Religion & Counter-Revolution

James Farmelant farmelantj at
Wed Jan 3 09:44:01 MST 2001

------Original Message------
From: Jurriaan Bendien <j.bendien at>
To: marxism at
Sent: January 3, 2001 9:54:44 AM GMT
Subject: Re: Religion & Counter-Revolution

>In order to deny the existence of God, it is
>necessary to specify what it
>is but this cannot be done in purely "scientific"
>terms. A scientist may
>not use occam's razor, he may just say, with
>Pascal, "I have no use for
>that hypothesis".

I am not sure how Laplace's (not Pascal's as
far as I know) statement would
differ from someone stating that they were
going to apply Occam's Razor to this issue.

>I have known scientists who
>believed in God and ones who
>didn't, and it didn't make any noticeable
>difference to their performance
>as scientists.

No doubt but it is interesting to note
that survey studies of the religious
beliefs of American scientists have
found that only a minority of them
believe in a personal God.  Furthermore,
such studies indicate that conventional
religious beliefs are even less pervasive
among those scientists who are most
prominent within their disciplines.
Thus a recent study indicated that
only about 7% of members of the National
Academy of Science believe in a personal
God.  Obviously, it is quite possible
for someone to be both an eminent
scientist and having a belief in a
personal God but as am empirical fact,
such a belief has become increasingly
rare among professional scientists
especially within the past century.

>Since religious and spiritual experience is
>a universal human phenomenon,
>it cannot be accounted for simply by saying it
>is all alienated rubbish.
>This is were many "Marxists" go wrong, they
>just want to vent hatred,
>contempt and paranoid hostility against religious
>and spiritual experience.

No doubt.  In an earlier post I emphasized
the necessity for drawing a distinction
between the cognitve value of such
experiences and their moral or psychological
value.  One can be quite skeptical
of their cognitive value without
in anyway denying their psychological
or ethical or esthetic importance.
It is even possible for people to
have such experiences, be profoundly
effected by them while also at the same
time being skeptical of their cognitive

I have recently picked up a copy of
Marx Wartofsky's book on Feuerbach.
While I have not read enough of the
book to comment intelligently on it.
Apparently, according to Wartofsky,
Feuerbach in his writings on religion
did attempt develop such an anthropology
of human spiritual experience.  Feuerbach
denied that human religious experience
was indicative of the existence of
a supernatural realm outside of nature
and humanity but he nevertheless, perceived
it as repesenting a very important
dimension of human existence.  He was
opposed to alienated interpretations
of spiritual experience but he certainly
was not interested in denying or discounting
the psychological and moral value
of such experiences.

>But evidently we have to separate out aspects of
>that experience which
>genuinely belong to the human "species being"
>from those which are simply
>alienated mystification. Having had personal
>experience of a lot of
>Marxists and of Marxism as theory, I conclude
>that aspects of the Marxist
>attitude are also religious or spiritual
>and involve faith.

>>It sounds like that you are advancing a Jungian
>>position here.  Please clarify.

>Basically I conclude from the universal
>nature of beliefs and experiences
>of God, that God refers to certain attributes
>or states of the human mind
>which enable us to have deeply spiritual,
>transcendent or divine
>experiences. Whether this is Jungian I don't
>know, but it seems perfectly rational.
>These experiences are a perfectly "normal"
>and healthy human
>characteristic. To think that there proper
>place is only in a church is stupid.

>Mystical experiences can
>have cognitive value insofar
>as they facilitate personal change for example
>or act as an inner resource.

Apparently we are using the term "cognitive"
in different senses.  When I refer to
the claim that such experiences have
cognitive value I am referring to
claims that these experienes indicate
the presence of a supersensual realm
outside of the natural world,i.e. God.
I by no means deny that such experiences
can motivate or facilitate personal
change or growth.

Jim Farmelant



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