Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Alan Watts On Christianity

A few years ago I came across the British-American philosopher Alan Watts. He was one of the foremost interpreters of Zen Buddhism and Eastern schools of thought in his day during the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Although he was for a time an Episcopalian priest, he left the church and was often critical of Western religions like Christianity. His criticism of Christianity is not typical of the brash New Atheism we are accustomed to today. He does not slam the church and the scriptures with the wield of a sledgehammer like Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins does, but in his remarks you can pick up some of the precursors that these contemporary critics deploy.

He wasn't even an atheist as far as I know but he did accept that there was some sort of higher power in the universe. Nonetheless, I am not so hardened an atheist that I cannot respect someone who accepted into his life something beyond pure materialism.

Watts believed that there was some sort of a transcendent nature to reality. I personally interpret this transcendent phenomena as simply just being an aspect of our consciousness that we often interpret in the language of spirituality. "God" is just a word we use to express these feelings we sometimes get in the context of the religions we were raised in, and Watts was perfectly aware of this as he says in this lecture. Listen to this critique he gives of Christianity from a slightly different perspective from what we are used to today.

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