Obstacles to Enlightenment

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Obstacles to Enlightenment

Post: # 106440Post James
Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:40 pm

So I notice this section seems kinda dead...given I haven't been by for a month or two and coming back I see I'm still among the last people who posted. :shock:

I've got a topic I think could stir up some good discussion. I've been toiling over it in my head for quite some time now...

What will it take for our society to reach a point where knowledge and truth are freely explored and pursued? I know that sounds like a very ambiguous question (it's clear in my head but very hard to put into concise words), so let me give you examples --

Consider the following popular debates:
(1) Should Intelligent Design and/or Evolution be taught in schools?
(2) Should gay marriage be allowed?
(3) Should abortion be legal?
(4) Should we be in Iraq?

Those are picked off the top of my head. My point here is that all four of these common debates share one thing in common: They never go anywhere. The same people have the same beliefs at the end of the debate, and at most have acquired nothing more than anger. Why is this? Aren't debates supposed to serve the purpose of helping us discover and discern truth?

My personal opinion is that for us to become a truly "enlightened" society, we must reach a point where we can gather in a room as a group and freely, openly share ideas with each other. However, this requires the willingness to listen, not just speak (or in most cases, yell).

To pull from example, take the Creationism/Evolution debate. As things are it's never going to go anywhere productive, IMHO. Many of those (mainly those influential) for teaching Intelligent Design are driven by the politics of the Religious Right and their own personal religious agenda. They are perceived as self-righteous. Meanwhile, those pushing for evolution are driven by the politics of the liberal left and their own personal secularist agenda. They are perceived as intellectual elitists.

This debate, like the others mentioned, almost always result in each side trying to change the minds of the other side, or defeat the other side. Changing minds or defeating someone else is the purpose of a debate. Consequently, it results in nothing but gridlock.

I suggest that society suffers for this. Instead of discovering truth, growing from shared knowledge, and learning more about each other, we simply fight. No side is willing to consider the other, or even give an ear to listen. Each side only wants to be heard, and then conformed to. Each hot topic is moved by politics.

What if society could learn to approach itself open-minded? What if those in Congress learned to listen and consider each other? What if the science community learned to disregard politics, prestige, and money and simply devote itself solely to science?

What would our society look like then? Can we ever reach that point?


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Post: # 106444Post rapier57
Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:18 pm

1) Yes, but from an objective, scientific standpoint. Creationism, BTW, and Intelligent Design are not the same.

2) Yeah, but it shouldn't be called marriage, unless we are going to change the core meaning of yet another word (gay once meant happy and joyful).

3) I have no problem with the abortion laws as they stand now. I have daughters. I would not want to presume any kind of over-lordship on their bodies, and I think they should have the right to choose what happens. Granted, I'd provide support and guidance, but they should have the ultimate choice.

4) Not just no, but Hell no!
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Post: # 106448Post Panama Red
Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:28 pm

Have you ever read Dune by Frank Hebert, religion and politics are still a mystery even after 10,000 yrs, in this work of fiction, but yet there are similarities.....man's quest for knowledge will always have 2 sides of the coin, even in the face of irrefutable proof, there are always doubts.

Listening is the operative word in your statement, however trying to have everyone do this has about as much chance of me winning the lottery, as Spock would say (he of Trek fame) the odds are not in our favour...

But you are right, most of these debates are circular and will always have for and against sides, the trick I think is "compromise" somewhere in the middle is the answer, sounds like fence sitting but until both camps agree to disagree we are at a standstill...
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Post: # 106449Post James
Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:56 pm

Rapier, I think you missed the point I was trying to get at. :eek: I'm trying to focus less on the sides of the issues and more on how people process the sides.
BTW, and Intelligent Design are not the same.
Thanks for pointing that out, I wasn't aware of that. Reading up on the history behind this morning...
Listening is the operative word in your statement, however trying to have everyone do this has about as much chance of me winning the lottery, as Spock would say (he of Trek fame) the odds are not in our favour...
I do sadly agree with you there. I have wondered though if there's any hope for our society to evolve to that point sometime in the future. I doubt it, but it's an interesting thought.
the trick I think is "compromise" somewhere in the middle is the answer, sounds like fence sitting but until both camps agree to disagree we are at a standstill...
I agree, and that is part of what I was trying to get at. I don't see our society as a whole learning to do that anytime soon.

I actually haven't read Dune, but my wife is a fan of it. She's planning to culture me in that soon.
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Post: # 106450Post rapier57
Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:17 pm

I know, James, I responded kind of as a point. Jim skirts it with the "irrefutable proof" statement. So far, I haven't seen any irrefutable proof on any side of these or other questions, yet. I doubt I will in my lifetime, or even in my grandchildren's lifetimes. Especially since these and similar questions have been at the core of philosophical debate since Plato and Socrates.

Society will adapt to conditions which will permit survival of the group(s), much like species adapt to survive. I avoid the use of the term evolve, since that implies something else entirely.

There is always room for argument, and my responses are no exception. Other points of view may be completely in opposition to mine--and as valid. Yes, the argument rarely comes to a resolution largely due to polarization of the sides. Very little in the way of compromise is allowed by the points of view, and this is often the result of belief systems that do not leave room for gray areas. Also, labels have a tendency to define the sides. If someone is tagged as a Christian, assumptions are made of that person's beliefs and that person gets lumped in with the rest of the set of people tagged Christian. Same with Democrats and Republicans or Tory and Labor. The problem is that the lines get drawn and no allowance is made for gray areas. In reality, the gray areas are probably the place where the majority of people are. That just doesn't meet the needs of those making the distinctions.
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Post: # 106451Post dinowuff
Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:24 pm

What will it take for our society to reach a point where knowledge and truth are freely explored and pursued?
The end of religion.

Pick one, doesn't really matter. No matter what sect you pick there are rules. Mystic phrases and text that MUST be adhered to less ye be banned; beheaded; burned; butt fucked - whatever.

So the religious leaders mandate what can and cannot be said/done and all the little White n Wooly Sunday lunch on legs follow. Now anyone from another flock suggest an opposite - war!

If someone not in a flock makes a statement that endangers the validity of the Mystic text. WAR!

Faith is following blindly; so truth is a casualty of faith.


I love picking on christianity because not only is it the youngest, but also the one I know best.


But here is Christianity in a nutshell:

The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept his as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.
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Re: Obstacles to Enlightenment

Post: # 106452Post Harbinger
Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:53 pm

James wrote:What if the science community learned to disregard politics, prestige, and money and simply devote itself solely to science?
Most of this felt cookie-cutter, but I liked this question.

Science cannot exist for the sake of science without the consideration of politics, morality, money, etc.

Firstly, science is a tool. Without dreams, desire, ambition (not necessarily money), science would not exist. Science is necessity. Yes, learning to be learned is wonderful, I do it myself--but this is inherently a means to an end. I learn to learn, but only as I enjoy the increased awarness and knowledge and how it influences my life.

Secondly, science cannot exist without politics because politics is an extension of morality. If the limitations of how you could pursue the advancement of science excluded such things, then a great deal of cruel and reprehensible actions can result. Refer to Germany & Japan during WWII if that was too obscure.

Things cost money. People cost money. Nothing can be accomplished without money or tender and cannot be avoided.
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Post: # 106453Post Harbinger
Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:58 pm

PS: The title of the thread reminded me of an amazing dream i had about a month ago.

There is a Buddhist teaching that nothing exists outside of this moment. Take a breath--exhale, the past no longer exists. Outside of the time it takes to take a breath or snap your finger nothing exists and nothing (necessarily) will exist. I can comprehend this, but in my dream I finally accepted and metabolized it. This truth was now my own, and because nothing outside of now existed, nothing negetive could effect me. By the time something ill had occured, it no longer existed.

I became a becon of positive energy and my skin began to glow and emmit brilliant gold light. By accepting this truth, i had shot up the ladder of enlightenment just below becoming Bhudda and my god did it feel indescribably incredible.

Such a trippy flippin dream. I swear to you, I was not on acid or any sort of drug.
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Post: # 106455Post James
Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:22 pm

The end of religion.
That doesn't make sense to me...Many debates that gridlock have nothing to do nor are influenced any way by religion, so removing religion would at best only remove part of the problem. It's only a partial solution.

Second, not all the religious are as you describe. I'm certainly not. I do not judge, condemn, hate, or seek war with anyone. Eliminating my religion would do nothing to fix the problem; it would only remove part of my identity that I cherish.

If I can suggest a tweak to your statement though, for I think there is some truth in it -- The removal of religious segments that harbor hatred and violence. Of course doing so would violet civil rights like crazy, but for the sake of this discussion, its' applicable in at least intent. In fact, as a "religious" person (and in fact I usually avoid applying that adjective to myself), I am very disenfranchised with much of modern religion. One thing I admire about the proverbial zombie I follow was his going against the grain with the religious traditions of the time.

And this ties into the root point I'm trying to make -- One thing we have a habit of doing is labeling the other side "evil". The religious look at the nonreligious as evil, the nonreligious look at the religious as evil. Democrats and Republicans think each other evil often. I believe the removal of that would certainly help.

Harbinger,

You dropped a bomb of a thought on this thread. :eek: I'm really going to have to process those thoughts in mind for a while before I dare offer input in response. Good stuff.
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Post: # 106459Post Kwiep
Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:44 pm

There are probably more ethics theorys then there are religions. It's a HUGE subject and, without trying to be an arse, sometimes it gives me a headache. So sometimes I just have to lighten up, let it go, grab a beer and worry later. It's a good thing to be buisy with what's going on right now in this moment, as you have little control over the future and well, as for stating the obvious, you have no control over the past.
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Re: Obstacles to Enlightenment

Post: # 106485Post THE Doctor
Sat Apr 12, 2008 4:58 am

James wrote:S
What if society could learn to approach itself open-minded? What if those in Congress learned to listen and consider each other? What if the science community learned to disregard politics, prestige, and money and simply devote itself solely to science?
that would in itself turn it into a religion..

Realise there is a difference between a religion and a Faith..
A religion is what you worship, a faith is knowing all the worshipping in the world is a joke..
Football fans are religious, as are car racing fans, and we IT types.. we joke about the others religion
As also is Science a religion.. it is also a faith.. in it people see the answers to life and future life (not saying after life here)
Science can be a counter religion or an associate religion to other faiths and religions, like Christianity
Christianity is a Faith, as is Judaism, and Islam.. Roman Catholicism, Presbyterianism, et al are all religions, with members that belong to the christian faith.. some also practice other religions like Football, IT and Television..
a friend once said a religion is where a person places his faith.. and that is probably true.. I have met many Faithless people.. and they are truly sad.. these also belong to no-religion..not even football or beer..like I said truly sad
.. The trouble with life is there's no background music..

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Post: # 106486Post THE Doctor
Sat Apr 12, 2008 5:29 am

Consider this.. the act of consideration to another is not the act of considering the others views.. any consideration may only need be limited to "They're wrong"..
I have heard this type of comment in the past.. then the same people are all for locking up criminals without any sort of trial, or compulsory immunisation of children? or All people with mental illnesses should be in full time care for life..
Or should we lie to people.. saying how much we respect their view and how we will balance their view into the final analysis.. when in fact their view is wrong and why..
.. The trouble with life is there's no background music..

Remember Grasshopper: The original point and click interface was a Smith & Wesson.

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Post: # 106487Post THE Doctor
Sat Apr 12, 2008 5:58 am

On the subject.. well the title of the thread..
Obstacles to Enlightenment
an Obstacles would be making a highway and putting a child on it point in one direction ..that way for life..
instead of giving them a set of simple rules - or more like guidelines - and allowing them make their own path.. making people to be available along the way to help understand/explain the rules, or point out the incorrect/unsafe path..
I find our media are are trying to impress upon us how we should think and react some good much is bad.. and what peoples rights are.. and how some have rights and others responsabilities.. but you seldom hear the two words pointing at the same person or group..

Enlightenment is a process, it involves doing things, making and learning from mistakes, and learning form successes..
it is being the receiver and giver of good and bad.. but YOU are the only one that can take your journey.. you can not force another to take the same path.. for that is not theirs..it is not a part of their journey

I do not believe in destiny or predetermination.. Rather we have roles in life, we can accept them or refuse them.. we will be given many of these role offers.. some only once, others many times.. they form part of our journey.. some we need to complete some are optional.. The journey is not a game of ping-pong from one encounter to another.. more like a snowball rolling down a slope, the terrain affecting the path.... but it isn't the best analogy


I am surprised how many see enlightenment like "The Enlightened" from Stargate fame.. that is not the destination of enlightenment .. if that is your view.. your looking at one of many religions and a small number of faiths out there... that have the successful members becoming an equal to their god.

the biggest Obstacle to enlightenment is being told what the end goal is.. for that in itself has distorted the path
.. The trouble with life is there's no background music..

Remember Grasshopper: The original point and click interface was a Smith & Wesson.

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Post: # 106510Post dinowuff
Sat Apr 12, 2008 2:24 pm

Shit undies that's deep!
the biggest Obstacle to enlightenment is being told what the end goal is.. for that in itself has distorted the path
likening sports fans to religions? Good point.

I also remember a South Park episode where in the future the only religion(s) was science. Creationism, and Intelligent Design

Maybe in the end 'All the world is a stage'.
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Post: # 106653Post James
Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:21 pm

Good stuff Undies...

I like your points on the difference between religion and faith. Personally, I'm of the opinion we tend to place way, way too much emphasis on religion. In my eyes, faith is the "what" and religion is only a means or a tool toward that what. Faith is absolute, defined, and solid; religion has much more room for some relativity -- there are multiple ways you can connect to the "what". Different people have different religious practices even though they more or less share the same faith.

So much fighting and argument we see today is focused on that means. People who agree on the "what" fight viciously over who's religion is "more right". That's one reason I said earlier that I do not like referring to myself as religious. Calling myself religious tells you little about me and my faith; only how I practice it. I prefer to look at my faith as a lifestyle, a purpose, something that integrates with my understanding of life, science, and society -- not a bunch of bogged down religious doctrine.

On a separate note, I think one thing we really suffer from is the failure to question ourselves. Many of us have reached a point where we assume we're right without question. I think whether you're a Christian, Muslim, atheist, Wiccan, or agnostic, it's important to continually question why you believe what you believe. It's not fair for us to question and challenge each other when we aren't willing to question and challenge ourselves. I think this is the first step to becoming open and considerate of the beliefs and passions of others.

Too many people are offended when someone questions them on something they feel strongly about, and that's definitely problematic.
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