We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, February 5, 2022

R.E. Slater - Of Paradigm Shifts and Relationality


Of Paradigm Shifts and Relationality

by R.E. Slater
February 5, 2022


If there has been a common theme over the last several articles it has been in "observing how the relationality of our cosmos and world is the key signifier in discovering its operational secret, especially in relational process systems, as has been shown across the last several articles focusing on 1) the interior mindfulness of the human conscience with its surroundings; 2) reflections on the interplay between light and beauty; 3) the relationality inherent within the early quantum universe and how it operates because of it; and lastly, 4) in observing relationality across social interactions of human societies with one another:


In the last article above it concluded with relational observations that an ecological civilization must necessarily accommodate in apprehending itself as a functioning, and functional, interactive part with nature, rather than as a force opposed to nature structured to work against the natural (relational) interactions between earth, water, and sky:


[In conclusion] our review of the existing bodies of literature that take relational approaches to ontology, epistemology, and ethics relevant for sustainability has identified important developments, common themes, and patterns that constitute characteristics of a relational paradigm (and possible shift towards a relational paradigm) in sustainability research. Despite differences between the various perspectives cited, all describe a paradigm that (i) is grounded in a relational ontology, (ii) emphasizes the need for understanding human and non-human nature as mutually constitutive, and (iii) values more-than-human relations.

Our analysis shows that relational ontologies aim to overcome the bifurcation of nature/culture and various other dualisms (e.g. mind/matter, subjectivity/objectivity) shaping the modern worldview. Differentiated (as opposed to undifferentiated) relational ontologies respect the integrity of individuals while understanding how their being is fundamentally constituted by relations of all kinds. In this context, speculative realism, process philosophy, new materialism, and indigenous and religious wisdom traditions are systems of knowledge providing particularly well-developed understandings of relational ontology relevant to [ecological] sustainability.

Our review also shows that relational approaches to epistemology account for the observer’s role in shaping knowledge; acknowledge that agency is distributed across networks; view objects as [relational] assemblages of humans and nonhumans; increasingly focus on transdisciplinary methods to cut across disciplinary boundaries; and use diffractive methods to integrate different ways of knowing.

Lastly, our review shows that relational approaches to ethics include non-anthropocentric perspectives; value non-human nature in non-instrumental terms; use intersectional methods to analyze the inter-relations between social and ecological issues; and contextualize human–nature interactions in light of asymmetrical power relations and dynamics between assemblages or networks of interest.


In today's discussion I would like to speak to the significance of this paradigm shift within the observational body of science. Without a postmodern/metamodern perspective of itself, science would be unable to adequately reflect upon its shortness of ontological perspective. But with it, when coupled with process thought, the body of science in it's interactivity with itself may shift again through the mere reflection of how intersectional relationality lies at its heart of projection across all disciplines, testing, speculation, and theoretical observations.

And as regarding process theologies across the world's religions, and specifically to the multi-racial - or, polyplural - interaction which cultures must adapt and assimilate to in order to heal and move forward with one another, the mere observation of remaining open to possibility and opportunity for greater solidarity with the universe and each other, is the very redemption which the Christian bible hints at through God's relational interaction with man and universe. For without societal comportment with one another and all things non-human, the world lies fractured and without solidarity as a single, functioning redemptive unit allowing difference and sameness to work together in wholistic health and healing, hope and vision. Relationality therefore, is the key, not only within the corridors of science, but to human ecological societies needfully responding to concurrent relational incidents and events.

R.E. Slater

 

To fellow Christian readers:
What does relational process theism mean when set in an integrative context with all things religious and non-religious? Statedly, a proper theology must include not only itself - but all things of this world and without, cosmically. It would be both nonsense, and nonsensical, to speak of a God so completely exterior to creation as to be wholly divested from - and relationally disconnected to - such a creation. For this type of God, though perhaps real, cannot be real to us, as His creation if separated from it. Only conjecturally hypothetical and unknown to us.
When we speak of God, we must speak of a God who is immanently, intrinsically, and intimately related within, to, and with, his creation who is wholly in relationship to all its created orders. To address God outside his creation holds no meaning for us beyond our philosophical prejudices which are mere conjectures of religious dogma.
God is therefore a relational God who relates to us within the relational universe we have been created from within its divinely naturalistic processes. Outside our creational context we may only speculate about God's "godness" separated from any contextual relationships.
Hence, so much talk about heaven or hell, good or evil, is useless apart from contextuality in how these abstractions play out within a relational world interacting within its parts and structural whole. This is the difference between Christianised Platonic projections and a process-based Christianity.
As example, when Jesus says to love one another. These are contextual projections upon a world of relationships, both human and non-human. Cosmic abstractions are meaningless without real-world relational uplift. Belief without earthy interaction is meaningless. A proper theology is integrally a relational faith comporting with all earthy subjects and not simply one alone with itself, its dogmas, or its otherworldly projections. - re slater


* * * * * *



A Postmodern Perspective on Science

April 19, 2020


For the vast majority of those living in the developed world, science has long since supplanted religion as the source of truth about how things are in the world. It’s seemingly unstoppable march towards more and better knowledge about everything from the laws dictating matter trillions of miles away to the best way to organise institutions like schools and hospitals, it seems, has improved the lives of everyone on the planet on a scale unparalleled in history. [But] in its naïve optimism, however, this view misses some of the insidious realities of the field’s unchallenged supremacy over modern society.

First, it is vital to recognise the flaws in the commonly held belief that throughout history, science has moved continuously in a perfect, unblemished and straight line towards ‘progress’, giving us objective truth about the world regardless of society or time. In actual fact, science both periodically undergoes complete ‘paradigm shifts’, as outlined by Thomas Kuhn, and has operated under entirely different societal ‘epistemes’, as outlined by Michel Foucault, producing a very different picture of the nature and validity of science to that which science itself generally presents.

‘Paradigm shifts’ refer to conscious scientific revolutions which occur when an issue arises in a given scientific discipline which challenges the dominant scientific model of the time, which causes another system to replace it, in the process fundamentally changing the nature of the discipline altogether. Examples include the ‘Copernican Revolution’, which replaced the dominant geocentric model of the universe with a heliocentric one, and the replacing of Newtonian gravity with Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
‘Epistemes’ refer to the broader, yet perhaps more important, unconscious biases which affect everyone, including scientists in a given age which, although they do not consider them due to the degree with which they are ingrained in society, fundamentally impact their work.
An example of this might be a scientist’s decision to get dressed before going to work, a decision so automatic that they would not even entertain the possibility not to, but one which nonetheless impacts the nature of their research. Thus, it can be seen that science today is not exceptional to science in the past; just as we now see gaping flaws in the way in which science was conducted in every past society, so too is modern science subject to the arbitrary contingencies of its time.

In order to understand the true extent of the impact of this widely held but mistaken view — that science’s claims are objective, universal and incontingent — the true nature of modern power must also be understood. Most think of power, even today, as top-down and punitive in nature, something which was at its most extreme in the middle ages when all-powerful kings were able to brutally torture men for the pettiest of crimes. However, a new, far more pervasive, effective and in some ways insidious kind of power has developed since the enlightenment centred on science and its tendency to classify the world, including human beings.

This new form of power, which Foucault called ‘biopower’ is, in contrast to the traditional kind, constructive in that it uses contemporary scientific discourse and cultural norms to turn people into create willing participants in the system of power rather than using force to scare people into submission to the system. This can be seen in the way that the findings of the social sciences dictate the goals of the most important institutions in a society, such as the school, hospital or prison, as well as the method used to realise them with maximum efficiency. In the modern day this method is comprised of three vital parts — surveillance, normalisation and examination — which serve to calculate, categorise and optimise people according to the standards of science, a practice which was first implemented in prisons and asylums, but which can now be seen at all levels of society.

This system is particularly effective due to its ability to make individuals believe that the impetus towards acting in the interest of the system of power stems from themselves and their communities, both of which internalise norms dictated by the sciences, and monitor themselves to conform to these norms. This might manifest itself, for example, in someone trying to reform themselves to work harder and longer for a firm because they believe it would make them ‘better’. Thus, the way in which science understands a subject, for example sexuality, is instrumental in determining people’s own self-worth, identity and, in turn, their actions. This includes whether they are deemed ‘normal’, a definition based upon the ease with which they are moulded into useful and controllable citizens. Indeed, because the very parameters, language and categories available for understanding the world are dictated by the sciences, it can become almost impossible to understand anything, even oneself, independent of the dominant narratives which exist in the sciences.

Furthermore, the implications of such a diffuse, decentralised system of power, emanating both from the thousands of scientific thought leaders entirely unaware of their impact as well as the millions of institutions complicit in normalising these leaders’ findings, becoming dominant are huge. In the past, when a people were dissatisfied with the state of their society, it was clear that the ruler was to blame and, whilst it was very difficult to do so, it was clear that deposing him would enact real change. Today, however, political institutions are just one part of an impossibly complex mechanism of biopower, inseparable even from our own conceptions of ourselves, which optimises and controls our lives according to the conclusions of the sciences, and which affects us innumerable times daily. As such, effecting real change when the system is failing is far more difficult.

Whilst this diagnosis of the power science has over society appears damning, and one might assume that its natural conclusion would be to attempt to do away with its influence altogether, this is not the case. Much like religion before it, science is simply a framework which human beings use to understand the world — destroying its influence would mean replacing it with another, potentially more harmful framework and system of power. Instead, we should aim to recognise both its contingency and its normalising power in order to control its damage in the most sensitive areas.

Joseph Pahl