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Belief in Scotland

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Graeme Nixon

on 26 January 2016

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Transcript of Belief in Scotland

Belief in Scotland
MA3 Professional Focus

Session 1:
Overview and requirements
An Introduction to Belief
Early belief

David Smith & Graeme Nixon
Session 2
Thinking about our beliefs
The state of belief in Scotland
The Multi-cultural Project

Session 6
Islam in Scotland and the west

Session 5
The New Age?

Session 3
Secular religion?
Moral Issues

Session 4
Religion for atheists?
The future and education?
Course Overview

Spirituality and the evidence of Belief:
"The term applies to all pupils. The potential for
spiritual development is not confined to
religious beliefs….the term needs to be seen
as applying to something fundamental in the
human condition…. it has to do with the unique search for human identity.” (Scottish Government 2005)

Current Statistics:
E-portfolio task:
Upload 3 photos of 'spirituality' in your locality. Explain why you have chosen each one. Send what you think is your 'best' 1 to Graeme (g.nixon@abdn.ac.uk) and he will add them to this prezi for discussion and presentation.
The postmodern moment

What is postmodernity?
“incredulity towards meta-narratives” (Lyotard)

The legitimising stories of the ‘tribe’ are not working as they did, especially given awareness of a multiplicity of seemingly competing stories. This is an age where cultures and narratives interpenetrate and can do so with no physical travel required; a time where there is a crisis of legitimation. For Lyon, in postmodernity “reason loses its capital R, science softens its hard edges, and knowledge is seen, and felt, as (con)textual, local and relative” (2000, p.x).

Micro-narratives’ come to the fore.

This leads to greater individualism (and greater uncertainty)

“The challenge that faces us is to separate the basic principles that might help to guide us through what has been called the moral maze from the kind of absolute systems that claim to know the right answer to every moral dilemma that faces us. Our era is characterised by discordant voices and competing claims, all asserting their right to teach the rest of us how to live and what values to hold” (Holloway 1999).

From belief cornershop …to belief hypermarket

Postmodern mythologies…

Religious Belief?

Symptoms of the postmodern moment?

Intertextuality, rejection of external authority, individual rights and autonomy championed, syncretism, relativism, ludicity (ideological playfulness), death of ideologies, cynicism, suspicion towards any grand narrative or ‘story’
Also…. emphasis on dialogue

Why now?

Multi-culturalism and rejection of traditional meta-narratives - experiences of 1960’s/70’s, now bringing it to their professional lives

Growing emphasis on the micro-narrative or individual.

Growing interest in ‘Buddhism’ and the east

Sociological reasons (technology, materialism and secularisation)

Postmodernism as a context in which to examine the emergence of the new age?

Buddhism as a post modern philosophy?

The drive to connectivity (but with what?)

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? (T.S Eliot, The Rock)

De Botton, A. (2012) Religion for Atheists, London: Penguin
Whether religion is True or not may be secondary to the needs it served:
1. How to live together
2. How to deal with suffering
'Babies thrown out with the bathwater:
Uplifting art
Mental Exercises
1. Community
The socio-economic conditions that made us neigbours no longer exists. Even charity is anonymised. Our professsional lives provide the new community but this is competitive. Religion offer(ed) equality and an escape from worldy claims to status and wealth. Ritual offered "a means of shifting us a few inches off our accustomed egocentric axes". (p37)
There needs to be a location and a choreography of communual behaviour:

2. Forgiveness
Religions offer(ed) a means of regulating human impulses but not allowing them to become dysfunctional. Religions "accept the debt that goodness, faith and sweetness owe to their opposites". (p63)
3. Role Models
Saints, gurus and bodhisatvas
4. Education
A view of education that was holistic and concerned the happiness of learners. Western education is technocratic. Universities do not teach wisdom! Secular education only nourishes the 'soul' of its students accidentally.
5. A realistic myth for fulfilment
Secular sense of entitlement and myth of the perfect life leads to disillusionment. Secular media convinces us that our lives are immediately transformable. "We have sacrificed an opportunity to remind ourselves of quieter truths which we know about in theory but forget to live by in practice". (p138)

6. Spiritual Exercises
Religions recognise that we learn by doing. We need to develop secularised spiritual exercises.
"It is one of the unexpected disasters of the modern age that our new unparalleled access to information has come at the price of our capacity to concentrate on anything much." (p264)
7. Tenderness
There is a loss of being held. Poor attachment is endemic at family and societal level. Religion invents parents for us. Atheists who reject religion as frail have a worldview that cares not for comfort.
8. Pessimism
Excessive hope makes us unhappy! Religion acknowledges the suffering inherent in life. The secular life attempts to shield us from it (a futile task and one that leads to greater crises later).
"Our secular world is lacking in the sorts of rituals that might put us gently in our place. It invites us to think of the present moment as the summit of history, and the achievements of our fellow humans as the measure of all things - a grandiosity that plunges us into continuous swirls of anxiety and envy." (p200)
Are we all therefore 'religious'?
Full transcript