SCIENCE VS RELIGION

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

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Moderator » Tue May 01, 2012 2:34 pm

Mixing the threads for a moment, but I cannot respond but cynically to my non-recovering alcoholic cousin's recent announcement that he's studying to become a pastor.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Evil » Tue May 01, 2012 3:07 pm

To continue the thread mix, just finished Megadeth guitarist Dave Mustaine's (ghost written auto) A Life in Metal, which is way more about rehab than it is about Metal. Seventeen times the guy went in. It's amazing the opportunities ruined and the friendships destroyed by drugs and alchohol. For all the guy's fame, fortune, and success, it sounds like a completely miserable life.

In the end, he says the only thing that helped was finding God.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby David Silver » Tue May 01, 2012 9:41 pm

Steve Evil wrote:In the end, he says the only thing that helped was finding God.


Well, to be honest, it's just a matter of trading one addiction for another. I won't bother anybody here with my own history with alcoholism (not me, but the MANY friends and relatives who suffered with it), but I've seen my share of "recovered" alcoholics who became religious addicts instead. They may have become more stable and less destructive on a social and deeply personal level, but every one of them became more disgusting for all sorts of new reasons and I couldn't stand them anymore.
We don't stop playing because we grow old.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ben W. » Wed May 02, 2012 8:20 am

Well, to be honest, it's just a matter of trading one addiction for another. I won't bother anybody here with my own history with alcoholism (not me, but the MANY friends and relatives who suffered with it), but I've seen my share of "recovered" alcoholics who became religious addicts instead. They may have become more stable and less destructive on a social and deeply personal level, but every one of them became more disgusting for all sorts of new reasons and I couldn't stand them anymore.


So you're essentially saying a material addiction like alcohol is preferable to an abstract addiction like faith?

The way I see it, both can lead to repulsive violence, but at least faith doesn't leave you with a punishing hangover the next morning.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed May 02, 2012 9:13 am

Ben W. wrote:
Well, to be honest, it's just a matter of trading one addiction for another. I won't bother anybody here with my own history with alcoholism (not me, but the MANY friends and relatives who suffered with it), but I've seen my share of "recovered" alcoholics who became religious addicts instead. They may have become more stable and less destructive on a social and deeply personal level, but every one of them became more disgusting for all sorts of new reasons and I couldn't stand them anymore.


So you're essentially saying a material addiction like alcohol is preferable to an abstract addiction like faith?

The way I see it, both can lead to repulsive violence, but at least faith doesn't leave you with a punishing hangover the next morning.


Actually, I think he was pointing out that "finding Jesus" is not a cure. Most of these folks only stop indulging substance abuse and take up substantive abuse. They're still assholes, only now they're "forgiven" and see no reason to take responsibility.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Wed May 02, 2012 9:43 am

People who pray have a more satisfying life.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Moderator » Wed May 02, 2012 9:56 am

My...reluctance...to embrace my cousin's newfound goal has little to do with his belief in God, which I do not question. He's always been a pretty devout kind of person. It's that he is turning to it -- in my opinion -- in the same way fallen politicians and clerics often do: "I've found God. God has forgiven me. I'm all right now. You should forgive me too", which is usually a crock. Newt Gingrich has actually pulled this off four times, and yet people keep nodding and welcoming him back to the fold. All too often I see religion being treated more as a scout badge than a deeply held spirituality. Or worse, a mark of exclusive membership in a club in which all non-members are looked down upon. But what they practice is not what Christ preached. (How else can you explain the complete divergence of Christ's teachings and the reputedly-more-religious Right's societal values and practices??)

I do not fault anyone for seeking the reassuring cloak of religion, despite the feeling amongst atheists that it's a deluded crutch it does have an important impact in helping people through hard times. I get that, even if I don't necessarily agree with it.

In the case of my cousin, I'm afraid this is being done for show - or as a last resort rather than a true calling. He's not dealing with his problems, he's continuing to mask them.

IMHO.YMMV.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Moderator » Wed May 02, 2012 10:00 am

FrankChurch wrote:People who pray have a more satisfying life.


I don't know if that's a defensible statement. Since there are as many definitions of "satisfying life" as there are individuals on this planet, I'm not sure praying is any more than one element of any person's "satisfaction".

(I believe that people who pray tell themselves they have a more satisfying life, but in many cases this will be attended by the confession that they struggle with the want for more things, better relationships, and other earthly dissatisfactions. Just about the only thing they usually label as truly satisfying is their relationship with God...it's the rest of the world that is mucking up their happiness.)
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed May 02, 2012 10:07 am

FrankChurch wrote:People who pray have a more satisfying life.


I know the research indicates this, but I can only really judge it from personal experience. Back when I prayed, it was always out of desperation. I didn't like myself. I prayed to be better (and never was). I prayed to stop masturbating (and never did). I prayed for good grades (and didn't get them). I prayed to stop feeling so shitty (and felt worse). Now, you might say I was praying for the wrong things, but that's beside the point, isn't it? I prayed because I believed there was a god who listened and that I'd find solace or an answer, but I never did. I felt worse when I prayed than I ever have since I gave it up.

I'll tell you what seems to be the case---people who embrace religion and apparently have a more satisfying life do so by virtue of letting things go. They have confidence that things will be taken care of, that it's not their responsibility, that Dad will fix it, and they stop worrying about it. Prayer for them is like depositing coins in the meter so time doesn't run out. They believe and stop stressing and, yeah, they enjoy life more.

But it's not the praying---it's the assuming everything will be all right and that it's not their look-out anymore.

I never got the hang of that---letting go.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby David Silver » Wed May 02, 2012 10:13 am

Mark Tiedemann wrote:Actually, I think he was pointing out that "finding Jesus" is not a cure. Most of these folks only stop indulging substance abuse and take up substantive abuse. They're still assholes, only now they're "forgiven" and see no reason to take responsibility.


Yes, that is EXACTLY what I was saying.
We don't stop playing because we grow old.
We grow old because we stop playing.

-- George Bernard Shaw

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Evil » Wed May 02, 2012 10:22 am

If prayer and God and belief and faith can help guys like Mustaine, then I'm all for it. But if they start pushing it on me using themselves as evidence, I would feel bound to remind them that their evidence is not exactly reliable.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ben W. » Wed May 02, 2012 1:09 pm

THE RAPTURE (1991).

This is worth seeing by believers and non-believers alike, IMO. It's difficult for me to describe the weird, weird zone this movie occupies.I really don't want to go into any great detail about it, for fear of making myself sound like a blockhead. Suffice to say, it's one of the most sincere, honest, and deeply troubling meditations on the nature of faith I've ever watched. Mimi Rogers also gives the performance of her career.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Wed May 02, 2012 1:25 pm

Finding Jesus, meaning finding a trump card to gull the naive. Sure, nobody likes that.

Jesus is about walking in those shoes. Living in a mansion, driving around in big cars, like Osteen certainly isn't Jesus worthy.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed May 02, 2012 3:22 pm

I can say from my days in the church that I have seen religious conversions where people genuinely overcame destructive personal behavior. Mark's analysis is spot-on. "Letting Go". That moment of psychological surrender to a "higher power" can be very powerful and transforming, no doubt about it. And look what you're rewarded with! A ready-made nurturing and accepting community embracing you and affirming your decision.

Once I was able to "let go". Then I was unable to "let go". And now I don't want to "let go". There is a common defense of religion that says, "If religious belief can comfort and affirm and strengthen people then what's wrong with it?" All I can say is that everyone has to make that personal calculation. Are you willing to pay the price for "letting go"? I suppose if you're desperate enough it's not too high a price. I'm just as lazy and as big a coward as the next guy but there's a part of me that nobody else can have. And if that makes me less "satisfied" and even less happy then so be it.

Ben W. wrote:THE RAPTURE (1991).

This is worth seeing by believers and non-believers alike, IMO. It's difficult for me to describe the weird, weird zone this movie occupies.I really don't want to go into any great detail about it, for fear of making myself sound like a blockhead. Suffice to say, it's one of the most sincere, honest, and deeply troubling meditations on the nature of faith I've ever watched. Mimi Rogers also gives the performance of her career.


Yeah, Ben great movie! The fundies will be scandalized by it but you're right. The ending is perfect. "Mommy, don't you want to go to heaven?"
“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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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Wed May 02, 2012 3:27 pm

Look at how the Nation transforms black men.


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