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 freedom of speech l liberty l democracy l solidarity l spirituality


When Napoleon Bonaparte asked Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749 - 1827) the place of "God" in his equations of the celestial mechanics of the Solar system, the latter replied his theories had no need for "that hypothesis".

In the West, for the sake of liberty, and as a reaction against millennia of fideist, atavistic politics, state and church were finally divorced. What a tremendous achievement !

For Montesquieu (1689 - 1755), in order to confuse & defuse any attempt of a minority to devise a legal "coup d'Etat", the secular state must be ruled by the separation of powers. It must be in the vital interest of each independent power to maintain the institutional functioning embodied by the State (or "abstract" intersubjectivity).

In this laic state, binding all persons on its territory equally and expecting a sense of fair citizenship, the politicians are not controlled by religious potentates. Indeed, religious dogma no longer rules, and the despotism of the church(es), the "holy" inquisition, the deprivation of the right to decide, the chaining of the free will, the contempt for the individual, the censorship, the double talk, the subjugation of women & minorities like midwifes, witches & gays, the persecution of other faiths, etc. were finally, after a long struggle, overcome, positing modern (postmodern, hypermodern) Western culture and its democratic, multicultural, pluralistic & rational mentality (embracing global ecology & human rights).

Secular states and their dignitaries operate without the Divine. In secular thought, nobody is entitled to monopolize religion. Only an independent state guarantees the freedom of religion, and vice versa. Secularization embraces this freedom. Like art and the freedom of speech, faith receives its own domain, outside the political arena of direct, executive power.

However, religious political parties, religious inspirations and religious lobby work remain part of the order of the day, as are praying & blessing politicians ...

Atheism is not outlawed, but protected by law. For extreme atheists, the Divine cannot be a reference. Can spirituality, or man's emancipation towards and direct experience of the Divine, be reduced to wishful thinking (Feuerbach), social addiction (Marx/Lenin) or sublimation (Freud) ? I think not. The mystics with their Visio Dei experimentalis testify of another perspective.

Whether the Divine exists or not, is something each human being is called to find out. In itself this question belongs to metaphysics. No preparation is sufficient. No preparation is useless. If the Divine exists, then It, He or She is surely able to answer an earnest desire ...

In a critical science, the Divine is symbolized and its experience studied. The spiritual function is part of our human constitution and interconnects with sensation, affection, cognition, volition & consciousness.

Hypothesis : despite Laplace's mechanistic view, to truly excell in liberty, democracy and solidarity, spirituality must be part of the equation. However, this does not endorse the outdated, unscientific views of organized (mostly theist) religions, but is more in tune with a mystical "Einsteinian" view on religion (as can be found in non-theist Buddhism).


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initiated : 11 XI 2004 - last update : 01 I 2020
© Wim van den Dungen