Looking back over my previous essays (listed here). I think it is time for me to finish this series. I have covered the way in which I approach philosophical issues by rigorously examining the whole spectrum of concepts that may or may not support my personal understanding. I have then gone on to demonstrate that we can individually reach different conclusions no matter how thoroughly we investigate each question. I tend to call our thoughts ‘illusions’, even though many readers are inclined to read ‘delusions’ into my script at these points. The problem of reaching sound conclusions is easily compounded when we admit that word meanings change rapidly with time and place and can never be precisely fixed. Nevertheless we must confront this problem, as our emotional attachments also heavily influence the meaning that we can read into particular words. This is very important, so much so that I have tried to steer my discussion away from religion (and politics) and consider how we interpret journalistic and historical reports.
In reviewing all the reading I have done over the last few years I have become aware of another problem to be avoided; this is the time consuming and emotionally wasteful habit of attacking, or trying to counter, views that seem to be different from your own.
Throughout my life I have been bothered by people who are eager to tell you at length what they believe and disbelieve BUT they do not stop and listen to your opinions or beliefs! This is intellectually disrespectful (arrogant) and my purpose in writing this essay is so that I can simply ask them to read what I believe before they start their misguided preaching (or witnessing). One fundamental rule for teachers is to first determine what your students know and meet them at this level before launching into your lesson. Oh that soapbox preachers could be persuaded to follow this principle.
In my conversations with God ( http://stf.customer.netspace.net.au/God interviews/index.htm) I have become aware of another important issue that can be easily overlooked by philosophers and theologians. This is: there are no absolute values; nor can we say that we have discovered an ultimate truth. Further we should be honest enough to admit that we cannot make clear and unequivocal moral judgements! While I could expand and illustrate this issue of moral relativity, I feel that I have already done this in my third conversation with God.
Well that is about it. Over the last few years I have come to respect the teachings of the Dalai Lama. I am sure ‘his holiness’ will appreciate the fact that his teachings have greatly strengthened my Christian faith and given me a deeper understanding of the elusiveness of the transcendent universe.
I have placed all my essays on-line and will continue to do so.
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