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Author Topic: Religion!  (Read 11229 times)
Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2004, 05:01:12 PM »

Leave it to Shreyas...  Yeah, wonder and awe are good things to cultivate.  I try, but I'm not always successful.  When you're a child, it's easy.  When you're an adult, it takes practice to get through that cynicism.

I was raised super-liberal Southern Baptist, if you can believe that.  My parent's church got kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention for performing "holy unions" for same-sex couples.  Never been Baptised though, because I respect the ritual too much to try to make it conform to my own feelings about Jesus (if you're really interested, you can PM me; I'm always ready to talk about religion and spirituality).  I tried to do the "white guy doing Eastern religions" thing before I realized that it's really an exercise in futility, self-deception, arrogance, and appropriation (no offense to anyone else on that road, of course).  Now, I've come to terms with the fact that I have a strong Christian background, even though I don't believe in Christ (though that guy Jesus was pretty cool...).

What do I call myself?  Hmm... Eccumenical Abrahamist is about as close as I can get.  Definitely find myself resonating with Judeo-Christian-Islamic-Taiping mythology, because it's so neat (at least, most of the time).  Lately, I've been really digging the Islamic emphasis on beauty being proof of God or divine origins, like how the Qur'an is supposedly the most beautiful book ever written (in fact, it dares readers to write a more beautiful book), which "proves" that it is the word of God.  Pretty damn cool, I'd say.  Also closely related to mystic traditions in early Christianity and Judaism.

And Euro, I don't think American Christianity is less complex, in general.  But I think people who are absolutists about their politics are likely to be absolutists about other aspects of their life, including religion.  Our international face is only one aspect of American society, after all.
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Valamir
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2004, 07:02:52 PM »

As long as we're throwing it out there, I consider my self to be a fairly devoted (albeit sinful) Christian with little to no use for organized religious dogma.  I never cease to be astounded by various professions of faith by churches and church goers and am left wondering if they've ever actually read the book they supposedly believe in or just chose to selectively cross out all the parts they don't like.

I don't believe the bible is the unerring word of God, I think the very idea of that is ludicrous given the whole business with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis.  I think the bible is a wonderful tool to gain insight into God through those people who knew him best/earliest.

I believe the bible as we know it was created by a series of councils which were as much driven by politics and personal ambition as piety, and therefor what is and isn't canonical should be taken with a grain of salt.

I believe the Book of Revelations, while a fascinating read, is a complete and utter work of fiction invented by the early Catholic church as a way to bring the masses into line with the fear of hell fire and brimstone.  It is a weapon, not a religious text.


I think Paul is the absolute worst thing to happen to Christianity ever.  He single handedly turned a religion about peace and love and kindness into one of intolerance and cruelty.  

I think Jesus was the original hippie traveling about the countryside with a band of close friends preaching peace and love and tolerance.

I think religion and science are not only compatable, they are ultimately intertwined tightly together.  Science is not a challenge to god's will it IS god's will.  God promised Moses he'd reveal the secrets of his creation to us.  And that's exactly what he's been doing for several thousand years now...about as fast as we're able to handle it.  So all of this religious right standing in the way of stem cell reseach stuff us uttern nonsense.

I believe that God created multiple ways to worship him at the same time and for the same reasons as he created multiple ethnicities and multiple languages.  There are alot of lessons to be learned in the Tower of Babel story.  I think this is supported right within the scriptures.  Some folks like to quote the part about "I am the way the truth and the light, and the only way to heaven is through me" as license to damn everyone else.  Yet they skim over the many many many different ways Jesus is referred to and refers to himself right within the bible itself.  He's both the shepard AND the lamb.  He's the Word.  He's the Light.  He's the Son of God.  He's the Son of Man.  These depictions aren't just ancient biblical authors having fun with synonyms trying to think of how many different ways to say the same thing.  Its pretty clearly an indication that there are MANY ways to know and describe Jesus.  How many other ways did they not get around to recording.


I think Christopher Walkin makes one hell of a scary Archangel Gabriel.


I literally feel pity for agnostics and athiests.  Not out of some sense that they're doomed to be damned in the after life, but because they truly have no comprehension of what they're missing out on in this one.

Hows that.
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2004, 07:27:48 PM »

Ralph,

I'd say you nailed my current confusions right on.  The birth contortions of the scriptures are just too violent for me -- I do believer there's God buried in there somewhere... But how many people have been actually looking?  (Which leads me back to my obsession these days -- exactly what are all those angry-I-feel-victimized-people looking for?  How can they reconcile their anger and victimization with the core nuggets of the existence of a creator-god, for crying out loud?)

Eero,

Thanks for the info.  As always, news from abroad about what people think about *me* only reminds me how little I'll ever know about what the hell's going on from specific individuals in other nations.

For the record, I think the U.S. citizens backed the war because a) we have an instinctive alergic reaction to One Way thinking and know it must be stopped; b) and a lot of people bought the "imminent threat" issue peddled by Bush.  (I'll remind all 9-11 was still kind of fresh.  A lot of folks couldn't imagine the Bush adminstration would actually lie/exagerate about these issues to their own obsessive ends -- but that's just sort of... the way a lot of people are.)  To pin it on Christianity would be just dopey... But so it goes...

Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2004, 07:31:57 PM »

You know, Ralph, I wrote this big long post where I agreed with you but came to the defense of my homeboy, Paul, but then the internet demons ate it.  Maybe it's for the best.  However, I would recommend skimming John Gager's book "Reinventing Paul" for a different take on things.  I don't agree with everything the man says, but he saved Paul for me (I heard him give lectures on the text and answer audience questions a few years ago), and I was about ready to abandon him like you apparently have.
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RaconteurX
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Posts: 262


« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2004, 07:47:56 PM »

I'm a eclectic Kierkkegardian henotheist of the Zen Pelagian school of mystical Grail Tao... with a touch of Chaos Magick for good measure.
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Valamir
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« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2004, 08:20:31 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
You know, Ralph, I wrote this big long post where I agreed with you but came to the defense of my homeboy, Paul, but then the internet demons ate it.  Maybe it's for the best.  However, I would recommend skimming John Gager's book "Reinventing Paul" for a different take on things.  I don't agree with everything the man says, but he saved Paul for me (I heard him give lectures on the text and answer audience questions a few years ago), and I was about ready to abandon him like you apparently have.


Haven't read that one.  But I do have Wilson's "Paul: the mind of the apostle"; who's also pretty sympathetic towards him.

The problem with Paul is perhaps only partially his fault, and partially the way he gets used.  But he did (assuming we stipulate that the letters attributed to him were actually authored by him) write things is a manner easily abused by absolutists.


Christopher, I don't think either Christianity or anything being "peddled" had anything to do with Iraq.  What we basically had is a vile tyrannical dictator who attempts genocide on his own people.  He'd had WMDs before, he'd demonstrated he's willing to use them, he'd demonstrated that he continued to try an obtain them, he had ties to terrorist organizations that he certainly would have provided them to and who would certainly have used them.

Whether he had any at the particular moment of invasion is entirely irrelevant and a complete and utter red herring put out by those with ulterior agendas.

There was a time when we propped him up as the lessor of two evils against the Ayatollah.  Mistake?  Maybe, maybe not.  No telling where Iran would have gone if they hadn't been stymied by Iraq for years.

There's 3 groups of people who are leading the rabble rousing against Iraq.

1) Those European Powers who stood to make a ton of money off of their relationships with Saddam and didn't want to see those arrangements threatened.

2) Those people who believe in handing the riegns of world government over to the UN (including many Americans) who are furious that we dared finally give up on their ineffectiveness and do it ourselves.

3) And those Europeans who felt the opportunity to throw their weight around and score points by being as vocal as possible about "not following the U.S".  For these people the issue had nothing to do with Iraq or WMDs or anything.  It was completely a question of demonstrating their independence from us by going left when we asked them to go right.


All the rest about what the intelligence agencies did or didn't know, or whether Bush did or didn't exaggerate is just a bunch of stuff and nonsense put out by the above 3 groups to conceal their real motives for being upset.

Bottom line #1: the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein in power.
Bottom line #2: the death toll stands at 600 American servicemen.  While any death is a tragedy, over 30,000 Americans were killed in just 3 months invading Normandy.  Iraq represents the single quickest and lowest casualty conquest of a territory that size in history.  That the news keeps harping on "terribly mounting casualties" just proves how skewed and fundamentally groundless criticism of the war really is.

At any rate, it has nothing whatsoever to do with religion.  Any "anti muslim" references must be interpreted primarily as the American penchant for finding any convenient label to slap on a bunch of people we're currently considering enemies.  Its not (for the vast majority anyway) grounded in any kind of theological issues at all.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2004, 08:59:33 PM »

I'm the opposite of Eero, I tend to find atheists, more particularly the self-professed "skeptics," to be rather intellectually dull in their fantacism...they're honestly as bad as religious fundamentalists in both fervor and ignorance. Regarding the latter trait, generally in their broad generalizations about religion and religious people, the motivations and behaviors of these, and history.

Now, I'm not pointing fingers at Eero, since I don't know that he conforms to this, just putting it on the table because judging from ignorance is a huge pet peeve of mine and rubs me raw when I see it, especially from people who should (or proclaim they do) know better.

That said, I don't honestly care if a person is religious, atheist, or agnostic...they just better have a good damn reason for their choice, and not some unstudied, unexamined fluff backing it up. Unfortunately, few people believe their choices are unstudied or unexamined, usually the people who need to do so the worst. So, it isn't just "atheists" who draw my ire, but the "religious" as well.

I personally don't believe anything I haven't experienced and/or studied first-hand (or try not to)*, and even then, I still maintain my reservations. I'm generally skeptical and cynical when it comes to "the truth" (whatever that may be), which should tell everyone something about my own choice, given that I have a ministerial license. And, no, none of the alternative explanations I've examined make any sense in context, so there I am.

* This, BTW, is an attitude picked up from Bhuddist philosophy, which (tangentially) is a religion I'm surprised more scientifically-minded individuals do not follow. I'm not Bhuddist, however. Still the same as last year, and not likely to change: unaffiliated modern pagan, with a healthy influence from Zen Bhuddism, and Norse heathenry (Asatru).

What, exactly, I believe is probably the most open to debate. All I can say is that there's something to it all, even though I can't say for certain what exactly it is; so I have to go with my ideas of what it might be and refine as I go. Ultimately, for me, religion is about betterment of the self emotionally & intellectually and helping others, growing in empathy, knowledge, and depth.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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talysman
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« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2004, 09:46:16 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
You know, Ralph, I wrote this big long post where I agreed with you but came to the defense of my homeboy, Paul, but then the internet demons ate it.


I thought you guys were talking about Paul Czege for a moment, and I was about to say "what did he ever do to you, Ralph?" but then I remembered:there's more than one Paul.

me, I'm a pantheist. plain and simple. read a lot of other stuff, though.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
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Jason Lee
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« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2004, 10:12:27 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
I literally feel pity for agnostics and athiests.  Not out of some sense that they're doomed to be damned in the after life, but because they truly have no comprehension of what they're missing out on in this one.

Hows that.


You can pity me and I'll pity you, and we'll both end up loving our neighbor and shit.

Seriously though, it'd be worth it not to lump atheist and agnostic together.  Considering that one denies the existance of spiritual, and the other may even acknowledge it.  There is also a big difference between theistic agnosticism (the nature of God is unknowable) and atheistic agnosticism (whether God exists is unknowable).

*****

Ok, as for personal views, you guessed it - agnostic.  My only spirituality is some superstitions (like karma), and prophetic dreams/déjà vu/intuitions (The agnostic point of view being that it might just be my neurons misfiring.  But if that was true you think I wouldn't be able to change things.  Who knows?).  I think that qualifies me for crazy on some tests somewhere.  Sigh.  Oh well, slap me with the crazy stamp.

I've got all sort of intellectual reasons for why I think X is wrong or Y is right.  However, there are some things I think are just silly.  That's it, no lofty philosophical reasons, I just think they're silly.

A literal interpretation of creationism.  I mean, biology is really messed up and full of unpleasantness, you think He could have done a better job.

I also think that hell (the suffering version, not the time-out version) and God 'testing' you are loads of crap.  We don't torture convicted criminals.  Entrapment is illegal.  Shit, that makes humanity more moral than God.  That just seems silly too.  Don't see how you could believe in the Christian God and a 'lake of fire' hell at the same time.  Makes no sense to me.

There are of course more.  I'm apparently not the only one that thinks they're silly.  There seems to be plenty of debate in Christian circles about these issues. Consequences of trying to integrate medieval morality into modern civilization, I suppose.
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- Cruciel
Ben Terry
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Posts: 12


« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2004, 11:04:03 PM »

I am an atheist.  I was a very sciency kid, and in kindergarden I wanted to be either an astronaut or a chicken farmer (the kind that just collects eggs and plays with baby chicks in incubators, not the kind that cuts chicken heads off).  I also had this thing where I would scold other kids for laughing at Wily E. Cyote's misfortune, which I don't know if it was empathy so much as just learning from what my parents had taught me and taking it to heart all of the way.  I loved to read books that answered kid questions about "Why is the sky blue" and so forth, and it was all super amazing and awe inspiring to me at the time (and still is).  

My parents are Christian, but not church going, though my Grandmother on my Mom's side was, so I would go to church occassionally because of that.  As a kid, I didn't really accept it or overtly deny it, but there was a big vibe of seriousness about it and it didn't make a lot of sense to me, so I preferred not to be there, and just endured it.  In the mid-80's I remember when AIDS was making big news, and my Mom said or agreed with the sentiment some people expressed at the time that AIDS was a curse from God for the horrible lifestyle these people were living and so on.  I was somewhere between 8-10, but at the time I remember thinking that it wasn't right, and that it made no sense.  For one thing, it sounded cruel and without reason.  Later on, there was the Satanism scare of the 80's where I remember she didn't want to buy Jif Peanut Butter because she heard the CEO was a Satanist, and later on with RPGs she got a little the same way.  So, you can see how with that background, I wasn't too hot on Christianity.  It was giving me this oppressed feeling of tradition you couldn't reason with, and don't tell your Grandmother you don't believe because it would devestate her, and a bunch of other emotional dysfunction and superstitious assertations.

  So, with that, I took it back to basics:  We have the stuff we can get closer to knowing through science, and it is amazing.  On the people side it was just a simple "How would you feel if they did that to you?" kind of thing.  Throughout Middle School I sort of maintained a belief in or hope for psychic powers or maybe ghosts, or at least I gave them a try, because everybody wants to be able to change things by just thinking it, or praying it, or whatever, though I finally gave it up as wishful thinking.  So I stayed in that zone until I got out of High School.  Standard atheistic Secular Humanism.  At the time I had this opinion that parents teach kids good things, but that it is expected that we will grow up and ignore all the good advice, and lose our wonder and so on.  I had this idea of "I'm not going to smoke or drink, because obviously it is stupid, and everyone knows it, but they do it anyway" or "parents say kids shouldn't drink coffee, but then they are addicted to coffee" and this kind of thing.  On one level it was "goody two shoes I'm a smart kid following the rules", but on the other hand it all made sense to me and still does, and I don't like rules or any ideas that come from tradition without explanation.  Basically I tried to heed what I percieved as the warnings from adults that made sense to me.  If they said I would lose my curiosity or imagination when I grew up, well maybe I wouldn't then.

  So, now we get to college age.  I blew off college.  I stayed awake at night and slept during the day.  At some point I got interested in basic post-modernism stuff, then later on philosophy, psychology, and some Taoistic and Buddhist things.  Through that I got to be a little familiar with mysticism, and got to where I did not automatically write off all religious people as "irrational needy scared of the dark" or "I just go along with my cultural upbringing unthinkingly" folks.  Now I'm at a point where I am still a Secular Humanist, but I recognize the importance of myth and also really like Buddhism when stripped of its supernatural trappings.  I also think it is important not to reduce and devalue our subjective experiences to merely objective physical occurances, which is something maybe some atheists do, or religious people think they do.  I am a Secular Humanist because I believe that by definition nature is everything, and that while mythic stories can resonate deeply with us and help give us direction in our lives, their "inner truth" is as far as we know only an inner psychological truth, and can not be assumed to mean more or be taken to say anything much about the nature of external objective reality (though maybe there are connections, and there are definitely insights to be had).

As far as the frustrations of being a Secular Humanist, I would say that it is sometimes frustrating that you are percieved as a heartless cold mechanistic party-pooper.  That as a non-theist you don't have profound deep resonating moments where you feel connection with other things.  That perhaps you are shallow and "too literal".  I think many of us have these spiritual feelings, even atheists, but perhaps some atheists don't pay them much mind or try to flatten them into some empirical framework, and others allow themselves to follow the feeling, but just describe it from a different background in a way that doesn't strike a chord with those coming from a theistic background.

Too much typing!
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Brian Leybourne
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Posts: 1793


« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2004, 01:16:48 AM »

edit: Hmm.. if you're strongly religious, and/or easily offended, you might just want to skip this one.

You know, once I would have said I was Atheist, or maybe Agnostic, but these days, I think I have decided that I'm actually strongly anti-religion.

I'm sick of evangelists sucking money out of the poor and the desperate. I'm sick of fundamentalists blowing themselves up to kill others to make a point. I'm sick of the catholics and protestants in Ireland slaughtering each other needlessly. I'm sick of women and homosexuals being treated as inferior because a 2000 year old book says they are (the same book that says the earth is flat, square and held up at the corners by Angels). I'm sick of being told I'm a bad person because I don't go to church and praise god. I'm sick of the rediculous hypocrisy that is organised religion. I'm sick of the pope, who still will not let his followers use condoms in this overpopulated world that is strife with sexually transmitted diseases. I'm sick of foreign (and domestic) policies being decided based on the religious views of leaders and not common sense. I'm sick of religion governing what we can or cannot teach our children in school.

I have no problems with personal belief. Believe what you like. I'll fight for your right to that. But once you start imposing those views on others, you have stepped into their personal space and taken choice from them. You have stolen from them. That's wrong. Just leave them be - you can believe in what you like, please allow me the same courtesy. (I'm not specifically targeting anyone here, btw, that was a general comment).

Apologies for any toes I have stepped on. If you're pissed, I'll buy you a beer at GenCon and we can discuss it.

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2004, 01:54:39 AM »

Quote from: Ben Terry
I am an atheist.  I was a very sciency kid,...*snip*

That's an interesting juxtaposition of phrases. I have been thinking of science as yet another religion for a while now.
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Ben Lehman
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Blissed


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« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2004, 02:03:38 AM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
Quote from: Ben Terry
I am an atheist.  I was a very sciency kid,...*snip*

That's an interesting juxtaposition of phrases. I have been thinking of science as yet another religion for a while now.


BL>  Don't mean to pick on a fellow Ben, but I've always found the athiest's obsession with science strange to the point of puzzling and, when I was more actively a scientist, it really irked me.  It was like some sort of strange cargo cult.

To come forward with my own beliefs -- I have been, for a long time a "fundamentalist agnostic," by which I mean "I don't know, there is no way of knowing, and it makes no difference anyway," with a lot of influence from Eastern philosophy.  But recently I've come to terms with a lot of things from my past, including some things which can really only be described as mystical experiences, and I've also become more enamored of the "Abrahamic" traditions of community and personal understanding of religion.  So now I'm in a crisis of faith about my agnosticism.  :-)  Ah, well.

yrs--
--Ben
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2004, 04:42:15 AM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
That's an interesting juxtaposition of phrases. I have been thinking of science as yet another religion for a while now.


I find that claim pretty hard to swallow, myself, and it implies to me that the speaker has not even bothered to do the most cursory investigation into what science is and how it works.  I agree with Valamirs view of science even though I think his beliefs are wrong: if you are confident that your beliefs are true representations of the world as it is, science holds no threat to you, for all it would ever be able to achieve is to verify that your expectations were correct.

But the argument that science is "just like religion" concedes much ground; it concedes a recognition that religious views on the reality of the world are doctrinal, normative, and based on heirarchical authority by whatever means that is determined.  It is in fact a projection of the religious methodology of Truth onto science.

But science does work on fundamentally different principles, cares nothing for your belief nor mine, and doesn't make such comprehensive positive claims as religions commonly make.  In fact, I think it is the lack of an easy, emotional narrative that makes science feel alien to many.  Sure, science can and does have its vehement advocates, but this does not make science anything remotely like a religion.
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Impeach the bomber boys:
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www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


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« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2004, 05:05:47 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
That's an interesting juxtaposition of phrases. I have been thinking of science as yet another religion for a while now.


But science does work on fundamentally different principles, cares nothing for your belief nor mine, and doesn't make such comprehensive positive claims as religions commonly make.  In fact, I think it is the lack of an easy, emotional narrative that makes science feel alien to many.  Sure, science can and does have its vehement advocates, but this does not make science anything remotely like a religion.


BL>  As a scientist (with the caveat above):  You're both right.

  Science, as a practice, is not a religion.  It is a way of discovering things about the behavior of the world, no more and no less.

  But there are a lot of people in the world who take science and try to make it a religion.  And, for these Athiests (capital A), it really is a religion, because they are trying to draw morality, divinity and infallibility out of science, which are things that it, quite clearly and distinctly, cannot provide at a fundamental level.  Apparently, this works for them, but it's really frustrating to scientists.

yrs--
--Ben

P.S.  Can you call yourself for drift in your own thread?  You can on the Birthday forum!
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