I. AS SCIENCE ADVANCES, MYTHOLOGY RETREATS.
II. SELF-CRITICAL INWARDNESS IS NOT ENDANGERED BY SCIENCE.
III. A PRESENT FORMULATION OF PASSIONATE
by James Leonard Park
I. AS SCIENCE ADVANCES, MYTHOLOGY RETREATS.
When we think of
the future of existential spirituality,
when we consider how this deep way of being
might be formulated 1,000 years from now,
we appreciate the genius of subjective spirituality
as opposed to discussion of objects of faith.
Most of the past
forms of human religion and spirituality
have focused on gods and other objects of belief
—as if gaining deeper 'knowledge' of such entities
was the main goal of religious progress.
the opposite has occurred:
Whenever the content of spirituality has been objectified,
inevitably disputes and disagreements have arisen
when these formulated contents of religion
have confronted new knowledge as discovered by science.
Religious 'truths' formulated as facts
about the gods
always give way to new knowledge
about the world and about ourselves.
For example, as natural
science explains the world
in ever greater detail and depth,
ideas about divine creation must retreat.
And if the most important affirmations
of some form of religion or spirituality
involved claims about the objective world in which we live,
then those affirmations must retreat
as natural science advances.
would like to explore the
disappearance of the Creator,
you might like to read another cyber-sermon:
WHICH GODS DO NOT EXIST?
No Gods Created the Universe .
Likewise, as psychological
some of the former ideas about our inward dynamics must be revised.
If a system of religious beliefs was basically
a description of psychological processes,
then as psychology gives better descriptions of our inward dynamics,
the religious explanations fade away as irrelevant.
For example, if a system of religious devotion
was basically a way of becoming more focused and Authentic,
then the psychological insights can be separated from the mythology.
We can become more whole and purposeful without religious language.
II. SELF-CRITICAL INWARDNESS IS
ENDANGERED BY SCIENCE.
is not in danger of being replaced by physics or psychology.
Think of the progress
that is likely to be made in the next 1,000 years
in the realms of natural science and psychological understanding.
Natural science (in our modern understanding) began in the 1700s.
Thus, the scientific method is only a few hundred years old.
Unless something brings a halt to scientific progress,
the next 1,000 years will see scientific discoveries
that we can only begin to imagine.
is somewhat slower to develop than physics,
but advances in the natural sciences are certain
to have profound impacts of our understanding of ourselves.
And many of the psychological phenomena
we used to express exclusively in religious terminology
will be better explained by psychological description.
To the degree that
we describe our own spiritual experiences
without objectifying them in terms of supernatural 'causes',
such orientations of being
will not be displaced in the next 1,000 years,
as science explains the natural world
and our psychological dynamics better than ever before.
At least among intelligent
and well-educated people,
all forms of religious belief that made objective claims
that can be corrected or replaced by natural science
and deeper psychological understandings
will fade away
just as all other forms of pre-scientific understandings
have been quietly replaced
by better models of the world and of ourselves.
But subjective passionate
inwardness is not similarly vulnerable.
As all forms of science advance,
we might be stimulated into better expressions
for what we know about ourselves in passionate inwardness.
And if our subjective spirituality is not fantasy,
it will not be shaken by any scientific advances.
III. A PRESENT FORMULATION OF PASSIONATE INWARDNESS.
We human beings are
caught in a Predicament or Malaise
we have only begun to understand and express:
existential anxiety, depression, meaninglessness, absurdity.
However, we also
have inklings of life beyond this Malaise.
When we manage to compose a special posture-of-being,
we discover that our anxiety, depression, & absurdity are gone.
In the past, this
was mostly discussed in mythological terms.
And so, those forms of religion and spirituality
seemed to be tied to world-views
that became less and less believable
as science provided better models of our world and of ourselves.
However, some thinkers
suggest ways to let the
(if ever we expressed our spirituality in mythological terms)
and still remain within the new condition-of-being.
Second, there might
be a phase of attempting to cast off the Malaise
using a variety of psychological techniques.
Sometimes these psychological methods will take forms
that many people would call religious.
However, if these efforts are basically self-reliant striving,
we remain within the psychological struggle of
attempting to solve our Predicament by our own internal powers.
If a transformation
takes place in our depths,
we will continue to seek better ways to express it for others.
And as we gain deeper understandings of the world and of ourselves,
we will continue to revise such forms of expression.
continue to 'demythologize'
whatever expressions we used last year,
so that our new ways of expressing our passionate inwardness
remains consistent with whatever new understandings
we gain of ourselves and of our world.
process of re-expression can continue indefinitely.
As the centuries roll by,
the living persons who are experiencing release from our Malaise
will find ever new ways of expressing and explaining
what has happened to them in the deepest levels of their beings.
James Park is an independent existential philosopher
in the tradition of Søren Kierkegaard.
Much more can be learned about him by clicking the links below.
Existential Predicament: Loneliness, Depression, Anxiety, & Death
is the central text for this understanding of existential spirituality.
It explores in depth our Existential Malaise in 11 different ways:
existential loneliness, depression, absurdity, meaninglessness,
void, anxiety, splitting, guilt, death, despair, & insecurity.
And each chapter also explores the process of existential change
from our Existential Dilemma to Existential Freedom.
to Grace: Transcending Our Spiritual Malaise
is a much shorter version of Our Existential Predicament.
And it uses some religious language to explore these 8 perspectives:
spiritual loneliness, guilt, depression, meaninglessness,
void, insecurity, despair, & anxiety.
Go to the Church of St.
This is an on-line community of people in quest of deeper spirituality.
Several others books on
are reviewed in the Existential Spirituality Bibliography .
Go to the UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISM page.
In 2008 this discourse was added to the list of cyber-sermons.
More than 20 cyber-sermons appear under the category Existential