…both the literalists and atheists view religion through the same glass. The literalist says: all this really happened. The atheist says: No, it's against the laws of science, so it can never have happened. Both are ignoring the twilight land of myth, where "Real" and "Unreal" have no meaning.
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That’s and interesting way of looking at it.
1.) Literalists – myth/ritual as real, as true fact
2.) Atheists – myth/ritual as unreal, as false lie
3.) Mystics – myth/ritual as both real and unreal, a truth that transcends the true-fact/false-lie dichotomy.
I see both literalists and mystics as spiritual in their own way; atheists as in denial of their humanity.
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In 1999 sociologist Peter L. Berger edited a book titled The Desecularization of the World In it he claims that, with the exception of Europe, we are becoming less secularized – more religious; and that religion is playing a greater role in our professed secular governments.
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Which is precisely the problem. Christians and Moslems subconsciously realize that their myths are dead, thus we see politics (and power) replacing the true teaching of their saviors. In the West (and especially in the U.S.A.) we are witnessing the rise of Christian fascism and in the Mid-East the Moslems too realize that their faith is being threatened by science and the consumerist adulation of the West and thus we have the mess we find ourselves in. (This is probably an over-simplification) Both of these "outward-facing" religions are in crisis and we are all paying for their death throes.
Our problems are serious but, I think, not all that new.
In Cordoba, Spain, in the twelfth century, a man by the name of ABU’L WALID MUHAMMAD IBN RUSHD AL-QURTUBI was writing on various subjects. We would come to know him as the philosopher Averroes (1126-1198). His influence on the scholastics of Europe, during the high Middle Ages, including one Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), was enormous. He was cited so often; they referred to him simply as ‘The Commentator.’ It was through Averroes work that the door was opened by the scholastics to the Renaissance and eventually to the Age of Reason.
In his 2005 book,Ideas
Peter Watson summarizes Averroes legacy as follows:
P279 Averroes’ writings did three things:
1.) Reconcile the thought of the Greeks, Aristotle and Plato, with the Quran.
2.) Reconcile the role of reason and revelation
3.) Showed how various segments of the populace, according to their intellect and education, could relate to these ideas.
In his devotion to reason, his most important argument was that not all the words of the Quran should be taken literally. When the literal meaning of the text appears to contradict the rational truths of philosophers, he said, those verses are to be understood metaphorically.
He advocated that there are three levels of humanity.
Khass - the elite – utilize philosophy
Amm - the general public - literal meaning was sufficient
Kalam - for minds in an intermediate position - dialectical reasoning could be used
Averroes’ method was as important as his arguments. He introduced a measure of doubt, which was never very popular in Islam but proved fruitful in Christianity.
- Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention from Fire to Freud, Peter Watson, (2005)
In Averroes’ time there probably wasn’t such a concept as a-theism. So when I read of his tripartite description of society it struck me as similar to the scheme Nandu and I had discussed.
We would all like the world to be simpler – convert all the literalists. But keep in mind; they would like to have us all converted as well. I think there’s still enough room on this planet for all three levels, tolerance being more important than proselytizing. But - for those in the intermediate position, discussing Campbell and Jung could work wonders.