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Archive for the ‘Evolutionary Spirituality’ Category

Darkness and Enlightenment: Faith, Reason and Judaism

Posted: June 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm

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Welcome to the program and the third and final instalment of our three-part series on faith and reason. This week: Judaism.

We often hear it said that Judaism is about deed rather than creed and that ethical questions of how to live a good life are far more urgent than theological questions about whether God exists, or why he allows the innocent to suffer.

And yet, Judaism also has a long and distinguished history of philosophical thought, and the meaning of suffering has been a constant theme in Jewish literature, going all the way back to the Book of Job. Today were exploring that darkness, taking a tour of the Jewish Enlightenment, and looking at contemporary issues around education and that well-worn stereotype of the Jewish intellectual.


If you wanted to draw up a checklist of what religious people have to believe in order to describe themselves as such, youd probably put The Existence of God at very top. Whether or not you can prove that God exists, is a favourite gauntlet for atheists to throw down, and Christians and Muslims are often more than happy to pick it up, in the spirit of defending an indispensable pillar of faith.

In Judaism, however, the question of the existence of God is all hedged about with ambiguity (and its just the first of several ambiguities well be encountering in this program). Robert Eisen is Professor of Religion and Judaic Studies at George Washington University in Washington DC.

Robert Eisen: It certainly is fundamental; its fundamental throughout the centuries, certainly up to the modern period and even after. You know, even once the modern period begins, God is at the centre of Judaism, because everything is based on this notion of God creating the world and there being a covenantal relationship between God and the Jewish people. God is certainly central, but I think its fair to say the Jews were a lot less obsessed with proving the existence of God, because they were a lot less obsessed than Christians with belief in general.

Jews in the Middle Ages tended to systematise action; they were interested in systematising law, not systematising belief. Also, when they finally got around to talking about God, there was a tendency to often, well, because Jews had suffered so much, of seeing God as kind of a hidden presence. Not necessarily absent but hidden, and so they were much less concerned about God than they were about asking, well, what, you know, what is it that we need to do in life? What are our religious obligations based on the 613 commandments? Now, in the modern period you have Jews beginning to question whether God is even hiding. Is he active in the world at all? Was he ever active?

And so you get from Spinoza onward the view that God is an impersonal being, kind of like a motor running the world. But even there, Jews are talking about God, so I would say God is fundamental in Judaism, less than he is, perhaps in Christianity, and Jews also entertain more radical views about God than I think Christians generally have.

David Rutledge: Well, its interesting, isnt it, how far you can push that idea of a hidden god or an absent god, even. It seems you can still entertain that idea and identify as a Jew, whereas from a Christian perspective if youre starting to doubt whether God exists or whether God is there, to some extent, its difficult to call yourself a Christian.

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Darkness and Enlightenment: Faith, Reason and Judaism

Written by grays

June 22nd, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Health care runs in the family

Posted: June 9, 2014 at 8:53 pm

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Health care is a family affair for two generations of a Hokah, Minn., clan who credit their Catholic background for their gravitation to the healing arts.

The three daughters and son of Martin and Kathleen Scholze chose various jobs in the medical profession, and three still work at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse.

They landed in the medical field on their own, as their late father was a draftsman for the Trane Co. for 33 years and their mother, who lives in a nursing home in Caledonia, Minn., was a homemaker.

Part of it is with our Catholic heritage, our background, we have a desire to care for people, to take care of people in need, said Jenifer Schiltz, 53, of Caledonia, an RN and a surgery nurse supervisor at Mayo-Franciscan.

Back when we were getting our education, we knew ongoing education was important, Schiltz said. At that time, nursing was thought to be a good job.

That as proved to be true, the siblings agree, with Schiltz noting, Its a privilege to take care of patients who are vulnerable because of illness and unplanned hospitalization. They are trusting us with their care.

Schiltzs sister Sheila Bolduan, 55, also of Caledonia, is an RN in metabolic support services and a nutritionist, while their brother, Jim Scholze of Hokah, is an X-ray technician. The clans oldest, 57-year-old Michelle Rifenberg of La Crescent, was a medical technologist.

They havent put all of their eggs in one basket, either. Rifenberg worked at Mayo and Gundersen Health System before becoming a Republican Minnesota state legislator representing Houston, Winona and Fillmore counties and now is a homemaker.

Sheilas son Patrick is in facilities maintenance at Gundersen, and Jims daughter Taylor is a certified nursing assistant at Gundersen and a nursing student at Viterbo University.

Whats more, Sheila has two daughters who also are RNs at Mayo Maribeth, a technician in neurodiagnostics and sleep disorders, and Anne Felten, in the family birthing center and Jenifers daughter MaryEllen is a medical receptionist.

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Health care runs in the family

Written by grays

June 9th, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Sara – How an Evolutionary Perspective Change My Life – Video

Posted: June 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm

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Sara - How an Evolutionary Perspective Change My Life
During a recent women #39;s retreat Sara speaks about how her association with ALP and Evolutionary Spirituality has changed her life.

By: AwakenedLifeProject

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Sara - How an Evolutionary Perspective Change My Life - Video

Written by grays

June 7th, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Raquel – How an Evolutionary Perspective Changed My Life – Video

Posted: June 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

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Raquel - How an Evolutionary Perspective Changed My Life
During a recent women #39;s retreat Raquel speaks about how her association with ALP and Evolutionary Spirituality has changed her life.

By: AwakenedLifeProject

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Raquel - How an Evolutionary Perspective Changed My Life - Video

Written by grays

June 6th, 2014 at 11:00 am

Teresa – How an Evolutionary Perspective Changed My Life – Video

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Teresa - How an Evolutionary Perspective Changed My Life
During a recent women #39;s retreat Teresa speaks about how her association with ALP and Evolutionary Spirituality has changed her life.

By: AwakenedLifeProject

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Teresa - How an Evolutionary Perspective Changed My Life - Video

Written by grays

June 6th, 2014 at 10:59 am

perspective – Evolutionary Spirituality Homepage

Posted: June 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm

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Expert consensus document

Panel - Michael Dowd, Connie Barlow, Tom Atlee

History of the scientific use of the term, "evolution"

Long before Charles Darwin wrote his "On the Origin of Species," which was published in 1859, natural philosophers (the 'scientists' of the day) used the term "evolution" to refer to developmental unfolding of natural phenomena. In fact, Darwin resisted using the term "evolution" in his great book because his view of the role of "natural selection" in fostering change through time in the living world was far more spontaneous and decidedly not preordained.

Since then, biologists have comfortably adopted the term as their own, and its definitional use in that field has come to imply not only spontaneous but, indeed, random change through time. Since the death of Stephen Jay Gould, esteemed voices within biology have begun to alter the professional and popular understanding of "evolution" to include, once again, a kind of developmental trajectory. Richard Dawkins, Edward O. Wilson, John Maynard Smith, Simon Conway Morris, and Mark McMenamin are among the biologists who track on convergent evolution that is, the compelling evidence in the living and fossil record that an array of very distinct structural, functional, physiological, sensory, and behavioral characteristics have occurred not once but twice, or even many times. The classic example of convergent evolution are the striking similarities between marsupial "mice", carnivores, and other mammals in Australia and the look-alike placental mammals found elsewhere in the world. Among plants, the classic example of convergence are the succulent cactuses and yuccas of the New World compared with the succulent euphorbs and aloes of the Old World.

Is there a direction to evolution?

Considering not only evolutionary convergence but also the history of the rise in diversity and complexity in the living world, Edward O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, and Peter Corning have all written of "progressive" evolution as a well-grounded, indeed compelling, interpretation of the empirical evidence. Three recent, widely respected popularizations of a progressive view of evolution are John Stewart's Evolution's Arrow: The Direction of Evolution and the Future of Humanity, Robert Wright's Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, and Eric Chaisson's Epic of Evolution: Seven Ages of the Cosmos.

The term "evolution" on this wiki thus draws from wide-ranging and inclusive roots of mainstream science a heritage that regards evolution as proceeding very often in spontaneous and unpredictable ways, and very often in pathways that have been walked before and might indeed be expected. It also is grounded in the awareness that evolutionary change in the living, cultural, and cosmic realms is often gradual, and yet often abrupt. Finally, it is grounded in the vast evidence collected that living and non-living systems may change in "progressive" ways that is, building complexity and cohesiveness at ever greater levels, such as the role of symbiosis, or merger, in the evolution of eukaryotic cells or the role of "stellar nucleosynthesis" in the formation of complex atoms. It is also grounded in the recognition that "devolutionary" forces are also at work entropy in the physical world and organ and sensory diminution in the living world when organisms adopt a parasitic lifeway.

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perspective - Evolutionary Spirituality Homepage

Written by grays

June 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Pyramid scam? – Evolutionary psychologists take on the …

Posted: June 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm

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raiders of the lost maslow by Laurence Simon (isfullofcrap)

Abraham Maslow must be turning in his grave. In a recent paper, a group of evolutionary psychologists has set out to replace his famous humanistic theory of motivation with something a lot less human.

You have probably heard of the Hierarchy of Needs. It looks like a pyramid, and its one of the most popular images to come out of modern psychology.

But recently, a group of evolutionary psychologists has sought to overhaul the model. Or as they put it, to renovate the pyramid.

The result is a perfect illustration of the fundamental division within psychology itself.

The Hierarchy of Needs was the brainchild of American psychologistAbraham Maslow (1908-1970).[If you're not familiar with it, check out my summary article: The Hierarchy of Human Needs: Maslows Model ofMotivation.]

Its basically a pyramid-shaped model showing thathuman beings are propelled into action by different motivating factors at different times.

There are sixdifferent levels of motivation (needs), with physical survival and safety needs at the bottom, then rising up through layers of social needs (affiliation, personal esteem), then on to the higher needs known as self-actualization and self-transcendence. Unfulfilled lower needs take precedence over higher needs. The lowest levels predominate in our earlier years, the higher levels only come into focus in our mature years.

Most people seem to find the model intuitively satisfying. It makes a kind of sense.

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Pyramid scam? - Evolutionary psychologists take on the ...

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June 2nd, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Craig Hamilton – Evolving Wisdom – Faculty

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Craig Hamilton is a pioneer in the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality. In his inspired writings, talks, and teachings, he calls us to awaken beyond the confines of the separate ego and dedicate our lives to the further evolution of consciousness itself.

As the founder and guiding force behind Integral Enlightenment, Craig offers spiritual guidance and teachings to a growing international community of thousands of students in 30 countries around the world. Through his online Academy for Evolutionaries, he teaches a series of experiential telecourses guiding participants through a process of spiritual awakening into an "evolutionary relationship to life."

Craig is a founding member of Ken Wilber's Integral Institute, a member of Deepak Chopra's Evolutionary Leaders Forum, and was a participant in the Synthesis Dialogues, a 35-person interdisciplinary think tank presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His celebrated conversations with other luminaries are regularly heard by New Dimensions Radios seven million listeners, and form the basis of two acclaimed webinar series, The Great Integral Awakening: Pioneering A New Spiritual Path, and "Awakening the Impulse to Evolve: The Birth of Evolutionary Spirituality. A contributor to Shift magazine and co-author of IONS 2008 Shift Report, he is also co-writer of the forthcoming documentary film THE SHIFT. Craig lives with his wife, Claire, in San Rafael, California.

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Craig Hamilton - Evolving Wisdom - Faculty

Written by grays

June 2nd, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Evolutionary Psychiatry

Posted: at 6:00 pm

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One of the primary messages out of public health agencies and nutrition gurus from Walter Willett to Michael Pollan is to eat more plants. And, indeed, in many studies, vegetarian* diets are associated with better cardiovascular health, lower BMI, and better health behaviors (less likely to smoke, drink, and participate in shady Rock and Roll activities).

*In most of these studies, vegetarian does not mean vegan, but usually includes the addition of dairy and eggs, and in some cases, also fish and chicken. Many of these studies use the metric of what people self-identify as, rather than what people actually eat. And the large ones are cross-sectional observational studies, which don't give us causation.

I tweeted the paper yesterday, proving that there's nothing a paleo-leaning audience loves more than a study inconsistent with the notion that vegetarian diets are the elixir of eternal health and happiness, at least for humans.

There was also a little twitter skirmish of vegetarian protest. "Correlation doesn't mean causation" one told me. (Yes indeedy! That's why I used the word 'correlates'). Another accused me of being misleading #shame:

I'm happy to let each of you in the twitterverse determine how misleading I am. It would be too cumbersome to define each verb each and every time I use them in 140 characters. Let me qualify that I'm sure there are happy and healthy vegetarians out there, and all my best to continued health and happiness; be sure to get your B12 from somewhere!

Anyway, the researchers did a decent job of getting a nice cross section of people in Austria from all levels of health and socioeconomic classes. Then they pulled out all 343 "vegetarians" (which were vegans, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and lacto-ovo-pescatarians) and matched them with folks from three other self-identified groups that we shall call the virtuous carnivores (lots of fruits and veggies+ meat), the carnivores who eat less meat, and the shameless meat-eaters. Then the researchers measured (or asked about) a lot of health factors using trained interviewers. Body mass index, smoking, alcohol use, how many times a person visited the doctor, whether they got their preventative health care, and what sort of medical conditions and health complains they had.

After a lot of number-crunching, the results were as follows: Self-identified vegetarians had poorer mental health (defined as depression and anxiety), poorer overall health, and poorer quality of life. The other finding was that BMI correlated linearly with the consumption of animal fat (with the shameless carnivores having the highest BMI, the vegetarians the lowest).

What can we learn from this study? Are vegetarians are more likely to be neurotic sick people looking for dietary cures for what ails them, thus come out of the study looking more skinny, unhappy, and unsatisfied? Or are vegetarian diets nutritionally bereft leading to health problems, mental health problems in particular? We will never be able to get that answer from a study of this design.

The Mediterranean diet, as always, has more consistent data for positive benefits for mental and physical health. I tend to think that the diet with a bit of variety and the least processed food will be the healthiest and simplest to explain.

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Evolutionary Psychiatry

Written by grays

June 2nd, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Could biology explain the evolution of religion?

Posted: May 29, 2014 at 9:50 pm

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May 28, 2014 by Robert Young One among many inevitable phenomena? Credit: edwardmusiak, CC BY-NC-ND

For a biologist like me, the interesting questions about religion have always been where did it come from and why did it evolve? I taught evolutionary biology in a Catholic University in the most Catholic country in the world Brazil. Some of my colleagues here in the UK thought that must have been very challenging, but it wasn't. The Brazilian population is unusual in that 60% of the population are religious and also believe in evolution by natural selection.

The development of new religions looks like the way new species are formed and thrive. In case of protestants, the "evolutionary spark" would be Martin Luther with his calls for reform. Similarly the deliberate differences, such as religious rituals, were created to keep the two faiths separated in the same manner that speciation of songbirds often provides related species with similar, but distinct songs so they will not interbreed.

A recent study by Bernard Crespi and Kyle Summers at Simon Fraser University attempts to explain religion in biological terms. They believe that evolution of religion is similar to what happens to biological species when they evolve through "inclusive fitness", which is how biologists describe talk about nepotism.

The goal of all organisms is first to survive and then to create as many copies of their genes as possible, this can be done by reproducing at a high rate or by helping your relatives (who have copies of your genes) to reproduce or survive (inclusive fitness). There is an old Bedouin saying, which sums up what scientists call Hamilton's Rule:

Me against my brothers, me and my brothers against my cousins, me and my brother and my cousins against the world.

So inclusive fitness says we should take into account the copies of our genes in the bodies of relatives when expressing behaviour and help relatives when we are in gene profit.

For most of our evolutionary history we lived in small groups (fewer than 250 individuals) of relatives and in-laws. It was here that religion was first born. Anthropologists believe it started as wisdom being passed down from elder relatives. In many religions, the ancients (the dead) are worshipped as givers of advice. Much of this advice would be moral guidelines about how to treat kin well love thy neighbour and thereby promote copies of your own genes through the survival and reproduction of relatives.

The question is how to get people to believe in and follow such advice, the answer would be to develop the concept that such wisdom comes from super-beings. If such elders were long dead, this creates a concept of a benevolent supernatural parent figure, which are frequent in many religions. Thus, serving God is synonymous with serving your kin circle. Such selfless behaviour is susceptible to exploitation by free riders, but this is counteracted by the overseeing kin circle (the omnipresent God).

To support this evolution of tribal Gods, mechanisms are necessary to promote spiritual feelings (belief in the supernatural). Feeling spiritual has a genetic basis related to the creation of ideas and people with these genes are more likely to be religious. These feelings are also related to the friendliness neuromodulator oxytocin, which can generate a warm feeling of power, and which comes from being part of a large cooperative group.

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Could biology explain the evolution of religion?

Written by grays

May 29th, 2014 at 9:50 pm

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