SCIENCE VS RELIGION

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Mark Tiedemann
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Dec 31, 1969 6:00 pm

Frank brought this up over on the Pav page and I ain't cluttering it up with a response, so I'm moving it here.

This is a new one. Reagan was a nonbeliever.

Excuse me? The man who raised prayer breakfasts to the level of a cabinet post and brought Jerry Falwell and his moral loons into politics? Who let his wife dictate the feng shui of his entire administration through the use of an astrologer? Nonbeliever?

And the basis of this claim? He never went to church.

Well, smack my face raw, is that all there is to it? Go to church? Shit.

Frank, this is a bogus assertion. Nonbeliever or believer, it makes no difference in politics and power. Hitler was not a nonbeliever. Perhaps he believed in a faith you wouldn't credit, but his entire regime was soaked in religious fervor. (Did you know that you could not be a member of the SS if you were an atheist? Himmler thought atheists were unreliable. There's a reason for that, of course---atheists tend not to believe for the sake of believing.

But Reagan?

If you're going to make that claim, then it is fair to say that there is no basis on which anyone can judge anyone else's belief. The most ardent churchgoing pious prude or the back-to-nature egalitarian cannot be judged by their behavior.

Come on---going to church is somehow proof or disproof of one's belief?

Reagan believed in his destiny. That requires a religious apprehension of reality. Atheists know there's no such thing as destiny. Only someone who believes that validation comes from the universe buys that shit and it has to be a conscious, aware universe, namely one suffused by a god, for it to be the case.

As for making ethics up as you go along---exactly how do religious people not do that? And exactly how is that not the way everyone has always done it?

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby cynic » Wed Dec 31, 1969 6:00 pm

hey mark;
sorry to interupt, but apparently the interweb cloud is full...
it seems to be raining the bits down on Wed Dec 31, 1969 6:00 pm .

where are my pants? :shock:
follow your bliss,mike

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Dec 31, 1969 6:00 pm

I'm enjoying this exchange greatly. Sharp comments and observations from both "sides."

One observation: the assertion that atheism constitutes a dogma doesn't hold water. Dogma by definition is a set of behavioral and philosophical dicta which take precedence over individual conscience by dint of subscription. In other words, if you're going to be a Catholic, they have dogma for you to follow, and you must do so. Other than the broad, general assertion that there is no supernatural being called God, where is the common dogma that "joining the atheist club" requires of its members? There is, if anything, anti-dogma. Think for yourself.

That said, I agree that atheism and rationality are not the same, nor even necessary for each other. There are plenty of intuitive atheists who probably reason no better than the average doofus. There are likewise many a wise and rational believer.

I will argue that for someone to move from Belief into atheism usually requires a heavy dose of reason. Moving the other way, it seems to me, only requires surrender.

Both positions---atheist and believer---get so bound up arguing with each other over which worldview is right they often overlook the more pertinent question: what do we do about the human condition?

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SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:43 am

“When prominent rationalists profess anything that sounds like atheism, it gives the hardcore fundamentalists more PR ammunition.”

So… what?

“When prominent liberals profess anything that sounds like toleration it gives the hardcore bigots more PR ammunition.”

Or

“When prominent pacifists profess anything that sounds like peace it gives the hardcore militarists more PR ammunition.”


Pat Buchanan was right, folks. We are in a culture war. A war for civilization and enlightenment values against barbarism and ignorance. The “know-nothings” are SERIOUS folks. Why aren’t WE?

Toleration is a noble goal, not to be despised. But there is a phony toleration that is merely a mask for cowardice. I’m afraid that Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of “Non-Overlapping Magisteria” is one such.

What religionist is content to merely “…aaaaaaahhhhhhh…” at beautiful sunsets or make the occasional pronouncement about how we should all feel kindly towards animals? I’ve never met a religionist yet who didn’t think that their religion was saying something about what actually happens in the world. And if they make testable claims then that certainly falls under the purview of science. The problem is that when religionists make these claims about the world then along comes bad ole science spoiling the party.

Orthodox Hindus believe that the civilization of the Vedas was the oldest, established from eternity. Along comes those pesky archeologists with their discovery of a pre-Vedic civilization. Native Americans believe that the Great Spirit placed them here in America when he(it?) created the world. Dang if those geneticists can’t show that their ancestors were Asians who came over the Bering Strait at the end of the last Ice Age.
(We won’t even start on Christianity.)

Now I’m not advocating attacking little old ladies on their way to church. But if people who should know better, the Bishop, or the Imam, or the Rabbi make egregiously stupid statements, why shouldn’t they be challenged? May I submit that one of the reasons we find ourselves in the deep shit we’re in as a country is because those of us who try to live a life based on reason and understanding have remained silent? Perhaps with the best of motives, out of a sense of propriety, not willing to offend?

I am an atheist. Why? Because I can find absolutely no reason to believe that such a creature as god exists. You have proof? I would love to see it. Seriously. But until then my guiding principle was enunciated by Bertrand Russell a long time ago.

Why believe in something if there is no good reason to do so?

Carstonio wrote

...most people's idea of an atheist is Madelyn Murray O'Hair, who seemed to go out of her way to provoke people. She seemed more interested in generating publicity than in encouraging serious debate about government neutrality in religious matters. She provided a visible, personified enemy for people who believed that their faith was under attack. Sometimes I wonder if O'Hair was a fundamentalist mole out to destroy atheism's reputation from within.

I don't know where you got this view of MMOH but you should investigate further. She has been slandered enough by the religious right. Let's remember what the original issue was she brought before the Supreme Court. Her local school-board was forcing the students to recite a prayer they had composed under penalty of dismissal.

and

Vent warning: I feel passionately about this because I hate being told what to believe and what not to believe. I feel threatened whenever someone wants to change my beliefs, because it feels like they want to get inside my head, like they want to subject me to a mild version of brainwashing. The concept of evangelism implies that the individual has no right to his or her own beliefs.

Fine, as long as you don't assume this puts your ideas in a special category free from criticism.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:15 pm

You get a gold star for that rant, Ezra. Good one.

Zip er down, and one of my concubines will service ya.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Carstonio » Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:21 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:“When prominent liberals profess anything that sounds like toleration it gives the hardcore bigots more PR ammunition.”

Or

“When prominent pacifists profess anything that sounds like peace it gives the hardcore militarists more PR ammunition.”


It sounds like you believe that atheism and rationalism are the same thing. As someone who sides with atheists on the cause of religious freedom, I believe that atheism does not have a monopoly on rationalism. I believe that atheism is a dogma, and as such it should be debated and questioned like any religious dogma. I suspect that you and most other atheists not only believe in that kind of questioning but encourage it. But in any movement there are vocal extremists, and the atheistic extremists are just as irrational and just as inflexibly dogmatic as any fundamentalist from Christianity or Islam.

From my perspective, neither atheism nor fundamentalist religion allow for the possibility that "God" is a metaphor and not an actual being. That gets back to the Joseph Campbell quote I offered in the Pavilion. I might be wrong about that. There may be plenty of atheists and religionists who agree with Campbell. I just haven't heard from any of them.

Ezra Lb. wrote:Orthodox Hindus believe that the civilization of the Vedas was the oldest, established from eternity. Along comes those pesky archeologists with their discovery of a pre-Vedic civilization. Native Americans believe that the Great Spirit placed them here in America when he(it?) created the world. Dang if those geneticists can’t show that their ancestors were Asians who came over the Bering Strait at the end of the last Ice Age.
(We won’t even start on Christianity.)


I've said before that I have little use for doctrine. The Dalai Lama has said that when religious doctrine conflicts with observable phenomena, the solution is to change the doctrine. Absolutely. As we learn more about the universe, I believe all religions should shed such outdated doctrines. I hope they will. This may sound Roddenberryish, but I see that as a necessary step in the evolution of human civilization.

Ezra Lb. wrote:May I submit that one of the reasons we find ourselves in the deep shit we’re in as a country is because those of us who try to live a life based on reason and understanding have remained silent? Perhaps with the best of motives, out of a sense of propriety, not willing to offend?


Or maybe because the vocal extremists on both sides dominate the debate. My theory is that in any movement, the most extreme members are also the most vocal members.

Ezra Lb. wrote:I don't know where you got this view of MMOH but you should investigate further. She has been slandered enough by the religious right. Let's remember what the original issue was she brought before the Supreme Court. Her local school-board was forcing the students to recite a prayer they had composed under penalty of dismissal.


No question that O'Hair was on the side of religious freedom. Personally, I want to beat the hell out of people who would try to push their religious beliefs on my kids. I'm afraid for what I would have done if I had been in Louis Ellison's shoes and heard about my son being accused of killing Christ.

And no question that O'Hair was slandered by the religious right. Still, from what I've read about her from less biased sources, she had a reputation for foul language in public and for shocking people just to get a reaction. I'm not repelled by those personally, and those might be admirable attributes in a writer. But those are dangerous attributes for someone representing the cause of religious freedom. It allows the opponents to perpetuate the fraud that they have a monopoly on decency and goodness.

I feel the same way about Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan. I agree with most of their points about the war in Iraq, about how Bush manipulated Americans' desire for 9/11 revenge and used it to get us into a pointless war. But at the same time, I'm embarrassed that they have made themselves the chief spokespersons for anti-Bush dissent, because they have unhealthy cravings for media attention. The pro-Bush side uses that to falsely define and label all opponents of the war as irrational at best or treasonous at worst.

And that's what is happening with the debate over religion in America. There are Christians and other religous people who oppose creationism in schools and "under God" in the Pledge on constitutional grounds. But the opposition seeks to define even these people as atheists and religion-haters. Again, it's not atheism that is the problem. It's that the word is being used to label and define people in a way that they do not deserve. It's a continuous battle to keep from being labeled and defined.

It's probably foolish of me to long for spokespersons for religious freedom whose personality and demeanor are as rational as their beliefs. I wouldn't want spokespersons who roll over and play dead while fundamentalists torch the Bill of Rights. But I also wouldn't want spokespersons who come across like desperate media whores, thus only serving to encourage the fundamentalists. During the height of the Watergate scandal, Ben Bradlee advised Woodward and Bernstein to cut out anything in their personal lives that they wouldn't want played out on front pages across America, because Nixon's men would use it to trash the reporters' reputations. That's what I meant by a PR strategy.

Ezra Lb. wrote:Fine, as long as you don't assume this puts your ideas in a special category free from criticism.


Oh, hell no. I would never make that kind of assumption. My point was that a vocal minority of atheists use words like "stupid" and "ignorant" for anyone who doesn't share their beliefs. I'm not saying that you do this, of course. That behavior is not much different from that of fundamentalists who go around telling unbelievers that they're doomed to hell. Both of these infuriate me, although the fundamentalists infuriate me more because they're saying that unbelievers don't have a right to exist.

My point was that I oppose all orthodoxy, religious or otherwise. I reject even the idea of orthodoxy. I perceive all evangelists as controlling and manipulative, as control freaks. They are impossible to please. Nothing you do is good enough for them. They will not be satisfied until you change your beliefs to match theirs, until you give up your independence of thought.

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:51 pm

Carstonio wrote

It sounds like you believe that atheism and rationalism are the same thing.

Well my atheism certainly comes out of my rationalism. Reason is a tool freely available to anyone. Unfortunately for many folks their reason tool has been left out in a field to rust and be half covered by grass. I’ll admit it I’m stupid most of the time. Just like everybody else reading this post. But there are people who genuinely make an effort to understand, to see clearly. And remarkably perhaps, are able to achieve moments of lucidity. Is it illiberal and obnoxious to be contemptuous and dismissive of those who don’t even try? So be it.

Carstonio, I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you say that atheism is a dogma. I would define a dogma as an irrational belief that cannot be questioned without taking offense. I expect argument, invite it, enjoy it. Dogma is much more characteristic of religion that science. And that’s because science doesn’t deal in faith. And why there is really no such thing as a scientific orthodoxy. There are only hypotheses that are testable and verifiable and those that are not. Sure, an individual scientist can cling to a pet theory in the face of contrary evidence but who is it that overcomes these false ideas? Other scientists looking at the evidence. When’s the last time a scientific theory was overturned from a pulpit?

Who are these “atheistic extremists”? Sam Harris? Richard Dawkins? If so, have you read any of their actual books?

"God" is a metaphor.

Certainly. And that’s all. But that is not the way that most Christians in most times and places have looked at it. Certainly not the founders of the religion. It’s interesting that you bring up Joseph Campbell, whose work I admire a great deal. At the end of his life Dr Campbell was turned into a sort of new age guru as a result of the interviews he did with Bill Moyers (who always struck me as kind of a dim bulb). Dr Campbell was contemptuous of what he called “nature-boy mysticism” and was himself an atheist. How do I know? At a lecture I heard him respond to a question from a minister in the audience. Do you believe in a personal god? No, I do not. Dr Campbell was concerned with the inner realm of human psychology. In that sense of course all “god” can be is a metaphor.

The Dalai Lama is a remarkable individual (and as a Buddhist certainly a non-theist). But what I am offering for consideration is the idea that not just certain doctrines but religion itself is outmoded.

Religion, specifically Christianity, has enjoyed a privileged place in our culture. Now at last, for many reasons it is becoming possible for individuals to speak out publicly in opposition to this position of privilege. And so the howls and moans go up to heaven. But why shouldn’t the religionist have to defend his or her ideas in the so-called “market place” (ugh) of ideas like everybody else. And why shouldn’t a stupid idea be called out? I think a lot of ideas which might seem reasonable while being protected in the shadows are going to be exposed for the paltry and shabby ideas that they are when examined dispassionately in the light of day.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Postby Carstonio » Thu Oct 26, 2006 8:34 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:Carstonio, I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you say that atheism is a dogma. I would define a dogma as an irrational belief that cannot be questioned without taking offense...


My definition of dogma is broader than that. In my view, even a rational belief can seem like a dogma to me, if the belief's proponents demand that no one question that belief.

Ezra Lb. wrote:Who are these “atheistic extremists”? Sam Harris? Richard Dawkins? If so, have you read any of their actual books?


They weren't authors, just people I've met over the years. While I admired their ideas, they had a missionary zeal that was almost unbearable. They seemed to take it personally that not everyone shared their beliefs. And they took extreme offense whenever anyone questioned their message. Not only did they remind me of evangelical Christians, they also reminded me of evangelical vegans. It wasn't their beliefs, it was their attitude that everyone should accept their beliefs. That's what pisses me off - I have such a horror of being told what to do that I would probably vote against world peace if it was a requirement.

Ezra Lb. wrote:Religion, specifically Christianity, has enjoyed a privileged place in our culture. Now at last, for many reasons it is becoming possible for individuals to speak out publicly in opposition to this position of privilege.


And I welcome that wholeheartedly. My objections to Christian doctrine could take up an entire thread of their own. (In brief, the Bible describes a God that is like an emotionally and physically abusive parent.)

Ezra Lb. wrote:But what I am offering for consideration is the idea that not just certain doctrines but religion itself is outmoded.


To play devil's advocate, why couldn't religion evolve to focus solely on simply the meaning and purpose of life, and leave the mechanics of life to the scientists? On other threads, I've asked Christians what does creationism-versus-evolution have to do with the teachings of Jesus. The fundamentalists among them refused to see my point, as I expected.

Below is a decent article about Sam Harris. I agree with most of what he has to say. But I'm concerned that he is turning himself into a bogeyman for the religious right. Is that what he really wants?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01998.html

"You're not going to convert everyone to atheism," says Harvey, the retired Stanford professor. "Secular humanists like Harris ought to be concerned with allies, to win fights on questions like the separation of church and state. But Harris isn't concerned about the political implications of his arguments, because he thinks that anything supernatural is evil."


And that's my point. I believe atheists and liberal Christians should put aside their differences, at least for the time being, and join forces to fight the theocrats who seek to tear down the wall between church and state. That to me is more important than Because if the theocrats win and America becomes the Republic of Gilead, there won't be freedom of religion for anyone.

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:53 am

Good discussion Carstonio.

According to the toll of hits as of a minute ago 85 people had read this thread but only you and I (with Frank's delightful contribution) seem interested enough to post. Perhaps they are astonished and intimidated by our verbal acrobatics? Yeah right.

...if the belief's proponents demand that no one question that belief.

Which is of course the exact opposite of the true scientific spirit, which questions everything. Of course that doesn't mean there aren't arrogant, "know-it-all" scientists, but time tends to crush these sorts of individuals. The next generation comes along, looks at the data with fresh eyes, and ole Doc Frankenstein gets the boot. Contrast this with the blind dogmas of the Church which get handed down generation to generation, never questioned.

In brief, the Bible describes a God that is like an emotionally and physically abusive parent.

Not to mention a genocidal psychotic.

...why couldn't religion evolve to focus solely on simply the meaning and purpose of life, and leave the mechanics of life to the scientists?

Well in a real sense the thoughtful religionists have been forced to do this already by the findings of science. My own question would be, if religion has nothing to say about the "mechanics of life" then how could it have anything to say about "meaning and purpose"?

The religious right has tried to turn Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins into "bogeymen" because it allows them to dismiss their arguments without engaging them.

I believe atheists and liberal Christians should put aside their differences, at least for the time being, and join forces to fight the theocrats who seek to tear down the wall between church and state. That to me is more important than Because if the theocrats win and America becomes the Republic of Gilead, there won't be freedom of religion for anyone.

One of the most controversial aspects of both Dawkins' & Harris' books is their criticism of so-called "moderate" religious believers. It's easy to go after the loonies. (And I keep bringing D & H up because they are the current best-selling public atheist intellectuals. For the record I have been an atheist for a long time. I'm not a recent "convert".) They both address this issue at length so please read their books.

My opinion is that the religious way of thinking and the scientific way of thinking are so mutually contradictory that the differences cannot be rationalized. To put it crudely, it would be like trying to graft wings on a pig. Now from a political point of view I suppose coalition poitics is a tried and true methodolgy. As long as both sides don't fool themselves into thinking they have more in common that they do (and yes I know many people don't agree with this point of view).
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Postby Duane » Fri Oct 27, 2006 12:20 pm

Ezra wrote:My opinion is that the religious way of thinking and the scientific way of thinking are so mutually contradictory that the differences cannot be rationalized. To put it crudely, it would be like trying to graft wings on a pig. Now from a political point of view I suppose coalition poitics is a tried and true methodolgy. As long as both sides don't fool themselves into thinking they have more in common that they do (and yes I know many people don't agree with this point of view).


Hmmm. That would seem to account for the lack of responses.

Let me put it this way: According to the above logic, why should any two random people bother to try to get along in the first place?

When a man and a woman get married, there comes a point when both realize that down to their cores they are two completely different people with some mental and emotional parallels and an entire U-Haul packed to the gills with contradictions of same. Yet both, if they care enough, find a way to work through such differences and come up with a whole that is, hopefully, greater than the sum of its parts.

Unless one of the partners simply stands back and demands considerations and respect that s/he has no intentions to reciporcate....

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Postby Duane » Fri Oct 27, 2006 12:23 pm

Reciprocate with me Ezra, reciprocate.... :lol:

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:23 pm

Reciprocate with me Ezra, reciprocate....

Gladly my friend since I suffer from that most horrible of diseases, the wish to be understood.

I remind you I was explaining to Carstonio why I thought science and religion where incompatible. It was Carstonio not I who was trying to reconcile the two.

There are forks in the road sometimes. One cannot simultaneously go to Paris and to London.

Science and religion are enemies. There, I've said it. A thousand years from now only one mode of thought will have survived. I know which future I will work for although I am definitely NOT optimistic.

Unless one of the partners simply stands back and demands considerations and respect that s/he has no intentions to reciporcate....

Which is exactly what the religions have been doing for the last five thousand years. Which is exactly what Christianity has been doing in this country since the country was founded.

All atheism/rationalism can do is demand a level playing field. On that level playing field it will prosper every time. It is not illiberal and obnoxious to attack the undeserved position of privilege that the religions have enjoyed. If they have the influence of the Divine Reality at their disposal why are they so afraid to have to defend their ideas?

I'm just an asshole with lots of questions.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Postby Carstonio » Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:27 pm

This is a very fruitful discussion.

Ezra Lb. wrote:My own question would be, if religion has nothing to say about the "mechanics of life" then how could it have anything to say about "meaning and purpose"?


Because any answers to the first question are based in reason, or at least should be, and any answers to the second questions are based in opinion. Maybe the "meaning and purpose" properly belongs to philosophy and not to religion.

The "mechanics of life" explanations by various religions were almost certainly attempts to explain natural phenomena in the pre-science era. I just read "Don't Know Much About Mythology" by Kenneth Davis and was amazed to see the similarities and the differences among the creation myths. The human race has long since outgrown the need for those myths, but believers still cling to them out of fear of the unknown and fear for the future.

But in my view, even people who have conquered those fears still wonder if life holds any meaning. Unlike virtually all organized religions, I believe that each of us is on a personal journey to find our own meaning. No organized religion is capable of defining that meaning for its adherents, not without turning it into dogma that serves the organization at the expense of the individual.

So if we strip away the dogmas and myths and superstitions from the world's religions, would they end up looking like Confucianism? From Davis' description, I got the impression that Confucianism is almost philosophical atheism. Or would the religions go the Campbell route and treat their myths as teaching stories and not as objective fact? (I agree with you about Bill Moyers - he seemed resistant to what Campbell was telling him, and I don't think he ever understood.)

Ezra Lb. wrote:My opinion is that the religious way of thinking and the scientific way of thinking are so mutually contradictory that the differences cannot be rationalized. To put it crudely, it would be like trying to graft wings on a pig.


Are you talking about all religion, or do you make a distinction between the philosophical and dogmatic aspects of religion? People cling to dogma because they're desperate for some kind of meaning and purpose to life. If a religion can satisfy that longing without superstition, encouraging people to find their own meaning and purpose, that might leave the world safer for reason and science,

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Postby A Wasted Mind » Sun Oct 29, 2006 2:40 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:
According to the toll of hits as of a minute ago 85 people had read this thread but only you and I (with Frank's delightful contribution) seem interested enough to post. Perhaps they are astonished and intimidated by our verbal acrobatics? Yeah right.



I've been following this discussion with a great deal of interest. I haven't chimed in because, quite frankly, I dont feel up to it. All I would have to bring to this table is uninformed opinion, and that doesn't count for much. But you two are expressing a lot of the ideas that I've been kicking around in my head for the past couple of years, and I find myself in the interesting quandary of agreeing with both of you, back and forth, as I read your posts.

For what it's worth, my personal belief is that science is the only true religion. As the human race struggles to find its place in the universe through science, so the human race reaches towards a discovery of what life really is, and what it means. The notion of a god-figure is no more awe-inspiring to me than the observable reality that somewhere in the inconceivably distant past an improbable sequence of physical events caused the creation of everything around us. So I don't necessarily think that spirituality and science are incompatible. I do, however, think that dogma and science are necessarily incompatible.

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Oct 30, 2006 2:48 pm

AWM wrote

...my personal belief is that science is the only true religion. As the human race struggles to find its place in the universe through science, so the human race reaches towards a discovery of what life really is, and what it means...

I think there is a real danger in regarding science as merely a substitute for religion. This is a common criticism by fundamentalists especially. Because they cannot conceptualize outside their own irrational point of view they assume that science is simply a competitor that wishes to replace them. (AWM I'm not accusing you of this.)

What is disappointing is to realize that many of science's defenders share this view. They see science as the latest unquestionable authority, scientists as a priesthood, and expect in the conclusions of science those benefits they derive from religion, value, meaning, purpose.

But science is a new thing on this earth, even though it does have some ancient antecedents. It is fundamentally (bad pun) a different way of thinking than religious thinking. It is not a natural way of thinking. It is not easy to shift our consciousness to a scientific way of thinking. Science is frequently counterintuitive. The conclusions of science often defy "common sense".

...I don't necessarily think that spirituality and science are incompatible...

What I reject is irrational belief. Faith in the supernatural. One of the lies that religion tells is that in rejecting them you also have to reject awe and wonder, the ability to be overwhelmed and fulfilled by beauty, the ability to act ethically.

As if Jesus invented compassion and empathy for the suffering of others. As if Buddha invented disciplined thought. As if god invented art.

Carstonio wrote

Maybe the "meaning and purpose" properly belongs to philosophy and not to religion.

Perhaps we shouldn't waste our lives trying to find meaning but spend our lives creating it? And less there seem a contradiction here, remember nature as revealed by science is full of function, but the religions define meaning as something prior to us, handed to us, demanded of us.

What is the purpose of a flower? A river? A mountain range? They exist. We can understand the processes that resulted in their existence. Anything other than that we bring with us.

Why assume that human beings are any different in our essential nature?
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter


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