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Religion and Science, God and Society.

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 09:30:52 AM EST

In keeping with kcurie's A Christmas tale and DoDo's Religion and Family  I thought I would broaden the debate to include a wider theory of Religion and Science in Society as a whole.

Try replacing the word God with the word reality and prayer/meditation with attempts to understand that reality better - of which philosophy, science, etc. are other methods.  We are all in the business of trying to understand reality better, and the dominant paradigm is now a positivist/natural scientific one.  

Diary rescue by Migeru


In earlier times various religions and associated practices and traditions were the dominant methods of understanding reality.  The languages, methods, traditions, and authorities change.  We can all argue over which is the "best" one for describing reality and a positivist notion of Science is currently certainly the most dominant in western and far eastern societies.  

However even Science has difficulty in describing reality at very small magnitudes (particles appearing from nowhere, and disappearing as they magically collided with others just as the others appear from nowhere) and very large magnitudes of time and space - multiple universes, multiple dimensions, what did come before the big bang?

In Extremis science begins to sound almost as much a mumbo jumbo as "religious" explanations of old.  No doubt in a few hundred years time, current understandings of "The Big Bang" will seem like so much archaic folk tales and those who still think that light travels in straight lines will be looked at with amused derision.

The attempt to better understand reality and make sense of it is universal.  The attempt to comfort the afflicted and heal the wounded is universal.  The language, methods and customs used have to relate to the general level of understanding, technology and social organisation of the people engaged in it.  Even if an old testament prophet or Buddhist sage had come up with the General Theory of Relativity, he would have had huge difficulty in explaining it to his peers in a language they could understand.

It is thus ridiculous to take some time frozen, culturally specific "explanation" of reality and transport it into a different time and place as some kind of absolute, ahistorical Truth.  Just because the ancients had no notion of evolutionary time-scales or mechanisms doesn't make their folk-history explanations of the Creation any less valid in their time and in their context (because they had no other means of understanding it - e.g. by using concepts like natural selection or technologies like carbon dating).  Thus the Biblical Creation stories represent the Truth of the best available or possible understanding of reality at the time.

What is truly archaic is the attempt retrofit a modern scientific culture with a bronze age understanding of evolution.  It is the opposite of what true Science, and true Religion is all about - the attempt to better understand reality using the best available cultural concepts, methods and technologies of the time.  

New discoveries become orthodoxies which are enforced by new generations of authorities - be they priestly or scientific.   They can often become repressive and resistant to new ideas and social changes.   In "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" many years ago, Thomas Kuhn demonstrated that major new discoveries involved a "paradigmatic shift" which made them incomprehensible in language and concept to the custodians of the old order.  

As recently as the 1970's major Geological textbooks made no mention of the Tectonic plates, without which the earth's evolution is simply inexplicable - even given the evidence available at the time.  Many prominent Geologists still flatly denied their existence.

So what is central to any progressive discourse is that it contains the ability to re-examine and rediscover and re-understand the very fundamentals of its own foundations.  There is plenty of evidence of such evolutions in language, concepts and thought in both Judaism and Christianity, but the biggest shifts have taken place since the Empiricist Scientific revolution.  These have changed not merely the way we understand the world, but the world itself through our intervention in ways that were unthinkable in previous paradigms.

But that doesn't necessarily address the second function of religion in societies, and that is the development of a group sense of belonging, identity, authority and order.  Our individualist societies rebel at the very concept at having to conform to a preordained set of ideas - which coincidentally are also the basis of others having power over us.  And thus there is often a revulsion against religion both because of its largely pre-scientific beliefs and methods of discovery, but also against the social order it seeks to impose.

Science has done very well at coming up with better descriptions of and interventions in reality, Medicine routinely conducts procedures that would rate as "miracle cures" in earlier times, but modern day secular and individualistic society has been less good at meeting the human needs for a sense of belonging, identity, authority and order which give children and adults a secure, or at least a stable place in the greater scheme of things.  Indeed the scale and the pace of change, the complexity of social interactions, and the vastness of the urban jungle makes such relative "stability" ever more difficult to achieve.

Religion thus often has a residual role in socialising children and creating a sense of community amongst adults who otherwise are fully "scientific" and "secular" in their business and political views.  Its "Truth" is an ancient one derived from ancient insights and traditions.  Its quest for greater understanding, the relief of suffering and sin (= alienation in modern day parlance) is universal.  Its methods and concepts for understanding that reality and relieving that suffering have long been superseded by Science, Medicine, and even (to some extent, and much less successfully) by Psychiatry.

It still, however, has an unrivaled ability to provide a sense of community for many of its adherents as modern political parties, business enterprises, social clubs or community organisations rarely do.  If it works for them, why knock it, especially if it is no longer imposed on "non-believers"?

Poll
Which statement most closely reflects your view::
. Religion is inherently good, but sometimes manipulated for nefarious purposes 3%
. Religion is inherently evil, seeking to enforce conformity to outdated ideas 11%
. Religion is a primitive, pre-scientific form of culture 11%
. Religion is just as valid as any other form of culture 7%
. There is only one True Religion 0%
. All religions can be true for their believers and it is up to individuals to choose 7%
. Religion is "the opium of the people" designed to distarct them from their oppressers 11%
. Atheism is just another form of religion 0%
. Religion is a culturally inherited belief system which you grow out of as you grow up 3%
. Religion is a path to personal liberation, self realisation, and freedom from alienation 3%
. None of the above 40%

Votes: 27
Results | Other Polls
Display:
I agree that religion and science are both methods that human beings use to make sense of what is. Philosophy is a third approach.

When human beings lack a good natural explanation for a phenomenon they often accept a supernatural divine or diabolical explanation. For example if we do not understand this thunder and lightning stuff, it must be something a sky god does when he is angry. The next question is how much do we have to pay the priest to make the god happy.

Scientific method is a good basis for developing our understanding of the natural world. It does not prescribe a final explanation. As more evidence is gathered and new ideas are developed, new questions and approaches arise. It takes time for major changes to be made in mainstream science. Scientists are human too, but in the end the science community follows the evidence.

As science advances the need for supernatural explanations declines. We now know what thunder and lightning are, so we have no need of a god hypothesis to explain them. No doubt the priest is sad that the advance of science has deprived him of a portion of his income.

The sort of interpretation of religion that regards a sacred text created thousands of years ago and an interpretation of it created tens of years ago as the last possible word about what is, so that the evidence of what is must be manipulated to support the prescribed conclusion contained in an interpretation of the sacred text; is the absolute antithesis of science.

The part of religion which probably is valuable, is to meet the needs of some humans for ethical and moral guidance and a sense of comfort.

by Gary J on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 01:33:55 AM EST
Sigh. You can not separate religion from philosophy - at least not honestly. You can certainly have a philosophy that is not religious. You can most likely have a religion that is not philosophical. This does not mean that they are completely separate.

Different religions are more or less philosophical. Some religions are at their very core philosophical. In other words, if you remove the philosophy there is nothing substantive left.

I believe that Buddhism, the Religious Society of Friends, and Unitarian Universalists would fit under this category - amongst others.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:49:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there is an implicit "intellectual evolution" theory in this approach whereby religion is seen as a primitive form of culture/understanding based on superstition rather than science, and that it remains a residual mode where Science has failed to come up with a rational explanation.  

As Science progresses , more and more things become rationally explicable, and the scope for religion is reduced.  It used to be called "God of the Gaps" - i.e. residual religion in niche markets not yet explained by science.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 07:07:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. There are clearly religions that are playing the game. Hence the anti-science backlash that I hear goes way back in Christianity.

A number of groups define religion for propaganda purposes. The thing is not all religions play the game.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 08:13:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "God of the Gaps" certainly applies to the supernatural elements of religions like Christianity.

Religions are not wholly composed of appeals to the  supernatural. There are ethical and moral principles, that stand independently of the supernatural. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is probably quite a good idea, even if you do not believe it should be obeyed because Moses took it down at the dictation of a supernatural entity.

I also suspect that the spirituality humans feel, which is the core around which the superstructure of organised religion developed, is itself not dependent upon supernatural explanations. It is something that has value, in and of itself, whatever the cause of it is.

by Gary J on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 12:58:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me point out that the foundation of science..a dn of the positive methos is magic.. and that religion was also a development of magic that tried to take the place of it.

In other words, on one hand there are plenty of magic and semi-magic rithuals of belonging and sharing and "giving meaning to" and practices trying to udnerstand the "why" to me" question or purely the "why".. from philosophhy to apsichology to any symbolic fourtuen teller or any rithual of self-recognition. When religion developed giving stress to the order and hierarchy stuff it tiried strongly to get rid of or abuse and co-opt the stablished magic structures (sol invictus anybody?) so it is no wonder that spirituality came to mean  the "concept" it measn know.. trying to make sense of it all with the help of the authority.

On the other hand, while in Europe there is revulsion to the autoritas in religion and magic is and semi-magic are filling the role of religion we have teat thea uthority has been given to Science... and msot of the time in the worst sense oft he word Science. Science has been humiliated to the "if Scince says it so, it is true" just in the wway religion used to do. But thi is not a problem of the scientific minds and the people doing research, it is more aproblem of a certain mind set ina certain subset of disciplines that have a lot of projections. Luckily in physics I ahrdly can encounter this close-mind a pproach...

Closing the argument. I would say that the gtreat reason why science is failing to provide anything more than an "autoritas" or failing to explain that ins cience there should be no toher authority that your rational mind applying a set of tools and concepts to the external world is hte lack of people with a huge background fof alls ciences and of fairy-teellng and oral communication /antrhopoogy in particualr. There are nos cholars explaining the how questions and giving new posibilities for the "why" questions... there are no good phiosopher that know what theey are talking about when they talk about science, and there are no good scientific scholars which are giving money and prestige to explain in philosophical or magica ways science.

And finally, a humble opinion.. if magic and science do not join forces I see a bleak future for enlightenment values and for the positivsm of science.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 07:57:26 AM EST
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by magic, even though I have seen you use the term a lot.  Could you please explain a little?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 09:54:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think he uses it in the technical meaning of Magical thinking (from Anthropology):
In anthropology, psychology and cognitive science magical thinking is causal reasoning that often includes such ideas as the law of contagion, correlation equalling causation, the power of symbols and the ability of the mind to affect the physical world.


We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 12:33:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the objective and subjective modes need to be better integrated.

All explanations are akin to 'Art' because they are finite constructs which aim at shedding some light onto what is beyond them. Even our best scientific theories are artistic renditions as they address some aspects of reality while leaving others out.

In the classical Indian scheme, there are 6 complementary views... none of which paints the whole picture... these views are called:

Nyaya: Sets forth the rules and limits of thought/logic/language
Vaisheshika: Analysis (an ancient atomic theory is part of this approach)
Samkhya: An atheistic, dualistic approach which posits an essential difference between matter and mind
Yoga: Gnosis
Mimamsa: A theistic approach
Vedanta: Posits an essential non-duality

These are considered complementary approaches. Nyaya-Vaisheshika are together fairly close to the modern scientific method. In India, these different approaches do not vie for ultimate supremacy. This fight between 'science' and 'religion' is a Western, not a universal feature.

by sandalwood on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 12:10:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent.  Welcome to ET, sandalwood.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 12:55:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you Metavision... a pleasure to make your acquaintance.
by sandalwood on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 02:29:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it works for them, why knock it, especially if it is no longer imposed on "non-believers"?

Not imposed on non-believers ?

Ask a woman in the USA who finds it difficult to get contraception over the counter in a pharmacist.

Ask a woman who cannot get an abortion

Ask a woman who has to wear a veil or cannot drive a car or cannot get an education.

Ask a woman who lives in fear of her life because her "behaviour" attracts religious approbation.

The constant interference by religious "authorities" in the legislative process, their constant presence on the airwaves and in newsprint telling us what's right and complaining about what's wrong.

Oh, if ONLY it wasn't imposed on non believers.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 11:30:17 AM EST
The "why knock it" was conditional on the "especially if it is no longer imposed...

Clearly religious tolerance and tolerance of religion has to be balanced with tolerance of the irreligious.  Freedom of religion has to be balanced with freedom from religion for those who so choose.

People who really believe something, whether it be a religion, science, philosophy or politics have a tendency to try and proselytise those who don't.  That becomes a problem when they are in a position to enforce their views on others.

All world views tend to make claims to universalism - i.e that they are absolutely true and that it is in their own interest for non-believers to convert...  That is why the enlightenment insisted on the separation of Church and State.  That enlightenment doctrine is not accepted in fundamentalist Islamic societies, for example.

The state has a key role in underwriting those freedoms, but also in enforcing an "official view" of reality - as enshrined in school curricula, Government legislation, legal judgements, the findings of official bodies etc.  Hence the determination that "natural selection" and not "intelligent design" be taught in schools despite the claims by some that both are valid theories and should be given equal standing.

I have argued above that "creationism" is neither good science nor good theology but that doesn't mean that parents don't have the right to insist their kids are taught the theory outside the public school system.

I suppose you can't force a pharmacist to sell contraceptives against their "conscience", but then the   state has a duty to ensure that alternative channels of supply are available.  Ideally "the free market" should do so without the need for state regulation but I suppose that doesn't help someone living in a remote rural area with just one pharmacist.

The USA seems to have a particular problem with religion jumping the private/public barrier in a way which doesn't seem to happen in even quite conservative societies in Europe.  Churches which seek to do so - like the Catholic Church are widely ignored to the point where they are no longer a significant force.  Perhaps it is this very intolerance which has accelerated the decline of public religion in Europe.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:15:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ask a woman in the USA who finds it difficult to get contraception over the counter in a pharmacist.

I think you'll find this was a very brief issue, and that the companies whose pharmacists did this freaked out and immediately put a stop to it.  There's a pharmacy/convenience store on every other street corner in America.  If Wal-Greens doesn't sell it, CVS or Rite Aid or Eckerd will, and it'll be Wal-Greens' loss.

The issue got a lot of press coverage, after which the pharmacies -- led by, of all places, the Mecca of Red America, Wal-Mart -- all responded by telling the pharmacists to go screw themselves and either sell or be tossed.

Abortion is a better point, because of the states' ability to restrict the number of clinics.  I think Mississippi, for example, has only one or two clinics statewide.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 09:01:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank God for capitalism and the good ol American way!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 09:33:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes I think that our militant capitalism is the last great wall protecting us from theocracy, always there to buy off the politicians catering to the religionists.

The great rift in the Republican base just waiting to be exploited.  God bless Mike Huckabee.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't it be VERY interesting if their was a serious and long lasting split between the social and economic conservatives - however I digress - that comment is more appropriate to This thread


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:16:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I voted for Clinton in that.  I have a bad feeling going into the caucuses.  I'm, of course, desperate for it to be Edwards, Obama, Biden or Richardson, but I just have a feeling it may well be her.

On the Rep side, I have to admit the lover of underdogs in me is really rooting for McCain to take the GOP nomination.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 05:44:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to question this answer, Drew, because it doesn't square my reading about all the states' individual programs and anti-choice campaigns that have increased over this decade.  Sorry, but I have to trust women´s views in this and anti-choice is the rule, not the exception.  

Remember the false-flag, family-planning clinics in the west that were publicly funded under ´faith iniciatives´.  It is very important that we do not gloss over it in a country where the ERA is still not passed, nor ratified and women´s rights (and sexuality rights) are up to the whim of politicians at any time.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 01:15:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hesitate to fish in this pool because of my lack of background in the whole subject, but will chuck in my line anyway!

I am more interested in the values that underpin religion than in religion itself. In particular, in religion as "code for living" and the extent to which the code that was relevant in first century Palestine or seventh century Arabia is still relevant today.

For instance, is it any surprise that most "fundamentalists" of Abrahamic traditions proscribe contraception because at the time the "code" was written life expectancy was so short, and large families a necessary response? Or that covering the body in a savagely hot and sunny climate is a good idea? Or that eating pig meat in a hot climate was not a good idea?

More generally, and more importantly, there is the shared tradition of mandatory sharing of risk and reward eg the proscription of "usury" and the concept of the "Jubilee" freeing lenders from debt, the prescription of charity such as zakat.

Then there is the concept of "Commons". Were the Prophet alive today, would he not go beyond the "Commons" of Pasture, Fire and Water to include knowledge? The very idea that anyone could lay claim to "ownership" of knowledge had probably never been conceived of in the seventh century (correct me if I am wrong!).

The values underpinning religion as legal code survive in our body of secular law of course, and the secular and the religious mix in different countries in different ways.

I have been extremely interested to see how the risk and revenue sharing traditions of mutuality, equality and cooperation - also land as a "Commons" - live on in the Scandinavian countries, and Scotland in particular. This is, I think, as with seventh century desert Islam, a necessary response to a pretty unforgiving environment.

I think it is easy to lose sight of why religion is the way it is, and why it may become irrelevant if it does not evolve with the circumstances which gave rise to it.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 03:35:24 AM EST
Thanks for this thoughtful and interesting response,  My interest is also in the sociology of religion which asks the "why" it takes certain forms and the functions it fulfills.

ChrisCook:

For instance, is it any surprise that most "fundamentalists" of Abrahamic traditions proscribe contraception because at the time the "code" was written life expectancy was so short, and large families a necessary response?

I do however think it wrong to  project opposition to contraception back so far.  I doubt there was any concept of conception much less contraception two millenia ago.  A far more likely explanation (in my view) is the competition for membership power and influence between religious groupings today.  

In practice very very few people actual choose their religion - i.e. convert from one to another as adults.  Almost all adherents to religions do so because they were raised in that tradition and some traditions have very severe penalties towards apostates.

Key to the survival and growth of a religion is therefore a high fertility rate amongst its members.  Thus the opposition to abortion and contraception, thus the opposition to womens rights and focus on their role as mothers, thus the emphasis on the family as the primary means of passing on the religious adherence to the next generation.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 08:53:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you seen my other reply to the same comment ?

(discussion thread might get quite hard to follow...)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 09:00:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, thanks, I hadn't seen it - there are so many religion threads at the moment!  Your point about the arbitrariness of many religious rules was interesting. Does that mean they have no function other than forcing submission/compliance?  I would prefer to hypothesize that for a rule to survive it has to have had some function at some time, even if it has long outlived its usefulness. The problem for religious "absolutes" is that they may be necessary to enforce compliance at one time, but then how do you change them when they are no longer functional or even counterproductive?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 09:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the failures of the modern, western human mind is its teleological bent. Things must have a purpose and a cause, and an easily identifiable one at that.

Not so true.

I'm drawing an analogy with languages ; it is well known that word choice, i.e. the link between a word and the concept it represents, is mostly arbitrary. I posit that this is also true is many other societal behaviours... After all, like language, religion is a way of exchanging symbols and rituals of communication.

Rules can survive for a very long time in language even if they have outlived their usefulness ; see English orthography... The same is true of religions, and especially of written, hierarchical religions whose tools of rituals conservation are enhanced.

Most religious rules had an use at a time, but those uses may as often reside in the symbolic or ritual realms rather than the rational and practical, or even the community maintenance, realms.

For example, I believe the "sacred male sperm" aspect of christianity is the real cause of the modern forbidding of contraception, although the 18th and 19th century worries about Sodomy and Masturbation (it is at those times that those taboos started to be really enforced ; the Church didn't necessarily care much about them before that time) may have a link to the demographic worries of the simultaneously developing early social scientists (the physiologists). I am not sure such worries really existed, as means of perceiving societies and religious communities, around 1 BC.

Indeed, witness the spontaneous development of a limitation in birth rate, through the postponement of marriage and early contraception, in 17th century France, when the local population limit (the same as the one reached at the end of the prosperous Middle Ages, around 1300) was reached and the Malthusian population limit was attained. An ever increasing population is not always the best national strategy for success...


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 09:05:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Giving up 'why' is not the same as transcending 'why'. The cognitive mode (thought) is dualistic, linear, makes linear chains of cause-effect which are infinite. The answer to 'why' forever receding as thought approaches it. This is an inherent limit of the cognitive mode of knowledge.

There is also a non-dual mode of knowledge, where necessarily there are no infinite regressions. This is the goal of Yoga. This is what is meant by transcending 'why'.

by sandalwood on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:02:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doesn't science also properly transcend "why" since it is generally agreed that it focuses only on the "how"?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:06:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Science makes infinite chains of cause-effect so cannot approach 'why', so it leaves 'why' alone... this is not a transcending.

As to the 'how'... a positivist bent which equates predictive power with 'how' may believe that science/thought actually is capable of answering 'how', but positivism itself is not a universally held view.

I don't think science/thought can approach either 'how' or 'why' so that mind would be satisfied. Only Samadhi offers that. Many useful things come from the approach of science/thought of course, but it cannot ultimately end agitation/suffering.

by sandalwood on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:18:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can pass to the limit just like the infinite chain of the natural numbers can be given a limiting point. But though it seems like this solves the problem of infinite regression, it doesn't really.

Are you familiar with the theory of ordinals?

Associate "0" with the empty set. Associate the "successor" operation with taking a set and adding a copy of itself as an element. You get

1 = {0}
2 = {0, 1}
3 = {0, 1, 2}
...

and so on

You have an infinite sequence of ordinal sets each containing all the previous ones. Then the actual set of counting numbers happens to be the "smallest infinite ordinal",

ω = {0, 1, 2, ...}

The interesting thing about ω is that it doesn't have a "predecessor". ω - 1 doesn't exist. The analogy with the chain of causation would be that the limiting point causes all the others but there isn't a first thing that it causes.

Another interesting thing is that, in fact, nothing prevents one from constructing

ω + 1 = {ω, 0, 1, 2, ...}

So continuing the metaphor, the chain of "causation" doesn't end there. There is always room for more "agitation".

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:30:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Functional analysis is a respected tool in sociology - viz Structural-Functionalism which explains "why" certain norms or institutions emerge in terms of "what" functions it performs in a given system.  So "why" do we have schools?  To socialise the young etc.  Is this to trivialise the debate or do you regard sociology as not being truly "scientific"?


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:32:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why, indeed do we have schools? Depending on the narrative (or on the discipline) you get a different answer. And "why" can refer to the reason we got schools in the first place, the reason we keep them, the actual function they perform (regardless of why we got them or keep them) or the historical process (the "how") by which we actually got them.

Since these are all narratives, all they have to be is consistent with the known facts and with other narratives, but by their nature you can have two mutually incompatible narratives that are both compatible with the known facts and even with the same narrative context and no way to decide between them.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:39:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does that mean they have no function other than forcing submission/compliance?

Perhaps you are underestimating the importance of submission and compliance.

How quickly things have changed since multiculturalism has become widely accepted in some areas. And a good thing too.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 10:31:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Key to the survival and growth of a religion is therefore a high fertility rate amongst its members.

Your (and linca's) point re contraception is of course the case, but my point is that I think that the "purpose" of exhortation etc to large families was principally a rational response to high mortality rates at the time. ie the survival of its members is the first requirement of any religion...

It's use as a competitive strategy to "out-breed" other religions is IMHO ancillary to the main purpose.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:07:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The need for high birthrates to ensure survival in societies with high death rates is universal and not  specifically a religious issue.  However its religious exhortation in pluralistic societies which no longer have high death rates is linked to religious competition (imho).

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:32:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have mostly responded in another comment, but I also want to point out that high mortality and a need for group survival need not imply high birth rate. One could point out some South American Indians studied by Levi Strauss, who tended to have  low birth rate (a child every 3 years per woman) despite high mortality rates, as the cost of early childhood is too high in a nomadic environment.

Or the example of 17th century France, where the birth rate was spontaneously lowered as to avoid social instability caused by overpopulation, land overdivision, etc...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 09:21:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see "none of the above" is the most popular response to the poll, so I have obviously missed how most people think about religion.  Would those who have voted that way like to suggest a few other one line statements which best describe their view of religion?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 08:58:20 AM EST
"Religion as a concept is not a well-defined enough to associate to a simple sentence" ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 09:02:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK smartass, you win!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 09:28:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not really any different than the definition of Barns & Noble (Cambridge) Encyclopedia (1990)

    "...no single definition will suffice to encompass the varied sets of traditions, practices, and ideas which constitute different religions."

http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_defn.htm

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:00:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't really asking for a definition, just a sentence which BEST describes how you as an individual feel about it.  "Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good"

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:08:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't answer your question.

Religion is.

It is good. It is primitive. It is an invalid form of culture. There is only one true religion. Religion helps focus people so they can see their oppression. Atheism is not a religion. Religion is not cultural and is something you grow into as you get older. Religion is a path to slavery, selfishness and alienation.

It is bad. It is modern. It is a valid form of culture. There is no true religion. Religion is the opium of the people designed to detract them from their oppressors. Atheism is a religion. Religion is cultural and is something you grow out of as you get older. Religion is a path to personal liberation, self-realization, and freedom from alienation.

All of the above and none of the above and a lot more.

Religion is.

I didn't vote, as all the choices seemed  wrong to me. I didn't think that linca was being a smartass. I thought that the idea of setting religion down to a single sentence was actually kind of oppressive.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 07:54:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The notion of 'religion' is Western... it utterly fails when speaking of the approach to Self/World in India.

I think 'faith' is part of religion, yet faith plays no part in Yoga and Buddhism. All the gods in India are not considered ontological realities. In fact, ontology is superceded by epistemology, as it should be.

by sandalwood on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 11:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So what is an Indian "god"?

Actually, by asking you what it is I'm engaging in ontology, so please formulate and answer the appropriate epistemological question.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 12:27:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Ishvara" is a term often translated as 'god' or even 'God'. But the sanskrit word itself means "own choice"; that is, this is what the philosophers term 'the uncaused cause', the theists term 'God', the Gnostics (Yogis) call the deepest possible self-experience. This self-experience is beyond what is available via sensory and cognitive modes. It flashes forth in Samadhi... Sama-dhi (Same-seeing)... that is, that which looks is the same as that which is seen. This is also termed by some as the non-dual.

From a phenomenological point of view (Yoga), Samadhi is co-incident with a self-evident ending of the quest for an absolute knowledge. This seeing is also a being (that is, the subject and object are indistinguishable from eachother). Because this is 'non-dual', it cannot be explicated in dualistic terms. And since thought is explicitly dualistic, it cannot be rendered in any thought form. All that is possible is the helping to ready someone to 'see for themselves'.

For those who have not 'seen' via Samadhi, they are bound by the dualistic notions such as a God who is apart from 'her/his' creation etc.

by sandalwood on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 12:48:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have concentrated on Yoga and given a theistic and non-theistic interpretations of Ishvara, but there should be more? Up to six different views of Ishvara?

sandalwood:

Nyaya: Sets forth the rules and limits of thought/logic/language
Vaisheshika: Analysis (an ancient atomic theory is part of this approach)
Samkhya: An atheistic, dualistic approach which posits an essential difference between matter and mind
Yoga: Gnosis
Mimamsa: A theistic approach
Vedanta: Posits an essential non-duality
Is it correct to associate "the uncaused cause" to Samkhya [or is it Vaisheshika?], "god" to Mimamsa and samadhi with Yoga?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:11:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Other than Ishvara, there are also many other terms... eg Paramatman, which means the highest self, or the permanent, the deathless, the one outside/transcendent to space/time etc.

Other than the 6 classical views there is also Tantra and Buddha's teaching if we look at pan-indian approaches in general.

What they all have in common is a moving towards Moksha (liberation, enlightenment, non-dual etc.). They designate this in many ways... eg Brahman... the list is very long because of 5000 years of artistic elaboration of the same, one principle.

"the uncaused cause"  could be linked to Vaisheshika, since it is analytic in approach. god and mimansa is ok, but god not as an ontological reality, but as a goal in the mind of the practitioner with whom he/she can commune while making her/his way to Moksha.

Samadhi applies to Yoga, and also Vedanta... however, Samadhi comes in different forms, partial and full. The partial form could be applicable to Mimamsa as the practitioner can 'become one' with her/his chosen deity (god).

Really, it is such a complex system which so many inter-connections. You ask a good question, but the answer is not a straight forward one.

by sandalwood on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:42:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, this reminds me of Thomas Aquinas' Five Ways. He thought he was proving the existence of god, but given this
"the uncaused cause"  could be linked to Vaisheshika, since it is analytic in approach. god and mimansa is ok, but god not as an ontological reality, but as a goal in the mind of the practitioner with whom he/she can commune while making her/his way to Moksha.
it appears to me that Thomas Aquinas was just enumerating five ways to "quieten the mind of the practitioner", and not at all about ontology (the study of "what really is").

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:48:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"it appears to me that Thomas Aquinas was just enumerating five ways to "quieten the mind of the practitioner", and not at all about ontology (the study of "what really is")"

Perhaps so, but his message would have had a difficult time being heard in a millieu not especially given to complementarity. I would say that his approach amounts to trying to get out of the mode of Nyaya-Vasheshika (Rationality) which was uncomfortably entwined with Mimamsa (Theism), without the balancing effects of Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta.

by sandalwood on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 02:47:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
it appears to me that Thomas Aquinas was just enumerating five ways to "quieten the mind of the practitioner", and not at all about ontology (the study of "what really is").

Depending on your point of view, there may not be much of a real difference here.

In a very obvious way, any conception of 'what really is' is going to be filtered and defined by the mind of the practitioner. So quieting the mind could perhaps lead to a less disturbed filter and a more realistic experience of 'what really is.'

Whether 'what really is' still makes sense after that probably depends on the mind doing the filtering.

How likely is it that we perceive all of reality? The less we perceive, the more our ontology is going to be about the limits of our minds and not about reality itself.

Unfortunately we don't know how much - if anything - we're missing. We can assume that we perceive all there is, but it's quite a bold step, and when Reality Turns Weird - whether it's non-locality or reports of things that shouldn't ever happen - it becomes harder to accept that as an accurate belief.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 10:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"How likely is it that we perceive all of reality?"

That is the question isn't it... indeed, how much of ourselves do we perceive? Exactly who is asking the question? And not just whom, but what asks? What am I? This is the inquiry of Yoga.

Depending on the mode of knowledge, whether sensory, cognitive or non-dual (Samadhi), different 'pictures' of self/world arise. Anyone can put that to the test, within themselves.

by sandalwood on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 02:27:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Several of the above (depends on the religion, the society, the period of history and from which point of view...)"

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:05:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All religions are based upon obedience to authority. The authority claims its power from its ability to interpret certain key documents. That only they have this ability also means that no one can question their decisions.

So religion = authoritarianism.

There are non-religious authoritarian systems as well. Many could be subsumed under the head of "cult of personality". Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Kim Il Jong all fall into this class. Some even try to claim supernatural aspects as well. This was popular during the days of traditional royalty.

Even totally secular ideologies can be seen as a form of authoritarianism. A good example is the movement started by Ayn Rand. While preaching personal "freedom" she was quick to expel anyone who questioned her positions. This accounts for the various libertarian factions that continue at each other's throats to this day.

What all ideologies have in common and what separates them from science is their refusal to allow their dogmas to be subject to independent study, that is the scientific method.

People try to treat science as another form of dogmatism  because senior figures in a field are often cited as authorities. The extent that these people are believed without their viewpoints being subject to validation is not a fault of science, but of human nature. Even scientists can get caught up in ego and inflexibility. What is different is that, eventually, the fallacies will be found out and the body of knowledge will expand. This can never happen with real ideologies (although they sometimes adapt in order not to lose too many members).

Science is a process, religion is an end.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 05:42:38 PM EST
One similarity between religion and science is that the custodians and disseminators of the tenets of each are a select minority whose proclamations must be taken upon faith by the rest of society (who for various reasons do not have the time, aptitude, education, money, social connections, whatever, to join these elite communities.)

One difference between religion and science is that religion provides its adherents a sense of meaning to their own existence and to existence in general, while science does not: it simply purports to describe existence, while abstaining from questions of meaning.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 10:28:02 AM EST
It's not that simple.

Honest science would say 'Dealing with the meaning isn't our job' and leave the rest of the paper blank.

But science more usually says 'There is no meaning - and if you try to find one you're wasting your time and are probably a bit silly and ignorant too.'

That's very much a moral position - as much a moral position as saying that God made everything (so we should follow whatever rules I've made up on behalf of God.)

When Dawkins wrote The Selfish Gene he was making a moral point about human behaviour - not just how it is, but how it should be.

And the theist/atheist turf war is as much a battle about who gets to tell people how they should behave and what they should believe about the world as any other in history.

Ironically if the atheists made more of their implicit moral code they might find a much more sympathetic audience, with a corresponding destructive effect on theist numbers. This is one reason why Sagan was successful - by opening horizons instead of closing them, he turned exploration into a participatory core value.

Dawkins and people like Randi seem to enjoy shutting down exploration, and offer a very bleak view of a random and constricted universe.

It may indeed be a very bleak and random universe, but I think it's dishonest to claim that science knows for sure that this somehow translates into precepts about how people should relate to each other.

This kind of morality is rooted in feeling rather than logic, and one of the wisest comments I've seen about this is that most people will forget what you said, but they're unlikely to forget how you made them feel.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 10:04:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to defend Dawkins here. Or maybe he can do it himself. The God Delusion, first chapter:


In another time and place, that boy could have been me under the stars, dazzled by Orion, Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, tearful with the unheard music of the Milky Way, heady with the night scents of frangipani and trumpet flowers in an African garden. Why the same emotion should have led my chaplain in one direction and me in the other is not an easy question to answer. A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists. It has no connection with supernatural belief. In his boyhood at least, my chaplain was presumably not aware (nor was I) of the closing lines of The Origin of Species - the famous 'entangled bank' passage, 'with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth'. Had he been, he would certainly have identified with it and, instead of the priesthood, might have been led to Darwin's view that all was 'produced by laws acting around us':
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Carl Sagan, in Pale Blue Dot, wrote:
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant'? Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.
All Sagan's books touch the nerve-endings of transcendent wonder that religion monopolized in past centuries. My own books have the same aspiration. Consequently I hear myself often described as a deeply religious man. An American student wrote to me that she had asked her professor whether he had a view about me. 'Sure,' he replied. 'He's positive science is incompatible with religion, but he waxes ecstatic about nature and the universe. To me, that is religion!' But is 'religion' the right word? I don't think so.



"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 10:30:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ironically if the atheists made more of their implicit moral code they might find a much more sympathetic audience,

And if atheists stopped fighting unnecessary battles it would also help too. It is not just the religious not understanding of atheists.

And the theist/atheist turf war is as much a battle about who gets to tell people how they should behave and what they should believe about the world as any other in history.

Some faiths are not fighting the war - at least not on the side you think they are. If you insist on fighting a turf war, then I guess you will get one. Hopefully you will be happy. Certainly you will be able to say, "I told you so." It is the atheists who do not understand the religious as well. And no one understands the religious atheists. Sigh.

If you approach your task from the point of view that you do not understand each other you will go a whole lot farther than if you assume that the religious do not understand you, and that you are fighting a war.

most people will forget what you said, but they're unlikely to forget how you made them feel.

Exactly.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 10:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is an excellent point on the cause of divisions, aside from semantics.  Give to each its value, as appropriate and the best comparison is no comparison.  

It's like opposing food and air, when both are essential for life.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 01:50:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is at least one other noteworthy difference: In science you can in principle reconstruct the entire edifice from empirical data yourself - there does not need to be an argument from authority involved. In religion this is explicitly not the case - at some point there has to be a leap of faith, an unfounded assumption, an argument from authority or whichever euphemism you prefer to use.

The fact that reconstructing the entirety of science from first principles yourself would take several lifetimes - if not several centuries - is incidental. It would also take you several centuries to reconstruct domesticated crops from their wild ancestors if you did not have access to modern industrial-grade breeding programs, and yet we do not consider agriculture to be a religious doctrine (now, agricultural subsidies on the other hand... :-P).

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 11:38:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you keep your atheist hands off my suckler cow premium payment!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:05:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Science offers a predictive power but not neccessarily an explanation... the mind still agitates towards 'how come?' and 'why?'. Though in the positivist scheme predictive power and explanation are the same, I don't think that's true.

There are limits to thought... it still operates within a subject-object divide. That the subject-object divide can be closed is amply proclaimed in Yoga and Buddhism. The sensory and cognitive modes are not all that is available... the notion of 'Samadhi' in Yoga and Buddhism points to another mode of knowledge, which experientially finally ends the agitation towards some absolute knowledge.

Once the limits of thought have been seen, then there could be a recourse to Yoga.

In the Indian tradition of Religion-Philosophy-Art-Medicine (these are not cleanly separable in India), Theism is considered one "view" (darshana) among many. Atheism is its mirror image. Theism and Atheism, and other "views" are relative views onto the mystery of existence; the idea of complementarity is key here. From the point of view of complementarity, all views, including their opposites are simply relative. The putative absolute knowledge that the misguided intellect aims for is an impossibility; that this is impossible to grasp through thought, or reason has been amply proclaimed in Yoga and Buddha's teaching.

Due to this insight, both Buddha and Yoga point away from the Theism-Atheism thought structure. Instead, it is recommended that Meditation is a closer approach than thought/reason, and through meditation it is considered possible to know THAT (which in Theisms, is personified as the mythological creator of the world), not in the form of an object viewed at a distance, but rather as subject, found within. Non-dualism leaves the theism-atheism debate behind. There can only be a personal road to, and a personal knowledge about THAT, because the notion of an objective knowledge about THAT is simply a mental trap that one can fall in.

by sandalwood on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 11:42:00 AM EST
So what would be the Buddhist critique of positivist science - and what other "scientific methods" would it propose?  How does this relate to the debate on metaphysics we had earlier, and particularly issues raised by quamtum mechanics?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 01:17:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting inquiries... I think Buddha would want us to see the limits of thought. Then, our inquiries about the natural world would not lead to quarrels as we would have understood that any schemes we create cannot ultimately be completely satisfactory, and we must settle for complementarity rather that absolutism. Different schemes have different utilities... eg the modern anatomical model of the body and the Taoist acu-meridian model each offer different therapeutic avenues, and both are useful.

As Buddha did not espouse faith, any explanatory/predictive schema would need to pass the test of verification, but especially in regards to whether or not the putting into practice/belief these schema leads to the diminishment of greed, hatred and other afflictive emotions. We would be on guard against social Darwinism for instance, even while we espouse the theory of evolution.

In Buddhism, "seeing things as they are" entails a preliminary purification of the mind... again, afflictive emotions must be rooted out in favor of non-competition, compassion etc. The detached observer mode idealized in science has its advantages, but also its disadvantages vis a vis science for the creation of weapons.

The quest for knowledge must be made subservient to ethical considerations.

As regards QM... I sometimes imagine that the elementary particles might be composed of little buddha statues... ;-)

by sandalwood on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 02:12:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think your comments on Buddhism would make a very interesting Diary in their own right.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 07:03:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you Frank... and thank you also for this wonderful diary.
by sandalwood on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 02:32:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Glad you´ve become an addict, FS, and remember in a lefty blog you get a majority of ´all/none of the above´ responses, if they are offered.

I understand your call to get along in an academic way and agree with most of the examples, but it is not convincing and it´s not an either/or explanation and it doesn´t even touch on the humanities.  (I think psychiatry is not helpful, except as a specialty of physiology.)  We need science (lower case) and we need a personal aspect of life that implies much more than that and that I can describe.  We need individuation, personal and social progress, which comes with time and living.  Many times we need to ´unlearn´ stuff, also.

Being anti-religion (lower case) means that I see an overall harm to humanity from it right now, not that in some cases they may not be a force for good:  

Two priests in a Madrid parish have taken in homeless and drug addicts, held mass with juice and biscuits, helped them find jobs so they could help others, are a very positive addition of real community to the neighborhood, but the archbishop forbade them from holding mass and tried to shut it down.  People protested, the press went with it and it is now a social center.  The priests are living their very personal, human belief system, apart and beyond religion and science.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 02:43:07 PM EST
Yea - It's time I got out more again....

metavision:

but it is not convincing

I'm not sure where exactly you disagree

The Priests concerned have made the mistake of thinking that Christianity is bout behaving as Christ might have done rather than as the Pharisees might have done...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 07:12:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll be darned if I can express it.  

All the examples in the world and all the reasonable argument would not 'convince' me, because they are exterior to me.  My motivation has to come from within and reason is too cut and dry to 'move' me:  By reason alone, I know smoking is stoopid, but it doesn´t stop me.  Fear doesn´t stop me.  There is a whole motivation system that we develop individually as we internalize our own beliefs and I cannot come up with a name.  It´s a constant personal integration of ´knowing connections´.

I´m avoiding words that have various connotations, but others here have described many parts of what I mean, though.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 02:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
metavision:
I cannot come up with a name.

In Christianity it is called Love.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 08:06:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That does not even begin to describe it and much less in the sticky connotations of thaaaaat phrase.  Yikes.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Wed Jan 9th, 2008 at 11:35:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep - it has a lot of connotations, so much so that the ancient Greeks had 4 distinct words for it to capture some of them.

agapê (love, charity)
philia (friendship, love)
storgê (natural affection)
eros (attraction, sexual love)


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 9th, 2008 at 06:20:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thought there were more than 4, If I remember right there should be Mania (obsessive)and Pragma (analytical) too and I think there was another but don't remember what it was.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jan 9th, 2008 at 06:28:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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