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May 5th First Monthly Service on THOUGHT and THINKING

Posted: Fri May 10, 2019 11:18 am
by tim
Our May 5th service included some commentary to the effect that the NTCOF can be compared to the "Darwin Fish" and that real progress in the mainstream religions has inexorably drawn them towards our point of view. It's too slow, of course, and there are strong forces that may prevent them from ever shedding their superstitions. Nevertheless, consider this:

“There are passages in the Gospels that portray Jesus of Nazareth as narrow-minded, vindictive, and even hypocritical. Jesus exhorted people to love their enemies and to pray for their persecutors (Matt. 5:44) and never to call others by demeaning or hurtful names (Matt. 5:22), yet he called his enemies a 'brood of snakes' (Matt. 12:34), 'sons of vipers' (Matt. 23:33), 'blind fools' (Matt. 23:17). ... How divine is the message that says for your finite failings you will be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be [eternal] weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30)?”

This is a typical observation of atheists. And yet it was said by Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong. One of Spong's many books is Why Christianity Must change or Die. 20th Century theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965), whose ideas have been cited and relied on by the US Supreme Court, said this:

“God appears as the invincible tyrant, the being in contrast with whom all other beings are without freedom and subjectivity. He is equated with the recent tyrants [of the World War II era] who with the help of terror try to transform everything into a mere object, a thing among things, a cog in a machine they control. ... This is the God Nietzsche said had to be killed because nobody can tolerate being made into a mere object of absolute knowledge and absolute control. This is the deepest root of atheism. It is an atheism which is justified as the reaction against theological theism and its disturbing implications.”

Our hope is that more believers will come to understand the truth of such statements.

We observed that it was Cinco de Mayo and what that means. It's not Mexican Independence Day! May 5th is also the date of the Bay View Massacre – look this up! And it's the date in 1925 that John T. Scopes was served with an arrest warrant for teaching evolution in Tennessee.

We enjoyed a Moment of Science on the recent news of dead pig brains being revived by scientists and that, no, the major media reporting on this was mostly ignorant and/or wrong.

Our main topic was “THOUGHT AND THINKING: The Phenomenology of Cognition.” We considered that thought is like many other things, something that “comes naturally” but improves with practice and experience. We reviewed what Descartes – and his correspondent Elisabeth of Bohemia – discussed about Descartes' mind-body dualism and how an immaterial “substance” of mind could possible affect the material body. We moved on to the body's effects on thinking and the fact that how we think is dependent on the structure and function of our brains which, of course, are a legacy of a long evolutionary process. “Embodied cognition” and related ideas were discussed, as well as the question of how our thinking may be limited and that there may be things that we are incapable of thinking. We concluded with some ideas about how we might think more and better, chiefly by challenging ourselves with ideas that are difficult or even ones with which we disagree.