Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

Discuss the November 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes.

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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Kathie Slief Turner wrote: July 1st, 2023, 9:10 pm I don't think it's hard. For some, it's just second nature because they hold those beliefs. I, however, do not have those beliefs and therefore understand the reason for the question. I agree that atheists should be included in the discussion about consciousness. I'm Buddhist in thought and practice, but it is a non-theistic practice; no deity is involved. Therefore I do not feel a need to talk about religion in a discussion about consciousness.
It's interesting to hear your perspective, especially your identification with Buddhist thought and practice as a non-theistic approach.

Your mention of Buddhism being non-theistic yet having significant spiritual and philosophical practices brings to mind a curious aspect of Buddhist practice: the veneration of Lord Buddha. In many Buddhist traditions, Lord Buddha is revered and worshipped, not as a deity, but as an enlightened being who has attained deep wisdom about life and existence.

Given your Buddhist practice, I'm curious about your thoughts on this aspect of veneration. How do you perceive the act of worshipping or venerating Lord Buddha within this non-theistic framework? And how does this practice align with the Buddhist understanding of consciousness, particularly in the context of understanding and exploring the mind and self without the involvement of a divine entity?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Jessica Cole 3 wrote: July 5th, 2023, 11:04 pm As someone who was raised in a religious household and then left that religion, I think it's possible. The base of consciousness is not religion. My world doesn't revolve around religion, but I am conscious of myself and things around me. I am spiritual, though. I still don't think my spirituality informs everything I do. As someone mentioned above, atheists exist. Their worlds have nothing to do with the presence of religion.

Someone else above mentioned that religion is the base of civilization. I disagree. Religion used to be the base of civilization, which is why the Church is such a powerful institution and why there are so many religions. It's not the case today, as there is a separation of Church and State today. I believe that inclusive language should be used when discussing this topic, as it's not a religious topic. It can be religious, but it's not inherently religious.
I appreciate your perspective, and I agree that the separation of Church and State is a crucial principle in modern society, particularly when discussing topics like consciousness that can intersect with both spiritual and secular realms.

Your experience of moving from a religious upbringing to a more personal spiritual practice underscores the idea that consciousness and spirituality can be understood and experienced outside the confines of organized religion. This aligns with the view that spirituality and consciousness can be deeply personal matters, not necessarily tied to religious doctrines.

However, your point about the separation of Church and State today raises an interesting question about how distant these two entities truly are in contemporary society. While there is a formal separation in many countries, the influence of religious beliefs and institutions on state affairs, policies, and societal norms is still observable in various contexts. For example, in some countries, religious groups play a significant role in shaping public opinion and policy decisions on social issues. In others, secularism is more strictly upheld, limiting the influence of religious institutions on state matters.

Given these observations, do you think the separation of Church and State is effectively maintained in contemporary society? How do you see the influence of religion in public and state affairs today, and does this influence align with the ideal of keeping Church and State apart?
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Rupali Mishra wrote: August 8th, 2023, 2:30 am You can't really avoid talking about religion while addressing issues relating to human life because everyone has an opinion—whether they are for or against religion. It might not be feasible to speak in a way that is more welcoming to all people, regardless of their beliefs, and to include them in the conversation.
While your assertion that religion inevitably enters discussions about human life due to the diverse opinions people hold is valid, it's important to consider the evolving role of religion in the context of modern society. In this era, marked by scientific advancement and pluralistic values, the centrality of religion in public and personal life appears to be transforming.

Today, many societies are experiencing a significant shift toward secularism. This is evident in the growing number of individuals who identify as non-religious, atheist, or agnostic. These demographic changes suggest that discussions about human life and experiences, such as consciousness, can indeed be approached without necessarily invoking religious perspectives. Furthermore, the rise of secular ethics and humanistic philosophies offer alternative frameworks for exploring these topics, emphasizing universal values and empirical understanding over religious doctrine.

Moreover, the increasing separation of church and state in many modern democracies reflects a broader societal trend toward secular governance. This separation ensures that personal religious beliefs do not unduly influence public policy, thereby creating an environment where discussions can accommodate a range of beliefs - both religious and non-religious.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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PanwarP wrote: September 23rd, 2023, 6:33 am Given that people are spiritual creatures, I believe it would be difficult to avoid bringing up religion in conversations about consciousness. The ability to think allows humans to be aware of their environment. We are in harmony with the God within us and the God within others because we are spiritual beings. As such, discussing consciousness would be incomplete without discussing our awareness of God.
Being spiritual does not necessarily equate to being religious, nor does it require belief in a specific deity or god.

Spirituality can be understood as a broad spectrum that encompasses various ways individuals seek meaning, connection, and a deeper understanding of life. This can include religious beliefs, but it can also involve secular or non-theistic approaches. For instance, many people find spiritual fulfillment in connecting with nature, through meditation practices, in art and music, or in exploring philosophical ideas. These forms of spirituality do not necessarily involve a god or religious doctrine.

In the context of consciousness, discussions can certainly explore spiritual dimensions without delving into religious beliefs. The exploration of consciousness from a spiritual perspective might involve questions about the self, existence, interconnectedness, or the nature of reality, which don't require a religious framework.

Furthermore, the rise of secular spirituality shows that many people are seeking spiritual experiences outside the boundaries of traditional religion. This shift indicates a growing understanding that spirituality is a personal journey that can be navigated in various ways, including non-religious paths.
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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RJ Reviews wrote: October 2nd, 2023, 4:55 am While religions serve their purposes, I do not believe that discussion about conciousness must include religious references. People who don't follow any religious beliefs may also provide valuable information about conciousness. With time, the concept of religions have evolved a lot, both towards positive and negative. Keeping that in mind, we should find a way to discuss conciousness with diving into religious references.
It's true that while religions have historically played significant roles in shaping cultures and ethical systems, their evolution has been complex. In recent times, we've seen how the intersection of religion with politics and the influence of certain religious leaders can sometimes skew the original teachings towards more negative or divisive ends. This phenomenon, where political agendas or personal gain take precedence over spiritual and moral guidance, can indeed cast a shadow over the positive aspects of religious traditions.

This evolution and, at times, corruption of religious institutions and teachings underscore the need for a careful approach when integrating religious references into discussions about broader concepts like consciousness. It's important to distinguish between the core spiritual teachings of a religion and the ways in which these teachings have been interpreted or misinterpreted over time.
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Marie Chalupova wrote: October 5th, 2023, 5:50 am I think we can have issues agreeing on things and terms not only as it pertains to religion but also other beliefs. Some might take some spiritual ideas for granted and some find it nonsense. For example, people that believe in reincarnation but not because of any religion.
The concept of reincarnation, while traditionally associated with religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, also finds a place in the realm of non-religious or secular beliefs. This adaptation of reincarnation in non-religious contexts is fascinating, as it suggests a broader human curiosity about the nature of existence and the continuity of consciousness beyond physical life.

In non-religious views, reincarnation is often considered more metaphorically or philosophically rather than literally. For instance, some people interpret reincarnation as a symbol of continual growth and transformation, where each 'life' represents a new phase or chapter in one's personal development. This interpretation focuses on the cyclical nature of learning, experiencing, and evolving, rather than the literal rebirth of a soul into a new physical body.

Others might explore the concept of reincarnation from a more existential standpoint, pondering the persistence of consciousness or identity over time. In these interpretations, reincarnation can be a tool to explore deeper questions about the self, consciousness, and the nature of existence, without necessarily invoking religious doctrines or beliefs in an afterlife.

Furthermore, the interest in past life regression therapies, often found in the realms of alternative therapies and psychology, also indicates a secular fascination with the idea of previous existences. While not scientifically substantiated, these practices show how reincarnation concepts have permeated into non-religious spheres as a means of personal exploration and self-discovery.

Given these varied non-religious interpretations of reincarnation, I'm interested in your thoughts on this matter. How do you perceive the concept of reincarnation outside the traditional religious context? Do you think these secular interpretations of reincarnation offer meaningful insights into understanding consciousness and the human experience?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Buikem Kasia wrote: October 9th, 2023, 1:03 am No, I don't believe that it is too hard. Weare humans first before any religion comes into play. Our humanity supersedes anything so it isn't too hard.
I agree with you, that our shared humanity precedes any religious identity and that this perspective can guide discussions about consciousness and spirituality. Your viewpoint underscores the idea that we can approach these topics from a human-centered perspective, independent of religious doctrines.

Expanding on this thought, I'm curious about your opinion on the origins of religion in human history. Historically, religions have played a significant role in shaping cultures, societal norms, and individuals' worldviews. In your view, why do you think early humans felt the need to invent or adopt religious systems? What purposes did these systems serve in the development of human societies?

Considering the evolution of human societies and the role of religion, do you think that these early religious systems were primarily intended to bring order and meaning to human life, or were there other motivations at play?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Angie Fernandez wrote: October 11th, 2023, 12:23 pm As a practicing Christian who reads my Bible daily and believes "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17, it would be hard for me to separate my faith from philosophy. Furthermore, our conscience is a gift from God, a "sixth sense" if you will, that leads my mind and body to walk in a way that is honoring to God

I often had that "knowing" in my heart as a young person that I needed to flee a situation before I got into serious trouble. Sometimes I listened and sometimes I didn't and paid the price. Luckily God challenges my conscience in what I consider right and wrong in an attempt to reform or change my thinking. Reading "In It Together" was one of those times.

While I respect your perspective as a practicing Christian, and how your faith intertwines with your philosophy and understanding of conscience, it's important to consider the biological perspective on consciousness and the role of conscience from a non-religious standpoint.

From a scientific viewpoint, consciousness and the human conscience are often understood as outcomes of complex neurological processes. Research in neuroscience suggests that our moral judgments, decision-making, and the sense of right and wrong (often attributed to the conscience) are deeply linked to specific regions and functions of the brain. For example, studies have shown that the prefrontal cortex plays a critical role in moral reasoning and ethical decision-making.

Additionally, the evolutionary perspective on morality and conscience suggests that these traits developed as a result of social living. The ability to discern right from wrong and to behave in ways that are beneficial to the group would have been advantageous for early human societies. This sociobiological perspective posits that moral behaviors, including the functioning of the conscience, can be understood as adaptive traits that evolved to enhance survival and social cohesion.

Furthermore, the “sixth sense” you mention, often referred to as intuition or gut feeling, is increasingly being studied in psychology and neuroscience. This sense is understood as an amalgamation of subconscious awareness, past experiences, and cognitive processing, rather than a divine gift.

Do you think that a biological understanding of these concepts challenges or complements religious interpretations?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Thera reads wrote: October 12th, 2023, 2:03 am Excluding religious references from discussions about consciousness can be challenging because they are not far from each other, and beliefs and worldviews often influence these discussions.
While it's true that religious beliefs and worldviews often influence discussions about consciousness, I would argue that there's a logical basis for considering consciousness and religion as potentially distinct entities, especially when examining how religions are practiced in contemporary times.

In practice, religion often involves a set of rituals, doctrines, and community-based activities that are external expressions of faith. While these practices are designed to foster spiritual growth and understanding, they don't always directly correlate with the deep introspective exploration associated with consciousness. Consciousness, in a broader sense, pertains to awareness, perception, and the internal experience of being, which can be explored independently of religious frameworks.

Moreover, the practical application of religious teachings can sometimes diverge from their spiritual or philosophical foundations. For example, while many religions advocate for compassion, understanding, and unity, their practical implementation can sometimes lead to division, conflict, or adherence to rituals without a deeper understanding of their spiritual significance. This divergence suggests that the exploration of consciousness – particularly aspects related to self-awareness, empathy, and the understanding of one's place in the universe – can occur outside the confines of religious practices.

Additionally, the rise of secular approaches to mindfulness and introspection, which draw from but are not bound by religious traditions, further supports the idea that consciousness can be explored through non-religious means. These approaches focus on direct personal experience and empirical understanding rather than religious faith.
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Okoth David wrote: January 5th, 2024, 3:13 am Excluding religious references from discussions about consciousness can be challenging, as beliefs and perspectives vary widely. Striking a balance that respects diverse viewpoints while fostering a secular discourse is essential for inclusive and constructive conversations.
Your point about the challenge of excluding religious references from discussions about consciousness due to the diversity of beliefs and perspectives is well-taken. However, it's important to differentiate between including more people in the conversation and discussing consciousness without necessarily relating it to religion.

While it's crucial to respect diverse viewpoints and ensure that discussions are inclusive, this doesn't inherently mean that religious references need to be a part of every conversation about consciousness. There are many ways to approach and understand consciousness that are independent of religious frameworks, as I have explained earlier in this discussion.

Moreover, the exploration of consciousness from a secular or non-religious perspective can provide a universal platform where individuals, regardless of their religious beliefs, can engage in meaningful discussions. This secular approach doesn't diminish the value of religious perspectives but rather complements them by offering alternative ways to understand consciousness.

Considering this, do you think it's possible to have discussions about consciousness that are both inclusive of diverse viewpoints and also independent of religious references?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Zanne Crystle wrote: January 6th, 2024, 4:05 pm Yes, religious traditions have undeniably influenced the way we talk about spirituality with terms like "divine love," "faith," and even "spirit". But I think we can have the same discussions if we use neutral language like "unconditional love," "confidence" or "inner awareness" instead. I prefer more neutral language because it encourages participation from a wider audience.
I appreciate your approach of using more neutral language like "unconditional love," "confidence," or "inner awareness" in discussions about spirituality and consciousness. This shift in vocabulary not only makes the conversation more inclusive but also allows for a broader, more diverse range of perspectives.

Your approach is reminiscent of the inclusivity seen in other social contexts, such as the evolving language around gender and sexuality. For example, in discussions about the LGBT+ community, using terms that are respectful and inclusive of all identities, such as "partners" instead of gender-specific terms like "husband" or "wife," helps to create an environment where everyone feels acknowledged and valued. This parallels the way neutral language in spiritual discussions can embrace a wider audience, including those who might feel alienated by religious terminology.
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Angus Zonny wrote: January 14th, 2024, 11:49 am Yes, it is hard. This is because it is religion that makes us question ourselves in reality.
Religions, through their narratives and doctrines, often provide frameworks for understanding the world and our place within it. They propose explanations for the nature of existence, the concept of the soul, and the afterlife, among other things. This can prompt individuals to reflect on their perceptions of reality and their understanding of consciousness. In many ways, religious teachings can act as a catalyst for exploring the deeper aspects of human experience and existence.

However, this introspective journey inspired by religion can also lead to a complex interplay between faith and personal understanding. On one hand, it can enrich one's sense of self and the world; on the other hand, as you said, it can also create conflicts, especially when religious explanations clash with personal experiences or scientific understanding.

Given these nuances, I'm interested in hearing more about your perspective. How do you think religious teachings influence our questioning of reality? Do you believe that they provide a comprehensive framework for understanding consciousness, or do they sometimes limit our exploration of these concepts?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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When discussing consciousness without religious references, one can explore various perspectives such as philosophical inquiry into the nature of mind, scientific theories related to brain function and cognitive processes, or psychological studies on perception and self-awareness. This approach allows for a more inclusive dialogue that respects different belief systems and promotes a broader understanding of consciousness.
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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The diverse readership of the book reflects a mosaic of spiritual backgrounds, with some actively engaged in religious practices while others navigate the complexities of familial ties to various faith traditions. This rich tapestry of perspectives fosters a nuanced exploration of how religious connections intertwine with personal experiences, influencing the lens through which readers interpret and engage with the content.
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Re: Is it too hard to exclude religious references from discussions about consciousness?

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Jarkline Ouma wrote: February 12th, 2024, 3:31 am When discussing consciousness without religious references, one can explore various perspectives such as philosophical inquiry into the nature of mind, scientific theories related to brain function and cognitive processes, or psychological studies on perception and self-awareness. This approach allows for a more inclusive dialogue that respects different belief systems and promotes a broader understanding of consciousness.
Thank you for your enlightening perspective on exploring consciousness through the lenses of philosophy, science, and psychology. This approach not only diversifies our understanding but also ensures the conversation remains inclusive and relevant across various belief systems. It beautifully complements the essence of our discussion.

Indeed, the exploration of consciousness can benefit immensely from the rich insights provided by different disciplines. Philosophy challenges us to ponder the nature of existence and consciousness, cognitive science offers a window into the brain's intricate workings, and psychology delves into the realms of perception and self-awareness. This interdisciplinary journey not only deepens our comprehension but also highlights the multifaceted nature of consciousness and love.

Moreover, the emphasis on inclusivity within our dialogue is paramount. By welcoming diverse perspectives, we acknowledge and respect the myriad ways individuals understand and experience consciousness. This inclusive approach enriches our collective exploration, weaving together a tapestry of insights that honor the complexity of human experience.

As we delve deeper into this fascinating topic, I encourage further contributions that reflect upon how these varied non-religious perspectives on consciousness enhance our understanding. How do these different viewpoints converge to navigate the complexities of consciousness and the phenomenon of love? What new insights can we gain from integrating these diverse approaches into our collective inquiry?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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