SCIENCE VS RELIGION

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

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Steve Evil
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Evil » Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:20 pm

FrankChurch wrote: The point is that all sides have people with loopy ideas and use fundamentalist values to protect their carrion.

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Indeed. So why can't we criticize these ideas without having to qualify ourselves every step of the way about how wonderful these creeds actually are?


As for the full history of Islam, or indeed anything, why should it matter?* What matters is how people behave in the here and now.





*Besides academic interest; I actually love history. And naturally, knowledge should inform all our decisions, but it doesn't negate personal responsibility.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:21 pm

I doubt seriously whether religion ever turned a bad person good. At best it muffles certain proclivities, which from a community standpoint would seem to be a net positive. Clearly in some cases it simply provides a framework within which the bad person can continue being bad albeit with a veneer of sanctity, ala sodomizing priests.

This question of hearing god speaking in one's ear and dictating actions is interesting more as an academic debate than anything that ought to be taken seriously. In my opinion, most of the people who make that claim aren't hearing a damn thing in any objective sense, only following their conscience and attributing it to god. We know what actual voices in the head is and there are meds for it. When someone does something good and then goes on the evening news and declares "God told me to do that" it's either grandstanding for a cause or a form of narcicism which fits more closely to that label than what is generally meant by the term.

If religion is used as framework from which to base good works, the only thing that seems to be at issue is the motivation behind the works. A good person may well do good things within any framework, but it is true that at least the popular form of religion provides a base for such activities. We're once more concerned, though, with the individual. This is clear when the alternative happens and bad gets done with the same framework.

Do we blame the framework for the failures?

No, but we can blame it when it is used to make excuses for failures.

But what is a church supposed to do when a major part of its raison det're is that it makes people better? How does it deal with those who turn around and simply justify themselves in their badness by claiming sanctuary within the religion?

We're right back to taking people individually on their merits and another basis of many religions is that such merits have little meaning without the "grace" of the reigning deity. Merit doesn't count. It can't, because if that's what we're going by, then why do we need the religion? Especially if it is seen that it really doesn't make bad people good?

I judge both individuals in the above example the same---if they're hearing voices, they need treatment. Nice that the one does good, but that's beside the point. You also cannot judge the religion, then, based on the examples of schizophrenics. There is no connection other than the machinery of public relations and power brokering. Joan of Arc was a sick girl who was taken advantage of by both sides of a war of succession, one using her as a poster child for its cause, the other as an argument that the enemy was perverse. God had nothing to do with it. (Frankly, the modern equivalent of what that was all about can be seen in pious football players who pray for victory, assuming---hoping---that the so-called creator of the universe gives a damn about who wins a game.)

We're not bound to credit claims of divine instruction in either instance. Determining the validity of someone's inner landscape as they make decisions like this is not as important as determining for ourselves what is beneficial to us and the community and the individual, regardless of the motivations behind certain actions. Therefore, trying to decide which of the two is "really" hearing god is irrelevant.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:53 pm

Rick Keeney wrote:
Ezra Lb. wrote:Maybe you're right.


I was referring only to this line of conversation.

You're asking questions that many Christians struggle with. I think a theologian would give better, more meaningful answers than I can.


I understand. I didn't take your comment as a general exhortation to buzz off. :lol:

I struggled with these questions for many years when I was a Christian. Look how I wound up! :wink:

You overrate the theologians. I've read most of them. Studied under some of them. (Have I talked about my time at the Seminary studying to be a minister?) If a person is determined to believe they provide much high minded cover. If a person really wants to know the truth they're not nearly so helpful.

Steve Evil asked

So why can't we criticize these ideas without having to qualify ourselves every step of the way about how wonderful these creeds actually are?

An excellent question. I know of no reason why not.

Mark wrote

Therefore, trying to decide which of the two is "really" hearing god is irrelevant.

To a secularist, I agree. But a real problem for a believer which I tried to explain.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Rick Keeney
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Rick Keeney » Tue Nov 04, 2014 2:16 pm

I notice some "bias" in your writing, Ez. ~wink~

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:09 pm

Rick Keeney wrote:I notice some "bias" in your writing, Ez. ~wink~


You could say all my posts are biased. :lol: Move along folks nothing to see here.


I was pointed towards this video today. A Rabbi critiques Christianity. His analysis of the New Testament is brilliant. Most interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UZeR3yV_Z8#t=4661

NOTE: The views expressed by the postee are not necessarily those of the poster...etc...
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:14 pm

I feel like shit.

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Steve Barber
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Barber » Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:53 pm

FrankChurch wrote:I feel like shit.


You okay?


Guys -

Not fair of me to post a couple of screeds and then leave for a few days without whacking in. But, you've moved on as will I.
All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Rick Keeney
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Rick Keeney » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:33 pm

I think a guy/gal should whack in or off as s/he sees fit. baDING!

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Steve Evil
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Evil » Tue Nov 04, 2014 10:47 pm

FrankChurch wrote:I feel like shit.


Why's that? :(

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Nov 05, 2014 8:49 am

Therefore, trying to decide which of the two is "really" hearing god is irrelevant.

To a secularist, I agree. But a real problem for a believer which I tried to explain.


Depending on which kind of believer, perhaps, but even among believers I think there's an acknowledgment that "hearing voices" is a disorder. For one thing, it goes to proof, which negates faith, and this is a serious issue for a believer who should know better than to look to "false" prophets. The believers knows in her or his own conscience what to believe and such demonstrations "in the name of" do not represent a legitimate part of that process. So you praise the work if it is praiseworthy and withhold validation on the voices, lest one be led into error.

Essentially, if as most christian sects maintain, if god speaks to each one in his own way, privately, then the guy claiming to be acting on direction from god should automatically be suspect. You rely on your own standard of good and evil to judge the work and to hell with the claim.

I got this in Sunday school, way back when, that the guy standing in the square going on about how god speaks to him is likely the least reliable and the least faithful.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Rick Keeney » Wed Nov 05, 2014 9:21 am

One of the issues I have with my faith is people claiming that God has spoken to them. Also God's absence in times of utter desperation, hardship, and evil. You'll find all Christians, from the simplest of laypersons to the most devout, well-studied priests and theologians, struggle mightily with that last one.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Nov 05, 2014 9:32 am

Rick Keeney wrote:One of the issues I have with my faith is people claiming that God has spoken to them. Also God's absence in times of utter desperation, hardship, and evil. You'll find all Christians, from the simplest of laypersons to the most devout, well-studied priests and theologians, struggle mightily with that last one.


It seems to me...

Forgive me if I come across a bit blunt, but where's the issue? Taking a page from the gospels, Jesus said, I believe, wherever two or more of you are gathered together in my name, there I am. What does this mean if not that god is present in us and if we're there, so is god. By that reasoning, god is never absent.

What is absent is the externalized magician people call upon to make things right.

Is that god?

The hard part, it seems to me, is recognizing the implications of that. That if your faith means anything, it means that you are the one on the scene, at the time, with the responsibility. God, therefore, abandons no one---we abandon ourselves.

I say all this in the language of religion to make the larger point, which is that by any metric there is no contradiction. Believers were basically told, up front, "it's on you." Because that's where the action is, where the power lies. The hard pill to swallow is when what seems to be taken as the autopilot fails, but that's only because there wasn't one in the first place.

Atheists already understand that what needs doing people need to do. In the doing, you find god. Atheists, of course, wouldn't call it that, but doesn't it functionally amount to the same thing?

When Heinlein's Michael Valentine Smith points at Jubal and all the others and says "Thou art god" he's stating a basic truth.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:21 am

I got this in Sunday school, way back when, that the guy standing in the square going on about how god speaks to him is likely the least reliable and the least faithful.

And yet, ironically, the one most like the early Christian believers. It is interesting that certain behaviors which would bring censure and offense today are nevertheless sanctified and dignified just because they were supposed to have happened 2000 years ago and are recorded in a holy book.

One of the issues I have with my faith is people claiming that God has spoken to them. Also God's absence in times of utter desperation, hardship, and evil. You'll find all Christians, from the simplest of laypersons to the most devout, well-studied priests and theologians, struggle mightily with that last one.

I can only speak for myself but after those years of struggle it occurred to me that perhaps the simplest explanation (although granted the most disturbing) was the correct one. There's nothing there. God is truly absent.

One thing that bothered me all those years as a believer, although I did manage to keep it submerged for a good long while, was why I had to rely on someone else's revelation and couldn't have one of my own. God appeared to the ancients. Why can't he appear to me? No no no, I was told; it doesn't work like that. That's what the story of Doubting Thomas was all about, believing without seeing. But Thomas only wanted to see for himself. What was wrong with that? I was always told, you have to have faith. Well as a matter of fact, no, you don't.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:17 pm

I don't hear God's voice, guys. I do feel God in my heart. The Bible speaks to me as well. I'm just happy to see Spong this weekend. The most radical Christian in the land.

Like me.

I do believe there is moral guidance in the universe. It flows like radio waves.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:19 pm

The Biologist Ernst Mahr thinks humans are a mistake. We should not even still exist. He could be right. He once debated Sagan on aliens and said that humans are so distinct that the fact that there are others like us somewhere else is rare.


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