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  #11  
Old 24th May 2011, 10:48 PM
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

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Bolero said View Post
However, I was having just this conversation with a colleague the other day. She lectures in some Indigienous Studies subjects, and she was saying that most indigenous students she has express a "deep and profound spirituality", or "spiritual connection" to the land, among other things.
This term is a white term, that refers to a 'connection' with the land, which I think is a more accurate terminology, but still doesn't explain it well in one word. Realisation, respect for the symbiosis of humans and everything else, etc ... not easy to put into words, hence whites tend to say spiritual to describe the closer ties indigenous australians have historically. In most cases, only a few generations away at best from entwined subsistance living.
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  #12  
Old 25th May 2011, 01:12 AM
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

Don't forget there are people of aborigional descent who are atheists, and who are christian, and who believe in chrystal healing and who are urban dwelling professionals with a standard oz cultural position.

Descent does not necessarily equate to culture. There is a weird supernatural strand of human thought that jews inherit jewish culture biologically, that aborigionals inherit their culture in the same way etc etc.

Its like the question of where you came from. We came from other humans and not some alien species. It doesn't really reflect on you that great, great grandad was a major general in the british army or that great, great grandma was an Indian peasant.

All culture is a background memeplex that smooths and enriches daily life. Religions and spiritual traditions encode some discoveries about the world and how people engage with one another but I think neither are as good at that as direct ethical and scientific examination and sharing the knowledge gained. Similar to the connection between traditional medicines and modern fact based medical knowledge.
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  #13  
Old 15th June 2011, 10:34 PM
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

I live rurally and work with Aboriginals these days and I would say that their spirituality and culture is not harmless (or at least is no less harmless than any culture or tradition that is centered around what is, essentially, superstition). You don't hear much about Aboriginal healing woo yet, but believe me there's plenty of it and it's only a matter of time before the next generation of law-men and women get past their cultural sensitivity and secrecy and start peddling it.

That said, you've got to respect their laws. You don't have to believe in Rei or Wanjina or the raindbow serpent to accept that you need to ask the right people for permission before you access country and then respect their wishes about how you behave on or use that country.

And the emotions those people, particularly the old people, have about their country are real and very very strong. It means more to them than any place I have ever lived means to me.
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  #14  
Old 16th June 2011, 12:05 PM
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

Hmmm, ...Aboriginal knowledge has two parts to it: [1]the Umwelt [which is local knowledge of nature, such as foods, medicines etc gained empirically and of great survival value], and [2] the dreamtime which is an "explanatory" rational for existence and origins. Of course, from a perspective of many "spiritual" aborigines, the two are inseparable and integrated into a "sense of country" and hence belonging to their group.
This is a common evolution in all cultures, where the natural and supernatural world are conflated and present dual explanations for phenomena. Pascal Boyer's excellent book "Religion Explained" does into this process in interesting detail.

My partner and I know some atheist aboriginals and one of the problems for them is being able to "be themselves" [as atheists] and yet show solidarity with aboriginal culture and people for political reasons. There are over 200 aboriginal tribes/nations/groups that obviously have common interests but are diverse in their traditions and beliefs to some extent. Of course, Christianity has contaminated many aboriginal cultures, but some folks may prefer Christians over atheists, because at least they "believe in something", if not the dream-time, then god. Quite a tough situation, because aboriginal empirical knowledge of nature is quite extensive, even though the "theory" is of course, woo. [The dreamtime explanation]. So indigenous folks are perfectly correct to believe that their Umwelt is valid and valuable knowledge, but unfortunately it is often then conflated and extended to the dreamtime. So it is hard to separate for some folks. Ernst Mayr and Jarad Diamond [and many others] have commented on the accuracy and efficacy of indigenous knowledge an New Guinea and elsewhere. [For example, indigenous taxonomy of bird species agrees VERY closely with the scientific taxonomy of birds species -locally].
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Last edited by Darwinsbulldog; 16th June 2011 at 12:18 PM.
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  #15  
Old 16th June 2011, 12:52 PM
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

Believe what ever you want until this sort of thing happens then it becomes questionable
Quote:
The Australian 2/8/10 said
TWO Australian Aboriginal brothers who beat up white anglers searching for a fishing spot at an indigenous sacred site said they were defending their land under traditional law - and claimed they had no choice but to attack because otherwise they would receive retribution from the spirits.
Article

The spirits told me to do it is not an excuse.
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  #16  
Old 5th July 2011, 01:38 AM
minerva minerva is offline
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

When it comes to the Australian indigenous people's religious creationism mythology - the dreamtime and the rainbow serpent and so forth - I do not personally give it any more credibility, nor any less credibility, than anybody else's particular creationism mythology, and I do not think it should have any more nor any less influence on government policymaking than anybody else's religious mythology.
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  #17  
Old 5th July 2011, 08:16 PM
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

The mythology has zero credibility as a description of how the world is. They may like it but that doesn't give them any right to use it to run by a different law to everyone else.
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Burden of proof is the obligation on somebody presenting a claim to provide evidence to support its truth (a warrant). Once evidence has been presented, it is up to any opposing "side" to show the evidence presented is not adequate. If claims were accepted without warrants, then every claim could simultaneously be claimed to be true.

History isn't written by the victors. It's written by the people with the time machines.
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  #18  
Old 6th July 2011, 12:13 PM
Jaar-Gilon Jaar-Gilon is offline
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

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Centauri said View Post
Hitchens is an anti-theist.

The belief systems of the Aboriginals are just another version of the same untruth. The untruth about creation, the untruth about spirits, and the untruth about any afterlife. I respect their right to a private belief, but I don't respect their belief - it's just as silly as christianity, islam and scientology.
Concise and exactly my thoughts Centauri.
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  #19  
Old 10th July 2011, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

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Darwinsbulldog said
...Aboriginal knowledge has two parts to it: [1]the Umwelt [which is local knowledge of nature, such as foods, medicines etc gained empirically and of great survival value], and [2] the dreamtime which is an "explanatory" rational for existence and origins.
Unfortunately with regards to part [1] most of this well of empirical knowlege is becoming obsolete, particularly the medicine. Since colonisation the majority of illness amongst the indigenous is lifestyle related eg alcohol, tobacco, european diseases etc and beyond the scope of this body of knowledge. I heard an interview on ABC tropical north radio (no link, sorry) with an indigenous health worker and one of the largest problems he faced was overcoming a reluctance by the indigenous to go to "white" doctors and hospitals until it is far too late for effective treatment. This has a real "self fulfilling prophecy" impact on others in the communities in that when someone does finally go there is a good chance they won't come back out.
Combine this with the inextricably linked [2] and you have a culture without the flexibility to meet the changed conditions and that could be the death of it.
As far as [2] goes by itself, it is complete load of bollocks for a scientific explanation of the world but an amazingly intricate an interesting one none the less.
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  #20  
Old 11th July 2011, 02:07 AM
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Default Re: Aboriginal Spirituality - the Atheist perspective?

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AUSloth said View Post
Unfortunately with regards to part [1] most of this well of empirical knowlege is becoming obsolete, particularly the medicine. Since colonisation the majority of illness amongst the indigenous is lifestyle related eg alcohol, tobacco, european diseases etc and beyond the scope of this body of knowledge. I heard an interview on ABC tropical north radio (no link, sorry) with an indigenous health worker and one of the largest problems he faced was overcoming a reluctance by the indigenous to go to "white" doctors and hospitals until it is far too late for effective treatment. This has a real "self fulfilling prophecy" impact on others in the communities in that when someone does finally go there is a good chance they won't come back out.
Combine this with the inextricably linked [2] and you have a culture without the flexibility to meet the changed conditions and that could be the death of it.
As far as [2] goes by itself, it is complete load of bollocks for a scientific explanation of the world but an amazingly intricate an interesting one none the less.
My post was descriptive rather than apologist. Of course the dream-time is fuckwittery. I was merely pointing out that the REAL aboriginal knowledge [the umwelt]/survival knowledge had merit, and of course, still does in the sense that it was good data [in many cases] that lacked good theory. As I said, Ernst Myers, Jarad Diamond, and others have commented on this empirical knowledge of nature and it's value. Survival technology if you will. The remarkable, almost perfect correlation between scientific taxonomy of say -birds, and the indigenous taxonomy.

So of course, the indigenous are right in that their species knowledge is good, but wrong in their "theory" -the theology of the dream-time.
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