Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 11, 2013 - 04:13am PT
The Pope has just resigned effective Feb. 28.
Now things should get really interesting.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 11, 2013 - 07:25am PT
Klimmer, here is something else that makes me think again about your circular and ideological driven interpretation of reality (that is, as opposed to reality driven ideology). It i an opinion / observation piece on the Republican / right wing authoritarian psyche but could also be applied to the right wing authoritarian political religious power structure.

It is of course an analogy so in technical terms there are many dicrepancies or incongruities with the whole bible science thing that you brought up. However in terms of illustrating this:

We must interpret our physical observations based on the scripture and not interpret the scripture based on our physical observations.

Which illustrates the fundamental irreconcilible divide that currently and historically has existed between institutional faith and science. It is a divide that religion must reconcile, not science as is clearly evident by the above quoted intellectually aberrant ethic.

So, here is an article by that devil spawn Paul Krugman, deceptive hater of the poor. What I suggest is that while reading this replace every reference to the GOP/ Republican/ Eric "the Dick" Cantor, etc with a reference to institutional religion, such as Pope / Mulah /Pat "The Dick Wacker Devil Spawn" Robertson or similar. Leave all the policy issues as is as there seems to be a direct link in attitudes to policy between the GOP and the right wing religious lobby.






The Ignorance Caucus
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: February 10, 2013 208 Comments

Last week Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, gave what his office told us would be a major policy speech. And we should be grateful for the heads-up about the speech’s majorness. Otherwise, a read of the speech might have suggested that he was offering nothing more than a meager, warmed-over selection of stale ideas.

To be sure, Mr. Cantor tried to sound interested in serious policy discussion. But he didn’t succeed — and that was no accident. For these days his party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions. And no, that’s not a caricature: Last year the Texas G.O.P. explicitly condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

And such is the influence of what we might call the ignorance caucus that even when giving a speech intended to demonstrate his openness to new ideas, Mr. Cantor felt obliged to give that caucus a shout-out, calling for a complete end to federal funding of social science research. Because it’s surely a waste of money seeking to understand the society we’re trying to change.

Want other examples of the ignorance caucus at work? Start with health care, an area in which Mr. Cantor tried not to sound anti-intellectual; he lavished praise on medical research just before attacking federal support for social science. (By the way, how much money are we talking about? Well, the entire National Science Foundation budget for social and economic sciences amounts to a whopping 0.01 percent of the budget deficit.)

But Mr. Cantor’s support for medical research is curiously limited. He’s all for developing new treatments, but he and his colleagues have adamantly opposed “comparative effectiveness research,” which seeks to determine how well such treatments work.

What they fear, of course, is that the people running Medicare and other government programs might use the results of such research to determine what they’re willing to pay for. Instead, they want to turn Medicare into a voucher system and let individuals make decisions about treatment. But even if you think that’s a good idea (it isn’t), how are individuals supposed to make good medical choices if we ensure that they have no idea what health benefits, if any, to expect from their choices?

Still, the desire to perpetuate ignorance on matters medical is nothing compared with the desire to kill climate research, where Mr. Cantor’s colleagues — particularly, as it happens, in his home state of Virginia — have engaged in furious witch hunts against scientists who find evidence they don’t like. True, the state has finally agreed to study the growing risk of coastal flooding; Norfolk is among the American cities most vulnerable to climate change. But Republicans in the State Legislature have specifically prohibited the use of the words “sea-level rise.”

And there are many other examples, like the way House Republicans tried to suppress a Congressional Research Service report casting doubt on claims about the magical growth effects of tax cuts for the wealthy.

Do actions like this have important effects? Well, consider the agonized discussions of gun policy that followed the Newtown massacre. It would be helpful to these discussions if we had a good grasp of the facts about firearms and violence. But we don’t, because back in the 1990s conservative politicians, acting on behalf of the National Rifle Association, bullied federal agencies into ceasing just about all research into the issue. Willful ignorance matters.

O.K., at this point the conventions of punditry call for saying something to demonstrate my evenhandedness, something along the lines of “Democrats do it too.” But while Democrats, being human, often read evidence selectively and choose to believe things that make them comfortable, there really isn’t anything equivalent to Republicans’ active hostility to collecting evidence in the first place.

The truth is that America’s partisan divide runs much deeper than even pessimists are usually willing to admit; the parties aren’t just divided on values and policy views, they’re divided over epistemology. One side believes, at least in principle, in letting its policy views be shaped by facts; the other believes in suppressing the facts if they contradict its fixed beliefs.

In her parting shot on leaving the State Department, Hillary Clinton said of her Republican critics, “They just will not live in an evidence-based world.” She was referring specifically to the Benghazi controversy, but her point applies much more generally. And for all the talk of reforming and reinventing the G.O.P., the ignorance caucus retains a firm grip on the party’s heart and mind.


Your examples of the Bible providing evidence of scientific credibility illustrates the precise same thinking, and it is no surprise that it is an argument used not to advance knowledge and understanding, but to subvert it for the purpose of maintaining or advancing political power.
If Individuals of faith can become aware of this, with all due humility yet with no direct threat to the continuance of their faith, then there is hope of embracing the full usefulness of science.... as well as delivering a good hearty kick in the nuts to authoritarianism / fascism.

Of course it would require a complete revolutionary repudiation of the institutional power structure and a rebuilding - much like what is required of say, professional bike racing, another institution which is structurally corrupt yet its basic principles, morals and ethics are sound.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 11, 2013 - 07:33am PT
Base - your brains and experience will be missed. Have an awesome adventure. If there is a god thing / man in a robe / particle out there I bet you'll be getting about as close to it as any way out there on the wild blue yonder. Let us know eh?
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 11, 2013 - 08:29am PT
OK Largo
Let's talk about the non-material

What is it?
Does it exist anywhere outside of a brain??

Non-material entities?
Have we ever encountered any, or do they only exist is said brain?

I feel that Largo has just become an apologist, always looking for a way out of accountability.
All he has to keep saying is that it is beyond our understanding, non-material, always hidden, always out of reach...

and only if you go into some transcendental state, then you can get a glimpse of something beyond human.

I agree that you can get a glimpse of something more, I just say it's apart of your imagination, and doesn't exist outside your mind.

If you can tell us what this stuff is, maybe you can convince us that we are wrong.

Show us this non-material.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Feb 11, 2013 - 09:17am PT
Ed got me thinking about Hilbert space, which I haven't looked at in even my most amateur way in years. A friend pointed me at this:

Hilbert space is a vector space.

A vector space is an algebraic structure that contains objects called vectors (in quantum mechanics, these become the wavefunctions), which display the properties of vector addition and scalar multiplication.

An algebraic structure is one or more sets that exhibit closure under one or more operations. An example would be the set of all real numbers under addition. If you add two real numbers, the third element will always be a real number. However, the set of all natural numbers (ie. positive integers) do not exhibit closure under, say, subtraction. 5 - 3 is 2 but 3 - 5 is -2, and -2 is not a natural number. So the set of all natural numbers cannot be an algebraic structure under subtraction (but can be algebraic structure under addition).

An example of a vector space could be the ordinary vectors that you learn about in elementary physics (these are rank 1 tensors), but it could also be the set of all 2x2 matrices. The vector space itself comes with a bunch of axioms for its vectors (rules for how vectors should behave), like invertibility, identity, and associativity. As a vector space, Hilbert space covers both real and complex numbers, and so the wavefunctions (vectors) that live in Hilbert space must be complex-valued.

It's all quite simple, really.



So at bottom, Hilbert is a mathmatical structure in which important ideas and measurements can find play.

And Craig, all of your arguments stem from your identification with the left brain, which is fashioned and evolved to do just what you do with it - evaluate and quantify what is graspable. Should you venture into the right brain, you will find a different world. To the left brain, that world looks "false," imagined, or mentally constructed, just as math folk cooked up Hilbert space.

I see you as throwing a continuous tantrum that right brained stuff is not left brain material you can fit in a slide rule or grind on with a construct and make a prediction. So yu keep saying it has to be something or it's nothing. This is simply the perspective of the left brain. If it has no thing to measure and evaluate, it is out of work and balks.

Simple as that.

JL
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 11, 2013 - 09:23am PT
My Opinion
this non-material is a "MAN MADE" concept

thoughts are non-material, yes
and animals other than humans have thoughts, yes
but we are not discussing just normal thoughts

We are discussing gods, spirits, consciousness without brains, thoughts floating in space that we can capture, souls living forever

Why these things, because man made them up to explain things he couldn't understand.

But now it has taken on a new role, NOW- they are the things that we don't KNOW About, the things we Will never know about, they exist in the in between dimensions, non-material, non-physical, out there somewhere...
with the precondition, man's mind can't never understand, they are non-material, beyond our comprehension, just out of reach, hidden from view or perception.

What do I think?
It's just another ruse to get around science, another way to keep us believing in God when all other logical reasoning has failed.

Can it be that the need for God is so strong in some that matter what they learn, they can still just invent a way to justify their belief.

Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 11, 2013 - 09:24am PT
I laugh at your interpretation
right brain left brain?
come on, you can do better than that
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 11, 2013 - 09:33am PT
evaluate and quantify what is graspable. Should you venture into the right brain, you will find a different world. To the left brain, that world looks "false," imagined, or mentally constructed, just as math folk cooked up Hilbert space.


If it is not "graspable", evaluation and quantification is moot. I certainly can't grasp all that Hilbert Space stuff, but I would be willing to see if others can, which requires an ability on their part to communicate it as much as my ability to "hear ' it. The parallel universe thing I find interesting, but in terms of practical usefulness, it does not prove of equal utility to the rational evaluation and quantification that science currently provides. It is a matter of weighting usefulness of the different processes of enquiry. The truth is of ultimate usefulness to us but if that truth is constantly "ungraspable" then there is a whole other universe that is - and is consequently more useful.

edit: "simple as that" huh? shouldn't you insert a little smiley face there?
WBraun

climber
Feb 11, 2013 - 09:44am PT
There is no "need" for God.

God is already there. You can't create a "need" for something that already exists and has been eternally in existence.

I "need" money.

It already exists.

Do the work.

You don't do any work, you speculate and guess all day in your head.

Therefore no God and no money ......
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 11, 2013 - 09:50am PT
Well werner I'm doing just fine without money and god..... which is more than you can say
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Feb 11, 2013 - 09:55am PT
Craig writes: This non-material is a "MAN MADE" concept

I would note that your mind wants to make no-things into things, in this case, concepts that are produced by a material brain. This fits neatly into a reductionist POV. What happens when you drop the duality of material and non-material. You're just here. What IS that presence?

So far as utility, this is also a function of the rational brain, which operates on the principals of practicality and material. What works. This is the realm of human doing. Spirituality is the real of human being. Of presence. The fact that this is all ungraspable (unquantifable) does not diminish this realm as a factor in your life, even as your brain tells you it is blow back transmitted by your brain.

And BASE, watch that spinniker.

JL


Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 11, 2013 - 10:01am PT
I could agree with that, if it were true.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 11, 2013 - 10:16am PT
hey I just thought of something. This right brain / left brain thing, whether it really involves brain matter or not, is a real pain in the ass and a total impediment to harmony of understanding. I am willing to consider the possibility that you Largo and werner and various other "spiritual" types are tuned into a universe that runs parallel to the one I think I understand (hows that for a mouthful?).

The problem in that case is the communication. The disconnect. And this is a point of utility. Without a successful communication your universe will remain ungraspable. The posit I believe is that if this ungraspable was to become graspable it would transend the utility of that which I can currently grasp, perhaps even in the sense of my universe becoming irrelevant to my "being".

Science is a communication, one that works. It has revealed to us that which was "ungraspable" previously. What is now material was at one time "not material" for all practical purposes.
MH2

climber
Feb 11, 2013 - 10:38am PT
Simply put, human experience is qualitatively different than moving water because of the observer who bears witness to experience.


Thanks. I think that is useful. I don't intentionally pose questions as set-ups.

I question things which I don't understand. JL has often mentioned the possibility if not necessity for more than material explanations for human experience. I take a simpler view that from the palette of the Periodic Table of Elements natural forces have painted the entire amazing landscape we are part of. I don't see why atoms and molecules could not constitute and power a human.

As I see the disagreement, it is those who propose a basic flaw with the materialist view who are under the onus of explaining where materialism is incompatible with...whatever extra ingredient they think is out there. It isn't up to the materialist to prove that the non-materialist is wrong, unless a testable question is available that could settle a specific issue.

If a human bears witness to a waterfall, does that bring the waterfall into the same qualitative realm as the human? Couldn't a human and a waterfall simply be different molecular assemblages? Is there a qualitative difference between what a human and a monkey could bear witness to? Human and bat? Human and algorithm?
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 11, 2013 - 01:52pm PT
Welcome back Largo



Here is my synopsis
There is No there there

You're trying to make something out of nothing
jogill

climber
Colorado
Feb 11, 2013 - 02:00pm PT
So at bottom, Hilbert [space] is a mathematical structure in which important ideas and measurements can find play

Yes, but do you conclude that this and other mathematical structures are merely products of the "right brain?" Mathematics is both a practice in logic and an art. Making a distinction between halves of the brain in this regard is absurd. But I may be reading something into your comments that is not there, and if so I apologize.


;>)
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 11, 2013 - 02:03pm PT
Bruce and Mh2. Now I think we are getting at the heart of the issue. Of course Ed also summed it up some ways back when he said, (paraphrasing) if science can explain the material world, why would we need another explanation?

One of the many things I've become aware of while participating in this thread (and I've said this before) is the basic difference between those who want simple reductionist answers to material questions and those who like complication and mystery and speculation about human possibilities.

I also understand that to get to the reductionist answers about the fundamental nature of something is a very nuanced and complex process and more than enough to keep a scientist busy their whole life.

But there is a big difference between understanding the molecular or even subatomic properties of the human brain and water and just sitting there watching the waterfall flow and wondering who else has sat there, in what context, with what belief system, and what other than biochemistry you have in common with someone who sat there 2,000 years ago? Writing a poem or composing a piece of music about the universality of the human spirit over two thousand years in spite of cultural differences, is not practical, and it can't be measured with scientific instruments, but it's real and important for some people.

jstan has remarked that the idea of understanding physical reality through pure reason is obsolete and I agree. There is still plenty of space for philosophy however. Obviously also, the understanding of the material world through authoritative religious texts meant as guides for human behavior is also obsolete.That doesn't mean however, that they are necessarily obsolete for understanding human behavior.

So yes it's true, some of us are saying that there is a parallel universe out there. I can see how this assertion is frustrating to the show me- so- I- can- measure- it crowd. That doesn't mean it isn't there and it can't be tapped into however. And even if the source is proven to be the human brain, that doesn't make it any less unique and significant for the experiencer.

The struggle between science and religion is over power and who is going to control the narrative. The guy watching the waterfall isn't harming anyone and isn't really part of the debate. Neither science nor the Bible discusses his feelings.
rectorsquid

climber
Lake Tahoe
Feb 11, 2013 - 02:56pm PT
"God is already there."

Begs the question, doesn't it?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Feb 11, 2013 - 03:09pm PT
So at bottom, Hilbert [space] is a mathematical structure in which important ideas and measurements can find play

Yes, but do you conclude that this and other mathematical structures are merely products of the "right brain?" Mathematics is both a practice in logic and an art. Making a distinction between halves of the brain in this regard is absurd. But I may be reading something into your comments that is not there, and if so I apologize.


You pretty much spelled out what I've been saying, or trying to say. When we are identified with a sub personality that the Voice Dialogue folks call the Rational Mind, everything looks a certain way - logical, tangible, material, linear. When this sub personality (mainly left brain function) runs aground, it is ofter the non-linear right brain - the "art" in JG's example above - that furnishes another way of approaching things. For the rational mind, everything issues from something else, something before hand. There is a link, a chain that we can normally follow in some way. With the right brain, we broach the possibility an idea or construct coming from nothing at all, a singularity of sorts, which is the bottom line with free will. It is "free" from antecedents and was not another domino in even a randomized, chaotic pattern in Hilbert space or maybe Craig's back yard. You cannot "reduce" an example of free will to that which came before. It didn't arise from "bottom up" sequencing.

That's the notion, anyhow. But I defy someone to prove it, since "proof" is showing the sequencing itself, and predicting the next form that should arise.

JL
jstan

climber
Feb 11, 2013 - 03:48pm PT
jstan has remarked that the idea of understanding physical reality through pure reason is obsolete and I agree. There is still plenty of space for philosophy however. Obviously also, the understanding of the material world through authoritative religious texts meant as guides for human behavior is also obsolete.That doesn't mean however, that they are necessarily obsolete for understanding human behavior.
Jan

I think one of our preeminent needs is to obtain a better understanding of human behavior. Here I have trouble seeing how fatally self contradictory historical texts are accomplishing that. These texts do mention the golden rule which is so ancient it probably predates all the extant religions. And religious organizations seem to be uncertain as to whether that rule or some other takes priority.

I'll give you an example which says Darwin is a far better source for understanding humans. Presently the number of humans approaches seven billion on a planet giving every indication it is unable to support that number. And yet the number continues to increase, thereby belying our belief that we are a rational specie.

Many years ago Scientific American published a picture of a bog person buried more than 5000 years ago. It was a female buried with her neonate. In the center of the picture, where it could not be missed, was a flint tool struck into the shape of a very sharp knife. A caesarian section had been attempted more than 5000 years ago and had failed. To understand how it is females are so focussed on giving birth when death is a very real possibility you need to take into consideration the very high likelihood 100,000 years ago our specie was on the verge of extinction. For a long period of time every single birth was essential. During that time only those females genetically inclined to assume huge risks toward that goal were propagated. Reality, the environment that existed 100,000 years ago, has caused us to evolve a defining characteristic that shows every sign of threatening us today.

Religious texts are a cacophony of words from ancient voices all driven by the politics and economies of their day. That muddle of voices is no more a guide to human behavior than the politics and economy of today is to our behavior.

As for room remaining for philosophy I would agree provided that "philosophy" confined itself to hypotheses that can be falsified, tested. In the absence of that discipline we get never ending massaging of words leading ultimately

to nothing.

Jan mentions parallel universes she is interested in hypothesizing. For forty years a physical theory melding quantum mechanics and general relativity has been developing a theory of parallel universes. Ten to the 500th power universes I read. That's a bunch. Jan is not the only one waiting with baited breath for a test of this idea.

We may see such a test in the next decade or so.



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