EvolutionarySpiritualityAndNewRealism

NewRealism suggests to become more scientific in method (testing assumptions, reversible action) but also to give more value to psychological realities, religions and visions of the future. (NewRealism)

EvolutionarySpirituality is a movement in thought that LionKimbro has identified in himself (fairly recently,) and in society, in varying degrees throughout history, and in much greater degree in the last couple of decades.

NewRealism appears to the author of this page (LionKimbro) to be a platform of thought, and the page NewRealism reads: “is an alternative answer to the problems of Modernism (as depicted in PostModern).” NewRealism was written by HelmutLeitner. Lion has an open question, about whether HelmutLeitner sees NewRealism as a creation of his own, original to him, or as a creation of his own, based on observations of a trend in social thinking (perhaps thinking whereabouts ChristopherAlexander,) or what.

This page is about how LionKimbro sees NewRealism fitting in part and parcel with EvolutionarySpirituality. Lion asserts that they are both made of the same stuff – the thoughts brought about by the same world conditions, and thus reflect each other in each other.

By the Points

“By the Points” refers to the bullet point items HelmutLeitner listed in NewRealism.

Here’s how I see significant substantial overlap, between NewRealism, and EvolutionarySpirituality:

Eyes, Hands, Hearts, and Minds

Rational thinking (a theory, a philosophy) is not enough to create a humane world. It is not something static but a dynamic process that needs many eyes, hands and hearts in addition to the minds.

Check.

A big part of the EvolutionarySpirituality program is a holism that stresses the heart, the intuition, and actions in the material world.

TeilhardDeChardin: It is not our heads or our bodies which we must bring together, but our hearts. . . . Humanity. . . is building its composite brain beneath our eyes. May it not be that tomorrow, through the logical and biological deepening of the movement drawing it together, it will find its heart, without which the ultimate wholeness of its power of unification can never be achieved?

So, there it is.

For the “many eyes,” I’m looking at “The Wisdom of Life’s Collective Intelligence,” in MichaelDowd’s book, which is endorsing OpenSociety.

I can find more support if you like.

One Reality, Viewed Differently

It makes sense to understand the world as one reality (the view of science and law) that is just viewed differently.

And this is definitely a mark of EvolutionarySpirituality. It takes account of the one reality through multiple lenses, and presentations explicitly embrace this. I’m not thinking of MichaelDowd speaking of how all the different religions saw the same truths about the world, and couched them in their own languages and needs and environments, though I’m sure I’ve read this sort of multiple-wholes view from many other EvolutionarySpirituality writers listed as well. They are not just talking about religious multiplicity, but the diversity of concerns looking at the world.

Perceptions and Communications

Each human mind has his own perception of the world and naturally communicates, learns and shares views.

This too is an explicit part of the EvolutionarySpirituality program. Happy Feet focuses on a different communications system between penguins and between humans.

Realism, Not Materialism

Realism doesn’t mean materialism. Many valuable things can not be measured, produced or sold as consumer products.

Yes! The “materialism” of TeilhardDeChardin & the Evolutionary Spirituality is about what you call Realism, not consumerism.

Dreams, Visions, and Enthusiasm

Dreams and visions are psychological reality, forces that may change the future. Little new can be accomplished without enthusiasm.

Absolutely, and TeilhardDeChardin speaks as such, when he says that the next step in evolution is an option, a choice. He wrote about “architectures of the spirit,” by which he was referring to psychological reality. Getting engaged, creating plans, and so on– are all part of EvolutionarySpirituality.

Realism

Dreams and visions must somehow fit to physical reality. The dream of flying like a bird had to meet the physical laws of aerodynamics to become real. The dream of a perpetuum mobile violates physicals laws and will never become real. There is the problem of recognizing empty hype.

Yes! Most idealists have fled the material world, because they are abhorred by natural impulses, given to us by the material world and body. People look elsewhere, to flee the material, but can they be effective? EvolutionarySpirituality says, “No, we need to be connected with this, and understand it, and understand how our the sacred is present in the material. This is the only story there is.” And TeilhardDeChardin shows the sacred at work, in evolution. It says, “Look at how simplistic those explanations are; It takes a world and complexity, for spirituality to exist.”

???

Truth is not absolute if - going beyond closed mathematical or logical systems - it talks about the reality, although there is knowledge that is almost beyond doubt (like the molecular structure of matter). Hard facts can’t be changed by constructivism.

OK, I just don’t understand this point, so I can’t comment on it. EvolutionarySpirituality agrees that hard facts can’t be changed by imagination.

Evolution

Evolution is learning by trial and error (courageous hypothesis and strict testing; falsification; see KarlPopper / Darwinists might say: mutation and selection / maybe: planful exploration and learning from results). We can’t remove exploration, errors or testing if we want to advance.

It should require no explanation – Evolutionary Spirituality people emphatically agree, and recite.

Science Develops

Science is not truely objective, but it must seek this ideal. Tools and language elements influence our perception, but they don’t change what exists in ways that we can’t take into account.

Yes, yes, yes.

This is a particular point, but I think the Evolutionary Spirituality people would basically agree. If I searched a long time, I think I could find something voiced there to back this up.

Evolutionary Spirituality people think that the scientific program basically works. They aren’t PostModerns? who think it’s all a trick. In fact, Evo-Spir criticisms of PostModern thought is probably the best place to find this position.

Taking Subjectivity Seriously

Subjective judgments can yield objective results. ChristopherAlexander writes about the necessary methods and processes and how to connect the individual to the whole.

Strong agreement in the Evolutionary Spirituality paradigm on both counts.

I mean, here’s TeilhardDeChardin, in very similar structure: “The time has come to realise that an interpretation of the universe--even a positivist one--remains unsatisfying unless it covers the interior as well as the exterior of things; mind as well as matter. The true physics is that which will, one day, achieve the inclusion of man in his wholeness in a coherent picture of the world.” (The Phenomenon of Man, 1955, p. 36)

I’m not looking hard to find these quotes; I just gave a 1 minute long google to find this. I’d say there’s a pretty strong resonance between his thinking and NewRealism thinking.

Experience Yields Patterns

New concepts are not automatically better, maybe simple or long-knows things (traditional architecture, natural food, beauty in the arts, experience of older people) are currently underestimated. Only experience can yield patterns.

A big part of how I know this is in agreement, is by the people in Evo-Spir citing ChristopherAlexander, studying indigenous culture, and so on. PeggyHolman spends her time documenting successful group processes and so on. All of this stuff, is part of the EvolutionarySpirituality program. TeilhardDeChardin wanted to look at the experiences of the entirety of history, geological, biological; If he didn’t look at architecture, I’m sure he’d wanted to.

Value the New

New concepts are necessary and should be valued, because numerous courageous explorations are necessary to find a few true innovations.

I don’t know that the new-old distinction is critical to EvolutionarySpirituality traditionally, that may be something that is emerging right here locally. Regardless, it doesn’t seem “out of reach.”

Goal: Open Society

The goal is an OpenSociety (OpenSource …) optimising individual freedoms, economic efficiency and social fairness.

Most of the EvolutionarySpirituality people I’ve listed are into this; They see things very holistically.

Some of things that are considered “goals,” --

In the EvolutionarySpirituality groups, health of the environment is presently a very big deal.

Responsible Institutions

The state (constitution) is a construction that serves its individuals, it is not beyond morality. The United Nations organization is a natural extension that serves the same purpose. Institutions are not above the individuals but responsible to the individuals.

Yes, yes, yes; All par for the course. Evo-Spir people regularly talk about this stuff. I know, because I go to conferences with these people, and hear them say this stuff. It’s so well understood, they rarely speak it.

New Media, New Society

Fundamental changes become possible because new media and communication structures, social software, blogs, wikis … empower the individual and small groups to develop views and to question everything.

Basically, TeilhardDeChardin said that the body of man has evolved as far as it will go. He said the next step of evolution will be social. He directly referred to communication technologies as he said this. He didn’t say “empower the individual and small groups to develop views and to question everything,” but I don’t think he needed to speak in that detail, either.

Evolutionary Spirituality people today point to things in that level of detail.

Multi-Culturalism

Multi-cultural societies are a reality. This requires that we have to accept many world views as basis for “heart”: christian, islamic, buddhist, atheistic, pantheistic, communist or whatever.

See above, under “Multi-Religious Backdrop.” This is exactly what Evolutionary Spirituality people are saying.

What is Heart?

What is “heart”? To care? To share? To be open for participation?

Good question, one held by Evo Spir people. (But not held by all people, or all philosophies – Evo Spir people put special emphasis on the heart.)

Religion is a Quality

Religion is not the matter of a label but of quality. God is not a possession that one can claim. But one also can’t separate from the abstract concept of God (just as one can’t deny to be human).

I think we just had a whole conversation on the “G” word. I think you would agree that I agree. I’m just now remembering Michael Dowd telling the room, “We can’t help but personalize. We personalize everything. We can’t help but have a relationship with life and the universe.” He was making exactly this point.

“If by God you mean something that can be either believed or disbelieved in, that is precicely what I am not talking about.”

I don’t know about you, Helmut, but I find strong agreement between these phrasings of EvolutionarySpirituality and NewRealism.

Open to All

Our societies and systems should be open for everyone willing to participate peacefully (BarnRaising, AssumeGoodFaith).

There’s a whole chapter in MichaelDowd’s book, called “The Wisdom of Life’s Collective Intelligence.” It’s about just this.

“Conversations and Creative Emergence.” “To harvest the gifts of diversity and dissonance, societies would put in place institutions to gather the wisdom of creative interactions. Creative interaction almost always centers on conversation. Individuals have a chance not only to speak but also to listen and consider new possibilities. Conversations that promote understanding of everyone’s gifts and limitations serve the whole.”

It cites just before: “Insight, I believe, refers to the depth of understanding that comes by setting experiences, yours and mine, familiar and exotic, new and old, side by side, learning by letting them speak to one another.” Mary Catherine Bateson.

So, you can see how, identifying strong sympathy on every single one of your points, I would say, “Wow, they’re so similar; I’d say NewRealism is a co-movement with EvolutionarySpirituality.”

You may (may) envision that NewRealism is your creation. But I don’t see it that way: I see it as an expression of a multi-decade ZeitGeist, as something that emerges from the prior conditions of thought and the present realities, and that awakens in many people. ChristopherAlexander overlaps with NewRealism. So does EvolutionarySpirituality. So do a lot of things. There is a trend in thought. We have named it differently, and focus on different aspects of it, but I see an essential unity.

If I go to a sustainability conference in Seattle, I am bound to see all these EvolutionarySpirituality things pop up. When I go to the magazine rack at an ordinary Borders, I see all these magazines dedicated to these lines of thought. Whether the movement is “unified” or not, it doesn’t matter to me; The 60’s counter-cultural movement wasn’t “unified,” either; My mom didn’t carry cards registering her as “bona fida hippy, #598469.” But the movement was clearly there.

If you need more or deeper documentations of unity (how these ideas connect and show up together,) I would be happy to do so; Here is your “half hour research study.” If you need me to (if you would be persuaded by) a deeper study, showing similarities in greater detail, I’d be happy to make a running study of it, identifying each of your points, and keeping notes wherever NewRealism points show up in the EvolutionarySpirituality literature.

Lion, thank you for documenting this so completely. No, I do not feel as owner of the idea of NewRealism, although I’d like to keep it on track. Actually there was just a feeling that something was wrong, that I can now better express. The page NewRealism mainly talks to scientifically minded people, arguing to be more open to “spiritual” phenomena and values. In this sense, of course, any religous movements will welcome that. The other side, the importance of concreteness in spiritual movements is mentioned, but not ellaborated nearly as well. I think this is work to do. It will then be seen, whether specific religious movements will align with that too.

Yay!

I look forward to it. :)

Thank you, Helmut!

At this point, it’s not clear where to start and how to define the targets. Possible directions are probably (brainstorming):

  • “action > confession” - membership to a religious/spritual group is important for the real world commnuity, but not important to the spiritual goals. actions are more important than confessions
  • “tolerance”, that means to tolerate other confessions as alternative ways to the recognition of the same god (wholeness of the universe). E. g. as to tolerate the love and marriage between partners of different confessions. Say: “different religions are different ways to the same God/universal_wholeness”.
  • “protection of life”. The common denominator of spiritual worldviews is the appreciation for the existing process of the universe and of life in it. So under no condition, especially not religious reasons, should the life of a human be taken.
  • forget “crown of creation”. The universe is (almost?) infinitely large. This means infinite chances for life to develop (if we wouldn’t not accept this, we have to assume that the universe as a creation is 99.999999999% a barren dumping place for stones and other inorganic matter), many examples of extra-terrestrial life, less and more intelligent than us. So the access to God and the appreciation of different stages of development as of equal value is maybe essential.

All these points have a strong “realism” component.

HelmutLeitner, this text has been sitting in my buffer for days now. I haven’t hit “save,” because I’ve been wondering: “Is this NewRealism or not?”

Well, just consider these ideas of things that I like, and then see if they fit or not. If they don’t, I won’t be sad when they’re not included.

I have been investigating SpiritualCommunity lately, and that colors my brainstorming:

  • holistic service – to self, community, neighbors, city, state and / or country, whole Earth, Universe – in equal proportion
  • gods are ideas – understanding the power of ideas in the interplay of life; understand psychology, language, metaphor, symbols, and meaning, and the affect they have on us, and us on them
  • church and/or community – the Earth requires more community and less isolation, congregation with others is essential, even when difficult
  • individualism – individuals must never lose the RightToLeave; if spirituality does not evoke greater health and liveliness in the individual, it is not serving the individual
  • creativity – nurture and include the creativity, the life energy of the individual and the society as a whole
  • higher purpose – spirituality exists to connect us with society and the world, and to call us to our higher purpose, however we intuit our authentic niche of fulfillment
  • realizing – love for god (the whole, existence) is realized in action (similar / same as “action > confession” above)
“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – G. K. Chesterton
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