SCIENCE VS RELIGION

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

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Carstonio
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Postby Carstonio » Tue Nov 07, 2006 12:34 pm

David Loftus wrote: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.


Maybe that's because we as a species are still struggling to deal with the certainties of suffering and death. John 3:16 and Revelations 21:4 are emotionally powerful inducements to become a Christian. My theory is that the authors of the New Testament wrote those deliberately as manipulative propaganda.

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


That's one of the points I've been making.

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Nov 07, 2006 2:35 pm

David wrote

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

I only care when I'm forced to. Don't you see, how we treat others is a function of what we believe?

"Live and let live." Fine. But the religionists aren't going to allow that.
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Postby David Loftus » Tue Nov 07, 2006 3:13 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:David wrote

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

I only care when I'm forced to. Don't you see, how we treat others is a function of what we believe?



It CAN be. It doesn't have to be . . . and often, it isn't.

There are plenty of people out there -- on all sides of every issue -- who know they're right (and I know they're wrong), but don't bother to try to convince anyone else.
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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Postby david_n_scott » Wed Nov 08, 2006 2:13 pm

But what about you, David, are you suggesting that there is something illegitimate about my posts? That religion is above critique or cannot be expected to respond to criticism of its claims? If so, you would not be alone.

Divisive? Well yes, of course. Is that a sin?



No, as I was trying (and probably failing) to say before, I just thought it was odd to make it so clear that you were completely set on one point of view and then wonder aloud why no one was rushing to chat with you.

And, actually, I do get pretty tired of these sorts of posts. But since people of all views and spectrums do it all over the internet in regards to all sorts of issues (you're an idiot/sinner/facist/ if you don't support/oppose my cause of the week), it's probably manifestly unfair to vent on one particular person. Which is, of course, why I had already said I had regretted posting it.


How about not projecting your own insecurities and doubts onto me and responding to my actual points?

Nwe you're being stereotypical, at least as far as the 'projecting your own insecurities and doubts' nonsense. I have 0.0% doubt that divisive rhetoric doesn't help anything.

If you disagree then tell me why. You may not believe it but I can be made to change my mind if presented with good reason to do so.

Well, in my opinion, which in this case I'm much more certain than usual is in fact empirically true, the 'no religious person can be rational' argument is the sister of 'no atheist can be a moral person'. Which is to say that there are actual rational religious people in the world, just as there are actual moral atheists.

Polls and studies have shown that a decent percentage of scientists today believe in a theistic universe. That really isn't disputable. I hate to use a specific example because we'll probably get snarled up in arguing over that one person when I'm talking about thousands or maybe even millions of people, but I'll choose Francis Collins.

Is the head of the human genome project somehow fundamentally irrational? If so, isn't the fact that he's managed to be a pretty prestigious scientist evidence that maybe it hasn't hampered him too much in his pursuit of science?

I have no string of PHDs nor are any required. An afternoon’s googling will reveal to anyone with an interest about recent scientific discoveries about the early history of the universe. Do a search for HUBBLE ULTRA DEEP FIELD. You might find it very interesting.

Ah, well, that's considerably more precise than:

If you're looking for truth why not do it with the best tools available, the evidence of your senses disciplined by observation and experiment? These tools have taken us to the edge of the universe and back to within seconds of the singularity that produced our universe at the beginning of time.

...isn't it? If one considers that seeing 1/12,700,000 of the sky is taking us to the end of the universe when we haven't reached Mars in person, as it were. I suppose it's certainly true from a certain point of view, to quote old Ben Kenobi.

The beauty of science is that its results are available to anyone who wishes to take the time and spend the effort. No revelation required.

Well, it helps when you source things properly. And I am as I have ever been unconvinced that quoting press releases is taking advantage of the beauty of science. I am in the minority in the internet age though, where the opposite assumption tends to reign.

Anyway, other than being snarky (it's a disease, I know), the main crux of the thing is this:

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.

When you have this much of a dichotomy in mind... a dichotomoy which, by the way, many genuine certified and active scientists do not have in mind, then how could anyone change your mind?

You made fun of revelation, but you sure seem to have a doozy of one here. How can anyone dispute your oracular knowledge of 1,000 years hence?

My personal hope is that people everywhere will chill the hell out and will read the Bible or not as they please, preferably with a good scientific background. I mean, the historical fact is that allegorical and metaphorical translations of Genesis in particular have been in vogue since Augustine at the very least (probably considerably earlier, but that's the first name that comes to mind).

It's only been relatively recently that this became such an either/or question, and I don't think the church closing itself off is good for anybody.
It's the boogeyman of literalism, which even a conservative seminary will quietly kick in the face when people aren't looking.

Hell, if you read the bigwig Evangelicals on literalism they're almost lawyerly: 'at one point there was a perfect translation of the Bible that we don't have any more.' Even CS Lewis believed that Adam and Eve were the first beings to evolve into sentience.

I think there's a natural motion towards moderation, and segmenting the populace into Us vs Them pokes a lot of holes in it. A Francis Collins saying 'Hey, I'm Christian, and I say evolution is true. Take a deep breath and move on, peeps. It doesn't matter.' is going to do a lot more towards advancing science than all the firebreathers in the world.

...and, (he added, gaining so much steam that he started to shoot off into outer space and lose his point all together) why exactly do I care if the woman behind me at the bank thinks Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs or whatever? Really doesn't get my blood boiling, sorry.

OK, well, there was some formless pseudo-reply that took too long. THis is why I usually hide from message boards...

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Postby Moderator » Wed Nov 08, 2006 2:30 pm

I might point out that the above post was in response to Ezra's Monday 11:38 post to David N.

(Took me a minute to figure out who David was replying to, so I thought I'd clarify.)
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Postby david_n_scott » Wed Nov 08, 2006 2:31 pm

David, I don't know if your post was directed at me. Still, I think I can answer some of your questions. I don't define my beliefs as atheism, although I have a lot of empathy with atheists. Maybe I'm an atheism-sympathizer who would be forced by fundamentalist McCarthyites to testify before an imaginary House UnChristian Activities Committee.

...or the reverse, if some atheists have their way.

In my view, the real problem is evangelism. That "perceived tone and the apparent claiming of knowledge" that you mentioned - I perceive those things from evangelists in all belief systems. In my view, all evangelism, even secular evangelism as practiced by groups like PETA, is an inherent threat to the idea of freedom of conscience. Evangelism assumes that individuals are wrong for holding their own beliefs, that those beliefs must be changed.

I actually generally agree with you. It was what I perceived as a strong atheist-evangelism combined with protests that no one wanted to chat that got me riled in ther first place.

It's a tough line between wanting to have a free society and wanting people to just sort of live their lives and be left alone, though. I mean, if some evangelist somewhere has an open invite meeting, then it's sort of like 'well, you came here knowing you would be evangelized...'

I tend to obsess more about Christian evangelists because they have so much political influence. I'm thinking about how they hijacked the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and the Air Force Academy to use government to push their religious beliefs on other people.

Actually, the recent book-that-might-have-been-the-last-straw-for-the-Republican-Congress, Tempting Faith, says that may have all been a boondoggle. An interesting post-note to the whole thing.

The AFA thing is something I find myself ambient about. It's pretty gross to force religious beliefs on people who just want to serve their country. But it also seems to me that there's a reason people in the army invoke God so much, e.g. the fact they stand a pretty good chance of being blown up in the near future and they want to think it means something. Mmmph.

While I can't speak for the atheists here, I imagine that they often feel defensive. (Ezra, would that be accurate?) Despite the principle of freedom of government, American culture still regards non-Christians as abnormal.

Well, statistically speaking, they're a minority anyway...

And if you're an atheist, people often regard you as some freako-devo-pervo-twisto who tortures little kids in dank basements. So the defensiveness is not about the beliefs themselves, it's about being constantly harassed about the beliefs.

I don't know if you're helping your case by saying religion is your enemy (the enemy of the viewpoint you claim as your own, anyway).

I guess what it comes down to is that I've always heard that people should respect each others' beliefs... that's what makes the world go `round and all. But some people ('it's not a religion, it's a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! ' 'It's not my viewpoint, it's Science!') think they shouldn't have to follow those rules and it pisses me off.

But I guess what I was asking in some roundabout annoyed way was: why do atheists evangelize? SF-Christians do it, too, but I understand that they're trying to get me all orthodox-ized and ready to stand before the White Throne so they can feel good about my soul/ get jewels in their heavenly crown and all. So, why the other side?

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Postby david_n_scott » Wed Nov 08, 2006 2:51 pm

...and that was to Carstonio, Posting: Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:24 pm

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Postby Carstonio » Wed Nov 08, 2006 3:37 pm

...or the reverse, if some atheists have their way.

I obviously agree. I hope you're not saying that hijacking government to push beliefs would be more wrong if it was done by atheists and not Christians.

It's a tough line between wanting to have a free society and wanting people to just sort of live their lives and be left alone, though. I mean, if some evangelist somewhere has an open invite meeting, then it's sort of like 'well, you came here knowing you would be evangelized...'

Good point. But the "open invite meeting" metaphor doesn't reflect what happens in real life, in my view. In my experience, evangelists hijack conversations with friends, relatives, and acquaintances in order to pressure people to convert.

By the way, I use "evangelist" in the general sense, meaning people who make it their business (or obsession) business to win converts to their belief systems.

The AFA thing is something I find myself ambient about. It's pretty gross to force religious beliefs on people who just want to serve their country. But it also seems to me that there's a reason people in the army invoke God so much, e.g. the fact they stand a pretty good chance of being blown up in the near future and they want to think it means something. Mmmph.

Again, good point. I would never tell service members (or anyone else) that they shouldn't follow their religious beliefs. That wasn't the issue at Colorado Springs. The issue was that the institution was hijacked (there's that word again) to try to force cadets to become Christians. Calling non-Christian cadets "heathens" and telling them they're going to hell - that has no place anywhere, certainly not in a government institution.

I don't know if you're helping your case by saying religion is your enemy (the enemy of the viewpoint you claim as your own, anyway).

I never said religion was my enemy. My enemy is the desire by others to make me change my beliefs, even when the desire is not directed at me personally.

I guess what it comes down to is that I've always heard that people should respect each others' beliefs... that's what makes the world go `round and all. But some people ('it's not a religion, it's a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! ' 'It's not my viewpoint, it's Science!') think they shouldn't have to follow those rules and it pisses me off.

And that pisses me off too. That's part of the reason I've been venting in this thread. Those people claim to possess absolute truth, something that I'm not sure even exists. As I see it, such claims amount to redefining the other people, or redefining the world for other people. In their view, I'm stupid because they say I'm stupid, or I'm a sinner because they say I'm a sinner. I don't mean that their attitude about truth is directed at me personally.

But I guess what I was asking in some roundabout annoyed way was: why do atheists evangelize?

I don't have the answer. I've never had the desire to make someone else change his or her beliefs. I am not responsible for what others believe, and they are not responsible for what I believe.

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Postby david_n_scott » Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:51 pm

Dammit, my mind is not organized enough to the quote thing. Grrr. Well, I'll try.

Carstonio wrote:...or the reverse, if some atheists have their way.

I obviously agree. I hope you're not saying that hijacking government to push beliefs would be more wrong if it was done by atheists and not Christians.


Nope, just as bad. I think the government has a lot of problems they can deal with before moving on improving their citizens, to say the very least.

Carstonio wrote:Good point. But the "open invite meeting" metaphor doesn't reflect what happens in real life, in my view. In my experience, evangelists hijack conversations with friends, relatives, and acquaintances in order to pressure people to convert.



Oh, I was specifically thinking altar calls at a church (which you sort of have to show up for). Well, really, I was thinking Billy Graham, since you sort of have to show up at the stadium or whatever.

I don't like it when you have people who try to drag you into conversations about stuff like that. I mean, I don't think you should live under a pall of silence, either, but I don't like one track people. Though most people I meet like that are more into politics than religion, anyway. Maybe that's more respectable.


Carstonio wrote:By the way, I use "evangelist" in the general sense, meaning people who make it their business (or obsession) business to win converts to their belief systems.


I think that's a good use. I think one reason people have really hit the wall with evangelism these days is that it is everywhere--people want you to join side in poltiics, culture, music and fashion...

Carstonio wrote:Again, good point. I would never tell service members (or anyone else) that they shouldn't follow their religious beliefs. That wasn't the issue at Colorado Springs. The issue was that the institution was hijacked (there's that word again) to try to force cadets to become Christians. Calling non-Christian cadets "heathens" and telling them they're going to hell - that has no place anywhere, certainly not in a government institution.


Well, there you go, then. I think the heathen word should pretty obviously not be allowed in any situation like that. I was thinking of something else, then.


Carstonio wrote:I never said religion was my enemy. My enemy is the desire by others to make me change my beliefs, even when the desire is not directed at me personally.


Sorry, I was referring back to the thread here--Science VS Religion. I really am less scatter-brained in real life, when the phone isn't ringing and all. :oops:

Carstonio wrote:And that pisses me off too. That's part of the reason I've been venting in this thread. Those people claim to possess absolute truth, something that I'm not sure even exists. As I see it, such claims amount to redefining the other people, or redefining the world for other people. In their view, I'm stupid because they say I'm stupid, or I'm a sinner because they say I'm a sinner. I don't mean that their attitude about truth is directed at me personally.


It's hard for me not to feel that way sometimes, though. I suppose when you actually talk to someone like that they mean present company excepted. But then not always.

Carstonio wrote:I don't have the answer. I've never had the desire to make someone else change his or her beliefs. I am not responsible for what others believe, and they are not responsible for what I believe.


See, I think you and I basically agree. It's hard to say from a few message board posts, but I definetely think we have much in common.

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:16 pm

david_n_scott wrote

..I just thought it was odd to make it so clear that you were completely set on one point of view and then wonder aloud why no one was rushing to chat with you.

I would have thought from the context of the statement you found so odd that it was pretty clear it was offered in a somewhat humorous fashion.

...you're an idiot/sinner/facist/ if you don't support/oppose my cause of the week...

At NO point in any of my posts have I resorted to personal attacks. I am attacking a way of thinking, or more accurately a way of NOT thinking. If you really think that religion vs science is merely a "cause of the week", well...

'no religious person can be rational'

Is that really what I wrote?

Polls and studies have shown that a decent percentage of scientists today believe in a theistic universe. That really isn't disputable. I hate to use a specific example because we'll probably get snarled up in arguing over that one person when I'm talking about thousands or maybe even millions of people, but I'll choose Francis Collins.

Is the head of the human genome project somehow fundamentally irrational? If so, isn't the fact that he's managed to be a pretty prestigious scientist evidence that maybe it hasn't hampered him too much in his pursuit of science?


You may be right. But so what? That proves exactly....nothing. Arguments based on authority are worthless.

Anyone can do science because science is a method, a process.

People can be rational and non-rational, both, and, neither.

Belief without evidence is fundamentally irrational.

...If one considers that seeing 1/12,700,000 of the sky is taking us to the end of the universe when we haven't reached Mars in person, as it were.

Scientific consensus currently is that the universe is about 13 billion years old. One of the galaxies revealed in that Hubble Ultra Deep Field is about 12 bilion years old. That's pretty close to the beginning. Still a ways to go. The real exploration of the early universe is being done in other radiations than visible light of course.

What's the big deal about planting boots on Mars? These wonderful probes and telescopes are extensions of our senses, making voyagers of us ALL.

..why exactly do I care if the woman behind me at the bank thinks Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs or whatever? Really doesn't get my blood boiling, sorry.

Hmmm...because she might be on your school board deciding what texts will be used and what subjects will be taught to your kids?
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Postby david_n_scott » Wed Nov 08, 2006 6:52 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:I would have thought from the context of the statement you found so odd that it was pretty clear it was offered in a somewhat humorous fashion.


Well, it's a pretty common problem on the internets... humor not coming through, I mean.

Ezra Lb. wrote:At NO point in any of my posts have I resorted to personal attacks. I am attacking a way of thinking, or more accurately a way of NOT thinking. If you really think that religion vs science is merely a "cause of the week", well...


I do, yes. I think that once Bush is out of the White House and American Christianity continues a trend towards moderation (more and more Christians are coming out of the 'evolution closet' ever year), then people will take a deep breath and realize that most Christian denominations are solidly blue Democrats and so the whole seperation is silly.

Ezra Lb. wrote:Is that really what I wrote?


Isn't it?

Ezra Lb. wrote:You may be right. But so what? That proves exactly....nothing. Arguments based on authority are worthless.


That's a common trope in these sorts of arguments. Of course, that would assume that I was saying that Christianity was true because scientists believe in it, rather than just saying that the division between religion and science is made false by their existence.

Ezra Lb. wrote:Anyone can do science because science is a method, a process.

People can be rational and non-rational, both, and, neither.

Belief without evidence is fundamentally irrational.


Even conceding your point that religious belief is fundamentally irrational, I have to wonder then... what's the problem? If people can be both rational and irrational, why is science vs religion some sort of thousand year cage match?

Ezra Lb. wrote:Scientific consensus currently is that the universe is about 13 billion years old. One of the galaxies revealed in that Hubble Ultra Deep Field is about 12 bilion years old. That's pretty close to the beginning. Still a ways to go. The real exploration of the early universe is being done in other radiations than visible light of course.


Well, just in my personal opinion, I find some clash between "within seconds" and within a billion years. Which is what you said way back. :wink:

Ezra Lb. wrote:What's the big deal about planting boots on Mars? These wonderful probes and telescopes are extensions of our senses, making voyagers of us ALL.


I dunno. Maybe I'm just annoyed that I'll probably never make the, what, 22 million(?) I'd need to get up into orbit and want the thing to speed up a bit.

Ezra Lb. wrote:Hmmm...because she might be on your school board deciding what texts will be used and what subjects will be taught to your kids?


Ooh, touche.

I still think that you'd be better off trying to convince her to be a God-helped-evolution-along type than a there-is-no-God type. At the very least, one would be much more in her comfort zones and thus more likely to be succesful.

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Postby Carstonio » Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:47 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:..why exactly do I care if the woman behind me at the bank thinks Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs or whatever? Really doesn't get my blood boiling, sorry.

Hmmm...because she might be on your school board deciding what texts will be used and what subjects will be taught to your kids?


Theoretically, it should be possible for that woman to hold that belief but not seek to persuade others to hold it. Theoretically, it should be possible for school board members to act in the interests of all students, not just those who share the members' religious beliefs. But in practice, fundamentalists often seek posts on school boards specifically to turn public schools into centers of Christianity indoctrination.

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Postby david_n_scott » Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:58 pm

Carstonio wrote:Theoretically, it should be possible for that woman to hold that belief but not seek to persuade others to hold it. Theoretically, it should be possible for school board members to act in the interests of all students, not just those who share the members' religious beliefs. But in practice, fundamentalists often seek posts on school boards specifically to turn public schools into centers of Christianity indoctrination.


I'd like to think it was a possibility for our society to reach that point. I also think that the scandal-ridden Congress' collapse and Bush looking like a lame duck (along with just some things I've seen here and there) indicate that Fundamentalists are getting burned out on civil society and might just reach that point.

One can hope... Certainly Pat Robertson and Dobson have seen better days...

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Jun 12, 2007 6:57 am

A new Gallup Poll on the relationship between political views and attitudes towards evolution bring predictable but nevertheless depressing results-

http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci=27847

Of course there is a relationship as well between political affliation, attitude toward evolution, and church affliation.

Perhaps it overstates the case to say that religion makes you ignorant. But boy howdy it sure is the number one enabler of it.
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Postby Anthony Ravenscroft » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:54 pm

My feeling is that many religious excresences play to the existence of whatever bizarre cancerous organ produces calcified prejudices. So, it's not that religion makes people stupid -- but it sure encourages people to take refuge in their own stupidity against uncomfortable facts.

I was fortunate to be raised in the 1960s in the Wesley United Methodist Church, just after a period of reunification -- the Methodist church disintegrated a century before, & had finally worked out its schisms.

As such, I picked up a habit of facing up to realities, however irritating, & working with what's in front of me rather than what God's gonna put on my plate when I croak off this mortal etc.

There are sure plenty of stupid, bigoted people running around who owe no real allegiances to any particular church.


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