New Gods


INTRODUCTION: Evidence and reason are supposedly the basis of our beliefs. Yet religion continues to flourish, and new gods conquer even the most rational minds. Is some form of belief an essential part of human nature? Or can we banish faith forever?

This issue of IAI News is all about religion and morality. Our first head-to-head of 2016 pits philosopher of religion Stephen Law against Anglican theologian John Milbank. Bringing one of the oldest debates in the history of ideas right up to date, Law declares that philosophy should side with science in the fight against religion. Not so, says Milbank, who argues that there is more to reality than can be seen from the lab and the armchair. Strong words are exchanged on both sides.

Meanwhile, philosophers Naomi Goulder and Tom Sorell question morality from two very different angles. Sorell asks whether human rationality gives us a monopoly on morals, while Goulder questions whether even humans can truly rationalise morality. If God is dead, she asks, then how can we still justify morality?

Elsewhere, astrophysicist Michael Rowan-Robertson questions his discipline’s obsession with black holes and philosopher Steve Fuller interrogates that ancient philosophical dictum, Nosce te ipsum, in the light of transhumanism....
It was a very big motivational force in getting society where it is today.  A part of the brain seems attuned to it, and it might be related to an optimism bias that 80% of people seem to have.  As logic gains ground, can society hold together is something I wonder.  But if society should collapse, I suspect that religion would regain strength.
I propose a new god. A weak tendency for good things to happen. It doesn't happen often. But when it does, you notice it. It is the synchronistic push that happens just when you need it. A serendipitous lunge for the Good. A sudden revelation that something out there is looking out for you. The Good is not an all-powerful force. It is a seduction--a persuasion--for events to happen for pure self-determinate novelty. Randomness and chaos still rule the universe. But there is an immortal anarchic rebel afoot. And his name is God. And he needs us. He needs our help to get things moving towards actual progress. Towards the incredible. A growing transcendence towards a barely imaginable moral absolute.

Indeed. There's a long-standing human tradition of reifying almost any concept into a deity or personified divine agency. Death might have been one of the very earliest.
(Jan 20, 2016 07:53 PM)C C Wrote: Indeed. There's a long-standing human tradition of reifying almost any concept into a deity or personified divine agency. Death might have been one of the very earliest.

Same occurs with physics too and its own tradition of entity realism. Behind every abstract property and force now lies a discrete particle--electrons for electricity, photons for light, gravitons for gravity, and the Higgs boson for mass. And even underneath all that there is the reification of subatomic forces as virtual quanta. One wonders how much understanding anything necessarily entails making SOME concept into an ontic irreducible, just for the purposes of explanability. "So what causes THAT to happen? This thing over here! It's its nature to cause that to happen. It exists just for that purpose."

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