Rational Spirituality

Posted: August 28, 2011 in Integral Studies, Religion
Tags: ,

Further to the previous post, the funeral got me thinking about the question I posed at the end of “Red, Orange and Green” about how it may be possible to have a more integral response to Creationists and religious fundamentalists.  Confrontation is the road chosen by frustrated rationalists, and while it is plainly evident why the choose this road (-because they are right, and because rationalists make good debaters-), it is also clear that this road is not a productive one.

Part of the problem comes from the fact that there is no clear idea of the concept “rational spirituality” (or Orange level spirituality).  In fact most rationalists and atheists would call it an oxymoron.  As long as the terms are considered mutually exclusive, the fundamentalists have no options for spiritual growth, -only the abortion of their religion, which for most is too painful a step to take.

And so an Integral approach must strive for an alternative.  According to the Integral approach, there must be something which can be called rational spirituality.  There’s transrational and integral spirituality, so why not rational.  It can’t just skip a step.

I feel that in the program of Jack Layton’s state funeral we saw elements of rational spirituality.  What did it consist of?  First there was no exclusive religious ideas.  It was inclusive, incorporating both aboriginal and Muslim components.  Secondly, the religious components were measured to not be offensive to anyone, including non-religious people.  The religious elements were not aggressive or assertive, but truly compassionate and humanistic.  Thirdly, the religious elements were tethered to humanistic values and morals that were demonstrated in Layton’s life and in the lives of many of the people sharing the stage with him.  (Compare the humanistic morality of someone like Stephen Lewis, responsible for countless international aid programs, to the moral diehards of the religious right who do little good outside of their “right to life” and “anti-gay” campaigns.)  Compare the policies and the actions of various people to see the truth.  Obama and Layton, famous for their past social help programs.  Harper and Bush, famous for … what?  (Bush, at least, for frat boy cocaine use.)

Similarly, Creationists require some sort of stepping stone into rational spirituality.  Bashing and insulting their beliefs only force them to withdraw deeper into their delusions for comfort.  So how would rational spirituality accommodate Creationists?  I believe that this accommodation already exists.  It’s possible for a spiritual person to believe in evolution and all of its mechanisms, and yet believe that it was guided by the “hand of God” (whatever that may mean).  This interpretation does not deny the science in any way, -in fact it can glorify the science.  The evolution of life and, indeed, the evolution of the universe, can be seen as part of God’s plan.   Such a belief has successfully separated the scientific and spiritual perspectives (or in Integral terms the UL and UR quadrants).

Such a belief is still likely to be rejected by atheists, however the rejection doesn’t have to be as assertive and extreme because the belief doesn’t contradict their science and there’s nobody trying to prevent the teaching of evolution in schools in order to protect a fragile delusion.  Coexistence is far more possible, although there will always be those fundamentalist, adolescent atheists who will miss the satisfaction they got from bashing religions.  Those people will be arrested at their current level of development until they can escape the need to condemn the things they have transcended.

  1. […] the theists and atheists, the spiritual and the logical.  Increasingly, many are realizing that confrontation doesn’t help create connection.  However, when we talk about ways to bridge the gap, most are coming to the negotiation with a […]

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