File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 63

Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 14:13:52 -0400
Subject: Re: Tantalizing times - arguing for atheism....

Steve wrote:

>To analyse and understand religion(s) as anything other than >myth and
>illusion is incorrect

Maybe we should say "understand the sublime, or the unknown," rather than

Myth tells us about its authors.  The best of theatre, painting and music
is "illusion", but these disciplines are languages which, over generations
of human existence,  express a reality
that unites
artist and audience.

Epicurus and his contemporaries were perhaps as interested in the sublime,
the unknown, as anyone whose lifetime preceded or followed their era.

So let us imagine ourselves "outside" the so-called real world, Cosmos,
Universe(s), observing all that "is" - Including all that is to scientists,
atheists - the "facts" we obey to survive.

Dream of Gods dreaming people dreaming Gods.

Refuse to pore over the intricate mental constructs of religious,
scientific and philosophical pasts, (historians excepted) and think about
the future of the physical and mental worlds, the real and symbolic
universes we inhabit.

How is it that homo-sapiens - one of hundreds of millions of species which
have inhabited planet Earth - possesses powers of perception, consciousness,
memory, experience (stored memory) language, and communication, that
facilitate its dominance of all other species?

Why should the species be bound by the past?  Why
not invent new ideas of the sublime, the unknown, with all the brash
confidence of ancient ancestors?


> Your note is dense and I need to read it throughly before replying but
> things can be stated upfront.
> My error is that I was perhaps not sufficently clear in my comments. The
> rejection should be taken as standing for all religions and all varieties
> spiritual approaches. It is correct in that I would suggest that all the
> major contemporary religions are either mono-thesitic or poly-theisms.
> a variety of religion does not exist easily within such a theistic frame
> does not especially concern me...
> I selected the theisms because in some sense all Western varieties,
> including dear old Epicurus construct some variety of god in the frame.
> recent post-modern theocratic approaches that place some variety of god or
> the spirit as a self image in the mind of the beholder are far to
> to accept, I can hear the machine guns and the justifications already. The
> unpleasent sight of French TV-philosophers asking for the bombing of
> whilst at the same time arguing for the centrality of the human subject
> the 'soul' should not be forgotton.
> The only other point I want to address immediately is the Gilson
> - I reject this understanding of atheism completely - atheism is simply a
> position that rejects religion, all religions and related forms of
> spirtualism as valid forms of knowledge. It is not as such a 'theism',
> possibily you can define it as an anti-theism but this does not go far
> enough in a world complete with such things as 'The church of scientology'
> and other such horrors.
> As such atheism places 'religious knowledge' as myth. Religions are
> interesting phenomena that require understanding and analysis, perhaps
> the generic title of 'comparative mythology'. But not as valid forms of
> knowledge and certainly not the sort of thing that you should encourage
> children to learn about as truth, like guns, herion, sexism and racism. To
> analyse and understand religion(s) as anything other than myth and
> is incorrect. It, religion does deserve the same level of analysis as any
> other human institution.
> Incidentally I checked this afternoon on the and there is substantial
> amounts of recent philosophical work on religion available. I did not have
> time to identify titles...
> regards
> sdv


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