SCIENCE VS RELIGION

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

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Douglas Harrison
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Postby Douglas Harrison » Mon Nov 06, 2006 3:57 pm

Carstonio wrote:
Douglas Harrison wrote:but clearly others feel they must answer the challenge of an opposite understanding in order to promote and protect what they believe to be true.


I suspect that probably comes from their own insecurities.


In some cases, perhaps, but you must realize that there are plenty of people who feel that the pursuit of truth is one the reasons for being on this earth, and that that pursuit should be shared.

Carstonio wrote:Here's a comparable situation from my own life - my wife kept her name when we got married. I would have done the same if our positions were reversed. We've encountered quite a few women who seemed almost offended by our decision, like their own decision to take their husbands' names was somehow devalued. But some other women told us they wished they could have kept their last names.


I don't think the above situation is comparable, because I don't think the choice of a name carries the same ramifications as one's conclusions about the nature of existence.

D.

Carstonio
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Postby Carstonio » Mon Nov 06, 2006 4:06 pm

Douglas Harrison wrote:I should add that I think one's religious beliefs are intrinsically about others--and all things, for that matter. How could they be otherwise, unless one lived in a universe all one's own?


That relates to my point about each individual creating or finding his or her own purpose and meaning. I think when it comes to that purpose and meaning, one is indeed in a universe all one's own. This may sound like Deepak Chopra nonsense, but I believe each person is on a unique spiritual journey. To a point, that spiritual journey influences one's behavior toward others, but really it's about the choices one makes for one's self.

Plus, I don't want other people's religious beliefs to be about me, because I see that as an attempt to control me. In my personal experience, people grant love and approval on a conditional basis, where they withhold love and approval when I don't meet their expectations. When people want me to convert to their religion, that feels an attempt to brainwash me.

Carstonio
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Postby Carstonio » Mon Nov 06, 2006 4:15 pm

Douglas Harrison wrote:In some cases, perhaps, but you must realize that there are plenty of people who feel that the pursuit of truth is one the reasons for being on this earth, and that that pursuit should be shared.


Why should I trust their definition of truth? It feels like they want to get inside my head.

Douglas Harrison wrote:I don't think the above situation is comparable, because I don't think the choice of a name carries the same ramifications as one's conclusions about the nature of existence.


Of course the ramifications are different. But both situations bring out the same emotion in me, although to much different degrees. In both situations, I feel like someone is saying I'm not a worthy human being if I don't meet the person's standards.

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Nov 06, 2006 4:53 pm

“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Douglas Harrison
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Postby Douglas Harrison » Mon Nov 06, 2006 5:24 pm

Carstonio wrote:
Douglas Harrison wrote:In some cases, perhaps, but you must realize that there are plenty of people who feel that the pursuit of truth is one the reasons for being on this earth, and that that pursuit should be shared.


Why should I trust their definition of truth? It feels like they want to get inside my head.


I said there are many people who feel the pursuit of truth should be shared, not necessarily a particular truth.

Carstonio wrote:
Douglas Harrison wrote:I don't think the above situation is comparable, because I don't think the choice of a name carries the same ramifications as one's conclusions about the nature of existence.


Of course the ramifications are different. But both situations bring out the same emotion in me, although to much different degrees. In both situations, I feel like someone is saying I'm not a worthy human being if I don't meet the person's standards.


I wouldn't come up to you on the street and question your religious views or demand to know what they are, but were you to disclose them in the course of a discussion on, say, science versus religion, couldn't I contest what you said without questioning your worth as a person?

D.

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Mon Nov 06, 2006 5:57 pm

Haggard proves that the loonies use sin as an excuse to be sinful. All they have to do is cry and ask for forgiveness from the flock, and the Robertson's of the world do the soft shoe for the jerk.

Religion is like making ice cream with just ice, and trying to convince people that the lack of flavor is imaginary.

Carstonio
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Postby Carstonio » Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:26 pm

Douglas Harrison wrote:I said there are many people who feel the pursuit of truth should be shared, not necessarily a particular truth.


But evangelism doesn't recognize a difference between the two. Evangelists don't want you to pursue truth - they only want you to pursue THEIR truth. I see that as an attempt to redefine other people's reality.

Douglas Harrison wrote:I wouldn't come up to you on the street and question your religious views or demand to know what they are, but were you to disclose them in the course of a discussion on, say, science versus religion, couldn't I contest what you said without questioning your worth as a person?


Sure, as long as you didn't tell me I was going to hell or that I deserved to die because I don't share your beliefs.

And here's what I don't understand - why would you want to contest my stated beliefs in the first place? Assuming that my beliefs didn't lead me to commit acts that hurt other people, why would someone want to change my beliefs? (My beef with religious rightists is not so much with their beliefs but with their objective to use government to push their beliefs on others.)

Douglas Harrison
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Postby Douglas Harrison » Tue Nov 07, 2006 1:13 am

I really don't deny that there are plenty of extremists out there who would love us to think as they do. Conformity, group-think--those are qualities of society that are not easily discarded.

My interest in this discussion is not to suggest that there is a justification for intolerance in religious matters. Rather, I am intrigued by what creates the conflict between believers and nonbelievers. I believe we are speaking at cross-purposes, Carstonio. You are advocating an ideal (or so it seems to me), while I am searching for the root of the differences between two mindsets.

I've enjoyed the back-and-forth, though.

D.

Carstonio
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Postby Carstonio » Tue Nov 07, 2006 5:41 am

Douglas Harrison wrote: I believe we are speaking at cross-purposes, Carstonio. You are advocating an ideal (or so it seems to me), while I am searching for the root of the differences between two mindsets.


I don't understand what you mean when you say I advocate an ideal. I am simply stating my objections to evangelism, which I define as trying to convince others to change their beliefs. That agenda represents an inherent violation of other people's personal and mental boundaries, even when the evangelist doesn't explicitly question the target's intelligence or right to exist. Personally, when a person wants to change my beliefs, I feel like the person wants me to please them instead of pleasing myself, to live my life according to what they want instead of what I want. It doesn't matter to me if that isn't the evangelist's intention, partly because I cannot read or decipher other people's intentions, and partly because my emotional experiences are more valid to me.

Tony Rabig
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Postby Tony Rabig » Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:18 am

I think Carstonio's most recent post goes a long way toward explaining why discussions about politics and religion, on these boards and elsewhere, tend to get so shrill.


Bests to all
--tr

Carstonio
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Postby Carstonio » Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:34 am

Ezra Lb. wrote:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15566391/site/newsweek/

He says it better than I did.


I read that before you posted it. I'm 90 percent in agreement with Harris, especially his points about Bush. Harris is absolutely right when he wrote that "Believing that God has delivered you unto the presidency really seems to entail the belief that you cannot make any catastrophic mistakes while in office." GWB once told an audience of Amish that God speaks through him. It was terrifying to realize that our President seems to have a messiah complex.

But to conclude that ALL religion is the problem, seems to me to be an act of overcompensation. What about another option - maintaining a "separation of church and state" between one's beliefs about the supernatural and one's actions in the practical world? Or a separation between beliefs that affect only the self and beliefs that affect others? Employees of companies are expected to do that in the course of their jobs. Plenty of Presidents have believed in a god without believing that they were divinely chosen to lead the nation.

Carstonio
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Postby Carstonio » Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:56 am

Tony Rabig wrote:I think Carstonio's most recent post goes a long way toward explaining why discussions about politics and religion, on these boards and elsewhere, tend to get so shrill.


I often sound shrill on this topic because I have a horror of being controlled by others. I have often been told that my desires and emotions are invalid or strange or unacceptable. When a dogma says that certain beliefs are forbidden, or when evangelists say I must believe as they believe, I perceive those as attempts to control me or control what I believe.

It cannot be emphasized enough that dogmatic intolerance can also be found in many secular ideologies. I have the same issue with secular dogmas as I do with religious dogmas. I find the works of George Orwell and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to be both horrifying and compelling. Both writers described systems dedicated to stamping out independent thought. Living under such a system is the absolute worst thing I could imagine.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:02 am

I just don't understand all this animosity toward religion.


I know some Christians who are very moral people.


In fact, some of my best friends -- oh, never mind.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:11 am

Carstonio wrote

But to conclude that ALL religion is the problem, seems to me to be an act of overcompensation.

This gets back to what I consider one of the most important points I was trying to make in my original post. I'm not simply criticizing this or that individual irrational belief (although I have done that and will probably continue doing that), I am in the main criticizing the mode of thought that relies on irrational belief, faith in the irrational, faith without evidence.

Perhaps the mainstream religionists don't do as much immediate damage as the fundamentalists but their reliance on such irrational faith certainly enables the fundamentalists.

And in the end what is the difference between irrational faith in Yahweh, the Abba of Jesus, magic crystals, the presence of the body and blood of Jesus in the Mass, Great Cthulhu, reincarnation, Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? There is no evidence whatsover that any of them exist.
“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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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:23 am

Ezra Lb. wrote:I am in the main criticizing the mode of thought that relies on irrational belief, faith in the irrational, faith without evidence.



Being the congenital (and congenial) atheist that I am, and inclined toward radical skepticism and an unwillingness to join ANY sort of group activity or mass movement, I naturally want to say "hear, hear," and agree with most of your positions.

But I also think that irrational beliefs, faith, and maybe even faith without evidence are natural and inescapable in the human animal. I speak in the broadest sense, however; not about religion or the supernatural per se.

So I'm a little more lenient on other folks' belief systems nowadays.

What you believe isn't that important; really, I could hardly care less. How you treat others is what counts.

I suspect much of what you guys are debating here has more to do with the latter -- or how closely people link the two -- than faith or belief or religion, etc.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus


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