Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic's Quest PDF/EPUB ✓

Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic's Quest Michael Krasny is a self proclaimed agnostic and this is a glimpse into his world of certainty in uncertainty It is also a view of the materialist s experience of the world To Krasny only that which can be proven by empiricism is given any credence His heroes are existentialists and absurdists He does a very good job of presenting and defending their view He is obviously extremely well read and has put a lot of thought into why it is impossible to know if anything beyond the material world Michael Krasny is a self proclaimed agnostic and this is a glimpse into his world of certainty in uncertainty It is also a view of the materialist s experience of the world To Krasny only that which can be proven by empiricism is given any credence His heroes are existentialists and absurdists He does a very good job of presenting and defending their view He is obviously extremely well read and has put a lot of thought into why it is impossible to know if anything beyond the material world exists Occasionally he asserts that he is envious of those of us who experience the world of faith as real, but it is clear that he will never be able to see a world which he absolutely rejects because it cannot be proven on his terms One or two times he speaks of loving his family I wish I could ask him to prove it, which he would have to admit he could not, then I would ask him if he was lying Some things may not be verifiable with the limited tools of reason, but that may not prove they are not real or important I doubt Krasny would agree still I don t think he was lying about loving his family I was glad I read Krasny s book It is fair and honest and he is respectful of those with whom he disagrees, which in the United States has become almost a lost virtue He would be an interesting person to converse with Reading his book will have to be serve, and I recommend you do Krasny asks a book long question that I shared to some extent , and asks the reader to join the question he invites the reader to seek along with him It s probably safe to say that not all agnostics feel the way he feels but, questioning comes with the territory, I think Krasny doesn t claim to know the answers I really appreciate that in this time of such overpowering sometimes almost nauseating certainty in both the believer and atheist camps Certainty eludes me, as it eludes Krasny, Krasny asks a book long question that I shared to some extent , and asks the reader to join the question he invites the reader to seek along with him It s probably safe to say that not all agnostics feel the way he feels but, questioning comes with the territory, I think Krasny doesn t claim to know the answers I really appreciate that in this time of such overpowering sometimes almost nauseating certainty in both the believer and atheist camps Certainty eludes me, as it eludes Krasny, and he isn t afraid to share his uncertainty and what he is doing in spite of it.Lately, I ve had some slight envy, similar to what Krasny writes about, and questions of how to be the best person I can be in this life I have I don t believe religion is necessary for morality, but I can see how it has shaped morality, s, and ethics in different societies and for individuals within those societies What I miss is the camaraderie that I enjoyed when I was a practicing Christian and that is the envy I have for those who are confident and solid in their faith Occasionally, I envy the comfort that would come with certainty, but then I remember that if I were certain, I would not have the curiosity to keep my mental hunger fed If you are interested in how some agnostics think, this book can help you ask the kinds of questions to find your own way, without telling you how you should think or believe Read it and see what you think This is an extremely personal memoir I came to realize while reading it that perhaps there is littlepersonal and particular and by this I mean unrelatable to others than logic, oraccurately, reasoned sense Krasny argues that agnosticism makesreasoned sense than either religious spiritual belief or atheism, neither of which can be proved I ll concede this point as, I think, most believers in a faith or experiential based religious system would , though the way he got This is an extremely personal memoir I came to realize while reading it that perhaps there is littlepersonal and particular and by this I mean unrelatable to others than logic, oraccurately, reasoned sense Krasny argues that agnosticism makesreasoned sense than either religious spiritual belief or atheism, neither of which can be proved I ll concede this point as, I think, most believers in a faith or experiential based religious system would , though the way he got to it described in detail in this book is so personal that I found it tedious.For example, while his loss of belief in God seems to have come fairly easily, by the same means that other agnostics site why would a personal, anthropomorphic, omnipotent God allow suffering where is the proof , he devotes many, many pages to whether one who doesn t believe in God can or should adhere to the Ten Commandments long before the chapter on doing good without belief in God appears To someone who was raised Jewish and who was very religious in his youth, this is a serious question To me, who was not, this is irrelevant I think I was frustrated by the book because I wanted it to start in a difference place, much farther along in the argument, not assuming or accepting or arguing against the Ten Commandments or any other particular faith He assumes that the Ten Commandments imply a God who intervenes and punishes Why Perhaps in context this is true I don t know what else Moses says God said but the Ten Commandments themselves do not He refers to an old joke which I had never heard about Unitarians calling them the Ten Suggestions, which is so close to my own beliefs that I was disappointed he laughed it off, instead of exploring the idea of a God who offers guidelines for a peaceful life, but who doesn t punish or condemn those who don t follow them Likewise, while pages and pages are devoted to various Western religious ideas, the concept of reincarnation is lumped in with belief in alien abductions He claims to respect all others beliefs barring that they cause harm , but obviously that respect does not warrant serious discussion of reincarnation in the book He writes, I believe this one life is all there is, though there is noproof of that than that there is no God the basic premise of his argument is that he, as an agnostic, is against certainty of any unproven claims Insofar as this is a personal memoir of his coming away from God, it makes sense that he focuses on his previous beliefs and how he changed his mind about them he does recognize his loyalty to the God of his boyhood, despite his disbelief , while not opening his heart to other beliefs which he says he would do if he could And, of course, if he had seriously considered the possibility of reincarnation he would have come to the same conclusion as he does about all other religious spiritual beliefs and atheism that you can t know what you can t know But, for me, I may have beeninterested in reading about the journey of a seeker as he calls himself who sincerely considers other concepts of God which are not presented in the major religions Toward the end of the book, he discusses the hybridization of religions in particular, Judaism with Buddhism and the idea doesn t seem to make sense to him at all in fact, it seems to repel him Maybe his strong adherence to religious doctrine is caused by his scholarly nature and approach maybe it s because he lived through the sixties and seventies and cannot separate undoctrined spiritual beliefs from the unsatisfactory New Age ideas of the time.While arguing in my head with most of his arguments as I suspect most readers will find themselves doing , I did find that the book helped me better evaluate and categorize my own beliefs For instance, I think my concept of God, including my belief in karma and reincarnation, fallsunder natural law or force than for most Judeo Christian monotheists although I also subscribe to the belief in an incarnate God an issue touched on in the book particularly on page 206 in which he compares it to a plot element found in Star Wars, which highlights the discrepancy between how he characterizes Western and Eastern religious ideas but not explored nearly as fully as the idea of his favored anthropomorphic God I also came up with new questions of my own, inspired by the type of questions he asks himself Obviously the existence of God will never be proven as long as the God one is trying to prove is a God who requires faith unconfirmed belief But why would a God require faith What is the benefit to him or to us To revert us to the trust, naivete, and innocence of youth Also, ironically, while reading the book I came to a greater understanding and respect for atheism I had always dismissed atheism because I thought it meant rejecting God or the spiritual realm just because you don t feel it a certainty derived from a negative But now, if I look at it another way, I can imagine an atheist looking out across the world and feeling strongly, certainly, This is it This is all This certainty, at least, would be derived from a positive feeling instead of a lack of a positive feeling.Finally, as other reviewers have noted, the highlight of the book is that Krasny is respectful of those with whom he disagrees, something of a lost virtuechokengtitiktitikchokengs I haven t finished Rebecca Newberger Goldstein s 36 Arguments for the Existence of God yet, but I m pretty sure Spiritual Envy is the book written by the novel s fictional atheist with a soul It s been a long time since I read a book that annoyed me to the level this one did Not necessarily the author s fault in the end, I chose the book, and I also chose to keep reading after page 3 and 10, and 14, and 21, and , when I d realized the kind of book this was Call me stubborn it s one of my rules to never leave a book unfinished But this one was a long haul, and reaching the last page felt like an accomplishment of the size of climbing Everest Without, sadly, the high of ach It s been a long time since I read a book that annoyed me to the level this one did Not necessarily the author s fault in the end, I chose the book, and I also chose to keep reading after page 3 and 10, and 14, and 21, and , when I d realized the kind of book this was Call me stubborn it s one of my rules to never leave a book unfinished But this one was a long haul, and reaching the last page felt like an accomplishment of the size of climbing Everest Without, sadly, the high of achievement It was to be expected The use of Envy in the book s title should have clued me in this is a book written by a man caught in a loop between the faith he s lost and the desire to recover it For me, having grown up as an atheist, this kind of yearning is not just alien but incomprehensible Imagine you re a surly fifteen year old trapped in a long car trip with a seven year old who spends the entire five hours of the trip expositing on whether he should or shouldn t believe in Santa Claus He s heard things, you see, about Santa not being real, and he suspects it s true a common sense deep within him tells him it s true and he s caught in between two worlds the childhood one of magic and irresponsibility, and the adult one of hard truths, reality, and facing the consequences of your choices Now, you the fifteen year old stopped believing in Santa Claus a long, long time ago Maybe you never did, even And although the mental processes of this seven year old might be interesting to follow for, say, fifteen minutes, a full five hours of listening to him argue the same point from ten sides will leave you exhausted You want to interrupt him and tell him he s right, Santa doesn t exist, and maybe you actually do it But it does no good He just looks at you with this A ha expression and says, How do you know he doesn t exist How can you be absolutely, totally sure Maybe he never brought you gifts because you didn t behave Maybe he does exist, but nobody s seen him because no one behaves good enough And then he s off again because if Santa doesn t exist, how can you me anyone ever have a clear moral compass How can we know right from wrong if there s no reward under the tree at the end of the year And how can we know what Santa considers right or wrong Sure, there s a bunch of storybooks, but they re old And they re contradictory Why, oh why, the seven year old cries, why can t I just SEE him Just once I need a sign I need to feel him close Yeah.I ve no doubt many people will find comfort in Mr Krasny s words In proof that there are others out there as confused, as uncertain My main problem with the book is that it gets nowhere It ends in the same quandary with which it began is there a god Are the ten commandments the foundation of faith All these pages later, Mr Krasny is no closer to an answer of any kind, nor to inner peace So What s the point of the book What have we, the readers, gained Commiseration, in the case of other agnostics That hardly seems worth writing a book for And the pursuit of recovering faith via logical thinking is, to put it kindly, self defeating By definition, faith defies logic Faith is like love no logical reason can fire it, no logical reason can end it It comes and goes without explanation I am as certain that god does not exist as a believer is that god exists neither of us can give proof actual scientific evidence of our position, yet neither of us require scientific evidence to be certain But a logical approach to faith is like an organic approach to McDonald s And it has a faintly putrid scent of bet hedging I can empathize with seekers, I can even empathize with religiosity, but I cannot bear the hypocrisy of, But what if it is true Better light a candle, just in case As for the moral compass issue, I ve never put any stock in religion even spirituality being a proper guideline for defining right and wrong As far as I can see, all religion does is generalize, paint in broad strokes that obliviate the individual and the diverse And, especially, the different Defining right and wrong is actually quite easy once religion and its promises of rewards and gazillion virgins and whatnot is taken out of the equation To do good not for the reward of heaven or the threat of hell but for the sake of good that s a world I want to live in And Mr Krasny, with his tragic quandary of how to live a good life without god, is not helping to build that world.Why three stars, then Because in the annoyance it provoked in me, this book forced me to analyze my own atheism and its evolution, my own set of core moral beliefs and the process through which I apply them It also reaffirmed my opinion that religion any religion feeds intellectual weakness And these observations, this insight into myself and the way my brain works, is definitely worth two extra stars Boooo I can t recall another book taking so long to essentially say nothing The author wasn t there to sell me on agnosticism The author wasn t NOT there to sell me on agnosticism either Or was he How can I know Can I know Is it possible to have too many questions If someone invented a new punctuation mark to indicate a raise in pitch at the end of a sentence, could it have been employed to make this bookreadable to me How can I know or evn express the relative readability of a w Boooo I can t recall another book taking so long to essentially say nothing The author wasn t there to sell me on agnosticism The author wasn t NOT there to sell me on agnosticism either Or was he How can I know Can I know Is it possible to have too many questions If someone invented a new punctuation mark to indicate a raise in pitch at the end of a sentence, could it have been employed to make this bookreadable to me How can I know or evn express the relative readability of a work of prose Is it even knowable Quantifiable If in its knowableness it is found to only be partially knowable, would I still deign to know it Say, from henceforth all humanity decides that the comma shall also be used as an interrogative marker, how would we decide which mark to use I shall think on it Michael Krasny s book of searching and questioning resonates with my own path in this life As a result I come away knowing that there are others like me who need empirical evidence in order to accept ideas without question I love having a knowing about something but those times are far and few between I accept that I too am an agnostic and have been for a long time, but did not know or was not courageous enough to express that to myself let alone to others To the believers out there, it is Michael Krasny s book of searching and questioning resonates with my own path in this life As a result I come away knowing that there are others like me who need empirical evidence in order to accept ideas without question I love having a knowing about something but those times are far and few between I accept that I too am an agnostic and have been for a long time, but did not know or was not courageous enough to express that to myself let alone to others To the believers out there, it is not that I do not wish to believe as you do and to feel the warmth of knowing that there is a great and kind father looking out for me, loving me I would welcome that peace of mind but I cannot accept that just because you or someone else says that it is so That does not work for me So thank you Michael Krasny s as I too believe that we should all be free to believe as we want to or to not believe, so long as we do no harm or force our beliefs upon others Kransy has some good thoughts, and he has done much research and scholarship on the subject, but his perspective is one I had a little trouble with He doesn t seem willing to fully embrace Agnosticism, despite calling himself one I understand his points and his purpose, and I liked much of what he said, but there seemed to be this underlying whingeingness of the whole thing that I didn t care for He also has a few moments of look how well read I am which I found annoying I also think Kransy has some good thoughts, and he has done much research and scholarship on the subject, but his perspective is one I had a little trouble with He doesn t seem willing to fully embrace Agnosticism, despite calling himself one I understand his points and his purpose, and I liked much of what he said, but there seemed to be this underlying whingeingness of the whole thing that I didn t care for He also has a few moments of look how well read I am which I found annoying I also think that while he tries to point out the nuances of different religions and philosophies, he generalized when it was convenient, which didn t help any.I would not recommend this book to anyone far better work has been written about Agnosticism, and Kransy points to most of it Read that instead As the host of one of National Public Radio s most popular interview programs, Michael Krasny has spent decades leading conversations on every imaginable topic and discussing life s most important questions with the foremost thinkers of our time Now he brings his wide ranging knowledge and perceptive intelligence to a thoughtful and thought provoking exploration of belief and lack of beliefMany books and pundits advocate for a specific God, while others adamantly declare there is no God Yet these strident viewpoints often speak right past each other, rarely convincing anyone but the already convinced In Spiritual Envy, Krasny helps believers and nonbelievers alike understand their own questions about faith and religion, about God and human responsibilityKrasny challenges each of us to look closely at faith and its power, and to examine the positive and negative aspects of religion as expressed in culture, literature, and human relationships Personal and universal, timely and timeless, this is a deeply wise yet warmly welcoming conversation, an invitation to ask one s own questions no matter how inconclusive the answers Very enlightening book in knowing that there are other people who are asking the same questions I am and having the same doubts as I am A basic premise that in retrospect seems so simple and fundamental, but which hadn t occurred to me before is that atheism is as much a leap of faith as any religion or faith This addresses some basic questions like the nature of good and evil and how and why to have a moral compass when the idea of God is in doubt Very helpful to me at this point in my sp Very enlightening book in knowing that there are other people who are asking the same questions I am and having the same doubts as I am A basic premise that in retrospect seems so simple and fundamental, but which hadn t occurred to me before is that atheism is as much a leap of faith as any religion or faith This addresses some basic questions like the nature of good and evil and how and why to have a moral compass when the idea of God is in doubt Very helpful to me at this point in my spiritual journey Although a personal tale of his journey for answers, much of what he writes resonates with me how can we perceive God when we cannot prove God is, and we have only the representations created by others to foster or feed our perceptions What refutes atheism is the simple fact that one cannot prove a negative But if I want to prove God as a positive, affirm he exists in any form, I must believe or feel or imagine a presence of some kind that is beyond what is tactile and beyond sight and imagi Although a personal tale of his journey for answers, much of what he writes resonates with me how can we perceive God when we cannot prove God is, and we have only the representations created by others to foster or feed our perceptions What refutes atheism is the simple fact that one cannot prove a negative But if I want to prove God as a positive, affirm he exists in any form, I must believe or feel or imagine a presence of some kind that is beyond what is tactile and beyond sight and imagination or what language can signify


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