It was amazing to hear .Daniel C.Dennett discussing his recent work Breaking the Spell, on the Charlie Rose show, he suonded so much like the run of the mill atheist on a message board. I was stuck by the fact that there seemed little difference in what he ws saying and what the atheists on CARM say everyday. It struck me that I answer the very arguments he's making almost every day. But he writes a book about them and its' a big deal. One of the major arguments that I consider to be a major misconception is the idea that since there are so many different religions and they are unique, then there can't be just one of them that's right. Of course, they can't all be right, so they must all be wrong. Does that follow logically? Do the atheists on CARM care? Does Dennett care?
Right or wrong He extends the reasoning, so many different views of God, they must all be wrong too. Why? Well because there are a lot of them. Christianity must be wrong as well because there are many Christian denominations. What's really strange is that normally these people embrace diversity and defend the notion that we don't have to all see thins alike. And yet, I guess we do. Why can't one particular view be right and the others all wrong? The reasoning escapes me, it has something to do with "so many see it differently." Would these great scientific minds allow themselves to this way otherwise? If I pointed out that 90% of the people in the world believe in some kind of God, and the vast majority always have,so there must be a God because "so many do see it that way," what would hey say to that? They would fall all over themselves telling me how futile is the appeal to popularity, how it's a fallacy and how logical people don't think that way. So why can't it be that one view of God is right and the other are all wrong? Search me. According to Dennette that's the case.
That doesn't bother me though, because I have it covered either way. In my view God is beyond our understand it. That makes it easy to know which view of God is right;none of them are. None of them are and all of them are. We experience God at the mystical level, beyond word, thought,or image. The only way we can speak of anything we experience at this level is to do so analogically; that means we must encode it into cultural constructs.That's what makes view of God different. It is the differences in views of God that makes religions different. They are all get at the same realty beyond the analogies of culture, and trying to encode that in cultural constructs that are limited by time and place.
As with the prism, the effect of this cultural constructivism is to bring out different aspects of the divine/human experience: just as the prism brings out different colors of the em band. Through the prism of cultural constructs `mystical experience is broken down into the colored shades of culturally bound understanding. This is what confuses the Dennett type of atheist. Not knowing the experience of the Divine, not having had any contact with that which they disparage, they decide that the colors are far more important as marks of seperation and difference than they as diversity in unity.
Now of course one might bring up the fact that as a Christian I believe there is something special about my tradition. Of course I do, but I also grant the same right to other; the Moslim believes his tradition is special, the hindu privilageds her tradition. That is not unreasonable, it is only unreasonable when we start to use such differences to devide and as marks of supiriority rather than using them to bring together discussion and discourse and to build understanding. World culture has evolved, in some cases for worse, in some cases for the better. We have built bridges and people are crossing them all the time. When I did some Masters work in hisory of ideas (I never got the masters it was commuited into Ph.D. work and i changed topics) I had a study that said that out of British colonoiaism and American advertizing in Japan bouth counties had developed enough of a westernized style of self to make psychological testing in both places demonstrate a strong similarity to the West. Take that as a warning or as a mark of progress, in either case it seems to be the case that we are evovling into a world culture. I do not think we will a one world culture, or a one world governemnt or religion. I hope not. I would to preserve diverity. I wouldn't want to see everyone in the world be like me.
Perhaps as a Christain I should wish that all would find Christ, but I hope the Buddhists find him in a Buddhist way and Moslim in a molsim way, if that makes any sense. I am aware that Moslims already honor Jesus in their tradition. In no way is the diversity that we find in world religions indicative of any sort of falsehood of the divine. In fact I would be worried that if they were all too much alike that some form of hegemony was crowding out the truth