Author Topic: Religion chat anyone  (Read 9657 times)

chrono eric

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #90 on: February 11, 2009, 02:02:13 am »
Well, what I meant was (in light of the post I was referencing) that it is foolish to believe in god for the sole reason of a perceived hole in a scientific theory.

ie: "I don't understand how something happens - so instead of attempting to find an answer I attribute it to god."

My subsequent posts should have made it clear that I believe that science can strengthen and bolster ones faith. Here, I'll take the liberty of quoting myself since I think I made my position clear here:

It is astounding to me that people think god and science are not compatible. It is also astounding to me that in discussions about the existence of god the theory of evolution is inevitably brought up by people that neither fully understand nor care to understand evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory in no way has anything to do with whether or not god exists, it just has to do with the concept of life changing over time. I ask you, why couldn't god exist and evolution be his intended way to create life? Is it not a perfect act of creation, that (to quote The Origin of Species) "endless forms most beautiful are continually being evolved"? Is it not an ideal act of creation to employ a mechanism in which life can be adaptable to a changing environment? So that god doesn't have to say "oops, I screwed up" and pop new life-forms into existence after a global extinction event? From a theological perspective, isn't evolution a testament to the power and knowledge of a divine creator?


And from a theological perspective, if you truly admire god - would it not be one of the ultimate acts of praise and worship to want to study and be fascinated by the nature of his grand creation? That's one of the reasons I will never understand many religious people's aversion to science.

« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 02:06:40 am by chrono eric »

FaustWolf

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #91 on: February 11, 2009, 02:32:16 am »
Oh, most agreed. I guess my own biases prevented me from linking that to the statement I quoted from you; studying evolution in elementary school was what got me interested in religion in the first place, but science adequately explains it, even if an amoeba popping out of inanimate goo is a veritable miracle by any stretch. Still, it makes enough sense that it could happen through sheer randomness without any outside forces so much as poking a critical atom into place, so Occam's razor weighs in favor of the purely scientific explanation. Where Occam's razor logically breaks down (rather, I should say, points in the unscientific direction, if it's possible to say such a thing) is the introduction of matter/energy into a closed system. It just can't happen. We owe our very existence to the fact that the law of conservation of mass/energy was once broken. The logical conclusion for atheists interested in the origins of the universe is that science will, one day, progress to a point at which we can actually make that happen in a laboratory, but in my view it would simply make us God, given that my definition of God is a force capable of creating something from nothing.

Thus, I guess the logic I'm operating with forces me to conclude that science has set mankind on the path to Godhood. Which is kind of freaky. Do you want the Powah?
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 02:41:34 am by FaustWolf »

Daniel Krispin

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #92 on: February 11, 2009, 02:46:28 am »
Oh, most agreed. I guess my own biases prevented me from linking that to the statement I quoted from you; studying evolution in elementary school was what got me interested in religion in the first place, but science adequately explains it, even if an amoeba popping out of inanimate goo is a veritable miracle by any stretch. Still, it makes enough sense that it could happen through sheer randomness without any outside forces so much as poking a critical atom into place, so Occam's razor weighs in favor of the purely scientific explanation. Where Occam's razor logically breaks down (rather, I should say, points in the unscientific direction, if it's possible to say such a thing) is the introduction of matter/energy into a closed system. It just can't happen. We owe our very existence to the fact that the law of conservation of mass/energy was once broken. The logical conclusion for atheists interested in the origins of the universe is that science will, one day, progress to a point at which we can actually make that happen in a laboratory, but in my view it would simply make us God, given that my definition of God is a force capable of creating something from nothing.

Thus, I guess the logic I'm operating with forces me to conclude that science has set mankind on the path to Godhood. Which is kind of freaky. Do you want the Powah?

Is God merely the sum of His creative power? Is God omnipotence alone? :)

Eske

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #93 on: February 11, 2009, 02:56:16 am »
well, the problem with christians accepting evolution probably stems from its lack of presence in the Bible.  Though, I challenge those to who take the Bible literally to explain why those stories have to be taken literally - I see two problems with this:

1)  Impossible to understand.

If the Bible really described, say, the Big Bang, or the development of our solar system at least, how could ancient peoples really understand such a concept?

Could you ever explain how a microwave is built and functions to the Romans?  No, they would never be able to understand - it is completely beyond them.

2)  No trial of faith.

If the Bible consistently matched scientific findings, there would be almost no question of the existence of a creator.  The problem is that if heaven and hell did exist, people would live in extreme fear over making any mistake.  It would be the ultimate example of Big Brother.  All fear, no faith.  Pretty much defeats the purpose of free will in the first place.  Imagine North Korea, but everywhere and to the extreme, with a soldier holding a gun to your back all the times, yikes.


Then again, arguing against a religion because its documents conflict with science is a meaningless endeavor to begin with...   The religions of today haven't always existed, and a 1000 years from now who knows what kinds of faiths people will practice.  The flaws in the religious doctrines of today have nothing to do with whether or not a creator exists in the first place...

I guess my final input would be that embracing science 100% over religion is fine but...

How do you know everything you believe about science?  Sure you can simply repeat tests, come up with results and know but you can't check everything.  To some degree you simply have to trust what others have said.  I guess that would make atheism faith in people instead of a god.  God might not exist, but everyone is deceitful to some degree.  As long as people pursue their own agendas, they could theoretically bribe and intimidate their way into textbooks (again look at North Korea).   I guess no "ism" can really be practical - they are all flawed.

I considered myself an atheist before reading this thread, but fuck it - no point in subscribing to anything - I'll just go with the flow  8)

FaustWolf

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #94 on: February 11, 2009, 03:34:42 am »
Quote from: Daniel Krispin
Is God omnipotence alone?
I guess my own brand of logic traps me into saying "yes" to that, or at least whatever level of omnipotence is necessary to break the laws of physics with respect to introducing matter/energy into a closed system. God may have other characteristics (being sentient, exhibiting true love for its creations, existing in some kind of realm akin to the biblical conception of heaven, etc.), but I guess omnipotence is the only one we could possibly detect in the absence of subjective religious experiences. And even then, only through the effects of omnipotence, namely the creation of matter or energy where only a vacuum existed before.

Quote from: Eske
How do you know everything you believe about science?  Sure you can simply repeat tests, come up with results and know but you can't check everything.  To some degree you simply have to trust what others have said.
It is pretty freaky. We have to believe that, since other people have claimed to verify these things, we could also do it if we spent the decades necessary to acquire the talent they have. That, too, is a kind of faith, albeit backed up by tons of literature (heh heh, yes, I see the parallel there).

I think when it comes right down to it, the major sticking point that atheists in the Sam Harris vein have with religion is that, when theologians disagree on something, people tend to get uppity. I mean, seriously, were it not for things like the Spanish Inquisition, arguing against religion would have no purpose higher than trying to keep people from snorting pepper or something, and that's if you interpret religion as self delusion or something harmful in and of itself. I'd argue that the marginal benefit of trying to eradicate religion is waning as people become more enlightened and learn to satiate their spiritual cravings more responsibly, but then an abortion clinic gets blown up or a homosexual gets drug to his death with the Book of Leviticus as justification, or a woman in Somalia gets stoned in accordance with Sharia, and, well, damn, they still have a point.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 03:52:55 am by FaustWolf »

placidchap

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #95 on: February 11, 2009, 08:27:28 am »
Quote from: Daniel Krispin
Is God omnipotence alone?
The definition of a god, to me, is omnipotence.  But that is relative...I'm sure people of today would seem like gods to people from a few thousand years ago...

It is pretty freaky. We have to believe that, since other people have claimed to verify these things, we could also do it if we spent the decades necessary to acquire the talent they have.

You don't have to believe everything.  I for one do not believe the Heart & Stroke Foundation's recommendation of eatting margarine over butter; a recommendation born from the presumed unbiased studies in that area regarding saturated fats as evil.  I also don't believe that fluoridating the water supply is benefiting the population; something that occurred because of presumed unbiased studies.  Personal beliefs aside, there are conflicting studies on those two items.

Thought

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #96 on: February 11, 2009, 02:02:23 pm »
Scientifically, what cause not only my mother's heart, but my own, to start beating? We were officially dead for 3 minutes (4 for my mom).

I am curious; if there was a scientific explanation for what caused your mother's heart and your own to start beating, would that lessen the spiritual value of the event?

I ask because this touches on one of those concepts that I generally disagree with: the belief that divine intervention must inherently have no natural explanation. While I would not claim that God is unable to circumvent the laws of the natural world, neither would I claim that he is incapable of using them.

Which in turn led me to ask my question of you. Even if every single wild-but-scientifically-valid supposition the scientific community proposes is true, would that exclude the possibility of God for you? (I qualified that statement since Scientists have been known to make wild-and-not-scientifically-valid suppositions before. James Watson and Richard Dawkins are two such individuals).

Of course, we would then have the Busy-Body God conception to work against. That is, the belief that anything "undesirable" that happens is evidence of either god not existing or god being a twisted individual. RD and Z ask why God "let" your heart stop. Which is of a similar vein to asking why God lets children starve in the world, why God lets people be murdered, and in general why God lets bad things happen.

Such stances are rather poor ones if one desires to disprove the existence of God; even a cursory consideration gives one two potential outcomes of the stance, either God exists and is a dick, or God doesn't exist. However, deeper reflection on these matters reveals a fundamental perception of God, which I termed the "Busy-Body God" conception. Essentially, there is a belief held by some that if God exists, and if He is good, then there should be no bad in the universe. However, such a conception defines "bad" by "I don't like it." Thus, they expect God to not only promote good in the universe, but to promote the very specific, limited view, good that they want.

Thus, RD and Z ask why God let your mother's heart stop, and your own. They see this as "not good," even cruel (if God exists). However, they fail to take long view of the subject and thus do not take into consideration various other factors that may have well made it "good." For one, perhaps if this series of events hadn't happened, you might not believe in God. Perhaps by coming close to death, your mother's life has been more meaningful and significant since. Perhaps many things; my point is, even when there are unpleasant events, we are not so limited (unless we choose to be) so as to be unable to imagine than even in the worst circumstances, some good could have come from it.

To offer my own experiences: I'm a cancer survivor. Sure, I could take the view that God caused my cancer, and I can also take the view that it is because of God that I recovered from it so well. But having cancer was a very formative point in my life and, looking back, I'd have rather had cancer than not. The experience changed me in a way that I doubt many other experiences could have, and I believe that the change was for the better. So I would maintain, even in giving me cancer, God was being good and kind.

Though to note, that requires the supposition that God “gave” me cancer. I would generally object to such a supposition, especially if one is using “gave” in the same manner that one might say “Bob gave the clamp to Susan” or “Hassem gave a sandwich to Pip.”

Religion virulently promotes ethical frailty and faulty reason; science does nothing of the sort. Both can tools of expression for bad people, but religion is proactive. Religion seeks to legitimize sexism, repression of human sexuality, discrimination against unbelievers, etc.

And, pray tell, what was eugenics but scientists attempting to legitimize sexism and racism? And what was Social Darwinism except science being misused to justify social inequality?

Admittedly, religious individuals have done horrible things. Scientific individuals have as well. However, you continue to attribute to actions of the individual to the whole in the case of religion, and you ignore the actions of the individual and their affect on the whole for science. Actually, you do that for everything else too.

That is the fundamental element of your arguments that make them so ineffectual; you apply a double standard.

Both Daniel and I, and I believe most thinking religious types, would admit that religious individuals have done horrible things and that the world would have been a better place if those things had not happened. However, just as you do not attribute the follies of individuals regarding science to the larger concept of Science itself, neither do we attribute the follies of individuals regarding religion to the larger concept of Religion itself.

In short, people can know the atrocities of religion and still believe that religion is good in the exact same manner that you can know the atrocities of science and still believe that science is good.

Nevermind. I'd written something, but I don't think my arguments will do much. Sufficed to say, ZeaLitY, your arguments were only ever judged well elucidated by you yourself, not by me, so recalling them means little.

While I could certainly be misreading what Z said, I think he meant that Lord J and others have had a positive influence so that his beliefs in certain regards are not exactly what they once were. In turn, I think he was then referring to and recalling Lord J's arguments, not his own.

Actually, I'm slightly surprised Lord J hasn't posted yet. I suppose that could be taken as a comment on the state of the thread.

However, your comments on Z's quote made me think of something. One of the biggest stones individuals throw at religion is modernocentrism. Religions, especially in the modern world, do not represent modern beliefs and that is a sin that the modern world finds unforgivable. The modern world is so certain in the truth behind its beliefs about humans and the world that any disagreement with that perspective is perceived as clearly a heretical belief that aught be burned at the stake (to put it dramatically).

Let us assume, for a moment, that the verse cited is clear proof of a larger theme in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and that such a theme is one of "sexism."

Would a theme of sexism invalidate religion? Does a theme of sexism make religion into a harmful non-truth that aught be done away with?

If we believe that knowing the truth of the universe is far better than living in a lie, then a theme of sexism should have absolutely no influence on our perception of religion.

Let me stress that this is only following from the afore mentioned assumption. But if there is a fundamental truth in religion, and if that fundamental truth includes sexism, then is that truth a good one that we should accept and follow?

Now setting such assumptions aside, let me make it clear that I do not believe all religions do include sexism as a fundamental theme, and I would argue against the claim that sexism is inherent to religion. But the point being, the modern world faults religion for not agreeing with the modern world's perceptions; if the Modern World says W and Religion says Q, then Religion is wrong.

However, if we are not mere puppets of the modern age, but rather if we are independent thinkers capable of finding truth, then we come to a horrible possibility: the truth might be something we don't like, something horribly opposed to the world as we know it and accept it.

To move away from real-world religions, allow me to draw from literature and H.P. Lovecraft. Imagine, if you will, that the gods of the safe religion are weak things, Great Ones limited to the earthly sphere, and that beyond that there are higher powers. Imagine that the true gods of the universe are the Great Old Ones like Cthulhu or the Outer Gods like Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth.

If we are dedicated to finding out the truth, then we would be dedicating to Azathoth and Cthulhu, beings whose very existence is anathema to the modern world and all we hold dear and conceive of as good.

So the question is, in seeking truth, are we capable of setting aside the false conceptions of what we view and good and evil and take up the truth instead? If Cthulhu were truth, for example, could we follow him?

To return to the real world now, if Religion is truth, can we set aside modern assumptions and pick up truth?

Which is all a very verbose way of saying: just because Religion might disagree with modern perceptions, it does not follow that Religion is wrong or bad. One must first establish the truth of the matter before one can weigh perceptions, and in doing so one must entertain the possibility that the modern perception does not reflect the truth.

The modern world rejects sexism, and I believe this is rightly so (and I believe Christianity and other religions are in line with such a belief). But it is conceivable that the modern world is incorrect in this rejection. If in a search for Truth I discover that it includes sexism, is it better to adhere to the modern world’s rejection of sexism or to embrace sexism as a part of Truth?

The modern world says nothing on the subject of pants. It might be that in a millennia or two the humans of the future will marvel at how oppressive we were to pants, and they’ll wonder why it took the great pants revolt of 2045 to set the world straight. The point being, merely what the modern world believes may not be truth, especially when pitted against the beliefs of the past. Merely coming later in time doesn’t inherently mean we are ethically superior to the past; we may be equally blind to inequities in our own time, and we might misjudge the inequities of other periods. Faulting something else for not conforming to modern beliefs is improper until one has first established that the modern beliefs are themselves truth and not a product of the age.

Which is all to say, even if religion is all those things that Zeality says it is (a hateful, spiteful, evil, sexist, racist, and oppressive institution), that does not speak a single word on its truth or the existence of God. Until one can establish universal truths to base perceptions upon, citing deviations from the modern perspective is nothing but an appeal to emotion.

Not that there's any way science can prove the existence of a God, but when I compare my own religious experience with that of many others, I think I'm a happier person for basing my belief on a logical framework rather than a purely theological one...

Very wisely put. I didn't quote it all, but you are quite good at making your points, those points being poignant, and those points being eloquently stated. I think I've said it before, but when you speak on these sort of matters, you remind me a lot of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. Which considering that Lewis is my hero, I do mean that as a very high complement.

That's why I worry about religion based purely on theology. Certainly, religious scholars can find all sorts of scriptural passages that provide them a circuitous way out of the dilemma, but it totally, totally, doesn't work for many laypeople.

I've referenced this before, but the basic approach of John Wesley and Methodism can be summed up in the statement: "In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. And in all things, charity." I bring this up because I believe in it and I agree with you. Most of theology, to my mind, deals with nonessentials. Being unimportant, it’s nothing to fight over. And even when disagreeances are on essential matters, one should approach the disagreement with charity and good will, not pitch forks and torches.

Still, it makes enough sense that it could happen through sheer randomness without any outside forces so much as poking a critical atom into place, so Occam's razor weighs in favor of the purely scientific explanation.

Heh, actually, the more I learn about science, the more I realize Occam's Razor is bunk. It really does require fewer suppositions and factors to say that God instantaneously created humans whole cloth than it does to understand the scientifically accepted model of the development and processes of human life. Of course, the problem is that we have a lot of observable evidence for the scientific model. But to give you a taste of what I mean: we have DNA. Yay, DNA! Except that doesn't really control who we are, that job is up to RNA, which codes proteins. Okay, Yay, RNA! Except not all DNA produces RNA that codes proteins, yet changing that DNA can cause effects on the individual. So...Yay, DNA again? Ah, but then there is micro RNA that works on a smaller scale to influence DNA and RNA. And if you are female, you have two copies of the X chromosome. Except, only one is needed generally so the other copy is often switched off in a cell. Chromosomes. Switched off. To note, most/all calico cats are female for this very reason. One should generally expect to find any given X Chromosome to be switched off 50% of the time. Unless that chromosome might cause a problem in the overall body. Then that chromosome can be switched of upwards of 90% of the time. How? Why?! WHO!

Anywho, my point being, a system is almost always more complex than we realize. Thus, Occam's Razor doesn't really fit into science all that well.

well, the problem with christians accepting evolution probably stems from its lack of presence in the Bible.

I'd like to come out of the closet... I'm... I'm a Christian and an Evolutionist.

Actually, with the reaction of some Christians to me believing in Evolution, you would think I had told them I was gay.

I would argue that the problem with Christians accepting evolution has nothing to do with the bible (at least, not in origin) and everything to do with social interactions between Christians and Atheists. When Darwin first published the Origin of Species, there were Christians who rejoiced at it, claiming that the book illuminated the great and unseen tools of God. However, some individuals also used the Origin of Species and the concept of Evolution to beat religion over the head, claiming that it proved god didn't exist. Which relates back to an earlier part of my post;

"...if every single wild-but-scientifically-valid supposition the scientific community proposes is true, would that exclude the possibility of God...?"

Evolution tells us how life changed over countless ages, progressing from something barely recognizable as "alive" to humans and beyond. Nothing in Evolution precludes the possibility of God existing, creating the process itself, or indeed, even pushing it along in unseen and unseeable ways (again, I would largely argue that God can influence the universe in both natural and unnatural ways).

You might be interested in a book on this very topic. It was written by Dr. Francis Collins, the geneticist who headed up the Human Genome Project, and he essentially argues why belief in God is acceptable from a scientific perspective. That is, he isn't trying to prove that God exists, scientifically, he argues that nothing in the Scientific Method, scientific research, or the Scientific Community precludes the potential for the existence of God and that Scientists can believe in God without impugning their integrity as a Scientist. The name of the book is The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

He also worked with Darrel Falk to write Coming to Peace With Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology, which is a book taking the opposite approach. This book attempts to convince Christians that it is okay to believe in Science.

  Though, I challenge those to who take the Bible literally to explain why those stories have to be taken literally - I see two problems with this:

Curiously, biblical literalism is a somewhat modern element in Christianity, especially as a widespread belief. Sure, there was simplicity in Christianity in the past (people believing that Heaven was a physical location in the sky, etc), but I would argue that that is different than literalism. To note, theologians and religious thinkers even as early as St. Augustine believed that the creation story recorded in the bible was metaphorical and not literal.

I considered myself an atheist before reading this thread, but fuck it - no point in subscribing to anything - I'll just go with the flow  8)

Heh, personally I'd argue that agnosticism is the only logically valid position, for generally the very reasons you stated. To be a theist or an atheist is inherently illogical to me (one can't know for sure, it is impossible to know for sure, so any conclusion inherently requires one to make a decision without complete information, so while the logical evidence might point to a specific conclusion, the evidence and logic will never reach that conclusion, so accepting such a conclusion requires a break with the evidence and with logic). But then, being a theist myself, that would make me illogical under my own belief, so I might not be the best to comment on such a belief either.

I guess my own brand of logic traps me into saying "yes" to that, or at least whatever level of omnipotence is necessary to break the laws of physics with respect to introducing matter/energy into a closed system. God may have other characteristics (being sentient, exhibiting true love for its creations, existing in some kind of realm akin to the biblical conception of heaven, etc.), but I guess omnipotence is the only one we could possibly detect in the absence of subjective religious experiences. And even then, only through the effects of omnipotence, namely the creation of matter or energy where only a vacuum existed before.

One of the interesting things about science is that it supposes universal laws that are eternal. To provide examples: the gravity on earth is a temporary state but the force of gravity is omnipresent throughout the universe. Pi = 3.14159265358979323846... because it does, there are no two ways around it. Matter and Energy, though interchangeable, cannot be created or destroyed; that law is eternal.

However, if one believes that God is omnipotent and that he did create the universe, one comes to a curious possibility; he created the laws of the universe as well. He could have made it so that pi = 3 even, or 2, or 4. He could have made it so that matter and energy could be created and destroyed with ease. He could have made it so that gravity is just a local phenomenon. Etc.

To note, I'd also generally claim that God had to create a "vacuum" for energy and matter to be created in. One might imagine pre-universe to be a sort of geometrical point. No width, height, depth, etc. Not even the space for things to exist.

ZeaLitY

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #97 on: February 11, 2009, 02:33:21 pm »
Quote
And, pray tell, what was eugenics but scientists attempting to legitimize sexism and racism? And what was Social Darwinism except science being misused to justify social inequality?

Other, less dangerous flavors of human frailty. There is no Church of Eugenics; no far-reaching organization teaching humans from infancy to believe in irrational ideas; no promotion of questionable moral codes in government and life; no favorable protection under the law.  Science...

1. Is founded upon reason and prescribes openness and willingness to change in understanding the natural world, and
2. Exists as a peer-reviewed field for volunteers.

Religion...

1. Is founded upon unreasonable, baseless assumptions about the universe, humanity, etc. including countless unethical rules or commandments concerning life, and
2. Aggressively promotes this through proselyting and indoctrination, even of children.

If someone wants to whip up the masses into a fervor with science, they're going to have to have damn good evidence. If they're going to do it with religion, they've got prepackaged imbecility ready from the get-go. Of course, we're dealing with ignorant people who can be manipulated, but at least science's aim is to enlighten them, not keep them where they are by solidifying their faith in the irrational.

Quote
that does not speak a single word on its truth or the existence of God.

The incredible unlikelihood of God's existence should be self-evident. It's only because people are taught as children, bound by social pressures, made to fear hell and invest validation in heaven, etc. that they give so much credence to religious ideas. And that's why popular religious belief will continue to erode as more reasonable people are emboldened to no longer tolerate ignorance.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 02:37:11 pm by ZeaLitY »

Radical_Dreamer

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #98 on: February 11, 2009, 03:07:33 pm »
I am curious; if there was a scientific explanation for what caused your mother's heart and your own to start beating, would that lessen the spiritual value of the event?

I ask because this touches on one of those concepts that I generally disagree with: the belief that divine intervention must inherently have no natural explanation. While I would not claim that God is unable to circumvent the laws of the natural world, neither would I claim that he is incapable of using them.

Why assert that there is divine intervention in the case of a naturally possible event? That is what Occam's Razor actually is about: "One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything." If a situation can be adequately explained without a god, why suppose one?

Which in turn led me to ask my question of you. Even if every single wild-but-scientifically-valid supposition the scientific community proposes is true, would that exclude the possibility of God for you? (I qualified that statement since Scientists have been known to make wild-and-not-scientifically-valid suppositions before. James Watson and Richard Dawkins are two such individuals).

Science doesn't show that there is not, or cannot be a god. But it has shown that such an entity is unnecessary.

Of course, we would then have the Busy-Body God conception to work against. That is, the belief that anything "undesirable" that happens is evidence of either god not existing or god being a twisted individual. RD and Z ask why God "let" your heart stop. Which is of a similar vein to asking why God lets children starve in the world, why God lets people be murdered, and in general why God lets bad things happen.

Such stances are rather poor ones if one desires to disprove the existence of God; even a cursory consideration gives one two potential outcomes of the stance, either God exists and is a dick, or God doesn't exist. However, deeper reflection on these matters reveals a fundamental perception of God, which I termed the "Busy-Body God" conception. Essentially, there is a belief held by some that if God exists, and if He is good, then there should be no bad in the universe. However, such a conception defines "bad" by "I don't like it." Thus, they expect God to not only promote good in the universe, but to promote the very specific, limited view, good that they want.

It was not my intent to disprove the existence of god with my questions. I was probing at nightmare's understanding of god. He chose to attribute to god the good things that happened, but not the bad (within local scope. I'll get to the broader scope later) If I stab you and then treat the wound, should I be praised as a healer; should I be seen as good for my actions? nightmare was making an assertion about the goodness of God, but he was picking what to attribute to God from the preconception of God's nature being good.

Thus, RD and Z ask why God let your mother's heart stop, and your own. They see this as "not good," even cruel (if God exists). However, they fail to take long view of the subject and thus do not take into consideration various other factors that may have well made it "good." For one, perhaps if this series of events hadn't happened, you might not believe in God. Perhaps by coming close to death, your mother's life has been more meaningful and significant since. Perhaps many things; my point is, even when there are unpleasant events, we are not so limited (unless we choose to be) so as to be unable to imagine than even in the worst circumstances, some good could have come from it.

Believing in God is not virtuous.

While it is possible a greater good may come from any given bit of suffering, an omnipotent being must have the power to accomplish the same good without the suffering. Of course, that's assuming an omnipotent god. But given such an entity, for whom all courses of action are equally trivial, it is cruel to chose the course that does not have the least suffering.

The simpler solution still is that we live in a godless universe; unconscious and thus unconcerned with the trivia of a bunch of apes on a little rock somewhere. That not every event is caused by an intelligent entity, nor is it for any greater purpose. Some may find such a notion upsetting. I find it comforting.

To offer my own experiences: I'm a cancer survivor. Sure, I could take the view that God caused my cancer, and I can also take the view that it is because of God that I recovered from it so well. But having cancer was a very formative point in my life and, looking back, I'd have rather had cancer than not. The experience changed me in a way that I doubt many other experiences could have, and I believe that the change was for the better. So I would maintain, even in giving me cancer, God was being good and kind.

That is from your present perspective. There may come a time when you consider future events to outweigh any good that has come from the experience. I hope this doesn't happen, and am glad you have taken your cancer as an experience to grow from, but it is a possibility. And that's just in the scope of your life. What of the others you interact with? Are their lives enriched or degraded for the person you became? And the people who interact with them? Omniscience, if nothing else, must be convenient for determining such complex situations.

Though to note, that requires the supposition that God “gave” me cancer. I would generally object to such a supposition, especially if one is using “gave” in the same manner that one might say “Bob gave the clamp to Susan” or “Hassem gave a sandwich to Pip.”

Indeed, why assume divine intent at all?

However, your comments on Z's quote made me think of something. One of the biggest stones individuals throw at religion is modernocentrism. Religions, especially in the modern world, do not represent modern beliefs and that is a sin that the modern world finds unforgivable. The modern world is so certain in the truth behind its beliefs about humans and the world that any disagreement with that perspective is perceived as clearly a heretical belief that aught be burned at the stake (to put it dramatically).

This view is overly simplistic. Human knowledge has not been static over the last two thousand years. We have greater knowledge and perspective on many topics than the writers of scripture. Now, have we come to absolute truth on all matters encountered? No, not by any stretch, and this is the strength of the scientific world view: It grows with knowledge. I've seen creationists try to discredit science by pointing out things held to be true in an earlier time that we now consider false. What they fail to understand is that if you disprove something held by science, you make science stronger, not weaker, because you have added to our knowledge.

We presently have a paradigm designed to adapt and change as we learn. I do not think that this is necessarily true of religions in general, but I'm willing to take arguments.

Let us assume, for a moment, that the verse cited is clear proof of a larger theme in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and that such a theme is one of "sexism."

Would a theme of sexism invalidate religion? Does a theme of sexism make religion into a harmful non-truth that aught be done away with?

If we believe that knowing the truth of the universe is far better than living in a lie, then a theme of sexism should have absolutely no influence on our perception of religion.

This is not true. If sexism is itself bad, and religion promotes it as good, then religion is at odds with what is true. Or put another way, the religion is false, and since our sincere desire is to know the truth, we must reject it as such. So yes, it must influence our perception of religion.

Let me stress that this is only following from the afore mentioned assumption. But if there is a fundamental truth in religion, and if that fundamental truth includes sexism, then is that truth a good one that we should accept and follow?

Sexism is true in as much as there is such a thing as sexism and it is practiced. But that a thing is true does not mean that it is good, simply that it is. To say there is sexism is an observation, not a judgment. But if we decide (as I believe we rightly have) that sexism is bad, and if it is true that there is sexism, we must have the courage to oppose it. Not every truth is eternal, and a bad truth can be supplanted by a good truth.

Heh, actually, the more I learn about science, the more I realize Occam's Razor is bunk. It really does require fewer suppositions and factors to say that God instantaneously created humans whole cloth than it does to understand the scientifically accepted model of the development and processes of human life.

I think you misunderstand Occam's Razor. Gods are unnecessary given our present evidence, so why add them? And adding them just causes a bigger problem: Where did such incredible beings come from? You then have to solve that problem. That saying "Poof God did it" may be apparently simpler (ignoring the begged question of who did god) that doesn't mean it's the preferable solution via Occam's Razor, as it adds unnecessary externalities.

Curiously, biblical literalism is a somewhat modern element in Christianity, especially as a widespread belief. Sure, there was simplicity in Christianity in the past (people believing that Heaven was a physical location in the sky, etc), but I would argue that that is different than literalism. To note, theologians and religious thinkers even as early as St. Augustine believed that the creation story recorded in the bible was metaphorical and not literal.

What defines a religion then? The beliefs of the laity, clergy and/or theologians? The text of the religion's holy books? The interpretation of one of the above groups?

Heh, personally I'd argue that agnosticism is the only logically valid position, for generally the very reasons you stated. To be a theist or an atheist is inherently illogical to me (one can't know for sure, it is impossible to know for sure, so any conclusion inherently requires one to make a decision without complete information, so while the logical evidence might point to a specific conclusion, the evidence and logic will never reach that conclusion, so accepting such a conclusion requires a break with the evidence and with logic). But then, being a theist myself, that would make me illogical under my own belief, so I might not be the best to comment on such a belief either.

Ultimately though, aren't we all agnostic? None of us can prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that there must be or must not be some deities sitting on the other side of human perception. I call myself an atheist and not an agnostic because, while it is true that I am in theory an agnostic, I am in practice an atheist, for without evidence of gods, I live as though there aren't any. Of course, this brings up the inverse of what has been brought up before: The existence of a god or gods does not imply that any present religion is true.

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #99 on: February 11, 2009, 03:24:33 pm »
Quote from: Thought
the basic approach of John Wesley and Methodism can be summed up in the statement: "In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. And in all things, charity."

Methodism really interests me; its adherents seem to have more liberal leanings on average than those of other Christian denominations, at least judging from my experiences as an undergrad at a college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and having had an opportunity to canvass alongside a Methodist minister while I worked on the Obama Campaign. Walking around with a pro-choice minister, and having the opportunity to ask him stuff, was really something.

Still, a quick look at Methodism's Wikipedia article reveals that while the Methodist churches have functionally overcome sexism, there's still room for improvement on the valuing of homosexuals, and then there's the nefarious discouragement of drinking alcohol. 8) But kidding aside, I think the Methodist churches are generally going in a better direction than other, more static, religions.

Daniel Krispin

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #100 on: February 11, 2009, 03:36:11 pm »
I was giving this matter some thought, and to be honest, your statement that the proof is in the historical pudding caused me some aggravation. How, I thought, can that be, when all that I see of history shows otherwise? And surely my own study of history has yielded at least some more insight than yours, it having been longer and more detailed? But that is all moot if I cannot raise a compelling argument to contradict what you have said. Since you seem adamant that history has shown this the case, I suppose I must attempt to disprove that element of your argument.

However, I cannot strike at examples. That has been done and redone manifold times, and for each even you may bring up, and I a counter, it brings us no closer to a refutation of the other, and we only raise up a blazing passion of anger in our hearts as to the other’s view. So instead I will attempt to strike more at the heart of what you have said, and undermine the logic of your thesis. Since you have said that in the historical context religion has been shown cruel and oppressive, I must strike at your observation of history and society’s role in it.

The simplest way I have of doings this is by giving you a refutation by analogy. That is, to show you another example of a concept that I can set up the same way as yours against religion. If this holds method is then sound, but the conclusion is wrong, then it is obvious that you have made an error in your application of origin of oppression.

My exemplar to this will be government. And the examples need not be altogether long. To phrase things in a similar way to yours, but replacing religion with government, will go as follows. Government has been around wherever there has been oppression. Government has been the cause of numerous wars and slaughters, and has condoned tyranny over fast groups of people and over the sexes. At times, an oppression of thought and disallowance of freedom of speech. We have not been allowed to question certain governments, and what they say is law. Some leaders have been made infallible and benevolent in amidst their evils. At times, an even irrational pitch of cloistered self-righteousness is reached, like when liberty cried from the severed head s in the streets of Paris. Or when the mob of Athens called for an island’s destruction, or the Florentine’s demanded vengeance on the conspirators. We have seen even women set subservient through a legal, rather than religious, hierarchy. This example, which you are fond to apply to religion, is evident in the law codes of most ancient peoples. I am not familiar with all, but in particular I have some knowledge of the workings of Greek law, and in particular have read a defence speech written by Lysias in the 4th century BC. This, the defence of a man who killed another man for adultery with his wife, is a good example as it has elements of the relations between the sexes. It shows the codified laws and, through governmental institutions, places women at a lower rank, having essentially the legal rights of children. This, I am sure you would agree, is a sexist stance to take, and is something whose authority in this case is upheld by government - more specifically the law codes written upon the Athenian stele. Here there is no appeal to the gods or religion, but merely a court case within the bounds of state law. So sexism certainly exists under the auspices of government.

Therefore, these are all true statements regarding the oppression of government, even as yours concerning religion’s presence in these things is also true. And yet government remains unblemished in your view. Or, at least, the concept of government. You may be against Hitler’s Socialists, or rather unfavourable toward the not too distant American democracy of last year, but there are elements of government you think are true and pure, at least in ideal, and at times in practice. As such, I’ve reduced the argument against religion based on historical evidence to an absurdity by showing that the same argument can be made to destroy government or any other institution.

It might be worth noting here that a similar refutation was made about a hundred years ago against those who considered all religious belief based on natural phenomenae. This theory quickly fell out of vogue with serious scholars after it was shown that the same logical steps can be made to prove that, say, the seven generals of Napolean were not real but only based on natural phenomenae. It’s a similar method of refutation I’ve used here. The logical steps might seem to hold in your argument, but when those logical steps can be made to prove the absurd, then that means there must be something wrong with your initial suppositions. And that, as I am showing, has been the case with you. In your case, that religion is the ‘origin’ or even prime mover of evils in the world.

Now at this point we must ask an important question. Why can this analogy be made? Well, first let me address a likely counter argument. That is, that religion stands behind these things in the shadowy depths. This is an untenable argument. Whilst some elements may spring from religious doctrine, this is making the initial supposition that all these human institutions have their origin in religious ritual. In the same way that, as I have said, these simplistic models of societal adaption have long since proven in the academic circles entirely in-apt to model actual events, so too can you not simply claim religion as the forerunner to these institutions and from that base all your further points. As a specific case example I’d like to bring up those I am most acquainted with, the ancient Greeks.

In this case we have a culture in which, as I have already alluded to, there are no systems of laws that could be attributed to a god’s will. True, they were a religious people, yet nothing in their actions shows there to be a direct correlation. Indeed, it was not from the priesthood that they were taught morality, but rather they listened to the poets for such things. And all the same, much of their society bore the hallmark of those things you call oppressive, and sexist, and continued to make use of it until the society’s end. For example, the segregation of women in the house, something that I wrote a paper on a few years back. Lisa Nevitt, an archaeologist working on Olynthos and whose work I primarily used in my researched, likened the structure of the Greek house to the austerer examples of Islamic houses. Now this is a great question for your view on the matter: if it was religion that causes this, how can this group of so different a religion, and indeed far less influenced by any authoritative teachings - and who are more prone to argue from nomos, or ‘custom’ - act in such a similar way? How can religion be the fault? You might at this point be inclined to view such things as Hesiod’s Theogony, the origin of the gods, as a sort of Bible. And yet this is a dangerous leap to make. It assumes a certain Essentialist model to culture, meaning that you are applying your own world view upon an ancient culture and assuming them to have the same outlook on things. In part, I think this has been perhaps the primary flaw of your arguing process to date: you view things with an eye that all people at all times thought like 21st century North Americans. As such, since we in our culture behave one way, the ones in antiquity behaved in an analogous manner. However, in archaeology and literature alike it becomes plain that they did not think quite like us, and so to fit, say, a model of modern religious type upon them is rather impossible. So while some Christian takes the Bible to be the word of God, it does not follow that the Greeks took Homer, or Hesiod, to be the word of their gods. Indeed, many statements quite oppose this. Hesiod’s introduction, speaking the guise of the muses, that they know how to tell many lies to Men. Or the open criticism of the gods all point to a culture that, while certain religious, applied that religion in a far different way than we do. As such, there is no provable way we can say that religion is at the heart of these social doctrines that they adhered to, and we must conclude that one cannot follow in a simple or direct line from the other.

So finally we get to my thesis on why this is the case. Why I can make this analogy, and why religion as a system must be vindicated by anyone civilized. And also answers a possible rebut that religion might not be the cause but surely is a potent means to such oppressions.

Essentially, the reason I have been able to argue this as I have is that you have failed to account in your cries of oppression, and contrasting freedom of the individual or groups from that tyranny, for the concept that oppression is the inherent heart of the experiment of civilization. The basis of civilization, and its forerunner ‘community’ demands that the individual sacrifice some or even most of his or her individuality for the sake of the common tyranny. The impetus for this may come visibly from without, as in a political regime, or softly from within, as in religion or cultural modes of thought. But the motivation remains the same. The only escape is a return to absolute individuality, an anarchy, literally ‘that without rule.’

And that is why I am able to set this fundamental wedge into your argument about religion. That it oppresses, and in this is the origin and motivator of society’s evils, does not account for the very nature of society as something necessarily oppressive. We can be individual, but only so far: you are far less unique than you might like to think. Civilization is a construct whereby we are organized to think in various patterns by having them impressed upon us. We are taught to divide things into certain categories, and think in certain ways. Oppression, or better suppression, of certain characteristics, and segregation into role and order, are the things that make up the foundation of society and civilization. Now, you might not agree with the concept of civilization, but in that case, you must hold the same disregard for all the things which it entails. And I do not think you do.  

But in some way you must ask why or if you even consider this oppression evil. Take for example your own tendencies to subjugation in setting up community about yourself: you declaim the religious, holding them as lesser, and also disregard the unintelligent as something less than you are. Already you in yourself naturally draw these boundaries and concepts of hierarchy that are the true initial stages to oppression and segregation. That you choose to put the boundaries at intelligence rather than gender or something else is really quite irrelevant, as those concepts of what makes better and worse lines of distinction are very much informed by your own social and personal development. The point is as a human you naturally do these things yourself: it is ingrained in your being. That you have chosen to shift your object of differentiation toward that which your current paradigm holds more acceptable is hardly, in the long view, a very enlightened method. The sum, though, is that if you are already setting the stages for segregations and oppressions of groups you disregard within your own community, and since you are doing this without a religious basis it is only plain that religion is but one of the many outlets of that base desire that seeks to oppress or conquer... a desire, I must point out, that is part of a competitive evolutionary process. So you cannot blame religion as the source. Blame - or rather understand, rather than point fingers - evolution and human nature. And as for the means, well, I will grant that that it most certainly is. It can be used to oppress. But as I have said, so are all the constructs of civilization which seek to organize, including government. If you consider religion a dangerous means to oppress, you must consider all the products of organized civilization under the same light, favouring none. All are weapons in the hands of the ill-willed, and blessings in the hand of the good-willed. Organized religion is just that: an organization within culture, oppressive only in so far as the suppression of basic humanity, supposedly for our betterment, is the work of civilization.

To sum, yes, religion can be a dangerous thing when misused. So can the institutions of government and school. So can the institutions of scientific inquiry. Most if not all of these things have been mis-used in the past. But ZeaLitY, we are a daring race. We take great leaps into peril, and oftenmost blindly. And you may think religion is limiting, but what is more daring than assuming there to be an eternal unknowable, and attempting to understand that? The irrationality of it, the very concept that offends the rational mind, is itself one of the most daring of human pursuits. It is in our nature and in our blood. And I do not think even the atheists can ostracize that desire from themselves, even if they manage to scorn the obvious concepts.

So in the end, we may mis-step, as we do in all things at some point or another, but does the errors of the past mean we should give up on the future, only because there is the peril of danger? To put it another way, should we cease our scientific inquiries because there is the peril - not imagined but real and, as I have said, at times in the past manifest - of gross and terrible misuse? I will say we should dare, and dare in all the things that make us human.

Per ardorem ad astra.




PS
An interesting thing popped into my mind, but because it did not fall into the analogy of government, but rather scientific development, I could not mention it earlier. You think science is vindicated in that it is used to provide a pure truth about things. How then do you account for the grave social injustices of the 19th century when, with the new arising of the evolutionary theory, that very theory was used to justify, though what at the time they called the ‘scientific method’ that certain races were superior to others? Indeed, ZeaLitY, I must say that in the historical view, the concept of ‘race’ only arose in that era, and arose out of an interpretation and use of science, and all down the line up until very recently racism itself was the black sheep of science. And so this is a further case for another analogy where a field has caused, by abuse of its supposed authority, extreme amounts of intolerance. The concept of Untermensch in Socialist Germany was, after all, a supposedly scientifically validated theory. They did not take religion to justify themselves in their experimentation on lesser peoples, but because the races of the Jews were scientifically proven to be inferior. So if religion is such a potent potential for abuse of power and oppression, cannot and has not science been used in exactly the same way? Though in the purest of knowledge of it it might be more rational, to the lay person that is being put under these paradigms, whether they be religious or scientific, there is trouble to judge what is true and not, and so either way they take it on trust. And in such trust there is always the potential for abuse of power. Science, with its overarching view and, as it stands nowadays with the more complex theories, seemingly mystically complex answers, is no less prone than religion to be abused as a force to power. Indeed, if I so wished, I could readily deceive many people on this forum by knowledge of science that is beyond them. Ironically, it would be less easy in religion, because there is an innate skepticism present therein. But for science, most people do not question, because it professes to be absolute fact. And if it is not questioned, how can we guard against abuse, even as in religion? And it matters little if the upper echelons of the scientific community disagree: so always have those of the religious community. How are we to guard the underlings?

PPS
RD... yes, I suppose in some way yes, we are agnostic, as we really can’t ‘know’ by any means of faculty anything beyond our experience. And even in that we have to have some margin for doubt. After all, a true statement is something that is objectively true, judgementaly true, and believed true. Unfortunately, all of science and observation can only make our judgment better, it can’t tell us the objectivity of something beyond perception (a logical contradiction), and as such all the things we hold to be true we pragmatically assume to be subjectively true statements. As such, if we are honest, yes, we all must profess to be agnostics. The only true wisdom comes from knowing you know nothing, to quote a very, very old friend of mine. :)

Quote from: Thought
One of the interesting things about science is that it supposes universal laws that are eternal. To provide examples: the gravity on earth is a temporary state but the force of gravity is omnipresent throughout the universe. Pi = 3.14159265358979323846... because it does, there are no two ways around it. Matter and Energy, though interchangeable, cannot be created or destroyed; that law is eternal.

Until of course you have quarks jumping in and out of existence. At that level, physics becomes more complicated than that, or else the eternal laws you speak of are rather simplistic. As for energy, really? I created some just the other day. :)
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 04:06:56 pm by Daniel Krispin »

Radical_Dreamer

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #101 on: February 11, 2009, 06:42:08 pm »
Daniel, yours is a good analogy, but it does not convince me. This is because I don't consider government to ultimately good. The difference as I see it is that, in practice, government is a necessary evil, where as religion is an unnecessary evil. If tomorrow morning, everyone woke up and had given up on religion, the world would be no worse for it. If tomorrow morning, all the governments in the world were gone, the world would indeed suffer for it. It is my hope that at some point, government will be as unnecessary as religion is now.

Furthermore, you are mistaken in your assertion that evolution validates racism. It helps dispense the basis for such contemptible bigotry. Racism, like all evil, is derived from ignorance. The idea that race as bigots would have it is biologically based requires a rejection of science, not an embrace of it. That people who chose to distort science to claim the opposite of what it demonstrated does not make science responsible for the wickedness of those men.

I know what you're going to say, which is that you could (and indeed, have) say the same about religion. The analogy breaks down, I think, because religion is so wildly open to interpretation. How do you determine which are valid and which are invalid? If biology demonstrates that there is no scientific basis for race and racism, and I say that racism is biologically valid, well, I'm just a madman. If I say that the bible vindicates sexism, well, there are passages I can point to, and how can you demonstrate I'm wrong? And that's just if I use the bible. What if I go straight to the source, and say that god spoke to me? If you believe in a god that does such things, how can you tell my vision is false?

As for your assertion that science presents itself as absolute truth, whereas religion has inherit skepticism...well, I just find that baffling.

chrono eric

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #102 on: February 12, 2009, 01:10:19 am »
Damn, this thread accumulated a lot of text since I was here last. So I'll just respond to Faustwolf since I never got a chance earlier.

Still, it makes enough sense that it could happen through sheer randomness without any outside forces so much as poking a critical atom into place, so Occam's razor weighs in favor of the purely scientific explanation.

Well, the "sheer randomness" of abiogenesis is only associated with the randomness of chemical reactions and the organization of early life. However, if one observes that the laws of physics give rise to the workings of chemistry, and the workings of chemistry give rise to life, then there is really not much randomness involved at all. Just as random mutations serve as the raw material for the non-random process of evolution, so too do random chemical reactions serve as the raw material for the non-random process of abiogenesis. In other words, given the right conditions and the right circumstances, life will emerge.

But back to what we were talking about with science shaping and bolstering ones faith, I've been doing some thinking since then about how it influenced my own life. See, all my life I was a man of science - even before I was too young to know it. I got in trouble in church as a child for questioning things too much. I always had to know "why". For awhile I was a full blown atheist, especially in high school. When I had the extreme fortune to experience a native american religious ritual (which I talked about in another thread), it changed my life forever. I am still a man of science, I worked as a scientist, and I am pursuing a life of medicine - so I wasn't about to start worshipping Quetzacotl or whatever  :D, but I saw the extreme power of the entheogenic spiritual experience. And for the first time in my entire life I understood what people must have experienced that made them want to share their faith, in all religions, instead of just writing them off as nutjobs.

Now, my knowledge of biology and chemistry serves me to safely pursue entheogenic practices in a way that many people don't. I have adopted this ancient practice into the life of a modern scientist. I know what plants produce which chemicals, which chemicals bind to which receptors, what effects can be predicted by them at what dosage, and how to extract alkaloid impurities. Early on, I thought to myself a scientific question - how does one study subjective consciousness? Can you dissect consciousness like a fetal pig? Sure, you can look at the brain of another and infer from electrical activity what he is likely experiencing. But you will never know what the subjective experience of another is truly like. All you can know is the subjective experience of yourself. And perhaps that is even more powerful than studying objective truth that I had spent so much of my life doing. X chemical binds to X receptor and produces X change in a conscious state. The experience and effects are predictable and repeatable. All this time I had been using science as a spiritual aid, fused with ancient practice and I didn't even think twice about it.

Of course, is this really a melding of science and religion? It depends how one defines religion I think. To pursue a spiritual experience with the realization that the experience is completely physical in nature and not of divine origin, but at the same time realize that this in no way denigrates the value or substance of the experience - is this religion? To realize that the insight that comes from such an experience, while often appearing as if coming from divinity, has its roots in the workings of the brain  - is this religion? Natives would consume an entheogen, have an out of body experience and perceive another world which they attributed to spirits and gods - this is recognized as religion. But is my modern adoption of it religion? This is a question that I never really asked myself before. And one that I don't think is very important, despite being academically interesting.

On a somewhat related note (that Thought will probably find interesting  :D) one of the greatest scientific achievements of all time was made because the scientist was experimenting with LSD for the purpose of an entheogenic experience. Kary Mullis says he would probably never have come up with the concept of PCR if it wasn't for an entheogenic-inspired vision of sitting on a DNA molecule and watching the way in which the polymer formed. LSD is a modern synthetic entheogen of course, but the principle is the same. Altering subjective consciousness for insight about the objective universe. A melding of an ancient practice with a modern twist.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 01:20:12 am by chrono eric »

Daniel Krispin

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #103 on: February 12, 2009, 01:20:42 am »
Well, the "sheer randomness" of abiogenesis is only associated with the randomness of chemical reactions and the organization of early life. However, if one observes that the laws of physics give rise to the workings of chemistry, and the workings of chemistry give rise to life, then there is really not much randomness involved at all. Just as random mutations serve as the raw material for the non-random process of evolution, so too do random chemical reactions serve as the raw material for the non-random process of abiogenesis. In other words, given the right conditions and the right circumstances, life will emerge.

For which reason it'll be fascinating to see if they find anything buried deep within the ice of Mars.

chrono eric

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Re: Religion chat anyone
« Reply #104 on: February 12, 2009, 01:23:33 am »
If I were a betting man, I would say that they probably will. But it is hard to separate my desire for it with my objective critique of it. I think the oceans of Europa hold even more promise than Mars. Too bad I probably won't live long enough to find out a definitive answer though. If we ever do discover that life once took hold or still has a hold within another place in our own solar system, then it probably means that the whole of the vast cosmos is teeming with such variety of life that it is literally unimaginable. Which is a beautiful concept I think. If a god did create this universe, then what a beautiful creation it is.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 01:25:22 am by chrono eric »