7/03/2006

Passion for REASON vs Passion for FAITH

I value Reason, perhaps above all else, when it comes to dialog and debate. Religions far too often divide us into separate and definitely unequal communities.. Reason allows for exploration of what makes us all human, what we have in common and why we are more apt to survive if we accept our common humanity. I wish to share with anyone who is reading my blog a program on TV that has satisfied my soul and intellect more than anything I have seen on the tube in a long while. Bill Moyers has returned to PBS with a series called, Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason. This is how he introduced the series.

"With the buzz around the book and then the film version of THE DA VINCI CODE reaching a fever pitch and The PASSION OF THE CHRIST ranked among the 10 highest-grossing movies ever, what is it about religion that’s got America hooked? It's an old debate between absolutes, the contrasting viewpoints of belief and disbelief that stirs the passions. From the popular to the public square—79% of self-identified evangelical Christians cast ballots for President Bush in 2004—the tug of war between reason and faith is the undercurrent of our society in what some see as a fundamentalist era. On one end of the spectrum people say, "Only religion counts." On the other end, "Only reason counts." How do we keep the public space between reason and faith, where most of us spend our lives, from becoming a no-man's land of constant warfare?" -- Bill Moyers (Read the full essay.)

His guests to date have been Salman Rushdie, Mary Gordon, Colin McGinn, Jeanette Winterson and Will Power. Some are believers and some are not. All are articulate and people of profound thought and reason. I rivetedted to the TV every Friday evening at 9 PM on PBS (channel 13 in the NY Metropolitan area). I believe you can either see or listen to the old interviews at the site I linked above. I highly recommend you catch them and those to be aired in the coming weeks.

9 comments:

Dave said...

Alas, Moyers is a suspect person to those of us on The Right--a man with Southern Baptist roots who clearly prides himself on having "risen above" such allegedly primitive thinking. He is a liberal speaking almost exclusively to liberals (as is, for that matter, PBS itself). America doesn't yet have, and still needs, a true gap-closer.

Brandon Bales said...

Part of the problem I believe is a false epistemology introduced by Plato,that, unfortunatly becomming entrenched in Christian thinking, became the main thinking mode for occidental society. Namely that of intuition. We all have different intuition (suposedly)and Since you can't prove your intuition is more accurate than anothers, people get out the guns. A few years later Kant, observing the conflict between science and religion said, we understand science through rational thought, and we can't understand religion because it's part of a world that's not understandable. So science advances, our understanding religion doesnt realy advance at all, and we're left with this big rift between rational though and religious thought. But really the realy problem is we must redifign HOW we know what we know and as we do we find there is no conflict between rational thought and religion, only rational thought and unrational thought. I submit there is nothing in religion that is inherently irrational. The real issue is bad thinking versus good thinking. You can find both in science religion politics formal logic mathmatics etc. etc.

Sherril said...

Dave,
I must say, I have tried to remain very polite in these discussions, but if Bill Moyers is, as you say, a suspect person to you people on the Right, I truly believe there in no hope for you people on the right at all. I see no intelligence only rhetoric and sticking to old conservative, elitist, keep the others out beliefs. These discussions Moyers has had are intelligent, engaging and well worth the attention. You are so quick to generalize and put people in square boxes. I am sorry if I am being rude, but it is just too frustrating. I am an intelligent person and though I have my beliefs, if I hear something that opposes them and it is well thought out and intelligent, I listen. I am beginning to think that you do not. It looks to me that your predetermined beliefs and prejudices keep out any other ideas. Truly, if Moyers has, again as you say, risen above his Babtist roots, more power to him. If he came across as a Bible thumping Baptist, keeping women in their place and sending us Jews to hell for not aceepting Jesus, than Thank God that Moyers has risen above it. I really don't understand your take on these things. There can be no gap closer without intelligent discussion and some modicum of open-mindedness.

sherril

Sherril said...

Brandon,
Where did you read here that the conflict between Reason and FAith implies that Religion is irrational. First of all, if you watched the Bill Moyers Program, which was truly the intent of this post, i. e. to get more people to watch it because I have found them so valuable, I wanted to share it with others, then you would know that this isn't at all the intent of the discussions. Quite to the contrary, in fact. AS for my personal belliefs, I think I am saying that I apprecaite reason above all else and find that Religion tends to divide people. NOthing in that states that Religion is inherintly irrational. And it goes without saying that there is both good and bad thinking (though I would put it differently and say intelligent and ignorant thinking) in all things.
Sherril

Dave said...

Oh, I did press a hot button or two of yours, didn't I? Not that doing so was my intention. Your reaction is also understandable: we all hate it when our personal heroes get criticized, and we can't understand the point of view of the criticizers. Surely they must be blind not to see that which is so abundantly clear to us.

Moyers' "schtick" has always been to promote a specific ideology (in his case, liberalism) under the guise of merely being thoughtful and reasonable. It never seems to come up that he first made his mark in the world as a key aide to LBJ, and that he remains a true believer in programs that have clearly failed and a mindset whose time in history has come and gone. He has also found ways for his programs to make him very rich, even though they were, and are, partially funded through federal tax dollars.

I have enjoyed many of the former programs of the "Now" series. Moyers' work is, as you say, usually thoughtful and interesting. It's just that I think his conclusions and solutions are wrong, and you think they're right. I'm merely pointing out that his feet, as is the case with all of us, are partially made of clay.

It is a human need to put some people on pedestals. You do it, and I do it, and one of yours is Moyers. You, the Jewish girl, pedestal the alleged Baptist Moyers, and I, the Gentile boy, do the same for thought-provoking Jewish neo-cons such as Irving Kristol.

Maybe we're both really screwed up!

Sherril said...

Well, Dave, I have to admit that I must thank you. I don't agree with you, mind you, but I do thank you. Before I tell you why I thank you, let me correct you on one thing. Though I typically enjoy Bill Moyers programs on PBS and I particularly have enjoyed this latest one, On Reason and Faith, I do not hold Moyers as one of my heroes. I actually don't know all that much about him and have not seen enough of his programs. What I have seen, I have thought intelligent and thoughtful and thought provoking. Many of his programs, like On Reason and Faith are much more about his guests than about him.

Why I thank you is that you provoke me to do research and in so doing, I have learned a bit more about Moyers (nothing that makes me like him less) AND I have come across some conservative and right wing blogs. I bookmarked one, whose name escapes me now, so I can return to it to see what the other side is saying (of course I could always turn on Fox News for that, but anyway). The fact is that I really do want to understand the other sides of issues and how conservatives think, whether it be to help clarify my own thinking or to inform me about things that I don't know about. I actually never thought about Bill Moyers being on the right or left. To me he only seemed, as I have said, thoughtful and intelligent, and frankly at times a bit boring for my taste. Now that I know that the Right sees him as a representative of the Left, I guess that only makes me more proud to be part of that political ideology. So, thanks.

Sherril

Brandon Bales said...

You mentioned that religion tends to divide people, but why does it do that? Primarily because of how religious people understand their knowlege of truth as intuition. This means that whatever one intuits in the subjective mind is the reality and has no responsibility to the group or objective reality. Religious people(and here I also mean athiests, and agnostics who have a belief system that governs their actions)need to change their epistemological approach. This is the primary thrust of my response and a close reading of it will reveal that it addresses quite directly the question of why religions divide. Also why discussions on ideologies (like the one between you and dave) are so often reduced to polemics.
P.S. by way of further explanation, the bit about Kant is just an example showing the polemics between science and religion, and how both of these ideologies act as polarized intuitions--people divided, when they try and talk to each other.

Brandon Bales said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sherril said...

Brandow,
Was about to respond, but the thunder and lightening outside is making me think I s hould shut down this machine. So later......

sherril