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 » Mon May 27, 2013 6:44 am

diane bartels wrote:The concept of God is so complex such a concept cannot possibly exist. Maybe I am not understanding the argument well enough? It is hard for me, because God seems the simplest idea in the world to me.
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The traditional conception of "god" is a being who not only intentionally created everything that exists, has existed, or will exist, but actively takes note of all of it, simultaneously across all temporal spectra. For that to be possible, such an entity would by definition be more complex than the creation attributed to it, hence Dawkins notion of expanding shells of complexity extending to the impossible.

Now, if you go the other way (more toward Spinoza) and conceive of a god that is simply the extant fact of creation, then it need only be as complex as existence, since they are one and the same.

If you go back to a more physics-based idea of god as the first principle (prime mover, etc) then it need only be as complex as an atom, since all it had to be was tip everything out of balance just enough for the Big Bang to commence. But that god is not "here" in the way most believers wish it to be and is therefore not a very cheery idea.

The frustration people like Dawkins (and me) often have with believers is when you get right down to it, for them, god is whatever you need it to be depending on what you're talking about. Some combination of Superman, Caspar the Friendly Ghost, and Judge Dredd. Which, as a psychological tool, makes perfect sense, but when you point that out you often get a very negative reaction.

Hence, regardless of which model you choose, the idea of "god" is extremely complex. Simple only obtains when you give up any need for the idea and eschew dependence on it.

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Lori Koonce
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Lori Koonce » Mon May 27, 2013 10:27 am

A suggestion for all who participate here

One of the best books on the subject of god is called God: A Biography. It is by Jack Miles.

He chose to look at the Bible as a piece literature and not as a religious text. From that perspective he traces the changes in Jews and how that changed the concept of god.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon May 27, 2013 10:44 am

He means evil people. They will be separated from God.

Having actually read the New Testament (you should try it) I notice that the heavenly definition of "evil" is pretty broad. Separated? An interesting turn of phrase. Do you believe in hell, Frank?


The concept of God is so complex such a concept cannot possibly exist.

Diane the only thing I can add to what Mark said is just to point out that we don't know how the universe began. All scientists will admit this though there is much speculation and interesting clues abound. Since we don't know we are compelled to follow the evidence wherever it leads. But if we're honest and start from the position of "we don't know" then what reason is there to suppose that a god is an explanation?

This is why I'm an atheist. Not because I had a trauma or because there are hypocrites in the church or the Crusades or the Inquisition. But because for the life of me I can't see any compelling reason to believe. What real evidence is there that god exists?

He chose to look at the Bible as a piece literature and not as a religious text.

Thanks Lori I will check it out. But I can testify from my own experience as an ex-believer that this is the correct approach. Once you abandon the notion that the Bible is some kind of special revelation and accept that it is simply the product of people who lived in a certain time and place with the ideas of that time and place then the text opens up to you and truly speaks. Then you are free to retain the parts that contain real wisdom and reject the parts that reveal the limitations of the time and place. Only believers are in the absurd position of having to rationalize all the bad stuff because they insist on holding on to the concept of special revelation.
“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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Lori Koonce
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Lori Koonce » Mon May 27, 2013 11:08 am

EZ

Here's another reason to pick it up. The Old Testament and what the Jews call the Tanakh are in a totally difference order. Miles choice of the Tanakh makes the whole concept of god a really interesting thing to think about.

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Mon May 27, 2013 11:19 am

Lori Koonce wrote:EZ

Here's another reason to pick it up. The Old Testament and what the Jews call the Tanakh are in a totally difference order. Miles choice of the Tanakh makes the whole concept of god a really interesting thing to think about.



As I recall, the early christian mythographers (Ambrose, Jerome, and the like) reordered the books to put the prophecies in close proximity to the coming of Christ. In the original ordering, all that was relegated to a time shortly after the establishment of Israel and a markedly less ordered period. If read in the original order, it becomes evident that the Hebrews thought we should "grow out of" a reliance on a deity, that all that was part of a past that no longer pertained. Yahweh makes fewer and fewer appearances that way until there are one or two books which make no mentioned of him at all.

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Lori Koonce
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Lori Koonce » Mon May 27, 2013 11:31 am

Mark Tiedemann wrote:
Lori Koonce wrote:EZ

Here's another reason to pick it up. The Old Testament and what the Jews call the Tanakh are in a totally difference order. Miles choice of the Tanakh makes the whole concept of god a really interesting thing to think about.



As I recall, the early christian mythographers (Ambrose, Jerome, and the like) reordered the books to put the prophecies in close proximity to the coming of Christ. In the original ordering, all that was relegated to a time shortly after the establishment of Israel and a markedly less ordered period. If read in the original order, it becomes evident that the Hebrews thought we should "grow out of" a reliance on a deity, that all that was part of a past that no longer pertained. Yahweh makes fewer and fewer appearances that way until there are one or two books which make no mentioned of him at all.



Yeppers, and the character arc from a creator to a silent being is an interesting one.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby diane bartels » Mon May 27, 2013 4:25 pm

You know, Mark,Ezra and Lori, I agree with you on most all you say. Except my heart is satisfied that there is a God. And if you, as very dear friends, are happy with the contrary view, I am most happy for you, feeling neither the need or the desire to "convert" you. Pope Francis agrees,which makes me happy too. I feel so isolated in the Catholic Church sometimes. Further thoughts.... For me, God is love. Love is simple, love is complex, it is good and it is terrible in it strength, not terrible awful, terrible mighty. When very young like 11, my reading and thinking led me to believe I had to give up one of two concepts = God as all powerful or God as all loving. The all powerful concept bit the dust, leaving all loving. His power is limited by his love which gives us free will. A friend of mine years ago said If God is small enough for me to understand, then He/She is not big enough to take care of my problems. That made sense to me. So that's me checking in.
Lori, I will look for the book. I love the conversations we have here.

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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Tue May 28, 2013 10:39 am

My belief is the holy spirit leads you to God. God is separate from us until death, maybe even then.

Hell? Hell is an atheist conference.

Actually, hell is ripped off from Greek myths. The loving Jesus would not support a burning hell. On the cross he said "forgive them father, for they know not what they do."

That would be like a jew forgiving an SS guard. Only God could think like that. What's called Agape love.

Real evil people may go to a separation from God, not fire. Mental illness is not evil.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Tue May 28, 2013 11:18 am

FrankChurch wrote: Hell? Hell is an atheist conference.


Oh, that was unkind. Ever been to one?


On the cross he said "forgive them father, for they know not what they do."

That would be like a jew forgiving an SS guard. Only God could think like that. What's called Agape love.


Gosh, that means that whoever wrote those stories must be God! Because someone, a human, thought like that. And others must have, too, in order to understand it.

And agape is a Greek concept.

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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Tue May 28, 2013 12:38 pm

In that Chomsky interview Abby Martin quotes Dawkins who said that Islam is our greatest threat. Chomsky said it was Christianity. He should mean false forms of Christianity.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Tue May 28, 2013 1:06 pm

FrankChurch wrote:In that Chomsky interview Abby Martin quotes Dawkins who said that Islam is our greatest threat. Chomsky said it was Christianity. He should mean false forms of Christianity.


Well, I suppose they could mean different kinds of threat. Christianity has the potential to dull the intellect. Marx was right about the opiate effects. Anything that lowers the general I.Q. is a threat.

Islam, however, actually promises rewards for mayhem.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Gwyneth M905 » Tue May 28, 2013 3:31 pm

Mark Tiedemann wrote:Islam, however, actually promises rewards for mayhem.


If I may, Islam doesn't promise rewards for mayhem. On the contrary, there are very strict rules for the conduct of war in the Qur'an. However, what Islam lacks is something like the hierarchical system of Christianity, specifically Catholicism, from which all other forms of Christianity sprouted (in tandem with Orthodoxy.)

There is nothing like the Magisterium in Islam. Anyone can set himself up as a Sheikh and start issuing fatwas. Look at Anwar Al-Awlaki. He preached violence, but was poorly educated in the religion. Also, Saudi Arabia, which has Bush/Cheney connections so far their ear scrapes the ground, was created by the British India Office to favor the ibn Saud family and the practice of Wahhabism during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after WWI. Poorly educated religious zealots are easier to control, or so the thought went. Anyway, Saudi money funds terrorism as a branch of Wahhabist beliefs. These beliefs are outliers in the bell curve of Islam as a whole. Unfortunately, yes, Saudi influence in the region is growing.

The full extent, and it is extensive, of Saudi involvement in 9/11 was redacted from the official report because of their ties to Bush/Cheney. Please don't confuse Islam with Wahhabism. That's like comparing Diane's form of Catholicism with the Westboro Baptist Church.
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Mark Tiedemann
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Tue May 28, 2013 4:22 pm

Gwyneth,

Mea culpa, and point taken.

However, just as in Christianity, for the average disciple the religion is what he or she is told it is. Being informed about the finer points of either religion requires education beyond the typical and so the "flock" sees their religion as that which is preached to them by the guy they're listening to. Hence when the Catholic priest (of a particular generation) says it is against the faith to call the cops on an abusive priest, that ends up being what Catholicism is for those listening to him. Thus too when the Mullah says if you kill infidels paradise awaits, how shall the masses gainsay him? In both instances, it is the faith being represented.

Was a time, the priest told his flock that killing Muslims was a holy thing. That was Christianity---then. No matter what it said elsewhere.

Islam condones striking at enemies of the faith---but as you point out, there are strict rules controlling such activity. Very strict rules, so strict that, it seems to me, it requires the acumen of a scholar to process them. The default should be, unless you understand these rules very well, leave that sword (gun, bomb) alone and go in peace. Among a certain sector, the default goes the other way. But for them, this is Islam.

I think we in the West have become comfortable with ignoring religious dictates when we choose. Living a good life supersedes doctrine, for the most part. We fail often on both ends of appreciation when faced with people who can't do that.

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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Tue May 28, 2013 5:15 pm

Islam forbids murder, terrorism. Gwyn is right, matters who utters the fatwa and who believes it. You can have one thousand Imams saying many different things. Most don't do any violence so the good kind must be working.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue May 28, 2013 6:05 pm

If I lived in a culture dominated by Islam then I would spend my time criticizing Islam but since I live in a culture dominated by Christianity I will focus my energies on the matter at hand.I

The loving Jesus would not support a burning hell.

Frank a short while back when I tweaked your nose and suggested you actually read the New Testament I was merely being a smartass. Now I'm flabbergasted. Could it be you've never actually read it? All you have to do is get a Bible concordance and look up the word "hell" and you will find that the vast majority of the teaching about the smoky place comes out of the mouth of...guess who?

For example...

Matthew 8:11-12
Mark 9:42-48
Luke 16:19-31
Jude 1:3-13
Revelation 20:11-15

Maybe he didn't really mean it but what else didn't he really mean? And how do you determine which parts to accept and which parts to ignore? If he was wrong about hell what else was he wrong about?

---------------------------------------------------

Islam forbids murder, terrorism.

Yeah well Jesus said to forgive your enemies and turn the other cheek and love love love but tell it to the two million Vietnamese and the tens of thousands of Iraqis all bombed out of existence by pious Christians with their fingers on the trigger.

But how can it be that Jesus preached forgiveness for his enemies and also preached condemnation of unbelievers? Because all scripture, ALL scripture was written by human beings and you can cherry pick them and find a backing for whatever point of view you want.

Let me leave you with this:

Juan Mendez, an Arizona State Representative, was asked to give a prayer in the Arizona State House. It was his turn you see and chances are they didn't realize he was an atheist, and welll... here's his “prayer”.

Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all the men and women here in this moment, sharing this extraordinary experience of being alive, and dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people of our state. This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my secular humanist traditions stress, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences…Let us root our policy-making process in these values that are relevant to all Arizonans, regardless of religious belief or non-belief. In gratitude and in love, in reason and in compassion, let us work together for a better Arizona.

What can I say but...amen!
“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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