Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bar-tailed Godwit: Nontheist Friends, Evolutionary biology, Culture, Loving bliss, Problems of religious words for nontheists

Hi K, and nontheist Friends,

I think of the 'evolutionary biological' here in terms of 3-100 million species, (and evolution by natural selection, genetic replication, and adaptation, for example), of which humans are one (of around 376) higher primate species, dating back millions of generations. Evolutionary biology provides the context in which I seek to understand much human behavior, and nontheistic Friends, in part. However, evolutionary biology and culture seem pretty far apart from each other, conceptually, especially for understanding nontheistic Friends, and much of what the rest of 7 billion of us do, in the context of culture.

By culture, I mean kinds of discourse (context, milieu), including language use and possibilities, as well as identity (e.g. I see nontheist Friends as an expression of cultural identity, vis-a-vis Quakers).

Given the biology of all species, I find words like 'God,' 'divine,' 'worship,' 'religious,' 'spirit,' 'soul,' 'ministry,' and 'spiritual' curious, somewhat problematic, and relatively recent in an evolutionary biological sense (writing may have begun about 5500 years ago, for example). As a friendly atheist, I'm wary of, and stay away, from such words, in general.

Huston Smith's "The Religions of Man" sympathetically characterizes 7-8 great religions, in a form of cultural comparison, but as an atheistic f/Friend, I continue to be surprised by religions' widespread-ness, even though religion has lessened in significance with modernity and reason (e.g. since the printing press, the Enlightenment and Industrializations and the information technology revolution, that is, in Modernity), for the better, I think. I'm also concerned about/worry about religions' fantasy aspect (the idea of God, for example). I'm a little Swedish in this sense.

I find myself thinking through what might be parallel and better language (language which works for me) vis-a-vis the unprogrammed Society of Friends, and nontheist f/Friends.

Loving bliss neurophysiology vis-a-vis the drug Ecstasy - methylene dioxy meth amphetamine - for example, is one quality of affective euphoria the bodymind can experience, and listening to Mozart, Bach and the Grateful Dead, for me, offer others. I've written five letters partly about this here -, as well. That ecstasy, love, and bliss are biological, with MDMA as a reference experience, fascinates me, - and all emerging, as I see it, out of evolutionary biology. As a focus of inquiry, I continue to explore how to elicit love, and loving bliss, neurophysiology in a variety of ways, naturally.

Culturally, I also find fascinating India's 'connectedness,' and experience this sort of thing, as well, among Friends, at times. Serendipity and synchronicity are fascinating phenomena, which I've written about in this blog ( before, especially in relation to Harbin Hot Springs, and in India, also; I see such fascinating, and often salutary, phenomena, to be expressions of culture, language and practice, often age-old, and with deep linguistic roots.

In nontheistically Friendly silent meeting, I see centering occurring in the silence through a kind of de facto relaxation response:, which emerges with Friends in England from the 1650s on, in an unique way, in this interpretation. Perhaps this group relaxation response facilitated a kind of bonding, in conjunction with the religious language of early Friends, and this networking, together, with Friends' reputation for integrity, in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, led to Friends' growth, and prosperity. I see Friendly community as another instance of troopbondage. (Concerning troopbondage, see John Money's 'Concepts of Determinism' section in his 1988 book "Gay, Straight and In-Between: The Sexology of Erotic Orientation," published by Oxford University Press - This makes sense to me in relation to the sensible idea that we're human primates.

I share your view that it is 'truth through experience' that informs aspects of Quaker thinking and practice, but I find some of such words as - 'God,' 'divine,' 'worship,' 'religious,' and 'spiritual,' etc. - to be possibly untruthful forms of fantasy, or masks to truth, and certainly language which can obscure evolutionary-informed understands of the natural world, as well as bodyminds. {Personally, I enjoy exploring the wonders of bliss, love, music, poetry and the natural world}. I'm glad there's individualism and tolerance among nontheist Friends, thus leading to an exploration of a variety of meanings of such words, as your etymology, in a recent email to the NTF email list, of the Norse word 'worschippe' suggests. I appreciate nontheistic Friends' ongoing conversation as expressions of truthfulness, in that NTFs are centering conversationally around the 'nontheism' word to explore Quaker-related possibilities, in the context of a 350 year trajectory of Quakerism.

Glad we're in communication.

With friendly greetings,

( - April 17, 2011)

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