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The Key


Dethblight
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Yes, it's been said before, but it is so monumentally important (to my way of thinking at least), that it bears repeating. There are countless reasons why I discount religion, but there is one thing above all that is the rock of my DISbelief (hehe)... Both science and religion have explanations for the how's and why's of existence and everything in it. The explanations science comes up with make predictions that can be verified or debunked. Physics tells me about gravity, and makes predictions about how it behaves, rates of gravitational attraction, etc. Every creature to ever exist has tested these predictions by virtue of existing within them. If I jump off of a building, I will fall, and gravity has been verified yet again. If a scientific theory is insufficient, it is re-examined and modified as necessary. Using gravity as my example again, on very very large and very very small scales our standard model of gravity sometimes is insufficient to fully explain everything. The theory is then re-examined, and multiple new theories that account for the discrepancy are tested, and the one that works best is kept. Exemplified here http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-gas-rich-galaxies-gravity-theory.html . Religion takes an altogether different approach. Religions have their theories on things, and they also make predictions based on them. However, when these predictions are not verified, and it is clear that their model is insufficient, rather than re-examining their models religions claim that the prediction was misunderstood. Any aspect of said prediction is subject to these tactics. Who, what (the most important one), when, where, and why are all changed and twisted. Science makes accurate, dependable predictions that can be directly used to increase our capabilities and knowledge. Science gives us abilities that would be completely unbelievable to early humans: telephones, televisions, automobiles, airplanes, spacecraft, guns, plastics, parachutes, computers, light, electricity, etc etc. Religion makes GUESSES that give us: war, slavery, oppression, ignorance, fear, psychological problems, rape, IMPEDANCE OF SCIENCE, and some dim hope of an "afterlife" that encourages us to bury our heads in the sand rather than deal with death in a healthy, productive fashion ( i.e. this is all there is, so we better make it as good, enjoyable, and meaningful as possible for all concerned).

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Lets see here. I want to know why (insert any question here). I can use the scientific method, someone's made up bullshit explanation, or I can make up my own bullshit explanation. Seems like an easy choice to me.

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Yeah ya never know when it might bite you on the ass

Seems it can do anything. ;)

 

mwc

 

True, but you actually have to be prepared to use it. On the observation of 50 years of living, everyone does but a lot of people keep theirs in a box under the bed. Makes it easier to be an asshole apparently.

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Makes it easier to be an asshole apparently.

Seems it comes easy to those who claim "souls" as well.

 

mwc

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Makes it easier to be an asshole apparently.

Seems it comes easy to those who claim "souls" as well.

 

mwc

 

Come on, mwc, you are better than this.

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My own view when it comes to the question of science v. religion is that they are not truly in conflict because they cover different areas. Stephen Jay Gould could write much better than I can:

 

Religion is too important to too many people for any dismissal or denigration of the

comfort still sought by many folks from theology. I may, for example, privately suspect

that papal insistence on divine infusion of the soul represents a sop to our fears, a

device for maintaining a belief in human superiority within an evolutionary world offering

no privileged position to any creature. But I also know that souls represent a subject

outside the magisterium of science. My world cannot prove or disprove such a notion,

and the concept of souls cannot threaten or impact my domain. Moreover, while I cannot

personally accept the Catholic view of souls, I surely honor the metaphorical value of

such a concept both for grounding moral discussion and for expressing what we most

value about human potentiality: our decency, care, and all the ethical and intellectual

struggles that the evolution of consciousness imposed upon us.

(bolding is mine).

 

http://jbburnett.com/resources/gould_nonoverlapping.pdf

 

I don't view this as a simple dichotomy - religion is wrong and science is right. They are, as Gould puts it "Non Overlappping Magisterium." They are different areas of life. There is a metaphorical, aesthetic and moral dimension to religion that science does not have anything to say to. It obviously cannot.

 

I am not defending crude fundamentalism or stupid creationism, but religion takes many forms.

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I don't view this as a simple dichotomy - religion is wrong and science is right. They are, as Gould puts it "Non Overlappping Magisterium." They are different areas of life. There is a metaphorical, aesthetic and moral dimension to religion that science does not have anything to say to. It obviously cannot.

 

I am not defending crude fundamentalism or stupid creationism, but religion takes many forms.

 

I think in general, the dichotomy exists. Most religions do not simply make metaphoric assertions but rather statements meant to be absolute fact. In many cases, religions make assertions that are absolutely known to be false. Perhaps this is what you call crude fundamentalism, but religion in general does not seem to be just a set of metaphors, aesthetics, and morals.

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I don't view this as a simple dichotomy - religion is wrong and science is right. They are, as Gould puts it "Non Overlappping Magisterium." They are different areas of life. There is a metaphorical, aesthetic and moral dimension to religion that science does not have anything to say to. It obviously cannot.

 

I am not defending crude fundamentalism or stupid creationism, but religion takes many forms.

 

 

 

I must disagree. While they may seem to be different areas on the surface, history shows again and again that we either can't or won't compartmentalize them. Religious belief commonly intrudes on public policy, and as mentioned above, has a long history of actively impeding the progress of science. And science does indeed have all of those dimensions you claim it does not. A metaphorical dimension might be a bit of a stretch, but go to your local book store and you will find many many science books that explain their theories using metaphors, but back these metaphors up with fact. While aesthetic and moral dimensions are subjective, I can't see how anyone could NOT see them in science. The beauty of all things in existence are attributed to the supernatural by most religions, but I find them even more beautiful when viewed through the lens of science. Physical beauty abounds, as does the beauty of how perfectly the motion of heavenly bodies can be described by mathematics. (Okay, not "perfect", but close enough to perfect to be able to make predictions and applications workable.) There is beauty in the chemical processes of DNA replication. There is beauty in the fact that life exists at all, when as far as we can tell, there's no reason why it should! And from a moral perspective, I would say that science, again, exceeds many religions. A scientific analysis of simply what works and what does not, shows that it is in our best interest to live in communities and work together. Science tells us that we should respect all things on this planet, both living and inanimate, as they all play a part in the incredibly complex interactions that make up our ecosystems and biosphere.

 

Yes, I engaged in a bit of hyperbole by only listing the bad things that religion gives us. However, even the good things religion gives us, are generally given on faith alone, or perhaps a "be good or be punished" approach. When science gives us something good however, whether it be something in the physical realm, or the less tangible qualities you mentioned, it can always show how and why it came to that point.

 

And on the general topic of "souls", I treat them like I treat any non-disprovable theory religion gives us.... maybe yes and maybe no, but until I see some shred of empirical evidence, I don't believe in them and must attribute the characteristics of a "soul" to physical processes in the brain.

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Religion often makes bogus claims (history of origins, supernatural leaders, revisionist histories et cetera) which step into science's domain. Religion cannot help but do this. Anything other than a "fundamentalist" view is trying to fit the two together despite the obvious fact that they cannot.

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Indulge me in a hypothesis here. Give me 10 specific examples of how religion has impeded science.

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I hope no one seriously entertains the idea that I do not find nature beautiful also. I hope I did not imply that.

 

Yes, I do believe there are areas of life in which we must operate, and daily do operate, without the benefit of the scientific method, but not denying the value and usefulness of the scientific method. It has its place.

 

And from a moral perspective, I would say that science, again, exceeds many religions. A scientific analysis of simply what works and what does not, shows that it is in our best interest to live in communities and work together. Science tells us that we should respect all things on this planet, both living and inanimate, as they all play a part in the incredibly complex interactions that make up our ecosystems and biosphere.

 

To an extent, I agree with this statement. I think science can indeed help us to make informed moral decisions by pointing out what works and what does not work in accordance with the laws of physics, biology, geology, etc... So, maybe I am not so entrenched in the Gould explanation as I thought! I still mostly think of it when confronted by this Science v. Religion question. It isn't a complete answer or redress of the problem and I concede that, but on a practical daily basis I like to think of it when dealing with people.

 

I don't know that science can, of itself, assign ultimate moral values. How can we say human life is valuable when millions of organisms die every second? That is the way of nature. Life is very expendable and death is the end of all. Nature delights in destroying. Our values are mainly derived from the culture we are raised in and its moral values do not derive from science as far as I can see. If the survival of the fittest is what happens in nature, why don't we go in for full blown eugenics? Just one example.

 

I look to mythology and stories - yes, they are stories - stories repeated throughout our history. There is a reason we tell these stories to each other, the hero story, the creation story, etc., that goes beyond the literal fact of "is it true in the scientific sense." It is true in another way. You may say its purely psychological if you want to (I question that because I doubt that consciousness is material) but it is still valuable and a part of who we are as human beings. Symbols, poetry and metaphor, yes, it has enormous power, but this is not covered in the scientific realm.

 

I am most likely going to get jumped all over for saying this by all the scientific materialists, but I don't care.

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Indulge me in a hypothesis here. Give me 10 specific examples of how religion has impeded science.

 

Lol, only 10? start here: http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-sciencechristianity.htm And those are just famous examples. How many unknown fledgling scientists were put to the inquisition? Even to this very day, Christianity tries to have creationism taught in school and evolution banned.

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I still cannot see how this is any different than what christians do. You are doing the same thing but with a different package. Even though you don't put science and religion int he same category, I do. That is not because I think science isn't true but because you are presenting it as an alternative belief system AS WELL as objective knowledge. You are STILL saying what you believed before was wrong and this is right so everyone must accept it the same way you do. You need to get that not everyone sees a soul through religious eyes, and that some of us see the world from more perspectives than just the two mentioned.

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I hope no one seriously entertains the idea that I do not find nature beautiful also. I hope I did not imply that.

 

No, not at all... I was just pointing out that the beauty of nature is often cited as evidence of the divine, whereas I find that the formation of nature in the ABSENCE of the divine to be even MORE beautiful and precious.

 

I don't know that science can, of itself, assign ultimate moral values. How can we say human life is valuable when millions of organisms die every second? That is the way of nature. Life is very expendable and death is the end of all. Nature delights in destroying. Our values are mainly derived from the culture we are raised in and its moral values do not derive from science as far as I can see. If the survival of the fittest is what happens in nature, why don't we go in for full blown eugenics? Just one example.

 

As to ultimate moral values, with morality being so subjective, even within one "unified" religion, I don't think that anyone can make a legitimate claim to ultimate moral values. Regarding the VALUE of life... I believe this article I wrote addresses my views on that topic: http://new.exchristi...philosophy.html . Eugenics I believe can be thoroughly dismissed by legitimate science. Genetic diversity is known to be a key factor in the survival of any species, and we are no different.

 

I look to mythology and stories - yes, they are stories - stories repeated throughout our history. There is a reason we tell these stories to each other, the hero story, the creation story, etc., that goes beyond the literal fact of "is it true in the scientific sense." It is true in another way. You may say its purely psychological if you want to (I question that because I doubt that consciousness is material) but it is still valuable and a part of who we are as human beings. Symbols, poetry and metaphor, yes, it has enormous power, but this is not covered in the scientific realm.

 

I absolutely agree that myths and stories ARE important. Especially before written word and literacy were common. These stories provide a framework through which we can exercise our VERY important imaginations as well as pass down knowledge and morals that have helped us as a species. I find this closely related to our ability to work in groups, think abstractly, and build our knowledge upon what those before us have learned. If every person had to invent the wheel, language, math, farming, etc etc all on their own, we would never advance.

 

I for one won't give you a hard time for your views, I'll just present evidence that I hope will sway you to my way of thinking :) Consciousness may or may not be material... if I could prove it 100% either way I'd have a lot more money than I do, haha! The reason that I personally believe it IS material is simply because I look at the evidence... surgery, brain injury, chemical compounds, all physical factors can literally change your personality to one that bears no resemblance to your current one. Also, certain spiritual experiences can be triggered physically. Drugs are the most apparent example, but have a look at this:

.
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I still cannot see how this is any different than what christians do. You are doing the same thing but with a different package. Even though you don't put science and religion int he same category, I do. That is not because I think science isn't true but because you are presenting it as an alternative belief system AS WELL as objective knowledge. You are STILL saying what you believed before was wrong and this is right so everyone must accept it the same way you do. You need to get that not everyone sees a soul through religious eyes, and that some of us see the world from more perspectives than just the two mentioned.

 

I'm not sure who exactly this comment was directed at... if it was not directed at me, then sorry, my mistake, let me know and I'll delete this comment. If it was directed at me however....

 

 

You need to get that not everyone sees a soul through religious eyes.

 

I did not (intentionally at least) imply that everyone sees a soul through religious eyes. Also, why so hostile? You're taking a very angry tone towards me, which I think is unsolicited... this was meant to be a healthy debate, not a case of telling people what they do or do not need to believe.

 

but because you are presenting it as an alternative belief system AS WELL as objective knowledge. You are STILL saying what you believed before was wrong and this is right so everyone must accept it the same way you do

 

Again, I am NOT saying that everyone needs to accept it as I do. I am merely presenting evidence for my point of view. And most everyone has a belief system of some sort. No one is saying that believing in science is not a belief system. What I am saying however, is that it is not a belief system AS WELL as objective knowledge, I am saying that it is a belief system BASED ON objective knowledge. Things that are testable.

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I still cannot see how this is any different than what christians do. You are doing the same thing but with a different package. Even though you don't put science and religion int he same category, I do. That is not because I think science isn't true but because you are presenting it as an alternative belief system AS WELL as objective knowledge. You are STILL saying what you believed before was wrong and this is right so everyone must accept it the same way you do. You need to get that not everyone sees a soul through religious eyes, and that some of us see the world from more perspectives than just the two mentioned.

 

I'm not sure who exactly this comment was directed at... if it was not directed at me, then sorry, my mistake, let me know and I'll delete this comment. If it was directed at me however....

 

 

You need to get that not everyone sees a soul through religious eyes.

 

I did not (intentionally at least) imply that everyone sees a soul through religious eyes. Also, why so hostile? You're taking a very angry tone towards me, which I think is unsolicited... this was meant to be a healthy debate, not a case of telling people what they do or do not need to believe.

 

but because you are presenting it as an alternative belief system AS WELL as objective knowledge. You are STILL saying what you believed before was wrong and this is right so everyone must accept it the same way you do

 

Again, I am NOT saying that everyone needs to accept it as I do. I am merely presenting evidence for my point of view. And most everyone has a belief system of some sort. No one is saying that believing in science is not a belief system. What I am saying however, is that it is not a belief system AS WELL as objective knowledge, I am saying that it is a belief system BASED ON objective knowledge. Things that are testable.

 

Yeah sorry, anger carried over from other thread regarding evolution and the soul. I guess that like most ex christians I hate being confronted and having science (or anything in fact) foisted on me as THE belief system. I accept it as the explanation for many things, but not as a new cart to hitch my horse too. Sorry if I was rude :)

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Yeah sorry, anger carried over from other thread regarding evolution and the soul. I guess that like most ex christians I hate being confronted and having science (or anything in fact) foisted on me as THE belief system. I accept it as the explanation for many things, but not as a new cart to hitch my horse too. Sorry if I was rude :)

 

No worries, I do it myself from time to time ;)

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I still cannot see how this is any different than what christians do. You are doing the same thing but with a different package. Even though you don't put science and religion int he same category, I do. That is not because I think science isn't true but because you are presenting it as an alternative belief system AS WELL as objective knowledge. You are STILL saying what you believed before was wrong and this is right so everyone must accept it the same way you do. You need to get that not everyone sees a soul through religious eyes, and that some of us see the world from more perspectives than just the two mentioned.

 

 

Science is not a system of beliefs. Science is a method for obtaining truth. How is it being presented as a belief system?

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Lol, only 10?

 

You laugh, but your claim is "religion (meaning all forms) impedes science." Your proof cites only one religion (Christianity), and still doesn't answer the request.

 

Care to try again? Or are you satisfied painting with your broad brush?

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And most everyone has a belief system of some sort. No one is saying that believing in science is not a belief system.

I respectfully direct your attention to the quote below:

 

Science is not a system of beliefs. Science is a method for obtaining truth. How is it being presented as a belief system?

 

As we can see in the above comment that people do in fact not recognize it as a belief system. Your average Western thinking person will in fact bring a mode of thought with them in looking at the illuminations that science has brought to our understanding of the natural world and project upon it the 'belief' aspect that we had in Holy Mother Church (so to speak) as the Holy See of Knowledge of all things natural and spiritual, and make science, Science with a capital S. Spirituality is "explained" by Science, just as it was explained by Bible - which too was 'evidence'.

 

The problem I see is a systemic one rooted in a mode of thinking in terms of Answers with a capital A, and Authority to those Answers, be that Religion, or Science. And as I brought up in another thread, the dismissal of religion is on the terms of the past in Western mythological system. Most ensuing arguments about 'soul' or 'spirit' or 'God' or all matters 'spiritual' and then approached on those same terms, framing the argument on those terms and debunking them.

 

Exhibit A:

 

Most religions do not simply make metaphoric assertions but rather statements meant to be absolute fact. In many cases, religions make assertions that are absolutely known to be false. Perhaps this is what you call crude fundamentalism, but religion in general does not seem to be just a set of metaphors, aesthetics, and morals.

 

The above example shows a projection of Western religious thought in literalist/scientific terms and extends it to "most" religions, which frankly fails to recognize exactly how religion functions (using the tools of science for that understanding, I'll add) on the greater whole. Even though I do agree that religion in the use of myth did try to explain the natural world as part of the totality of their realities, this is simply not what it is all about, nor that everything within it operates or functions in absolutes. I hear a conflation of things like culture and tradition in their structures heaped under the umbrella term "religion".

 

Where I see the value and importance of science and other rational pursuits, beyond just opening understanding to the intricacies of the natural world, is because it can free the spiritual aspects from within religion from the framework of its supporting mythic structures in order to be understood and developed beyond them - just like the understanding of the natural world through the tool of science did. But the failing I see currently is that rather then trying to understand that nature of our humanity in an existential way, it is 'explained' by science and then left to dry out on top of the examination table as the corpse left behind after examining the mythic view of it in literalist terms.

 

As for finding beauty in nature through peering deeper into it through the tools of science, I not only applaud that but share in the experience as well. Not to repeat myself from another thread I'm engaged in right now, but I see the depth of that same experience moving even further than staring in the the deep field views of the early universe through the lens of the Hubble telescope, but looking deep into the fabric of being itself, through the deep field lens of inner exploration. That is likewise a tool that humans use to understand their world they live and participate within. But currently we mainly look outward to what is more 'material', since that is imagined as more 'reliable'. A harmonization is what is needed, which includes equally a growth in our inner nature through self-knowledge, as well as our scientific understanding of the world around us.

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And most everyone has a belief system of some sort. No one is saying that believing in science is not a belief system.

I respectfully direct your attention to the quote below:

 

Science is not a system of beliefs. Science is a method for obtaining truth. How is it being presented as a belief system?

 

As we can see in the above comment that people do in fact not recognize it as a belief system. Your average Western thinking person will in fact bring a mode of thought with them in looking at the illuminations that science has brought to our understanding of the natural world and project upon it the 'belief' aspect that we had in Holy Mother Church (so to speak) as the Holy See of Knowledge of all things natural and spiritual, and make science, Science with a capital S. Spirituality is "explained" by Science, just as it was explained by Bible - which too was 'evidence'.

 

The problem I see is a systemic one rooted in a mode of thinking in terms of Answers with a capital A, and Authority to those Answers, be that Religion, or Science. And as I brought up in another thread, the dismissal of religion is on the terms of the past in Western mythological system. Most ensuing arguments about 'soul' or 'spirit' or 'God' or all matters 'spiritual' and then approached on those same terms, framing the argument on those terms and debunking them.

 

Exhibit A:

 

Most religions do not simply make metaphoric assertions but rather statements meant to be absolute fact. In many cases, religions make assertions that are absolutely known to be false. Perhaps this is what you call crude fundamentalism, but religion in general does not seem to be just a set of metaphors, aesthetics, and morals.

 

The above example shows a projection of Western religious thought in literalist/scientific terms and extends it to "most" religions, which frankly fails to recognize exactly how religion functions (using the tools of science for that understanding, I'll add) on the greater whole. Even though I do agree that religion in the use of myth did try to explain the natural world as part of the totality of their realities, this is simply not what it is all about, nor that everything within it operates or functions in absolutes. I hear a conflation of things like culture and tradition in their structures heaped under the umbrella term "religion".

 

Where I see the value and importance of science and other rational pursuits, beyond just opening understanding to the intricacies of the natural world, is because it can free the spiritual aspects from within religion from the framework of its supporting mythic structures in order to be understood and developed beyond them - just like the understanding of the natural world through the tool of science did. But the failing I see currently is that rather then trying to understand that nature of our humanity in an existential way, it is 'explained' by science and then left to dry out on top of the examination table as the corpse left behind after examining the mythic view of it in literalist terms.

 

As for finding beauty in nature through peering deeper into it through the tools of science, I not only applaud that but share in the experience as well. Not to repeat myself from another thread I'm engaged in right now, but I see the depth of that same experience moving even further than staring in the the deep field views of the early universe through the lens of the Hubble telescope, but looking deep into the fabric of being itself, through the deep field lens of inner exploration. That is likewise a tool that humans use to understand their world they live and participate within. But currently we mainly look outward to what is more 'material', since that is imagined as more 'reliable'. A harmonization is what is needed, which includes equally a growth in our inner nature through self-knowledge, as well as our scientific understanding of the world around us.

 

I'm letting this one go. As usual, I can't make enough sense of what A-man is saying to make a response.

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I'm letting this one go. As usual, I can't make enough sense of what A-man is saying to make a response.

Am I really seriously that obtuse? :) I've been considering how I'm communicating these days, wondering if it is my use of words in sentences has begun to fall apart from before, or if it simply a matter of conceptual and experiential frameworks I'm looking at this in. In my mind it is a highly rational framework that includes and integrates many frameworks of understanding, I suppose you could call it a meta-framework. But to me that is simply what is necessary in order to begin to adequately and fairly deal with these questions, as opposed to simply making them black and white questions, i.e., "Religion vs. Science".

 

There are plenty of others who do track with this, so I don't know that it is my style so much, although that is something I can look at. What would help to make this make more sense? To break down each and every perspective that is being brought to bear on this, such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, linguistics, semiotics, physics, biology, religion, mysticism, evolution, cosmology, geology, art, music, philosophy, etc? I'm happy to try to explain more clearly.

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