03 June 2013

The Noöscape of Soteriolical Ontology, or, may we not choose to just say no?

I have been thinking a good deal lately about the borderline between religion and philosophy, and whether, as someone who is rather profoundly inclined towards empirical skepticism, there is anything that can be politely and respectfully said that, well, excuses people like me from the whole issue of religion.

It seems to me that makes something religio as opposed to philosophia is soteriology. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soteriology). Basically, as I understand it, the goal of a view of reality that embraces soteriological precepts is not merely to give meaning to life but to establish immortality and ultimate salvation (or, in the case of some Eastern religion, transcendence of delusion-based reification of karma so that the only reality is clear light, or the luminosity which is the essential nature of what is real). Either way, escape from the suffering and extinction which are the lot of earthly life, is seen as not only possible, but the goal, sometimes for oneself, sometimes, one is tempted to say in more advanced form, primarily for others and only secondarily for oneself.

To an Epicurean materialist (which is how I think of myself these days), who insists that only that which can be reliably inferred from evidence-based ratiocination should be admitted as “reasonably certainly real,” the whole issue of soteriology is a dead letter. The subjective experience which is defined only in terms of itself that is necessary to experience meditative transcendence, or the “grace” that leads to “salvation” in Monotheistic religions, are simply not inferable from evidence based reasoning.

So, I tend to say to those who cite authority, or subjective experience, for the basis of their view of reality, “Bon Voyage. I wish you well, and if you are right, I am sure you will benefit in ways that I am too dense to appreciate… but, unfortunately, my own self-respect and honest belief keeps me from going there with you.”

Is it asking too much to expect others to respect that?

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