Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 10: The Problem with Atheism

Can God and science exist together? I think that’s a fundamental question. I've heard some of the more vocal scientists proclaiming that a belief in God is the sign of a weak mind. Well, one thing I’ve discovered: the deeper I delve into the theological and philosophical knowledge, the more I encounter rather brilliant minds, actually. Some very intelligent people have speculated about, argued for, worshiped and drawn inspiration from what they believe to be a higher power. So I don't think you and I are losing any brain capacity in wandering a little down that well-trod, but increasingly abandoned, pathway.

Belief in God in many so-called developed countries is at an all-time low. Well, maybe it's more a lack of belief in organized religion that's really being expressed in any of these studies that are quoted, and I’m reminded that we mustn't confuse one with the other.

And I wonder about the real beliefs of some self-professed atheists and agnostics anyway, who profess no belief, but live their lives according to strong ideals of goodness and service. Why are they doing that? There's a belief in something being evidenced there, even though they might cringe at that being called God.

In episode 10, I explore the problem with atheism with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 9: The Psychotic Separation from God

The Dark Night of the Soul. In the theological canon, this signifies a spiritual crisis in a journey towards union with God. In more secular language, that would be the transformational journey that takes place when you're suffering. 

A journey of transformation. A conversion, even. A deep repentance for a path ill chosen. And at the end, "the sudden reception of grace," as Aquinas called it. Surely that's what slave trader John Newton must have gone through on that wild stormy night as he stood on the wind-swept deck and surprisingly found himself muttering, "May God have mercy on our souls." Apparently that caused some reflection when he retreated to his captain's chambers below. An atheist, and self-avowed scoundrel appealing to divine salvation in a time of need. And a questioning that led him to repent his misspent ways in the slave trade. eventually becoming an Anglican minister and penning the unforgettable words, "I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now I see." Amazing grace, indeed. 

Victor Frankl talked about man's search for meaning, and he declared that this was to be found in overcoming oneself, giving oneself to a cause, or even to another to love. He speculated that being truly human meant being directed to something or someone other than ourselves. He called this "the self-transcendence of human existence" and witnessed it frequently, even in the depths of despair that was Auschwitz. 

But I'm wondering now, if the transcendence we're seeking isn't something more than just moving beyond ourselves, but is in fact a search for something, not other than ourselves, but greater than ourselves. Something to believe in certainly, but also something to explain our existence and all of this magnitude we live inside. And for this, we need theology. We can't get there through apps or economics. We need that wisdom that plums the depths of human experience to find the answers to the questions, not just more questions. 

The country of Portugal was established based on this dream of a new world, a Fifth Empire that would initiate a period of 1000 years of justice and peace and spirituality on Earth. "The Kingdom of God," they called it. It's a dream that resides like a memory inside the human breast and the desire for this signifies that we recognize the loss of it. We've become separated from it, and even from the consideration of it, and this has had enormous ramifications for our daily lives. The Psychotic Separation from God, in this episode with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 8: The Origin of Evil

So far in our series, we've been looking at the nature of life and God, and how that knowledge has been pushed aside from our daily considerations and from scientific inquiry, obviously. The concretization of the scientific method was an attempt to free the human being from superstition, squalor and medieval cruelty.  

The cherished ascendance of reason that emerged out of the philosophy at that time, however, while successfully challenging the corrupted church authority, also diminished the importance of the theological themes that are still relevant to our understanding. The nature of man, the struggle between good and evil - those got buried, too. 

And where does the ascendance of reason leave those iconic stories about the presence of evil in human experience? The stories from the sacred texts of all philosophies, what do we do with those now? How do we understand the depth of Dante or even Jekyll and Hyde or Faust with only reason at our side? 

Norberto Keppe's recent work has been concerned to reintroduce the analysis of evil and the evil influence in daily human life, but scientifically. The advancement he has made in seeing the spiritual battle between good and evil in more scientific terms is a huge step forward. And backward at the same time, reaching into the ancient knowledge and bringing it into the modern light, stripped of its superstition and fantasy. Welcome to Episode 8 with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 7: The Fall of Man Updated

Welcome to Episode 7 of our Modern Relevance of God podcast series here on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones.
I was struck in re-listening to our last episode that perhaps some more explanation of the story of man might be necessary. I also realize the challenge today of Biblical references. Religious life has often been equated with fanaticism, and that conjures up images of cults and Kool Aid and suicide vests, doesn't it? But let's be careful not to fall into that dismissive mindset too quickly, because after all, the story of man! Yeah, these are rich waters to navigate. Great minds have considered these questions of religion and belief and man's place in the cosmos, and simply brushing off these considerations as simplistic, superstitious and obsolete, would be a little hasty, I think. Evidence of what Viktor Frankel called “contemporary nihilism.” In his great book, Man's Search for Meaning, Frankel writes, “Man has suffered another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing.”
And one of the traditions we are collectively leaving far behind in the rearview mirror is the story of the Fall of Man, a story which is present in most, if not all, of the cultural traditions on our planet. There has to be something there. In fact, I propose that our greatest human documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Rights of Man, the constitutions of many countries, are actually reflections of this memory of a time in paradise when we lived in harmony with nature and God, when we fulfilled our purpose in the Creation. We remember these universal principles, these fingerprints of God in the human soul as Keppe calls them, and they're called forth from deep inside in moments of inspiration, like revelations. So, let's not shy away because of prejudices or dismissals of our religious traditions. Let's continue in our exploration of this spiritual life. As Jung inscribed over the door of his house, “Whether summoned or not, God will be present.”
So, for this episode, an excerpt from an interview I did for our podcast, Thinking with Somebody Else's Head, with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco about the Fall of Man and what this story is really about.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 6: Trouble from the Start

Welcome to Episode 6 of our Modern Relevance of God podcast series here on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones. 

You might have noticed in our first few episodes, I've been mentioning the importance of the wisdom of the past to our understanding of the present. And especially in our understanding of God and spirituality.  

That's not been by accident. There were some smart dudes back then, and Norberto Keppe's work has been in part about going back and rescuing the correct knowledge from these great thinkers and sages throughout history. That's really not a modern view, I know that. We tend to be much more of the mind today that what went before was interesting, perhaps as an archaic allegory, but hardly relevant anymore in our digital app for that, do all your banking online, superiority. We just threw away all those guys with a dismissive shrug and a raised eyebrow. What could Aquinas or Plato or the Divine Comedy possibly teach us about the important stuff in life, like creating passive income or lowering our toxic exposure or reducing our carbon footprint? 

In Mrs. Kent's English Lit 12 class way back when — not quite Middle Ages but still a long time ago — we studied Milton's Paradise Lost. Studied the language and the rhythm, the poem's epic story and heroic nature. "Bloody long thing," I thought at the time. The poem tells the story of the war for heaven and of man's expulsion from paradise. Benjamin Ramm in his recent BBC article, Why You Should Reread Milton's Paradise Lost, declares it to be a powerful meditation on rebellion, longing and the desire for redemption. 

But I think we're missing a point here. Paradise Lost is not just an allegory about non-conformist, anti-establishment rebellion. It's a real story, about what really went on. A real event with real people. A story that continues right up to this present moment. 

And I know how that must sound here in the 21st century. Like I've just suggested there was no moon landing, right? Well, stay with me! In this episode, we'll introduce a scientific explanation of the Biblical story of the Fall of Man, and see if we can't rescue the story from the clutches of ancient mythology and restore it to its rightful place as the real story of Man that we ignore and banalize to our peril.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 5: Who Is this God We're Talking about Anyway?

Welcome to Episode five of our Modern Relevance of God podcast series here on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones. 

In our last episode, we looked at some of the scientists responsible for modern science's turn to materialism. Something that sought to make God irrelevant in the creation of life. English biologist, Richard Dawkins, perhaps best epitomises that point of view, opining in The God Delusion that God is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction. And then swinging from the heels with a brutal list of negative adjectives describing God that to my mind, simply substantiates the discoveries of the early explorers of the psyche who showed that sickness lies in projecting our evil qualities outward onto others.


That dismissive view of God is more than obvious in countless modern art, too, that looks at the mess in the world created by man as proof that God doesn't exist. Well, I'm struck hard by that modern conceit because … well, I'm a product of it. Moving to Brazil 20 years ago with my wife at the time, Madalann, began a process of change inside me, a gradual opening to a theological reality that had simply not been part of my life ...the spirituality I delved into in the New Age movement, notwithstanding. That had been insufficient to feed this quest for truth I hungered for. It was the certainty of the existence of God that marks Brazil that began to turn the tide in me from disdain for God, picked up through modern science and art, to a budding belief in something concrete. A real God in place of that vague and simplistic notion of cosmic energy coming from New Age spirituality.

It was when I began to study Norberto Keppe's concept of inversion, which we talked about in our second episode, that I began to think, "Well, wait a minute! If we're inverted, we must be inverted from something. What would that be?" That's what we'll begin to explore in our podcast episode today with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco: Who Is this God We’re Talking about Anyway?

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 4: Some Scientific Anti-Christs

 I'm Richard Lloyd Jones, and this is Episode 4 of our Modern Relevance of God special podcast series on Thinking with Somebody Else's Head.

In our last episode, we looked at some of the consequences of materializing science, the reverberations of which we are obviously still feeling today. From elevating the bean counters to the lofty perches of power to resolving pandemics with material products, we are far from any spiritual considerations in our modern science.

We can even put some names to that process, some of the most famous names in scientific history actually. All of whom, unknowingly, led us down this mathematized trail of inverted world views that is largely responsible for the myriad seemingly unresolvable problems facing us today.

And at the same time, Cesar Soós and I will explore the tremendous healing power in nature. All of which provides more evidence that a great Designer is at work behind all this. 

Welcome to Episode 4 of the Modern Relevance of God special podcast series. Cesar Soós on some scientific anti-Christs.

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