REASONED SPIRITUALITY: exploring spirituality, the meaning of life, the concept of God.

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Home to Reasoned Spirituality


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Abrahamic - Religions believing in the "God of Abraham" found in the ancient Hebrew faith. Includes Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Often referred to as the Western Religions. Together, the hundreds-of-thousands of Abrahamic sects account for the largest percentage of the world's religious community, yet includes the bitterest of enemies. [see the 'Abrahamic' page for complete information]

Age of Reason - see "Enlightenment".

agnosticism - The belief that nothing is or can be known about the existence or nonexistence of god.

altruism - Acting for the sake of other people's interests. There are two forms. Ethical altruism: people should act with other people's interests in mind, and learn this through experience. Psychological altruism: people are compelled to act with other people's interests in mind, because altruism is instinctive.

animism - A belief that a life-force exists within non-human forms (trees, rocks, etc.). A belief in spirits such as angels, demons, and ghosts. The earliest form of religion. Many aboriginal beliefs are animistic.

anthropomorphism - Attributing human qualities or form, to animals or things. Creating a god in man's image.

Archetypes (psych) - Jungian. Theoretical symbolic genetic markers which contain memories of past events in the history of a species.

Aristotle - (384-322 BCE) Legendary Greek philosopher. Tutor to Alexander the Great. Significant contributor to the development of numerous sciences. Felt that the ideal life was one of contemplation combined with honor, wealth, virtue, and pleasure: the life of the philosopher was closest to the gods. [see the 'Aristotle' page for complete information]

atheism - A belief that there are no gods. Greek "a-theos": without-god. [see the 'Atheism' page for complete information]

Australoid - (see also: race) A genetically and physiologically identifiable race of the human species. Primarily composed of Australian aborigines.

Axial Period - Phrase coined by philosopher Karl Jaspers. The period centering around 500 BCE, encompassing the years between 800 and 200 BCE. The turning point of civilization. It was the beginning of man's search for the ultimate nature of reality, and many great minds scattered throughout the world were independently studying toward understanding the universe. Marks the end of the Mythical Age.

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BCE - Before the Common Era. Christians refer to it as BC: Before Christ.

biosphere - the part of the Earth and atmosphere containing life.

Buddhism - A philosophy/religion created by Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) over 2500 years ago, founded on Hindu beliefs. There are two major divisions: Mahayana and Theravada, and many subdivisions (Ch'an, or Zen, Buddhism is not really one of these). Fundamentally, Buddhists believe that one must rise above desires, to reach a state of enlightenment. Buddha was idolized, and subsequently deified, but he never claimed to be anything more than a man. [see the 'Buddhism' page for complete information]

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Cartesian Dualism (philo.) - That there are two sorts of substances: mind and body, which are utterly distinct and independent of each other. Bodies are constrained by by the laws of physics, whereas minds are free. Descartes formulated the theory in order to keep Christian theology safe from physical laws. [see the 'Descartes' page for further information]

CE - Common Era. Christians refer to it as AD: Anno Domini, meaning "in the year of the Lord".

Ch'an Buddhism - (aka. Zen Buddhism). A form of Taoism that borrows from Buddhism. Primarily a Chinese religion, founded 1500 years ago, it uses meditation as the way to observe the world without mental comment: things are as they are, and thoughts simply flow through the mind without leaving a trace. Spiritual exercise or discipline are useless, because freedom of the mind comes through direct and instant insight. [see the 'Ch'an' page for complete information]

corporeal - Of the body, tangible. Of the material, or physical, realm.

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deductive argument (philo.) - To reason from one statement to another by means of logical rules. Accepting the premises means you are bound logically to accept the conclusion.

defense mechanism (psych.) - A way of escaping stressful thoughts or situations, by mentally forming new thoughts detached from reality.

denial (psych.) - Defense mechanism. People can be deliberately unaware of certain painful facts. The consciousness refuses to acknowledge specific realities.

differentiation (biol.) - The process by which cells reproduce different characteristics. Genes are turned off or on in order to cause change, otherwise all cells would be exact duplicates of one another.

displacement (psych.) - Defense mechanism. Redirection of emotion. A person may become angry with their boss, and take their anger out on a co-worker. Assaulting innanimate objects is displacing frustration and anger in a “safe” fashion. (see also “sublimation”)

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egoism - acting in one's self-interest; generally referred to as selfishness. There are two forms. Ethical egoism: even though we can act in the interests of others, we should always act only in our own interests. Writer Ayn Rand promoted ethical egoism. Psychological egoism: that we cannot act in the interests of others, and anything that appears to be such is actually a selfish act, because we expect to personally benefit from it.

empirical - Based on experiment and observation, or based entirely on practical experience.

empiricism (philo.) - A belief that experience alone is the source of all knowledge.

Enlightenment - (aka "Age of Reason") Period of history which began in the late seventeenth century and continued until 1789. A time when philosophy began to stress individuality. Freedom of speech and thought. The American "Declaration of Independence" is made up of Enlightenment doctrine.

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feudalism - Any system that resembles the one used in the middle ages, where the people provided labour and military service to a lord in return for the use of his land. A form of contractual servitude.

fundamentalism - A belief in the infallibility, and literal interpretation, of a particular religion’s doctrine or holy books. When applied in Abrahamic sects, it can lead to extreme prejudice and violence due to the nature of the Bible. The Crusades, the Inquisition, and witch-burning were due to fundamentalist ideals.

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Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand - (1869 - 1948) Political and spiritual leader who won India's independence from Britain through non-violent methods. He was eventually assassinated by a Hindu zealot. [see the 'Gandhi' page for further information]

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henotheism - Devotion to one god, while accepting the existence of others. Much of the Old Testament is henotheistic.

Hinduism - The world’s oldest organized religion, existing for 4500 years. Based on the ancient Vedic literature, it is a belief system in constant transition. Populated by an almost infinite number of gods, the faith is open to adopting any or all of the gods created by younger religions. Reincarnation, and being held accountable for one’s deeds (karma), are fundamental components of Hinduism. It is the third largest category of religions. [see the 'Hinduism' page for complete information]

Huntington's chorea - A fatal inherited disorder which has no cure. A progressive loss of mental functioning due to brain-cell death. Ten to twenty years after the onset of symptoms, victims will die; although they become little more than mindless organisms prior to the end. Science can identify some carriers of the Huntington's gene in utero.

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identification (psych.) - Defense mechanism. Assuming the characteristics of someone else. Children identify with their same-sex parent.

inductive argument (philo.) - Infer one statement from another. Even if the premises are true, the conclusion can still be false. Theories are based on inductive conclusions.

Islam - (arabic Islam: to submit, or surrender, to God). The second largest category of religions in the world. 1400 years ago Mohammad created a version of the Judeo-Christian Bible based primarily on the Old Testament, called the Qur’an. Mohammad is considered by Muslims to be the last and greatest of the prophets. Doctrine holds that, in the service of Allah (arabic: one God), divine justice can be meted out by one nation against another, or one religion against another. This concept has led to a considerable amount of bloodshed, particularly within the many denominations of Islam, and against the sects that compose Christianity (the largest category of religions). [see the 'Islam' page for complete information]

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Judaism - The religion, and culture, of the Jews. Based on the ancient Hebrew beliefs and writings (referred to as the Old Testament by other religions), current doctrine is that if every member of the faith strives to live within God’s law, he (God) will fulfill his promise (covenant), and send a messiah to restore the Jews to their rightful place as the ruling class. There are many divisions within the religion, but it is overall, a fluid belief system which evolves with time. The most interesting aspect of this flexibility, is the interpretation of the holy laws in ways which “outsmart” God: allowing for less strict adherence to rules which interfere with contemporary materialism. [see the 'Judaism' page for complete information]

Jungian - Relating to the theories on human behaviour put forward by the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung. He perceived a duality in many aspects of the human mind. His most significant theory was that of a collective unconscious, which contains all of the “racial memories” each person is born with. Because some myths, such as a “great flood”, seem to appear in all cultures, he determined that some past memories become part of our genetic code, as archetypes (symbolic representations of memories). [see the 'Jung' page for further information]

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karma - To varying degrees, depending on specific sects, it is the sum of one’s actions in life, being good or evil, which determines one’s destiny in reincarnation. Found in all Hindu, and many Buddhist, denominations.

koan - A paradoxical, and often senseless, question posed in Ch’an Buddhism to aid in meditation. “What is the sound of one hand clapping” is a well known koan.

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Meng Tzu - (AKA Mencius) 390 BCE - 305 BCE. Known as the Second Sage. He was the most important of the followers of Confucius, and in the eyes of many, surpassed him. [see the 'Mencius' page for further information]

Mongoloid - (see also: race) A genetically and physiologically identifiable race of the human species. Includes people of north and east Asia, Malaysians, and American Indians. Orientals are part of this race.

monotheism - Believing in the existence of only one god.

Muslim - (or Moslem) A member of the Islamic faith.

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pantheism - The belief that the universe and god are one and the same: god has no existence independent of the universe, and therefore cannot be its creator. There is no divine purpose, and everything is a component of the greater whole. Pantheism in its pure form is a philosophical concept, and not a religion. Cosmic pantheism and Acosmic pantheism describe attributes of a particular religion. Some religious movements wrongly identify themselves as pantheistic, misinterpreting pantheism as animism. [see the 'Pantheism' page for further information]

paradisiacal - having to do with, or similar to, paradise.

paraphilia - strong periodic sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviours commonly relating to children, non-consenting individuals, objects, sadism, masochism, or voyeurism. Transvestic and other forms of fetishism are paraphiliac disorders.

patriarchal - A social system of male supremacy. Power and significance resides in the father of a family group or clan, and this is passed down through the male heirs. Found in many primitive tribal cultures and fundamentalist societies (primarily Islamic and Judeo-Christian). The tradition of wives being named after their husbands is a remnant of the patriarchal history all of mankind shares.

pederasty - Practicing homosexuality, particularly a man with a boy.

Pedophilia - Sexual attraction to a child; clinically, a person sixteen years of age or older who is at least five years older than the child. Pedophiles will prefer males, females, or both. Generally considered to be an incurable mental disorder. [see the 'Pedophilia' page for further information]

polytheism - Believing in the existence of more than one god.

projection (psych.) - Defense mechanism. Projecting one’s undesirable feelings or behaviour onto someone else. A person may hate their sibling, and resolve this emotional conflict by deluding themselves into believing that it is the sibling who hates them. Someone may be abusive toward their spouse, yet believe that it is the spouse who is abusive, and their own reaction is simply defensive.

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race - The divisions of the human species. These include the Mongoloid, Caucasoid, Negroid (including Cogoid and Capoid), and Australoid races. Due to racial mixing, the genetic and physiological differences are not always clear in individuals.

rationalization (psych.) - Defense mechanism. Justification: creating elaborate explanations for one’s own behaviour which only appear logical to oneself. Allows a person to escape anxiety over their actions, yet continue with the behaviour.

reaction formation (psych.) - Defense mechanism. Subconsciously changing unacceptable feelings or behaviour into an acceptable form. Masochists see pain as pleasure.

recidivism - The tendency to relapse into a prior mode of behaviour; especially that of a criminal nature.

regression (psych.) - Defense mechanism. Regressing to childish behaviour in order to escape one’s feelings. Freud felt that over-eating and excessive drinking were regressions to the oral gratification stage of infancy.

repression (psych.) - Defense mechanism. The subconscious mind blocks unwanted thoughts or desires from the consciousness. The ego is not entirely successful at doing this, and memories may surface as slips of the tongue, or symbols in dreams: more serious mental problems may be manifested because of the internal conflict caused by repression.

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sectarianism - A strong or excessive devotion to a particular form of religion, often leading to a resolute prejudice against other beliefs.

sentient - Something that can feel, or experience some form of emotion.

Shintoism - An ancient Japanese religion which was brought to Japan when the present inhabitants eliminated the indigenous population of the islands. A complex, yet also vague, religion which includes ancestor worship, animism, and numerous gods and goddesses. Depending on interpretation, it is both polytheistic and monotheistic: “Kami”, which Westerners can loosely parallel with the concept of god, applies holiness to all things, and to certain things. There are degrees of Kami, and guidelines as to what is termed Kami: but ultimately, everything is included as such. It appears to be a system used to impose a structured form of social obligation upon society, and is incomprehensible, even to its adherents. [see the 'Shinto' page for further information]

Siddhartha Gautama - (aka: Buddha) 560 - 480 BCE. Indian prince who created Buddhism. [see the 'Gautama' page for further information]

Social Sciences - (aka: cultural sciences) Includes anthropology, sociology, political science, history, economics, jurisprudence, penology, philosophy, social work, social psychology, education, and comparative theology. Medicine, biology, and linguistics overlap the social sciences due to social implications.

sublimation (psych.) - Defense mechanism. A form of displacement. Manifesting unacceptable feelings or behaviour in a constructive way. A Catholic priest’s passionate sermon is a sublimation of his suppressed sexual desire.

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Taoism - Chinese religion over 4000 years old. There is no personal god, the closest thing being the Tao, which is a supreme force which underlies change through the passage of time. One is to become free of personal desires, and become attuned to the flow of change. The principle of innaction has great importance, because attempting to right injustices does not agree with the ideal that good and evil are complementary forces, which are part of the flow of change. Meditation is a basic component of Taoism. [see the 'Taoism' page for further information]

theism - Believing in a deity or deities (god/gods). A belief in religion. (Greek theos: god).

theocracy - Rule by religion. A government that is based on theistic beliefs. Iran is a theocracy.

theology - The study of the nature of God. The study of religion, and religious beliefs. (Greek theo-logia: god-treating of).

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Yeshua ben Joseph - (6 BCE - 30 CE) Real name of Jesus. Jewish philosopher, religious leader, and founder of Christianity.

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Zen (see Ch'an Buddhism)

Zoroastrianism - A dying religion, its influence lives on in the Abrahamic beliefs. Originating 3500 years ago, this Persian faith profoundly changed the Hebrew religion. Zoroastrianism introduced the concept of monotheism, and the duality of good and evil, to Western theism. [see the 'Zoroastrian' page for further information]

zygote - a cell formed by the union of reproductive cells (gametes). A fertilized egg.


Site map indexHomeComments?Links to sites of interest
Part 1:  IntroductionPart 2:  BalancePart 3:  DivisionsPart 4:  Unitypart 5:  Concept of GodPart 6:  Defining GodPart 7:  SexualityPart 8:  Instinctive MoralityPart 9:  Moral Compromise - ReproductionPart 10: Moral Obligation - ReproductionPart 11:  DeterminismPart 12:  Determining Our DestinyPart 13:  Good and EvilPart 14: Crime and PunishmentPart 15:  Belief - fact and faithPart 16: MaterialismPart 17: AppreciationPart 18:  Abstract PerceptionPart 19:  RelationshipsRelationships (conclusion)Part 21:  DeathPart 22:  KnowledgePart 23: Knowledge - geneticsPart 24: Knowledge (conclusion)Part 25: Meaning of LifePart 26: Meaning of Life (continued)Part 27: Meaning of Life (conclusion)

Copyright 2000 B.W.Holmes (unless noted otherwise). Quotes from ancient literary works do not carry a copyright.