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Speaking to Krista

Monday, February 11, 2008

Krista Tippett, host of Speaking of Faith on public radio and author of Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters--and How to Talk About It, tells us how to converse about God.

Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters--and How to Talk About It is available for purchase at Amazon.com

Guests:

Krista Tippett

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Comments [44]

Stephen from Manhattan

Mormons present a very interesting take on theodicy as they don't believe god created evil; but rather is bound by opposing forces of good and evil.

Feb. 15 2008 12:07 PM
Dan from NJ

James,

He seems not to intervene at all. And if he's done his best in relaying his message then perhaps we're better off with him keeping his hands in his pockets.

Which religion best preserves and carries forth the teachings of god you speak of?

Dan

Feb. 12 2008 10:43 AM
Maxine from Westchester County, NY

Excellent discussion. Thank you. But I would still prefer to explore the meaning(s) of life and humanity sans the word or concept of a god. My soul and her soul, and yours too, Brian, seem substantial enough to me to deliberate and grow without the introduction or intervention of some supposed outside figure (a god, for lack of a better word).

Also, a suggestion: that Ms. Tippett might use synonyms for the word "complex" or "complicated," because she uses that word quite a lot and it detracts from her otherwise lovely and sensitive use of the English language.

Thank you.

Feb. 11 2008 11:41 PM
James from New York

He doesn't 'intervene' that way. He left the teachings for us to assist each of us in finding our own path to God. he did his part...the rest is up to us.

Feb. 11 2008 08:06 PM
James from New York

He's dead tho......

Feb. 11 2008 04:06 PM
Dan from NJ

James,

We seem to be in agreement. The god/s that most people worship are not defensible by any reasonable or rational thought process.

The experience you describe is one that occurs to a vanishingly small number of people so as to be only academically applicable to any discussion of broad beliefs of religion or god/s.

I also agree that Jesus would be appalled by what has become of his teachings. That he has not intervened sufficiently to correct this is yet more evidence against a belief in his godhood.

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 02:45 PM
Rich from East Isip, NY

One would have thought we have evolved beyond debating the existence of a God floating somewhere out there in the ether. Perhaps more time should be spent defining the true nature of compassion, morality, and love as it relates to mankind as a whole. The first action that must be taken to start us on the search for the above is to free ourselves from any and all organized religious institutions; we can start with a man by the name of Jesus.

Feb. 11 2008 02:01 PM
James from New York

Dan.... Yes, I'm describing a religious experience which is not the norm, but which is the one that many spiritual people have, some of whom, by the quality of the lives they thus live, inspire others to create a 'religion' around them - which is often a distortion of their experience, teaching and life. After they are dead, people then elaborate all sorts of dogmas, institutions, practices etc which were in no way the intention of the original persons who inspired their followers devotions. Then it gets messy. For which, we are mistaken to 'blame' the initial experiencers. I've no doubt that all Jesus, Mohammed or the Buddha et al. would want of their 'devotees' is for them to experience their same blissful, transcendent knowledge of God & live thereafter accordingly. But, just because it is not the usual experience of belief, that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be the one that we all aspire to have.

Feb. 11 2008 01:58 PM
Dan from NJ

James,

One cannot believe in gods, one can only come to know them? Given that, religions would not put such a desperate emphasis on indoctrinating children from as early an age as possible. Also given your proposition, it is convenient that the vast majority of people who come to know gods come to know them in such a way that they are very very closely aligned with one sect or another of a major religion rather than developing into a great diversity of religious constructs. Or is it possible that what you suggest is not what the mass of believers undergo, but is limited to a relatively small population?

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 01:40 PM
James from New York

Nope, that doesn't summarize my 'argument' (see 32 above) as no 'argument' is actually offered because knowledge of God is of a sort other than that attained through logical argument. Knowledge is direct, i.e. by acquaintance, not description (to employ Russell's epistemic distinction). Also sometimes described as the 'mystical' or 'transcendant' direct experience of God. The Buddha described it as awakening to one's own true nature. Every religious tradition has it's own way of describing this epistemological experience of knowing one's deepest self (i.e. God) which is different from 'believing' in God.

Feb. 11 2008 01:14 PM
Dan from NJ

James,

My original summary of your argument is correct then?

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 12:35 PM
Dan from NJ

Paulo,

What you reject is exactly what the insurmountably vast majority of religious humans believe in.

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 12:33 PM
James from New York

Yes, a slight misunderstanding. One may not know now. But this is no assertion that one CANNOT know later. What we know or don't know changes all the time. We are given a chance every day to go beyond where we were yesterday. One learns and grows from birth to death. Every moment presents us with an opportunity to choose a future different from our past. Our control over our 'destiny' is greater than our past's capacity to determine our present. What you know tomorrow is not entirely determined by what you know today. Stuff happens. Pay attention.

Feb. 11 2008 12:12 PM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Declaration of metaphysical matters like the existence of God and the soul are what are truly meaningless as they are not founded in any way upon that which can be perceived and thus is indistinguishable from simple imaginings. That it could be true is irrelevant. You reached truth without reason by mere chance.

Feb. 11 2008 12:11 PM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Well, I think when you start to bring in matters after death, it becomes increasingly difficult to comment. I mean, we have no concept of what occurs after death. I mean, we know what happens to the corpse, but our consciousness is another matter. Even non-existence is beyond our comprehension. Oh sure, we can state that there's nothing and we simply cease to be, but we cannot imagine non-existence because whatever we might visualize will be SOMETHING not no thing.

But I digress, on the subject of what we might call "human gods", that is gods that are likely of human origin, I think their existence is extremely unlikely to the point where a rational person can say with a good degree of certainty that they don't exist. If we choose to define an atheist then as someone who ONLY rejects these gods, then atheism stands on better ground.

Feb. 11 2008 12:09 PM
Lisa from Brooklyn, NY

Your academic explorations are meaningless in the face of faith. G-d where's a T shirt that says, "because I said so." If you can't dig that, then give up on your stupid head games.

Feb. 11 2008 12:04 PM
James from New York

Dan.... My God bears responsibility for nothing AND everything. My God is the source & end of ALL that is, was and ever will be. He/She gets credit for no good thing and blame for no evil. - I know, I know...this is sounding too illogical & paradoxical. Words are adequate & useful tools for use in grappling with day to day matters or communicating mundane truths (tho even there we often fumble badly). But words & ordinary logical discourse are inadequate to the task of comprehending or communicating truth with respect to the Divine. For that, experience alone brings you there - YOUR experience - NOT mine, nor my descriptions of mine nor my feeble persuasive effort. God comes to you, or you to It. No one else can get you there.

Feb. 11 2008 12:02 PM
Dan from NJ

Paulo,

You have not answered my question.

My statement is based on the gods that people believe in to take care of them after death and that they pray to for good grade/good luck/good outcomes of any and all prosaic matters.

If your god/s are an unknowable beings beyond any possible understanding and without interest in the minute to minute activities of believers then you are using the term far differently than most people on the planet do.

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 11:59 AM
Chestine from Brooklyn, NY

Funny NPR never addresses Jews or Orthodox Jews. Why is this left out? That building collapsing and Brian's deductions, were ridiculous. No one mentioned divine disapproval. Read your Bible.

Feb. 11 2008 11:58 AM
Dan from NJ

James,

What you're saying is "If you don't know, you can't know". Now what many would consider a persuasive argument.

Do I misunderstand you?

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 11:50 AM
Jeffrey Slott from East Elmhurst

Human beings need to believe in a god because they have big egos. "Why am I here?, "Is this all there is?", "Why is there suffering, especially my own?" etc. Do other intelligent animals believe in a god? Perhaps they do; but of course we'll never know.

Feb. 11 2008 11:49 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Dan,

But at the same time, you're doing exactly what atheists accuse believers of doing which is impose human values and concepts on their gods. You say that because there has been no intervention to prevent what you seeing as being unethical, that means that a creator being doesn't exist. You're imposing your concepts of right and wrong, and when something fails to materialize according to your values, you declare that it must not be there.

These facts make the proactive, compassionate, anthropomorphized deities of human religions extremely unlikely, but it does not remove the possibility of a creator being that doesn't fit into those paradigms.

It's not that I do believe in God. It's that I think declaring a belief on the subject one way or the other is pointless. Why are we so ready to admit when we don't know something when it comes to other subjects, but when it comes to the question of God, we're more content with fabricating an answer than admitting a lack of knowledge?

Feb. 11 2008 11:48 AM
James from New York

And as to which religion is the true one, it seems obvious that, God or the Creator is not ever on anyone's side. God is always & everywhere both the lion & the gazelle. Knowing that and it's ultimate significance is possible only insofar as we become able to see & experience Creation from God's point of view - (Spinoza's sub specie aeternitas). Find & know your deepest Self within & your view & experience of the world without will be in synch with God's. Get there, and your days of seeing others as enemies or friends, believers or athiests will be behind you.

Feb. 11 2008 11:47 AM
gf from ny

Ken Wilber any thoughts on his unifying thoughts between religion and science?

Feb. 11 2008 11:42 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

The Speaking of Faith web site has a lot to offer, including archived materials for past programs.

Feb. 11 2008 11:42 AM
Dan from NJ

Paulo,

There may be no proof of the lack of existence of gods there are a great many indications of their absence. Look at the great number of tragedies, natural and man made, that any god/s worth any amount of worship should be able to forestall. Either there are no gods or any gods that cause or allow such things are beneath contempt.

Which do you choose?

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 11:42 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Dan,

I'm not disputing that... what I'm arguing against is the idea that because there is no substantive proof of God that therefore it doesn't exist. This is a fallacy. The only thing that can be said is that there is no evidence of God. To draw a conclusion from a lack of evidence is just as foolish as choosing to declare something to be true even in the face of no concrete evidence.

This is especially true when talking about God. I mean, when we're talking about something that can be perceived easily with human organs or human-made instruments, a lack of evidence CAN be evidence of non-existence, but in the case of the origin of the universe and whether there was an intelligence behind it or not.. that's so far beyond our ability to detect at this time.

For that reason, taking the agnostic position is the only one that allows one to remain intellectually consistent.

Feb. 11 2008 11:36 AM
Dan from NJ

Krista,

Which religion is right?

Feb. 11 2008 11:35 AM
chestine from NY

hi Krista
I love your show - esp. loved the one about Buddha as social commentator - sorry for paraphrasing - and that the (universal) dimension of exploration some call "spirituality" or "religion" is given some serious time. I went to a round-the-world french school that taught (Catholic) "doctrine" for younger students, but when you got to high school it was everybody else's religion that we studied. I love your broad, compassionate approach to it all.

Love that paragraph, will have to buy the book. and I listen to your podcasts if I don't wake up early enough. Thanks for all you do.

Feb. 11 2008 11:35 AM
Roger from Bronx

To Dan, I do sometimes listen to her program speaking of faith. It was on that program that I first learned of people such as Jennifer Michael Hecht author of Doubt, not a believer in any traditonal sense of the word. I have also heard several people with a non Christian belief system interviewed on the show. While she may be a believer, she definitely presents various view points of other people of faith and that is why I listen, to gain an understanding of people from varying faith traditions or sometimes no traditions or faith.

Feb. 11 2008 11:35 AM
Dan from NJ

James,

Do you not hold the god or gods you believe in responsible for anything? It sounds as if all bad things have nothing to do with your deities and are the fault of bad people, as if your god/s are not capable of taking action.

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 11:34 AM
Mark from manhattan

Can Krista comment on the Archbishop of Canterbury and his Sharia comments? I can't really figure it out from coverage in the popular press.

Feb. 11 2008 11:34 AM
George from NYC

I am hoping Brian can do a follow up with Krista on her remarkably revealing interview with Ed Husain (who presents a very important perspective for so much of what is in the news now). Perhaps he will be able to do another entire segment on this topic with Mr. Husain.

By the way, this particular interview is a great example of why Krista's show is absolutely relevant to our modern life -- regardless of how one feels about religion or about spirituality.

Feb. 11 2008 11:33 AM
Dan from NJ

MG,

It is possible that she has had such programs as you suggest. In the many episodes I've listened to that has not been the case.

Thanks,

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 11:29 AM
James from New York

As a believer I am forever saddened by the recognition that nearly all non-belief is a consequence of over-reaction to the bad behavior of many believers. Consequently, I have never tried to persuade non-believers to believe. My major concern has been to live as a believer and encourage other believers to so live as to make our behavior an inspiration to belief rather than the impediment it so often is.

Feb. 11 2008 11:29 AM
Dan from NJ

Paulo,

Of course it is not possible to prove a negative. The burden of proof lies with those that make astounding claims. The existence of god or gods is perhaps the most astounding in the history of mankind.

As an aside, while it is not possible that all religions are right, it is possible that all religions are wrong.

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 11:28 AM
Al from Marine Park from Brooklyn

I will remain an agnostic until I get a sensible answer to each of the following;
1. Where in space does the universe begin and end? - and don't give me any of that 4 or more space dimensions nonsense.
2. Why are there matter, energy and forces such as magnetism and gravity?
These are the kind of questions that Einstein might have had in mind when he wrote: "To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious."
As an agnostic I imagine several possibilities:
1. There never was a God? or,
2. There was a God who created the universe, but died in the effort, or shortly thereafter, having neglected to create an ICU right away? or,
3. There was a God who created this universe, gave up on it after seeing what humans had become and moved on to other projects?
4. God (not necessarily a single thing, and more likely a committee), possibly with the help of a contractor who left "town" before finishing the job, created the universe and:
a) that was the limit of God's abilities, everything thereafter was left to chance according to the forces of nature; or,
b) is all powerful, but Earth is just a plaything and people are like toy soldiers that can be manipulated, or, when not manipulated, things to sit back and watch for amusement;
c) has limited powers depending on the situation.

Feb. 11 2008 11:28 AM
Ben Beaudoin from NYC

Krista's show is the best show for looking at the world with a sense of wonder, regardless of what you believe. She get's beyond ego and ideology, and that's what i've come to understand how spirituality should function. I really appreciate that her insight led me there. And also she connects all religions and makes it seems that
God has the ability to speak to all people...
even atheists. I was one before, and now my
spiritual mind is open.

Feb. 11 2008 11:27 AM
Richard Walker from San Francisco

I'd really love to live in a world where people with strong religious beliefs that want to effect policies have to argue their position as though no-one shares their religion.

I.e., please explain why you endorse "abstinence-only" sex education without referring to Christian morality, etc. Personal belief should not trump public health, or scientific discovery.

Feb. 11 2008 11:25 AM
MG from Brooklyn

Dan,

Have you ever listened to her show? She has most definitely had discussions about nonreligious/atheist perspectives (e.g., Harvey Cox, Jr and Janna Levin).

Feb. 11 2008 11:25 AM
Dan from NJ

If you can't blame god for what happens in the world then what is the point of believing in it? If you cannot blame god for the bad you also cannot credit god with the good. That is irrefutable logic. Any other position is contrary to rational thought and indicates nothing more than wishful thinking.

Perhaps "wishful thinking" is what Ms. Tippett could name what she is calling her sophisticated rationalization for a belief in god.

Just a suggestion.

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 11:24 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Well, the problem with atheism is that while it's possible to disprove the existence of certain details in different religions and even the gods of said religion, it's not possible to prove that there is no creative intelligence that made the universe.

Feb. 11 2008 11:21 AM
ab

I don't believe in God and also think the world does not make sense.

Oy...where is Christopher Hitchens when you need him?

Feb. 11 2008 11:14 AM
Dan from NJ

Brian,

Ask her why her program lacks any sense of incredulity or any input from nonreligious or atheist commentators.

She has obviously not examined her belief in god. She had it imposed on her and lacked the strength to abandon it when all her preconceptions supporting her belief turned out to be wrong.

Dan

Feb. 11 2008 11:13 AM

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