Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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WBraun

climber
Dec 9, 2012 - 08:38pm PT
Proper meditation will change you alone.

Then you see the world as it really is and not how we project ourselves onto it.

As an exquisite masterpiece reflection of pure beauty and opulence's unsurpassed anywhere .......
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 9, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
fructose-

While your loyalty in defending Dr. is admirable and your criticism of me rather predictable, the problem remains that you are comparing unlike items. Science and engineering will get you no where in psychology or spirituality - they're totally different fields of endeavor dealing with totally different parts of the brain. That in my estimation is where both you and Dr. F go wrong. It's one thing to be pro science or pro engineering. It's quite another to say they are the only important human endeavors. It is again something else to say that nothing else is worthwhile and only BS.

Looking into one's unconscious has nothing to do with one's appreciation of science or not, and everything to do with the baggage we all carry around from childhood. Some of us have more baggage than others. A good indication of how much one has, can be estimated by how worked up with negative emotions we get when someone mentions an abstract word like God, faith, or religion. I don't have negative reactions to those words because I was raised without religion and told I could choose my own if I felt the need for one. That was not yours or Dr. F's experience and it shows. You want scientific cause and effect, well there it is.

We all have different strategies for life and what we wish to contribute. My strategy has been to try many different things including science. It will no doubt surprise you that the first paper I ever published was on the taxonomy of a Phillipine coral snake which I studied as part of a student job at the California Academy of Sciences - Drewes and Sacherer - Echis carinatus. My most cited article so far is one on ethnobotany which was so far ahead of its time that it could only be published in a local journal, as there were no ethnobotanical journals then. My latest paper is on the tradition of sacred hidden valleys in the Himalayas which are said to have been created by the Indian yogi who brought Buddhism to Tibet. The ethnobotany paper was on the plants that grow in that Valley and mine was the first botannical collection done from there (each Himalayan Valley has unique species). My understanding of the 800 year old religious tradition of that Valley has in no way hindered my appreciation of its botany and vice versa.

Just because someone is interested in more than one part of the mind, doesn't mean they are anti science. That is much too simplistic a world view. It doesn't even cover Dr. F. whose beautifully artistic photos of cactii and gems do not come from his logical mind but another obviously well developed area. I admire his versatility in that regard. I only wish he would stop making blanket statements about spiritual and religious experience, that's all.


Edit: fructose just pointed out a mistake here. Maticora is a coral snake from the Phillipines and Echis carinatus is a viper from Africa. Carinatus is the one I published on. Two research 40 year old projects confused. My bad.




Donald Thompson

Trad climber
Los Angeles,CA
Dec 9, 2012 - 10:00pm PT
Once again we can see fresh examples of this tendency by a strain of anti-spiritual thinking that continually attempts to wring yet more justification for a transparently unimaginative,cynical,and nihilistic view of the cosmos. It would be fine if these recruitments and justifications stopped there, but they are always inevitably extended into the political and cultural realm of life.
The science recruiters are here attempting to present their views as synonymous with science -so as to bolster ,extend, and fortify what are clearly characterological traits and intellectual temperaments, disguised as the scientific side of the argument . The proclamations, and the no-nonsense of science , become the the no-nonsense posture of the existential scientist who not only can't be bothered to discover a world beyond the provisional axioms of science, but he reports that at one time he journeyed to other realms but ultimately discovered nothing. His searchings were not only vain and fruitless but he must report that all similar searches must end up essentially the same as his : doomed to the vacant verdict of science. This heavy verdict of nothingness ; the nothing beyond the scant evidence of his own powerful and all-encompassing senses . The nothing beyond the experimental evidence of a science that can be the only possible crucible of all truth, despite its incomplete knowledge of the cosmos.
To the existential scientist his science has experimented on the universe and found that there
is nothing but ,10 to the 87 power , particles out there, therefore ,to him, any notion that there may be something accessible to human consciousness beyond the reach of science, is equivalent to a belief in Santa Claus.
He then rushes to a window and announces to a cold and hungry world, on the eve of Christmas , with relish hardly contained, " there is no Santa Claus, you fools"
A hero has been born.

If you have problems - problems with how the world works or problems with how life works - you should take it up with Mother Nature (your Creator) and not science.

I have absolutely no problem with science whatsoever. I love science. What I have a problem with is the recruitment of science for unscientific motives.
That is the subject of my comments above.

Edit: Pardon my melodramatic prose.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 9, 2012 - 10:06pm PT
Me thinks,

If you have problems - problems with how the world works or problems with how life works - you should take it up with Mother Nature (your Maker, your Creator) and not science.

Science is by and large "just" the messenger, the reporter, the instructor, the interrogator. Of nature.

But my advice: (1) Don't demonize nature. (2) Don't demonize science. (3) Attitude is everything. (4) Adapt. (5) Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. (6) Knowing better is doing better.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 9, 2012 - 10:12pm PT
It's quite another to say they are the only important human endeavors.

Yeah, that's what we say, lol!

.....

You know, you're preaching to the choir here (and also before your audience, I guess)...
We all have different strategies for life and what we wish to contribute. My strategy has been to try many different things including science.

In the past it was I, in the Pate and Weschrist days I suppose, who went on and on and on about the need for employing different strategies - I don't think it was you - so I don't need to be instructed therein.

In that time, I told you. Go for it - pursue your eastern spiritual discipline as strategy, pursue your pedagogic style as strategy, pursue your paranormal research as strategy. Just don't tell Dr. F or others how narrow-minded or wrong they are. And in the end we will see (or our descendants will see) just how it sorts out.

May the best ideas and practices win. Hear, hear!



P.S. Your partisan caricature and hyperbole is very off putting. At least "our side" or perhaps better, I, don't hyperbole. Shame on you because you're a teacher, I thought you were supposed to strive for, among other things, accuracy and validity.

.....

P.SS I've also explained to you so many times it became embarrassing to express it anymore (maybe a year or two ago) that science for none of us science junkies is the whole enchilada, it's only the platform or foundation. But it seems you willfully disregard this at every opportunity in your eagerness to assign us devotees of scientism or some such.

I'll say it for the hundredth time: science is only a (damn good) messenger of "what is." It offers little or nothing to my practice of living regarding "what matters." That comes from elsewhere and I (along with millions of others) have no problem in that area.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Dec 9, 2012 - 10:22pm PT
MikeL Goodone!

" The dynamics of evolution may be changing from what we consider hardware (DNA) to something that we might call software (psychology, elements of culture). If so, then it takes the wind out of Darwin's theory to a great extent and demands new ways of looking at Darwin's ideas of predation (competition), mutation, variation, and selection (who selects?) considerably. "

WITHOUT A DOUBT

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 9, 2012 - 10:46pm PT
What I have a problem with is the recruitment of science for unscientific motives

This is a ridiculous statement but understandable to a point.

No doubt you've heard the terms... applied sciences... or prescriptive sciences... but perhaps they have by and large gone in one ear and out the other without you fully importing their meaning???

Medicine for example is an "applied science" or "prescriptive science." Edit: So is engineering. So are the social sciences in large part. They are goal-based; they are motivated. What's more, "science" is often an umbrella term. It may refer to basic science. It may refer to an applied science that functions in terms of goals or motives. What more, making communications all the more confusing, an applied or prescriptive science like medicine for instance is often just reduced or shortened to "science" in speech or writing.

So sciences are often "recruited" for unscientific motives. Otherwise what use are they. Just think about it for awhile, Einstein.



You gotta see science in the bigger picture of human society or else... you're always going to have this problem. Do you really want that? ;)
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 9, 2012 - 11:01pm PT
Echis carinatus... coral snake?



Cool anyways. :)
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Dec 9, 2012 - 11:03pm PT
i hope Santa brings Largo back,SOON!
Donald Thompson

Trad climber
Los Angeles,CA
Dec 9, 2012 - 11:08pm PT
So sciences are often "recruited" for unscientific motives. Otherwise what use are they. Just think about it for awhile, Einstein.

Let me be a little clearer and perhaps you'll get it this time:

Some people are engaged in an on-going polemic on this thread. Their arguments assert that belief in God and transcendental experiences are invalid, and even foolish.
Fine. I have no problem accepting these philosophical positions at face value.

It is when science is employed, as a big brother bully, in these stand-offs, that I have criticized.
My advice is to Make your arguments without the bully that you imagine is at your side. Science is a method to discover the physical nature of the universe. It is not designed to be a bludgeon to beat people you perceive to have philosophical disagreements with.
This is now the third of fourth time I have stated this point on this thread. My aim is not to take all the fun out of it for you, but only to make my point clear.
----------------------------------------------------------


Coral snakes are poisonous. Any time you see a snake in seawater it is poisonous.
A little trivia.
Whoops . I confused coral snakes with sea snakes. There are both venomous and non-venomous coral snakes.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 9, 2012 - 11:20pm PT
Nope. I still don't get it. :(

.....

re: on-going polemics

On-going polemics can be a good thing.

I don't avoid em, I lean into them. Esp when I think their resolution (one way or another) leads to improvement, better performance in something.



Reminder: This thread was originally posed as... a debate thread.
Donald Thompson

Trad climber
Los Angeles,CA
Dec 9, 2012 - 11:27pm PT
Okay. That's cool.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 10, 2012 - 12:24am PT
Echis carinatus is a viper from Africa (pictured above) and that's the one I published on. The coral snakes I worked on were Maticora from the Philipines (similar to the one pictured below), better looking and much more interesting. The fun part was figuring out why some islands had three subspecies of Maticora and several others shared only one. It turned out to have to do with the rise and fall of sea levels and which islands were connected when - lots of looking at topo maps. Unfortunately the work on Maticora was never published since it turned into a gigantic project with the type specimens are scattered all over the world. I moved on to Nepal and Sherpas about that time and nobody else took it up.

Maticora intestinalis
Maticora intestinalis
Credit: Angus McNab
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 10, 2012 - 06:57am PT
Jan: Just because someone is interested in more than one part of the mind...

Personally, and by way of rolling up a lot of aspects of current posts in this thread, my opinion is the mind is a fabulous 'place'.

[Please bear with me here...]

As variously pointed out throughout this discussion, the mind generates and maintains perceptual representations of both bodily (internal) and environmental (external) states. It does so to provide an adaptive operating context for living and competing in the world beyond what rout instinct affords. Given that 'reality', I think at the very least we can all agree our ["subjective"] experience of living in the world is a continuous, though in no way seamless, grand fiction of sorts.

In saying our experience is "in no way seamless" I am simply acknowledging our perception is subject to illusion, has gaps such as our blind spot, and requires downtime in the form of sleep to maintain. And beyond mere perceptual 'gaps', what happens when we sleep is quite likely nothing less than a daily reconstruction of the grand fiction that is us. To take a step further, I would suggest 'illusion' and 'fiction', rather than something we are subject to, or compensate for, are in fact requisite enabling capabilities for consciousness.

How so? Well, first off you wouldn't be conscious if you had to be aware of all the available raw sensory data about our bodies and environment - it's just too overwhelming. So to some extent the most fundamental illusion and fiction of all is just providing the quiet 'blank slate' on which to project consciousness that is afforded by the aggressive sensory filtering and aggregation of the lower brain and subconscious mind.

Second, the apparent seamlessness and continuity of our fictional conscious experience only exists due to one 'miraculous' slight-of-hand and illusion after another which serve to 'fill in the gaps' and knit together the malestrom of all we are aware of and 'think' about into what we experience as our conscious self.

Third, and remarkably, we create and place ourselves in a grand, but entirely virtual and fictionalized, 'external' environment or stage, our knowledge of which is based on nothing more than a grab bag assortment of incomplete sensory fragments and glimpses of the world around us.

Add to all that our innate ability to continuously generate, weigh, and select relatively high quality 'maps' or 'scenarios' of plausible futures and the functional utility of 'fiction' has to be acknowledged as essential for our survival in a competitive world. And that gets directly back to my positing consciousness emerged from a collection of behavioral capabilities around what we consider our ability 'to anticipate'. Think about the implications of that for a moment against our ability to construct scenarios of the future based largely on incomplete knowledge.

To cave dwellers, who knew of species which preyed on humans, it meant continually constructing predation scenarios whenever they left the cave. In fact, and more to the point, it meant constructing predation scenarios whenever they anticipated leaving the cave or even contemplated (imagined) life beyond the cave entrance. And the odds are good that in the process of learning what species preyed on humans there were times when some of those species were only known through glimpses in the brush, the fading light, or only by the unexplained absence of a member of the clan.

What then could our cave dwellers possibly have thought about those unknown or incompletely recognized threats given their necessary ability to generate fictionalized accounts of the world around them? How do you run predation scenarios and anticipate the unknown? And there, at the intersection of our fictionalized lives and the unknown, lies the rub: how do we as a species respond to the unknown? And what about how we anticipate and respond to the unknown is different than other species?

My take? My take is that humans have only been able to respond to a changing world, ever more complex predation, and the unknown by evolving our capacity to fictionalize the world around us. By that I mean our ability to generate ever more complex and creative anticipatory scenarios of the future and optimizing our exploitation of the environment to our advantage in the process. That fiction IS our primary competitive advantage as a species.

More to Jan's statement quoted above, given our lives are a best-guess, incomplete 'fiction', I would suggest our minds are facile enough and capable of generating and rendering pretty much any wanted or unwanted illusion or fiction - it's what we 'do' best and have done all along as humans emerged as a species. That, by and large, all parts of the mind are equally fictionalized.

And in that I would say one of the most fundamental and difficult challenges mankind has always faced is simply determining what is 'real'. Just surviving to develop language and philosophy went a long way towards helping us meet that nebulous challenge, but before 'modern' science our efforts in that regard might be considered by some as amounting to little more than a lot of 'mental speculation' by a lot of deep 'mental speculators'.

And so to the heart of this discussion and Jan's point:

Just because someone is interested in more than one part of the mind...

Well, the issue there for me is we have a very, very limited tool set for ferreting [objective] 'reality' and [verifiable] 'facts' out of the limitless ocean of fiction that is our conscious experience. My 'belief' and experience is that while you can avail yourself of experiential and 'spiritual' methods such as meditation and prayer with which to spelunk about in our fictionalized world, it is very difficult to return with anything beyond the philosophical and emotional 'tags' or 'markers' we associate with those experiences (or lack thereof).

As such - and as someone who has devoted no small amount of time, effort, and thought on such interests and explorations in other parts of the mind - over time I have come to value 'modern' science all the more just because of the rarity of having any tools at all with which to surface aspects of our grand fiction and grant them a veil of 'objective reality' however thin or tenuous.

As for the rest? Pure fictional mental speculation from my point of view - I find much of it intriguing with a lot of potential value in the journey. But Gods? Universal consciousness? Souls? Reincarnation? Afterlife? Ghosts? Monsters? UFOs? All a matter of humans doing what humans do best I think. And I don't necessarily mean that in a derogatory sense as fictional speculation is by definition a 'side-effect' of how we are what we are. Sometimes those side-effects have positive consequences for our societies, sometimes adverse ones (something you can say about science as well).

But in the end, for me anyway, my bottom line is that 'facts' are an exceptionally rare commodity in the necessarily fictionalized world[s] we all live within.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Dec 10, 2012 - 08:07am PT
My advice is to Make your arguments without the bully that you imagine is at your side.

I'm not sure i follow the rationale. The criticisms of religious claims are often fully relevant to our understanding of the natural world, and for all we know if an un natural world does actually exist it is possible that science can yet explain that as well. There is no problem with trying to understand things with the tools that we have, especially a toolsuch as the scientific method, something that has revolutionized our ability to understand and withstands all attempts to discredit it quite easily so far.

At the very least all the fables such as Noahs arc, a 10000 year old earth, etc etc can easily be slaughtered by scientific process - in fact the only thing left standing to defend these notions is faith. Maybe these things will be proven true some time, maybe not til we're brought before St Pares gate, but I can't believe god would encourage such belief of fairy tales with nothing but the old easy out of faith.

That defies the old saying "God helps those who help themselves" .

Of course all these fables perhaps occured in an "un natural world", one that runs parallel to the natural one. Perhaps there really is a parallel process of understanding, one that can yet be proven to be testable and repeatable. But of course now I'm just pigeon holing myself into Dogma right? I just need a little faith.
rectorsquid

climber
Lake Tahoe
Dec 10, 2012 - 08:24am PT
become the the no-nonsense posture of the existential scientist who not only can't be bothered to discover a world beyond the provisional axioms of science...

I think that it is not a matter of bothering to do so. It is a matter of not being able to discover a world beyond the provisional axioms of science. There are plenty of people who are looking for what the believers have but just cannot find it.

You will blame their lack of finding on their lack of belief but that is a bit of a catch-22. You would expect them to somehow find that world before they actually find anything to indicate that it exists.

Some us just require more than an idea in our head to believe in something. We just require some sort of physical evidence. Unfortunately, we also understand that a lack of evidence is not proof of something.

And a no-nonsense posture is what every rational person should have unless you advocate a nonsense posture.

Dave
mechrist

Gym climber
South of Heaven
Dec 10, 2012 - 09:50am PT
Science and engineering will get you no where in psychology...

"Psychology is an academic and applied discipline that involves the scientific study of mental functions and behaviors."

If you can't convince others to see your point of view, just start changing the definitions. I love religiots.
MH2

climber
Dec 10, 2012 - 10:36am PT
from healyje:

we create and place ourselves in a grand, but entirely virtual and fictionalized, 'external' environment or stage


Entirely virtual and fictionalized? Could you give a few examples other than the blind spot in the visual field? Isn't our mental picture of the world good enough for practical purposes? What more do you want?


But, perhaps to buttress your contention, my selective attention takes me to this part of that post:

"our perception
requires downtime in the form of sleep to maintain"


Which makes me wonder if part of the apparent stability of our ego/self/personality depends upon things going on during sleep, perhaps forgetting or re-casting events which upset us and placing on a trophy shelf of the mind events which made us feel good.

I don't think our brain fictionalizes the physical world, but it definitely edits the story of itself.


Sleep that knits the ravell'd sleeve of care, or

**We hope, we aspire, we resolve, we trust,
When the morning calls us to life and light,
But our hearts grow weary, and, ere the night,
Our lives are trailing the sordid dust.
**
Gradatim
Joshia Gilbert Holland





and back to a different take on Ed's question of point-of-view:

So is it not possible that the perception of such "travel" is just learning how to switch the perception to "move around" in that internally contained "map"?


We can all do that to some extent. I can imagine I am on some climb or trail, and move along them, but the sensation is not very close to actually being there. Perhaps if my memory was better? The Russian psychologist A. R. Luria wrote about a person whose memory was said to be so detailed that at times he could not distinguish the past from the present. That may be fiction but it does suggest that having a perfect memory might get you killed in the cave-people world. The people who win the World Memory Championships have only ordinary memory but they train it. The main method they use is to visualize a building or street in such detail that they can see many features, all organized in a sequence or plan that they can recall dependably. When given a new memorization task, they then place the new data, item by item, at 'locations' in the rooms of the pre-existing building or along the pre-existing street in their memory. When asked to recall the new data, they 'walk' through that building or along that street and 'see' the new items next to familiar 'sights.' I guess afterwards they have to clean house.



In the course of looking up A.R. Luria, a look at the mystery of the 'self.'

During the Battle of Smolensk in the Second Word War, a soldier named Zazetsky sustained a severe head wound, causing "massive damage to the left occipito-parietal region of his brain." This injury shattered his whole perceptual world. His memory, his visual fields, his bodily perception, even his knowledge of bodily functioning--all break into fragments, causing him to experience the world (and himself) as constantly shifting and unstable.

Zazetsky coped with this fragmentation by writing a journal of his thoughts and memories as they occurred, day after day, for 20 years. He then arranged and ordered these entries, in an attempt to reconstruct his lost "self."






Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 10, 2012 - 10:44am PT
mechrist, psychology, like all the social sciences is a multifaceted discipline. If you are studying rats in mazes then engineering probably helps. If you are looking at treatments for schitzophrenia, then chemistry is an aid.

If you are doing psychoanalysis however, or other kinds of deep therapy which are the equivalent of meditation, I doubt they help much and for sure, an arrogant attitude when talking to any patient with problems is not going to help.

Assuming that everyone with an interest in the mind is a religious fanatic isn't very useful either.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 10, 2012 - 10:56am PT
Assuming that everyone with an interest in the mind is a religious fanatic isn't very useful either.

I agree, but the conclusions of what is 'discovered' in the course of pursuing those interests is more often than not quite difficult to pin down as other than speculation. Intellectual rigor is certainly helpful, but by no means assures more than speculation as the birth of psychoanalysis itself demonstrates and I'm saying that with all due respect and recognition of how difficult it is to pursue such interests.
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