Date: November 03, 2019 09:28AM
This reminds me of an essay entitled “Spiritual Information and the Sense of Wonder,” where theologian, Alister E. McGrath, stated the following:
“Theory arises from a sustained engagement with the natural world, yet the paradox of the explanatory successes of the natural sciences is that theories developed on the basis of engagement with nature often lead us *away* from that engagement with nature. . . . This was the point made in 1814 by John Keats in his famous lines concerning the beauty of the rainbow:
Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings. (Lamia, Pt. II)
Continuing with McGrath: "For Keats, a rainbow can be seen simply as yet another example of the laws of optics in action, preventing the observer from appreciating its full wonder. It becomes just another item in "the dull catalogue of common things," where the important thing is the process of "cataloging," not appreciation of the individual items being addressed.”
McGrath then cites the criticism of this Keats poem by Richard Dawkins:
“Keats has been heavily criticized for theses comments, not least by Richard Dawkins (1998). Dawkins regards Keats's poetry as typical antiscientific nonsense that rests on the flimsiest foundations:
Quoting Dawkins: “Why, in Keats' poem, is the philosophy of rule and line "cold," and why do all charms flee before it? What is so threatening about reason? Mysteries do not lose their poetry when solved. Quite the contrary -- the solution often turns out to be more beautiful than the puzzle. And, in any case, when you have solved one mystery you uncover others -- and perhaps inspire greater poetry.”
Finally, in response to Dawkins, McGrath states:
“Yet there is a deeper issue here that must be addressed by anyone concerned with the spirituality of the natural sciences. For Keats, a rainbow is meant to lift the human heart and imagination upward, intimating the transcendent dimensions of reality, pointing to a world beyond the bounds of experience. For Dawkins, the rainbow remains firmly located within the world of human experience. It has no transcendent dimension. The fact that it can be explained in purely natural terms is taken to deny that it can have any significance as an indicator of transcendence. The angel that was, for Keats, meant to lift our thoughts heavenward, disclosing the transcendent dimensions of reality, has had its wings clipped; it can no longer do anything save mirror the world of earthly events and principles.”
Now, the point of all this, as I see it, and in relation to your post, is that human experience can be very subtle and nuanced--and most importantly can reveal knowledge that transcends the mere "awe" of nature. In other words, no doubt Dawkins can appreciate the raw beauty of a rainbow, say, but his dogmatic insistence that knowledge is reserved for science is what keeps him from both understanding and appreciating the transcendent depth of beauty in human experience. Moreover, perhaps this also applies to the experience of God, and other spiritual experiences.
Nonetheless, when someone assumes a scientific, academic, and objective stance, they align themselves--perhaps temporarily--with facts and evidence. Mormonism in particular, and religion generally, does just that! And the result is disastrous because when you articulate beauty, or God, or a spiritual experience, by a string of adjectives, as you have done here, and then declare that somehow "truth" is preserved, the result is chaos and confusion, lending the attempt to a charge of irrationality.
So, if you want to preserve the transcendent as part of human experience, fine. I am with you. But this does not mean that there are no facts of the matter, particularly in religion, that can be objectively considered and evaluated. That is precisely why we are justified in proclaiming Mormonism as false, regardless of any of its transcendent claims.
(Sorry for the length of this. Much of it was in my database of essays, and as such I may have posted it before. I hope you deem it relevant and worthwhile to your post.)