Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Social climber
joshua tree
Dec 3, 2012 - 08:38pm PT
^^^^"Machines with Boners" EAH?

Explains ALot toward Attitudes


Trad climber
Cali Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Dec 3, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
Ever since I first saw this post a few weeks ago, I was meaning to add my 2 cents worth to it, but never got around to it. I suppose now is just as good a time as any...
Your grace with the use of words is inspiring!
I think it's great how you can elaborate so much on just one term. I can definitely read in your pens soul as being thoughtful, humble, patient, positive, provoking, mature, and loving! Thank You!
I can't wait until you come over to the Lords side, You are surely to become a 21st-Century David!

Jus Thank'in
Very well said, and so true.

JL has always been that way. I have not crossed paths with him since around '89/'90, but ever since I first met him at JT he has always been the same. That first meeting was when he was still in high school and was around 18 years old. He has always treated everyone equally, was always willing to offer some good advice or accept it gracefully, share route beta, the latest news, a good story or just the usual small talk with anyone and everyone. He has always been kind, considerate, and willing to offer a helping hand to one and all.

I recall one afternoon having a particularly difficult time on this popular boulder problem at Hidden Valley campgrounds entrance. It was the first time I had ever tried it, and was about to give up. Suddenly Largo arrives with a couple friends and he jumps out of the car and runs over to the problem and sends it first try. Frustrated at how easy he made it look and what little progress I had made on it, I give it one last all out effort, but decided to try mantling the crux crimp move since I had zero success the most obvious way. Somehow I pulled off the mantel, but that was as far as I got. I fell back to the ground, feeling pretty wimpy!

But Largo changed all of that in one sentence, "WOW, you just mantled that thin dime/edge, I've never seen anyone do that, I know I couldn't do it!" and then off he went to join his friends. I never forgot those words of inspiration, they lifted me up and made feel like I just won a million bucks. Like I was someone, not just a flailing, n00b climber!

That was my first encounter with him, and it is just one example his everyday honest and good natured self. Not to preoccupied with his own self or ego to lift someone else up for the moment at his own expense. I never forgot it, because it meant a way to much to me at the time to ever forget!

Thanks John, and get well soon, because there are a lot of young and old noobs out there that appreciate your presence a lot more than you will probably ever know!!

Dec 3, 2012 - 09:55pm PT
why do so few living individuals have it? (intelligence)

Every living entity exhibits its intelligence according to its developed state of consciousness.

One must study consciousness to fully understand the mind, intelligence, ego, and false ego.

Instead the lab coats only study the lump of goo called the brain and then make their speculations and theories around and based on that.

But consciousness is the key to the door .......
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
Dec 3, 2012 - 10:08pm PT
so many people assume that being atheist means you can do what you want as there are no consequences. When people perceive that atheists think carefully about meaning and values, atheism will become more accepted in our society.

And where do "people" get off making this rather bold and unsubstantiated assumption in the first place? Jan, surely you are not suggesting that it is reasonable to presume that the religious are morally superior automatically because there's more of them and they say so?

People are judged on how they act, not what book they claim is superior and has been kicking around the library shelves longer. If the religious were more judged on their actions perhaps an embarassing number of them would be winding up in in hell - no?

The problem dosn't exist with the aetheists effecting a changed perception, it lies with the religious and their certainty in thier superiority. Their certainty exists because their faith allows it and thier god demands it.

Just replace "aetheist " with "gay" or in another time "black" or "kafir" or "heathen" and it all adds up to the same thing - bigotry. Even the finest of my religious friends display this selective smuggness and certainty based not on our actions but on what club we belong to.

Religions achilles heel is its arrogant superiority of morality. If its earned then fine. These days that is highly questionable and you can't keep wearing the crown just on tradition.
Riley Wyna

Trad climber
A crack near you
Dec 3, 2012 - 10:16pm PT

Dr. F;
Just curious, What University did Mother Nature
go to, in order to learn how to create life?

There is no "taught" Cosmic
There is no "mother nature" even
It's just random chance..
Life survives - mistakes occur in DNA- and sometimes that new genotype or phenotype is selected - mistakes occur again and again into infinity - it is complexity and time periods that are impossible for our minds to understand.
What is most fit, what is most lucky, survives in that environment that it was born into and if successful spreads those new genes to its own species or creates a new species.( that is all that matters, end of story) Imagine a billion deaths and DNA mistakes and battles and births just to create enough DNA change to evolve a species enough to create the difference between two Squirrels. There are also many types of isolation and stressed evolution that can cause the random mistakes and select those mistakes at quicker or slower paces( remember they are only selected by chance if they give a benefit) Imagine anything - a 30 percent thicker coat/ or 30 percent more cone cells in the retina/ or a greater capacity in the frontal lobe for speech/ or much simpler things like a better equipped enzyme to deal with a new type of food. Many of these differences are not even going to be used or known until a population is stressed by famine/ or war/ or virus/ or death.

For example a Zombie Apocalypse - there is not much need anymore for spoken word poets - what matters is the ability to be strong mentally and physically - to fight, to go without food, to want to survive at all costs - to not be a pussy - to be highly intelligent on your feet - to be tuff! It's why i consider The Walking Dead to be the best show ever produced for TV - because it is the story of us!!! The Zombies are just a metaphor for the environment.

Our outside differences are not as great as the ones in our specific genomes - for example there is a less than 2 percent difference between our genomes and a Chimps and not much more than that between us and a Frog. Also it is not just the genome and the specific DNA but when those genes turn on and off which creates a tissue or enzyme or specific attribute.

But the true mechanism of natural selection is: what ever is best adapted for a specific niche or environment and manages to procreate will pass on its genes and survive - as far as life is concerned nothing else matters. You can imagine the arms race that occurs over billions of years - but it is nothing that any plant or animal thinks about - it is all just random DNA mistakes that create benefits be they a change in color, stronger, better adapted senses, etc etc infinitum

This is apparent everywhere in animals and plants that have changes and evolved in isolation: on islands with birds that are separated by a large valley and dont breed together for thousands of years, in Finches on each independent Galapagos island/ on different animals separated in the Malay archipelago and in bacteria that live in everything from our gut to arsenic vents in the Owens river Valley. It is now evident though out our and all species DNA which now amounts to a story book of the life history of our planet.

We are a million times smarter than Darwin was - we can now compare DNA and look to see how many years it has been since two bird species were the same species - or even if two birds are in the same family - often we have been wrong from outward appearance and behaviors and a bird is actually related more closely with its African cousin than a bird that we thought it was in the same family with in North America.

This is just the period at the end of an encyclopedia of knowledge and academic work on Evolution. There is so much more...Its the story of everything...
It is a sin that folks are prevented from enjoying this because of religious dogma. In fact it is a from of mental abuse - these churches, these people who would control what you learn and understand...

It makes me angry and sad...
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
Dec 3, 2012 - 11:05pm PT
Jan I hope I'm reading you wrong but at times i can't help thinking you're a wee bit of an apologist for religions. I think religion has had a pretty fine winning streak but if they don't shape up they are going to start looking as pathetic as Republicans!

The morally crippling aspect of Religion is the authoritarian political power structure that in fact it is.
Religion is the hijacking of spirituality for the sole purpose of organizing and controlling large segments of the population. The nail in the coffin is the insistence that they (your choice of club) is the sole arbiter and keeper of the penultimate morality, locked forever in stone. The sooner everyone realizes this is just another ludicrous myth the better, and the sooner spirituality will triumph over religion.

Look at whats going on in Egypt right now. The Islamists are set to impose their morality over all. The justification is that theirs, as defined by whoevers reading of the bloody koran, is superior and all others are inferior. It is the inherent immorality of religion that base social hierarchy is justified by unwavering dogma that cannot be challenged.
Riley Wyna

Trad climber
A crack near you
Dec 3, 2012 - 11:13pm PT

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 4, 2012 - 05:03am PT

It has been made more than clear to me on this thread that a number of people in contemporary America are mad as hell about religion and can see nothing good in it. It's also clear that they select the worst examples of religious behavior and call that the norm for religion. However, if anyone points out that Hitler and Stalin and Mao were atheists, they claim that comparison isn't fair. Clearly partisan lines are drawn in the sand.

However, my take is different. First of all I'm an anthropologist and I have to be as professionally neutral toward religious beliefs as I am toward people's varying marriage customs and sexual habits. However distasteful, my job is to record what exists, not to pass judgement on it. Also, anthropology has learned over the last century and a half that many seemingly irrational practices are actually very sound if you understand the deep ecology behind them. Religion has been around for at least 300,000 years and exists in all societies. That means it conveys a survival advantage and is worth looking at.

Secondly, I have had the good fortune to live in Asia for the past 30 years and have had a very different experience of religion than those who know only the western Abrahamic versions. I live in a country where Confucianism, Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism, and Okinawan shamanism and nature worship, all coexist along with a rudimentary understanding of Christianity. No one where I live has any problem with that. Nor do they see any conflict with science. They mix and match as the occasion demands. It is possible for multiple belief systems to coexist and seems something worth striving for.

Thirdly, I work in the American military context which is the most diverse group of people and cultures you will ever encounter. Mixed in with them are both Okinawan and Japanese mainland students (two other quite different cultures). I teach courses in comparative religion and in evolution. We discuss the issues in both classes without resorting to insults, and for sure, I could list hundreds of statements made on this thread from both religious and science types that would immediately end a career if espoused in the military or diplomatic communites.

I am not an apologist for religion. I do know western history. Neither am I on a crusade against it. I am also not anti science as some accuse me of. I try to see the underlying good in people and institutions, I try to understand the positions of everyone, and I try to understand the deeper structural reasons for those views. I am also looking for ways that divergent views could be reconciled.

Right now atheists are a discriminated against group and they have lashed out in reaction. That reaction won't convert their religious enemies and it is off putting to a lot of other people, many of whom still go to church but are not fanatics. The religious moderates are the very people who should be their allies against fanaticism. So why attack them too? (This is a rhetorical question not directed at you personally).

Riley Wyna

Trad climber
A crack near you
Dec 4, 2012 - 07:18am PT
. Right now atheists are a discriminated against group and they have lashed out in reaction.

That's the last thing an athiest cares about...
I mean who cares....it's not an issue.
Folks can believe what ever they want...
The issue arises when peoples superstitious beliefs start affecting our lives, our environment, our text books, our policy and our politcal decisions.

The issue is religous nutcases in America destroying our country because they are very easily manipulated by politics and corporate power. There are serious and evil attempts to change education standards, place grossly incompetent politicians on science committees, plan for the end of times and affect policy through propanada directed at simple minded superstitious folks.

We are the only country left in the world that has an issue with the science of climate change! Our politcs, education, and future are being damaged by the mixing of religion and politics and the poor education and critical thinking skills of religous folks.

We should not be arguing about teaching creation or evolution in our schools - it's ignorance.
Every conversation and argument that has been had on here involving religion has involved ignorance and programmed thinking.
It's sad but the folks that have been raised in dogmatic environments and not allowed to think for themselves are a hazard to all of our futures.
It is obvious to many of us that the time for respect is over. It is not going to change with talking and understading. We need to deal with corporate power, we need to deal with climate change, we need to deal with religion in our government and schools and rhe only way we do it is bashing right through these folks.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 4, 2012 - 07:45am PT
Politics, Religion, and Science all suffer from the corrupting influence of our human nature on this dense planet

Science should be focused on learning out our nature, predicament, and making sustainable solutions but a great deal of our most expensive and best science goes to ever more powerful killing technology. We have the means to destroy the whole world but not save it... thanks science.

Religion should be focused on purifying the heart to follow teachings of unconditional love, generosity to the poor, knowing God and serving community but a great deal of religion seems to be focused on a few divisive issues like gay marriage, abortion, and worrying that science doen't match primitive interpretations of myths that made it into scripture that makes them think it pleases God if you believe the world is 6000 years old, evolution is a lie, and that God is worse than any serial killer or dictator and tortures those without blind faith for untold trillions of years. That, and they support using the weapons the scientists made to kill and dominate via twisted prophecy.

Politics uses both the blindness of Religion and the prostitutes of science to emphasize the worst aspect cited above and not their better natures. A politician should be a public servant but has been coopted to be a servant of the elite money and power that finances elections


High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 4, 2012 - 08:05am PT
When I'm down with family matters or whatever, it's nice to know that fellow climbers like Bruce or Riley will step up to hold the charge.

Though it may sometimes seems so, not all the world is steeped in ignorance or content to maintain bs of old because in the moment it's comforting.

Thanks fellow chargers.
Be the change you seek in the world.



Get rid of the nazi comment regarding Dr. F and I'll remove my as#@&%e remark, along with this one, otherwise it stays.
Along with my opinion.

Dec 4, 2012 - 08:31am PT
My tee sez:

Be the Trouble You Want to See in the World

Jan says:

I would love to see an ecumenical gathering where religious leaders talk about values and an atheist like Dennet also presents his view along with theirs.

This comes close


I feel that religion is a great human invention. Going back in history to when there were no police or hospitals or grocery stores, a powerful unseen magical ally could give people a reason to expect success even when disaster looked inevitable. It is important not to give up hope. Religion has a marvelous synergy with emotions we experience anyway but religion gives the feelings focus, meaning, and greater power. Religion doesn't seem to work as well in modern technological society but give it time.
Dr. F.

Ice climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 4, 2012 - 08:32am PT
My point on intelligence,
was that after it evolved to the point of modern man, man used his intelligence to create God to answer the question of man's creation.

The point was, the Creation of God, through evolution.
I just thought it was Ironic.

intelligence does drive many species of higher animals like birds and mammals, many examples can be found.


Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Dec 4, 2012 - 08:35am PT
However distasteful, my job is to record what exists, not to pass judgement on it.

Awesome. I love that sentence!
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
Dec 4, 2012 - 08:40am PT
Thanks for your reply Jan. I suspected as much and I didn't mean to be antagonistic to you so much as just challenging.

I particularly appreciate your observations of eastern cultures, which I know little about. Maybe there's hope for religion yet.

As an Anthropologist how do you see Religion evolving if you were to take a wild guess? Or is that too contradictory? The world may be evolving religion out of relevance whether they like it or not.
Dr. F.

Ice climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 4, 2012 - 08:41am PT
Politics uses both the blindness of Religion and the prostitutes of science

Politics does not prostitute science
Ignorance and denialism of science by politicians is the problem

I am not an apologist for religion.

I disagree
Dr. F.

Ice climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 4, 2012 - 02:59pm PT
Interesting take on science
not that I agree with it, but I know Largo and some others will.

Why Bad Science Is Like Bad Religion

Posted: 12/01/2012 9:59 am React Amazing
Dr Rupert Sheldrake.Biologist and author


In both religion and science, some people are dishonest, exploitative, incompetent and exhibit other human failings. My concern here is with the bigger picture.

I have been a scientist for more than 40 years, having studied at Cambridge and Harvard. I researched and taught at Cambridge University, was a research fellow of the Royal Society, and have more than 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals. I am strongly pro-science. But I am more and more convinced that that the spirit of free inquiry is being repressed within the scientific community by fear-based conformity. Institutional science is being crippled by dogmas and taboos. Increasingly expensive research is yielding diminishing returns.

Bad religion is arrogant, self-righteous, dogmatic and intolerant. And so is bad science. But unlike religious fundamentalists, scientific fundamentalists do not realize that their opinions are based on faith. They think they know the truth. They believe that science has already solved the fundamental questions. The details still need working out, but in principle the answers are known.

Science at its best is an open-minded method of inquiry, not a belief system. But the "scientific worldview," based on the materialist philosophy, is enormously prestigious because science has been so successful. Its achievements touch all our lives through technologies like computers, jet planes, cell phones, the Internet and modern medicine. Our intellectual world has been transformed through an immense expansion of scientific knowledge, down into the most microscopic particles of matter and out into the vastness of space, with hundreds of billions of galaxies in an ever-expanding universe.

Science has been successful because it has been open to new discoveries. By contrast, committed materialists have made science into a kind of religion. They believe that there is no reality but material or physical reality. Consciousness is a by-product of the physical activity of the brain. Matter is unconscious. Nature is mechanical. Evolution is purposeless. God exists only as an idea in human minds, and hence in human heads.

These materialist beliefs are often taken for granted by scientists, not because they have thought about them critically, but because they haven't. To deviate from them is heresy, and heresy harms careers.

Since the 19th century, materialists have promised that science will eventually explain everything in terms of physics and chemistry. Science will prove that living organisms are complex machines, nature is purposeless, and minds are nothing but brain activity. Believers are sustained by the implicit faith that scientific discoveries will justify their beliefs. The philosopher of science Karl Popper called this stance "promissory materialism" because it depends on issuing promissory notes for discoveries not yet made. Many promises have been issued, but few redeemed. Materialism is now facing a credibility crunch unimaginable in the 20th century.

As I show in my new book, "Science Set Free," unexpected problems are disrupting the sciences from within. Many scientists prefer to think that these problems will eventually be solved by more research along established lines, but some, including myself, think that they are symptoms of a deeper malaise. Science is being held back by centuries-old assumptions that have hardened into dogmas.

Despite the confident claim in the late 20th century that genes and molecular biology would soon explain the nature of life, the problems of biological development remain unsolved. No one knows how plants and animals develop from fertilized eggs. Many details have been discovered, hundreds of genomes have been sequenced, but there is still no proof that life and minds can be explained by physics and chemistry alone.

The technical triumph of the Human Genome Project led to big surprises. There are far fewer human genes than anticipated, a mere 23,000 instead of 100,000. Sea urchins have about 26,000 and rice plants 38,000. Attempts to predict characteristics such as height have shown that genes account for only about 5 percent of the variation from person to person, instead of the 80 percent expected. Unbounded confidence has given way to the "missing heritability problem." Meanwhile, investors in genomics and biotechnology have lost many billions of dollars. A recent report by the Harvard Business School on the biotechnology industry revealed that "only a tiny fraction of companies had ever made a profit" and showed how promises of breakthroughs have failed over and over again.

Despite the brilliant technical achievements of neuroscience, like brain scanning, there is still no proof that consciousness is merely brain activity. Leading journals such as Behavioural and Brain Sciences and the Journal of Consciousness Studies publish many articles that reveal deep problems with the materialist doctrine. The philosopher David Chalmers has called the very existence of subjective experience the "hard problem." It is hard because it defies explanation in terms of mechanisms. Even if we understand how eyes and brains respond to red light, the experience of redness is not accounted for.

In physics, too, the problems are multiplying. Since the beginning of the 21st century, it has become apparent that known kinds of matter and energy make up only about 4 percent of the universe. The rest consists of "dark matter" and "dark energy." The nature of 96 percent of physical reality is literally obscure.

Contemporary theoretical physics is dominated by superstring and M theories, with 10 and 11 dimensions respectively, which remain untestable. The multiverse theory, which asserts that there are trillions of universes besides our own, is popular among cosmologists in the absence of any experimental evidence. These are interesting speculations, but they are not hard science. They are a shaky foundation for the materialist claim that everything can be explained in terms of physics.

Good science, like good religion, is a journey of discovery, a quest. It builds on traditions from the past. But it is most effective when it recognizes how much we do not know, when it is not arrogant but humble.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 4, 2012 - 03:53pm PT
re: Rupert Sheldrake (from Wiki)

"Sheldrake's work has little support in the mainstream scientific community. Members of the scientific community consider Sheldrake's claims to be currently unfalsifiable and therefore outside the scope of scientific experiment. The "morphic field" concept is believed by many to fall into the realm of pseudoscience."

The philosopher David Chalmers has called the very existence of subjective experience the "hard problem." It is hard because it defies explanation in terms of mechanisms.

Everyone's in agreement: it's a hard problem.

Airplanes "defy" gravity (in a sense) but this doesn't mean the gravity isn't there. Or that someday it won't be explained. Memory "defies explanation" in terms of clear bioengineering mechanisms of action - but it's pretty clear by current understanding it's got a material basis.


Even if we understand how eyes and brains respond to red light, the experience of redness is not accounted for.

It's deep mystery just like this that actually draws many passionate about the subject to neuroscience. They study it, some for decades.

Then comes the irony. The results of their expertise are not deferred to, instead they are made fun of. Their life experience in the field leads them by all manner of circumstantial evidence to conclude mentality is (part of) what the brain does. But their expert decision making, judgments and claims are ridiculed, satirized by outliers who have little to no life experience in the study, some whose only experience with "science" might've been one high school biology class and occasional science pieces on Fox News.


This Sheldrake piece is reminiscent of the 80's Biology as Ideology. History repeating itself. It's also not unlike a Largo post but without the convolutions, color, brilliant diversions, rhetorical flourish.

"These materialist beliefs are often taken for granted by scientists..."
because across the space and time of our human lives the everyday goings on in the real world without exception empirically support them.

Most ridiculous...
Materialism is now facing a credibility crunch unimaginable in the 20th century.

Our American public is steeped in wingnuts - wingnuts from the left as well as wingnuts from the right. Ascent is a project. Progress is hard.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Dec 4, 2012 - 04:55pm PT


Dec 4, 2012 - 05:57pm PT
Ed: Kudos on your posts.

You wrote that the turning of the wheel of evolution takes a long time. It's been a while since I read in that vein, but do you (or others) accept Gould's and Eldredge's notion of punctuated equilibriums: that long periods of stability are interrupted by brief moments of rapid (maybe even quantum) change? (I remember controversies.)

Riley and Bruce:

I appreciate your criticisms of myth. You both seemed concerned with truth and morality. But what of civilization / societies / community mores, laws, and cultural practices? I don't see how you can square the morality of truth with any truth of morality. That is, how do you suppose people should determine law or mores truthfully? How should society determine its cultural practices? It seems to me that how ANY community comes up with standards for right or wrong, can be criticized in the same way you criticize religions' approaches.

For example: the climbing community. If there are standards and norms for proper behaviors in the community, who's to say and how are they come by? If you argue for anarchy--no values, no norms, no beliefs--then there can't be a community. Science or art (the other pillars of knowledge along with ethics) cannot help. It's been noted and commented on since Nietzsche, that any of the three pillars cannot provide insights into the others (The True, the Beautiful, the Good.)

All cultures / communities rely upon a number of myths. The first is a myth of concern. Here truth and reality are not directly connected with reasoning or evidence, but are socially established. What is true for concern is what a society or community believes in, in its values, and in its norms of behavior.

Over time, a myth of concern become secularized and begins to confront the objective world. Truth then becomes truth in correspondence, where words and numbers align to external phenomena. Scientists and other masters of specialized crafts appeal not to concern but impersonal evidence and verification--and, in turn . . . objectivity, suspension of judgement, tolerance, and respect for the individual become important and elevated. This we can call the myth of freedom, which is part of the myth of concern, but which stress the non-mythical elements in the culture, . . . of truths that are studied rather than created, provided by nature rather than human desire.

It should be clear that conservatives (and humanities) emphasize the myth of concern, while liberals (and science) honor the myth of freedom.

But there are other myths of note: the myth of democracy, the myth of capitalism, the myth of socialism, the myth of marxism, the myth of entrepreneurship, the myth of health care, the myth of imperialism, the myth of education, the myth of revolution, etc. Of course, all myths create traditions, rules--and give rise to various complaints about them, just like you're making.

So it seems to me that there cannot be a choice in the world of getting rid of myths, . . . but rather of which ones one is willing to sacrifice and which one is willing to live with.

Are contemporary myths any better than more primitive ones?
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