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Monday, March 1, 2010

YELLOWSTONE: Countless stolen pic-a-nic baskets and boo boos later, the USA can be proud of this arch-wilderness in perpetuity they granted themselves

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
01st March 2010

Monday: When will the heatwave end? A mere 39 Celsius today. Perth has just clocked up its driest 3 months of summer on record, accumulating a deluging 0.2 mm on one occasion. I didn't surface till half six, evening that is, for it was after nine a.m. when I got to bed, and felt little better for the sleep, and enduring some unpleasant dreams.

The Babies Ink&Peggletter came at midday and the male gendered one worked on The Bug all afternoon, sweltering, while the female gendered one worked on uni assignments at this computer. I joined them and Missus Inkletter for din dins, and then I vegetated, low on energy, being entertained and informed by Aunty ABC most of the rest of the evening, but for a spell watching a lower than usual toned – and that's saying something – Good News Week on Ten, until being saved by Media Watch: Jonathan, put a tie on mate!, and Tony Jones' Q&A: credit to you Peter Garrett for turning up after the pounding and demotion of the past few weeks, to endure another pounding right from the word go.

I was anticipating Lateline for the advertised interview with a British philosopher: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: outfitted admirably well-suited for the role of Lateline anchor, Ms Sales was wearing a white shaded jacket with black camisole, answering the best demands of acceptable contrast, no jewellery but for diminutive earrings, flattering hair style, and subtle effect make-up. Her prime interview guest, in Perth, my hometown, Professor Anthony Clifford Grayling, was turned out like, well, a philosopher, at least from the neck up, because below that his threads were very impressive.

The topic was one of great interest to me: Grayling's opinion that religion is in its death throes. I will mention two or three ironies from tonight's confab: Firstly, in my not so humble opinion, both Ms Sales and Professor Grayling were out of their depth: Ms Sales has an excuse, Professor Grayling has none; secondly, if either of the polarities is in its death throes, it is atheism/materialism; and thirdly, Ms Sales demonstrated, from her questions and comments, that she had a better handle on the essence of the issues than the great boffin himself.

To be fair to Ms Sales being out of her depth, I reckon that probably 99 out of a 100 people could not give an accurate answer to the question 'What is religion?'. I note that Professor Grayling did not volunteer a definition, which is the first thing to do, as a philosopher, when entering a discussion about a subject as controversial and profound as religion, so that we all know precisely what are we talking about.

Of the 99 people who couldn't give an accurate answer, let me divide them into two classes: unbelievers and believers. The believer group would describe religion as being the practice of rituals and forms, and acceptance of particular doctrines, of their chosen institutionalised religion; the unbeliever group would describe religion as being what they understand of these same practices and beliefs, as followed by others, in the commonly complied with world religions. The problem is, what both groups are describing-defining is naïve religion.

Professor Grayling is doubtless unaware that he is addressing the subject of naïve religion while assuming he is addressing religion. Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins is another boffin who rails against naïve religion all the while assuming he is addressing religion. Naïve religion is the practice of the vast majority of the world's religionists at this still early stage of humanity's existence; religious evolution is still in the early stages of its progress, and while the three major monotheistic religions are far in advance of primitive religion, they have an embarrassingly long way to go yet before they can endure enlightened and critical examination, and before they bear consistenly excellent fruit.

So what is religion?

Religion is the pursuit of value.

Highest religion is the pursuit of highest value.

Thus, if God exists (God enlightenedly defined: the absolute person, first source and centre, self-caused = uncaused-cause, self-invested with the absolutes of truth, beauty, and goodness, and so on), then, being the highest value, God becomes the object of pursuit of highest – mature – religion.

And this definition allows room for the lower manifestations, such as the fanatical godless yet religious devotion of a fan to his sports team, through the multitude of evolving religions, to the pinnacle of a replete faith based growing best friendship with the Absolute Person, within which dynamic the membership of a religious organisation is incidental, and most certainly not essential.

Every normal person, atheist and theist alike, has an innate drive for transcendence.

And so when an atheist seeks great art, literature, music, and is transported in its presence, he is seeking and enjoying transcendence, similarly to a theist contemplating, aspiring to, and enjoying things spiritual, as in the process of quality worship for example.

The transcendence spoken of here ultimately is a transcendence of time and space, the dual entwined mechanism that so limits the human being.

Professor Grayling would do well to invest his conception of religion with greater clarity and accuracy, and make it clear in an interview like the one he had with Ms Sales this evening whether he is announcing the death throes of immature religion, or the death throes of the innate drive for transcendence within all normal human beings.

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