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Snatching Up The Baton Of Religious Meaning From... Just About Anywhere!
Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me? No, it's everyone in fact and it's this very notion that is sold as snake oil for the new age, a salve to alleviate belief in it's ever retreating form. It is personal, temporal and existential, sanctuaries in a secular world where individualism is the church. Ahead of the release of his new book, The Future of God, religious philosopher and pop priest, Deepak Chopra published a blog post yesterday extolling the virtues of God over atheism, listing extensive reasons and threading the odd ad hominem swipe at the likes of Richard Dawkins. In what is essentially a plug for his new book, he claims that: "we live our lives as secular in this society, taking advantage of technological advances, while in our hearts, leave a privileged space for God."
However, reading the blog post (link provided below) offers a confusing mire of individual will in viewing the world and universe in a nutshell of convenience. Having placed science in the dominant position, according to Chopra (despite the constant advantage religion has in terms of tax breaks etc.) the advantage given to science, thus atheism by default, is unfair. A dialogue which has already opened channels for an unnecessary competition and places religion on a tenuous, envious pedestal besides the empiricism of scientific endeavour, undeservedly so. Religion and the notion of God needs to make some bold claims to attain such a lofty position in rational society, namely proof for one thing. Yet Deepak Chopra's stance is that besides the physical which can be taken for real, he dubs utter reliance on it to be, "naïve realism." Naivety is the drumbeat rhetoric of the entire polemical thrust in Chopra's post, by distinguishing echelons of reality and a reliance on the personal to favour the spiritual.
The Awkward Moment When You Prove The Argument You're Arguing Against...
The error Chopra makes in his post, his avowal of arguing for a personal God, in fact gives ample reason for why atheism works and is the more rational stance to adopt, his contrary position notwithstanding. Not merely by underselling naïve realism, but by five points which Chopra asserts a need to be utilised to "level the playing field." Here, I will attempt to deconstruct these points of reason he has sacrificed on the altar of dogmatic fervour:
1. (Chopra): Science isn't by definition anti-religious.
1. (Me): He is right, it is not. Science is merely a method of theory, experiment and investigation of nature.
2. (Chopra): Atheists have a point when they accuse organized religion of a litany of gross failings, including crusades, jihads, and the Inquisition. But religions are human institutions prone to every human failing. Religious history is about us, not about whether God exists.
2. (Me): This is true to a point. All of these major crimes were about us and nothing to do with a non-existent God. However, it's the fact that such a God is intangible and beyond the reach of understanding and scrutiny, and has been so for centuries, that acts as a catalyst for such heinous acts. Invoke God - especially under the auspices of religious authority, such as the Papacy - and bloodthirstiness is imbued with divine writ and caveat to conduct savagery under holy edict. It's a celestial "Licence To Kill."
3. (Chopra): God can be approached without resorting to the cultural mythology of a humanized Father and Mother watching over us from Heaven. Atheists largely attack this myth, but smashing a myth doesn't mean you've smashed reality.
3. (Me): Firstly, this whole paragraph is a contradiction. He asserts God is more than a cultural parental myth, yet argues that when atheists attack said myth, they are attacking reality. Although he is using the term reality to lead on to points 4 and 5 of his position. Though what is reality? So far it has shown no evidence of a divine mother/father anywhere in the observable universe. There is also substantial evidence to suggest such a dynamic wouldn't be permissible before/outside the universe either. Space-time was unavailable to fashion a God/Goddess of any description or denomination.
4. (Chopra): There is a rich tradition, both East and West, of an impersonal God. This God is the source of consciousness and all that we associate with consciousness: self-awareness, intelligence, creativity, evolution, etc.
4. (Me): The idea of an impersonal god, is a convenient hand cleaning of a divine responsibility. Divesting God of any blame for all the misery, suffering and hardships of his/her creations: "it's not my fault, it's yours. Now get on with it and just have faith." This Deist stance is possibly even more callous than the Theist God that knows each embarrassing minutia of your pointless existence.
5. (Chopra): The experience of God is found inside our own consciousness, not "out there" in a supernatural realm.
5. (Me): So either everything is an illusion, or it is linked to point 2. So intangible because it's personal, therefore any belief or infraction against regular society can be committed due to one's personal "direct line" to God. It is an unloading of personal culpability.
Naïve realism is a defence against naïve belief. Summed up by Chopra's following passage:
"In short, God is a journey in consciousness, and because that's so, whatever benefit we gain from being conscious is increased once we obtain direct access to God. Needless to say, atheists don't even begin such a journey, because they dismiss it outright in advance. But the benefits of being more conscious will appeal to any rational person. If there is indeed a source of creativity, intelligence, power, love, truth--pick any divine attribute you want--the choice between God and atheism suddenly becomes radically revised. Atheism becomes the choice not to look into God, to passively accept second-hand opinions about the non-existence of God, and to judge spirituality worthless without question."
Atheism is consciousness, Deepak Chopra willfully ignores the human capacity as a source of creativity, intelligence, power, love and truth, discrediting himself and his fellow species in one grand assumption. He also goes on to imply that his personal knowledge of God comes on greater authority and understanding any human can purport to claim. Here is a direct insinuation and connotation that his belief is that he, his followers and the religious are superior. To link all the greater feelings and ideals as a connection to God becomes a second hand opinion by conscious rationale. Chopra is right when he says all experiences are subjective, and it's said subjectivity that permits belief or unbelief, a validity on solipsistic merit alone. Yet Chopra tries to extrapolate this into large scale objectivity, something which the fey - God - cannot aspire to. In layman's terms, the vitriol applied by believers to non-believers boils down to one salient skeptic rebuke... "Prove it."
© Brad James, 2014.
- Why God Makes More Sense than Atheism | Deepak Chopra
God is a journey in consciousness, and because that's so, whatever benefit we gain from being conscious is increased once we obtain direct access to God. Needless to say, atheists don't even begin such a journey, because they dismiss it outright in a