only can we not know absolute truth but there is no such thing as absolute truth. They believe that we live in a distinctively relativistic universe where point-of-reference and perspective determine the nature of experience.

    Second, there are people who believe that absolute truth exists, but we can only approximate it by observing small pieces of the overall puzzle. The scientific method is then an attempt to formalize this process so that many people can share in the pursuit of knowledge. Many different perspectives are used to test whether or not the model of 'objective' truth falls apart. Some things can be known, but not all.

    In which category do you fall? Can you think of a third?

  6. #16
    Senior Member darlets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apollonian View Post
    [b]
    In the last century, science has called many traditional religious beliefs and dogmas into question, yet science itself never really answers some of the basic spiritual longings of our lives.
    People are now doing research into that. Over the next 20 years you will see some massive breakthrough in this area.

    Science is rapidly making progress, the fields of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology are expanding into these areas. We will soon know the chemical reaction of religion in the brain.

    A brief overview of the way religion maps to how the brain evolved can be found in this video at 13:30 to about 24:00.
    Andy Thomson
    This is a talk by a forensic psychologist talking about the role of religion in suicide bombing. The complete talk is linked below

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    These go for about 28 minutes each. (The last one is just Q & A)

    The question becomes if/when science can explain it would people stop believing in gods/goddesses.

    If we can explain the universe entirely without supernatural powers will it change our view of the world?

    What would be the effect on religion if we reach the point, 2,000 years time we can upload our brains to the internet and our minds could continue existing after our bodies have gone? Or life expectancies reach 200?

    (As an aside, we are already researching DNA computing which will better help us understand how the brain works.)
    DNA computing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I don't think people are really aware how much of a technology explosion we have the capacity for over the next 100 years. (As long as we don't blow ourself up in the process)

    Religions are constantly created but the main ones are between 200 and 1500 years old, so will struggle to keep reinventing themselves in a contemporary setting.
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  7. #17
    Senior Member Apollonian's Avatar
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    I think it is the "As long as we don't blow ourself up in the process" that forms the basis of postmodern thought questioning whether science can really give answers to fundamental moral and aesthetic questions.

    There is a problem with the scientific approach: it is dependent upon an objective viewpoint, or at least (in the case of psychology) double-blind subjective viewpoints. How can we ever be objective about ourselves?

    It is true that neuroscience can map out the interactions of neuro-peptides in the brain and may one day describe a model which encompasses religious behavior. But does the knowledge of the neuro-peptides and neuro-transmitters change the essense of that "religious behavior" itself? Science may answer the question "what happens and how does it happen?" but the fundamental methodology of science makes it impossible to answer "what does this mean to me personally?" I predict that it may change our interpretation of religion, but it will never eliminate it.

    I think we will find that ultimately it is up to our "behavior" to govern our lives, regardless of how well we can model that behavior. We cannot abdicate our moral and aesthetic sense to the computers which conduct our science for us.

    So do you believe that science will tell us everything? Aren't there things out there which science cannot answer? What do you believe about science?

  8. #18
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apollonian View Post

    It is true that neuroscience can map out the interactions of neuro-peptides in the brain and may one day describe a model which encompasses religious behavior. But does the knowledge of the neuro-peptides and neuro-transmitters change the essense of that "religious behavior" itself? Science may answer the question "what happens and how does it happen?" but the fundamental methodology of science makes it impossible to answer "what does this mean to me personally?" I predict that it may change our interpretation of religion, but it will never eliminate it.
    I agree with this. I fully expect neuroscience to be able to explain religious impulses, and I believe that there are probably evolutionary reasons that we have those impulses. But it doesn't matter to me, because I still HAVE the impulse, even if it can be located in my brain rather than my "spirit."
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  9. #19
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    I agree with this. I fully expect neuroscience to be able to explain religious impulses, and I believe that there are probably evolutionary reasons that we have those impulses. But it doesn't matter to me, because I still HAVE the impulse, even if it can be located in my brain rather than my "spirit."
    Yes!

    Neuroscience can explain my emotions, too. Little chemical signals squirting from synapse to synapse, hormone flux causing physical changes, etc. I don't think this in any way discounts emotion or makes it irrelevant. It merely explains the mechanism by which it operates.
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  10. #20
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darlets View Post
    What would be the effect on religion if we reach the point, 2,000 years time we can upload our brains to the internet and our minds could continue existing after our bodies have gone? Or life expectancies reach 200?
    I have no idea. I do not even know if the "center of consciousness" will move from this body to the Internet. (IOW, is it just a replica of you that others mistake for you, or is it actually YOU?) And this is aside from all the inherent psychological/emotional problems that would be associated with placing a mind in a "body" (such as the abstract internet) that it has not been tailored for. (Talk about psychological damage...)

    I don't think people are really aware how much of a technology explosion we have the capacity for over the next 100 years. (As long as we don't blow ourself up in the process)
    I agree with that. Just look at the advances in the last 100 years; 50 years; 25 years; 10 years; 5 years. It seems to jump ahead by leaps and bounds every moment. The things that are done today would seem like magic to Ward and June Cleaver.

    I wonder what the world will be like when I am 55. I have no idea.
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