SCIENCE VS RELIGION

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

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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:50 pm

Did you watch the video, Doug?

They obviously cannot study the human brain as much since they cannot cut into a living brain, which would be immoral. Psychology cannot get into the internal workings of the brain and the complex nature of how our brains work. Humans are merely very strange creatures.

Angels in the mythic sense.

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Steve Barber
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Barber » Thu Sep 11, 2014 4:14 pm

Frank, I think you're confusing physical complexity with intellectual complexity.

All the references you're giving are physical ones, and you're drawing the conclusion that if something is physically difficult to study (without killing the patient) it must follow that they are psychologically impossible to read..and that is just not the case.

You employ psychology all the time. Posting little missives which you know will elicit a specific response is psychology. You state things, knowing exactly how people will react, and this gets you -- often -- punched at for the effort. But you know precisely what you're doing, and that knowledge is the application of psychology.

Arguing against the efficacy of psychology based on physical (not mental) observation is wildly off base...but arguing against it when you do it every day is...well..difficult to defend.
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Mark Tiedemann
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:43 pm

Actually, one of the basic conundrums of the human quest for knowledge---the desire to know but not be known. It's all very well for this psychology stuff to apply to other people but not to me. One of the markers of a neurotic, which is a very well understood condition.

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FinderDoug
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FinderDoug » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:59 pm

Frank,

So you're saying:

- where science is concerned, we can't know everything, it's all too complex, we couldn't possibly figure it out, so it isn't worth the effort to try, because science can't really answer complex questions.

- where faith is concerned, we can't know everything, it's all too complex, we couldn't possibly figure it out, but we should dive right in, even though it can't really answer complex questions.

Fair summation of your historical arguments thus far?

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:55 pm

At first this might seem to be the wrong thread but bear with me.

Obama made a televised speech last night the ostensible purpose being to outline our strategy against the growing power of ISIL/ISIS/IS. To me it seemed awfully thin on strategy and more concerned with bolstering the Prez's foreign policy bona fides. The gist seemed to be, ISIS is bad and we will fight terrorism. Well Ok...

I support opposing ISIS with our military power but that's not my main point here. Included in the speech was a theme he's been repeating in all his public comments about the Islamic State.

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim…. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way….

Well the second point is obviously true that most of the victims of IS are themselves Muslim. (This sounds much more persuasive an argument than it actually is. Most of the victims of the American Civil War were Americans, duh.) But the suggestion that IS is not in any way motivated by Islam is absurd. I assume Obama and his folks are smart enough to really know this but are anxious to prevent any anti-Muslim hysterical reaction in this country. I'm sympathetic to that. It doesn't take much to set many Americans off. Considering our mindless reaction to 9/11, I shudder to think what would happen here in the event of another mass casualty terrorist attack.

But why does our public discourse, already attenuated, also have to be dishonest? Who are we fooling? IS are simply sadists with no motivations whatsoever except a lust to kill? Really? Well cue the video.

This is a five part news report from VICE news who managed to embed a reporter among IS fighters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsCZzpm ... f7&index=1

It's less than an hour but very revealing. If these folks were really only psychopaths that would be easy. But the truth is worse. Their interpretation of Islam is perfectly orthodox, shared by tens of millions of people. They have political aims and grievances of course but these flow directly out of their religion and are fed by it.

But there's a larger issue that is just as applicable here as there. How religion is privileged. Our religions are quick to take ownership of any perceived benefits that accrue from their beliefs. But anything bad that happens, well they weren't real Christians/Muslims/whatever. Religion has benefits and liabilities as do all products of human culture. Why do religions get a free pass?

Much of the animus against atheists in our society is that they have the temerity to call religion on its bad behavior. Indeed, the quickest way to get accused of "hate speech" is pointing out that the Bible and the Koran are full of hate speech.
“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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Chuck Messer
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Chuck Messer » Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:23 pm

Or, some lunkhead actor will make a movie like GOD IS NOT DEAD and set up an atheist straw man to knock down, letting him claim victory as if he KO'd Mike Tyson.

What is it that motivates some people to turn a religion into a death cult? Plenty of practitioners of various religions aren't mass murderers. So, what the hell? Even secular, political organizations can attract people who, for all practical purposes, turn it into a kind of religion and then into a death cult. Root out the unbelievers, Tail Gunner Joe! Not to mention the mass slaughter of millions by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot...

I mean, what the hell? What the fucking hell?

Chuck
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Fri Sep 12, 2014 5:37 am

Chuck,

Why do religions get a pass? Simple to explain, harder to excuse. Religion is where we keep all the bat-shit crazy. You give someone a special room and tell them it's sacred and everything in it is true regardless of how nothing in it makes no real sense and then tell them they're not only perfectly normal for keeping that room but they're blessed. As is human wont, people then throw everything that more or less fits the same profile into that room, from the Tooth Fairy to the Grassy Knoll, and then give it legal as well as cultural protection. Anyone with the temerity to open that door and point out the insanity not only gets dumped on by Jesus and the Boys but by every other unprovable, whacko, conspiracy-laden bit of supernatural flotsam that person has accrued over a lifetime of collecting and refusing to be critical. It becomes part of their identity and when challenged all the primeval instincts rise to the defense. When you challenge religion, you become the sabre-tooth tiger at the mouth of the cave. And that cave is the one Plato described.

It gets a pass because people will kill each other rather than tear down that room.

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FinderDoug
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FinderDoug » Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:45 am

What is it that motivates some people to turn a religion into a death cult?
A combination of awareness that religion has a tremendous power to leverage human beings*, and desire to apply that knowledge to meet their own goals (money, power, supporters.)

It's not so very different from a nationalistic leader seeing how to rally his people to a cause. You need the position, a mandate, a sense of identity for your people, and an enemy.

In politics, a leader is given (or sometimes seizes) the position, chooses the mandate, uses public issues to create the sense of identity, and decides who his enemy is.

In religion, a leader is given a position (or sometimes just sets up his own), chooses the mandate, attracts people who associate with the religious identity, and decides who his enemy is.

In either case, the mandate needs to be grounded in the originating philosophy, or the illusion quickly falls apart.

Hitler did it with Nazi Germany. Pope Urban II did it with the Crusades. It's probably been done for as long as we've had recorded history.

Either way, it takes someone who knows how to work the room to his advantage - someone who understands how to wield psychology and leverage human nature. (Yes, Frank. Those things. Go read up on Stanley Milgram's work regarding obedience to authority, the Halo Effect in marketing, and the engineering of cognitive dissonance, among others. It's not so much that people are sheeple, but that we're wired in very specific, discernible ways that are exploitable once you understand them.)

I suspect the only thing that's kept a movement of either style (nationalistic or religious) from taking firm hold in the US in the last twenty years - aside from the ethnic, religious, and philosophical diversity we enjoy as a nation - is the complete and utter lack of a charismatic individual to untie the disparate parts into a quiet storm under one umbrella. Right now? Too many fragments pushing too many simultaneous mandates; too many people wanting to be the center, with too much desire for media attention for bombastic, over-reaching, sometimes hysterical statements. No big picture with any of them, and no way to achieve consensus at this point - none of them are equipped for moderation. (Who knows - perhaps our deep division is also keeping someone from forming a coherent movement. All the way around, whether it's a Pat Robertson, a Harry Reid or a John Boehner, they all have their "who can take these assholes seriously?" moment for SOME segment of society.)

The problem will come when you get one person who sees how all of the seemingly disparate pieces can be assembled into a hideous weapon. The guy who comes along - political or religious - in this country who knows what he wants to accomplish and figures out how to 1) rally significant numbers of people, 2) leverage the media, 3) set a focused agenda, 4) find a cohesive enemy, and 5) speak smartly and rationally to advance the agenda, no matter what the agenda item is?

History suggests that person will be well-positioned to eviscerate the notion of "it can't happen here."

======
*Which may or may not come with an actual cynicism about the deity at the heart of the religion - I believe you can have a zealot who really does believe what he does is done to honor his god, but that would be at the tail on the bell curve. If you're using religion as a tool of control and motivation, you're probably past the "What is thy bidding, my master?" phase of your faith.

DanielBarron
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby DanielBarron » Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:59 pm

FinderDoug wrote:read up on Stanley Milgram's work


It is an important (although, unethical by today's standards) study. However, new research asserts the wrong conclusions were drawn:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/scien ... 12600.html

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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Fri Sep 12, 2014 2:59 pm

Didn't I mention that I read the Demon Haunted World, which is about as pro-science as it gets. I am for the scientific method, not for religion, since that is more about human ethics, which goes beyond science. Human nature is like religion, science just cannot crack all the codes, maybe never will.

Science cannot disprove heaven, since we are not dealing with a natural realm science understands.

----------

Daniel, good to see that. Yea, the Milgram study does not really tell us much about human evil, since the shockers of people did it because Americans at the time were highly conformed and respected authority in very crazed ways. Thankfully the 60s changed that. Real human nature came out then.

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FinderDoug
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FinderDoug » Fri Sep 12, 2014 4:34 pm

since the shockers of people did it because Americans at the time were highly conformed and respected authority in very crazed ways
Frank, do you make stuff up just to fill time? Maybe you should check out the actual paper. It's online for free and everything.

Thanks for the heads up, Daniel - interesting stuff.

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Steve Barber
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Barber » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:34 pm

I agree with Doug. A substantial portion of the American people are probably more likely to engage in Milgram-esque behavior than in the '50s. I see a huge number of trends towards bullying and deliberate misinformation swaying the masses into acts which, only two decades ago would have raised eyebrows.
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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:07 am

Humans have become more humane. We used to condone huge bombing of civilian targets, these days we do not.

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Steve Barber
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Barber » Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:37 am

FrankChurch wrote:Humans have become more humane. We used to condone huge bombing of civilian targets, these days we do not.


This has nothing to do with Milgram. Or the ability for those in power to influence Americans into doing things against our better nature.
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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Sat Sep 13, 2014 10:28 am

They can but not like in the 50s where everybody hid under their bed even if the government went boo. Nowadays social media has evened the playing field. The whole gay marriage thing is proof of that. Gays are no longer seen as evil.

Government, these days can do very little. That is why the media does its bidding to help it out.


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