Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 13541 - 13560 of total 22697 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 11, 2013 - 11:24pm PT
Fair enough, but as a scientist I would assume that you test and confirm all theory, including religious.

The tricky part here is that in the legitimate spiritual adventures, the testing is not so much about "theory," seeming that most have little to no content or beliefs in the normal sense of the word, so the testing is really aimed toward the approach. How do you go about making any headway in this slippery realm? How do you make the realm work for you?

The part that throws this group the most is the facile fact that trying to reason your way to proofs, info or data is to guarantee no progress at all. This has been proven countless times but it's like invading Afghanistan - it matters little that everyone so far has failed or gotten their asses handed to them, this time we'll do it right and sort things out once and for all. The idea that another approach has proven to work matters little if fealty to a doomed angle persists at all costs. Old dogs, and all that.

Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Mar 12, 2013 - 12:41am PT
Some good news
Young child apparently cured of HIV infection.


Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 12, 2013 - 02:10am PT

I've answered your questions in the past as you are not the first person to wonder how somebody committed to social science could defend religion. Part of the confusion is that anthropology is different from other social sciences. We teach objectivity in collecting and analyzing data but we are also cultural interpreters who do our best to convey different cultures' viewpoints from their own internal logic.

We accept all cultures as equals and very rarely pass judgement. One of the few times I went against this was in a Hindu village where people were smearing fresh sacred cow dung on the umbilical cords of new born babies giving a significant portion of them fatal cases of tetanus. I made the value judgement that a baby's life was more important than a religious belief. I did not tell them their belief was wrong, I investigated substitutes and made recommendations accordingly to my aid project. When the choice was a white cream that smelled good provided free by the project or cow dung, and the villagers themselves could see that babies with cream did not get tetanus, they drew their own conclusions and switched over.

I believe the same thing will happen with most of the religious beliefs you object to, given the right attitude and the passing of time. If the history of religion has taught us anything, it is that persecution prolongs religious belief and identity (Jews and Quakers being good examples) while tolerance creates different beliefs and behaviors (assimilation and disappearance is now the problem for Jews and Quakers in America). I believe that this new brand of in your face atheism will only prolong most people's adherence to traditional forms just as persecution prolonged the separateness of other religious groups.

I teach evolution to amazingly diverse classes of students who are usually the first in their families to go to college. I never argue religious dogma with them. I tell them that they are going to hear the scientific evidence and they have the personal obligation as modern educated people to integrate it with their own personal views. I point out that we are all searching for new paradigms and that it doesn't take much open mindedness to find ways to do this and give them a few examples. After that we get back to the science. I firmly believe in teaching as a subversive profession but subversion must be subtle to be successful.

Other than being an anthropologist I am a teacher and good teachers, college professors in particular, make people think in new ways and more deeply about complex issues. You can be assured if I taught at a religious institution, I would be asking provocative subversive questions about religion. And there are many religious institutions I would not teach at because certain forms of religion are too closed minded to make any headway. One of the ministers of a local fundamentalist church off base in Okinawa has told his parishioners that whatever they do, they should not take my courses because "she will challenge everything you believe". I think that's great compliment. I'm even more pleased that several of his congregants have taken courses from me just to see what all the fuss was about.

Since Base 104 brought up Leviticus I would mention that anthropology has discovered on numerous occasions, that many seemingly irrational beliefs in fact have deep ecological support which are not necessarily obvious. That includes the taboos in the Old Testament and their equivalents in Africa and Asia.

And finally, I argue the merits of religion on this thread because I think there are many, and because I often defend the underdog whatever the battle. This thread is so lopsided in its condemnation of religion, not helped by the few fundamentalists who contribute, that someone needs to defend the more moderate forms of religion which are in the majority. I particularly object to secularists selecting the most ignorant and bigoted examples of religion they can find and then trying to uphold that as representative of the whole.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 12, 2013 - 05:19am PT
Largo: ...legitimate spiritual adventures...

Love the language.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
Mar 12, 2013 - 08:25am PT
I believe the same thing will happen with most of the religious beliefs you object to, given the right attitude and the passing of time. If the history of religion has taught us anything, it is that persecution prolongs religious belief and identity (Jews and Quakers being good examples) while tolerance creates different beliefs and behaviors

Thanks for that . It explains much and it makes a lot of sense. The "passing of time" is certainly and integral part of cultural change and I agree (If I'm right that you have suggested previous) that the foisting of western values, well meaning as they might be, may be best left to the passage of time and example.

Here in north america however we have already had a passage of time and the right attitudes suck. My example of Climate change and a science informed response to it has been delayed and resisted for a period of time that we cannot afford for the sake of soothing simple minds. I can't speak to what is going on in china on the matter but i'd love to hear from someone who can. Here much of the blame for intransigence and backwardness on climate change action can be laid squarely on the christian community, either through their direct action or meek acquiescence to the dumb bullies in their tribe. In North America, as in most of the westernized developed world there is no excuse for driving policy by denying science, reason and evidence and time is up.

The same goes for other issues. What we didn't know 50 years ago we do know now. That also goes for the devout unless they have had their heads in the sand the whole time. Those who don't are - for lack of a better word - picking the wrong side. Maybe they should be asking "what would Jesus do?" rather than "what does my jack ass Preacher say?"

Getting back to conflicting presures on your (or others) profession - I appreciate your explanation of your approach and position. Of all the sciences yours must be among the trickiest in terms of cultural respect, trust and objectivity and I suspect you have had success with it, which speaks volumes. Anyway for the sake of simplicity lets get back to my example of the Cormwall alliance people. What is your take on how they integrate and / or compromise their cultural and professional ethics? Is it even possible to be a scientist when much of what you understand is predetermined?

Mar 12, 2013 - 08:30am PT
Largo -- "The part that throws this group the most is the facile fact that trying to reason your way to proofs, info or data is to guarantee no progress at all."

I've been say all along they're using the wrong "tools" for the job.

Thus in their light of trying to claim their "advanced" they're actually cave men.

This pisses em off for sure because they don't understand that external material tools can't see "spirit".

They're stuck ultimately "believing" that spirit and material is one and the same period.

It's not and is about the same as believing the earth is flat.

Thus they're in "cave man" consciousness.

It's simultaneously one and different, not simultaneously the same as the material theory that life come s from matter.

This is the root of the defect.

Of course they're explicit in the theory that "simultaneously one and different" is not true.

As: ... there is no soul and no God period, life comes from matter.

But life comes from life ........

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 12, 2013 - 09:59am PT

Since Leviticus wasn't written for us modern people, I assume the rule against homosexuality among men no longer applies as well.

Sorry, but I hear the Christian right quote that phrase in Leviticus as if it is God's law, yet all of the other crazy laws don't apply for some reason.

It will take you maybe 30 minutes to read Leviticus. The book is about God revealing the rules on how to live to Moses. It is far more than ten commandments. There are probably 75 of them.

So you are saying that we can toss the old testament? If that were the case, you could also toss Genesis and then we wouldn't be in this evolution and science quandry.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 12, 2013 - 10:02am PT
The idea that another approach has proven to work ...

proven to work? please tell us more, what other approach? and how do you determine that "it worked"?

For most, the proof is in the transformative power of the work on one's interior life. That's what it's all about - but if you gauge "interior work" on a left brain definition you'll just end up in the hilarious and totally mistaken realm of Craig's fuzzy feelings.

I think the easiest way to see how this can "work," in a way in which there is no doubt at all, is to look at the so-called recovery movement. I'm not an acknowledged expert on this, and it is not a legitimate esoteric spiritual tradition like Zen or Sufism, but it has the advantage of featuring millions of folks who have all wrestled with the basic tenets relative to all spiritual practices and the conclusions are undisputed by those who have done the actual work.

First, virtually to the man and woman they will tell you that trying to "figure out" what spirituality is all about is a total waste of time because you simply cannot do so in the normal, quantifying way in which you arrive at data yada yada. This approach, it has been well established by millions, is a total dead end. Go there if you must, but the inability to shift gears and exhibit some mental agility is essential to making progress. The lack of said mental agility, the brutish resolve to simply try and squeeze out some data from any of this is the kind of stubborn simple mindedness that relegates one forever to the sidelines in this game.
Millions will tell you the exact same thing. Nobody "knows" because you cannot objectify the whole, only parts.

So the only way to make progress in this realm is to leave off trying to figure out "what" is involved and to start concentrating on how to get the ungraspible to work for you. Somewhere in there you start getting the hunch that your basic nature is ungraspible as well and that you're working on that in the process.

I gotta work but the "proof" in this instance is that fact that millions of intractable alcoholics can remain sober "relative to them maintaining their spiritual practice." People from the outside - and even agnostics within - will ascribe the result to "things," as their rational mind cannot get hold of what is at play here. It is instructive to go to the old timers themselves and ask about their experience. They will chuckle if you insist that they have misjudged their own lives according to them not being able to pony up data to your liking. You will simply have outed yourself as another who has done nothing but noodle what requires another approach. If they know nothing else, they know that as an absolute fact.

Again, this is not my practice per se, but it does show that there are tangible results to the most God forsaken demographic - intractable drunks, and none of it has to do with believing what your or I believe in.

Other practices are more geared to insight, and the results vary accordingly.

More later. I gotta work.


Mar 12, 2013 - 10:16am PT
I generously grant to Largo the no-thing at the base of it all. I will inhabit and explore what is left over after that.

Born into the material reality of one's body, in a material universe, one finds oneself inserted into being. Consciousness has the ability to conceptualize possibilities, and to make them appear, or to annihilate them.

Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Mar 12, 2013 - 10:47am PT
Wow MH2, there's too much in that Sartre book to think about at once.

Mar 12, 2013 - 11:13am PT
A little something to think about, Don Paul:

Sartre declares that there is not a biological motivation for sex.

Social climber
the Wastelands
Mar 12, 2013 - 11:21am PT
An alcoholic completely giving up any drinking.....

doesn't that come down to the alcoholic finally reaching their absolute lowest point and then gathering inner strength of will power to succeed in never drinking again?

most alcoholics fall off the wagon again and again and again.....

some, a relatively small percentage, actually never drink again

but is the point that they who succeed at sobriety have discovered their "spiritual" self?

or is it that they had enough successful life experiences prior to alcohol taking over as the dominant waking need that they summoned that prior strength once again?

if that is the definition of spiritual then ok I get it, and so pretty much everything humans do is prompted and driven by previous personal memories

do I get that right, John Long, or is there more to "categorizing" of spirituality ?
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Mar 12, 2013 - 12:21pm PT
MHz his view of love isn't romantic at all. It reminds me why I never got married.

Sartre states that many relationships are created by people's attraction not to another person, but rather how that person makes them feel about themselves by how they look at them. This is a state of emotional alienation whereby a person avoids experiencing their subjectivity by identifying themselves with "the look" of the other. ... The purpose of either participant is not to exist, but to maintain the other participant's looking at them. This system is often mistakenly called love, but is in fact nothing more than emotional alienation and a denial of freedom through conflict with the other. ... At its extreme, the alienation can become so intense that due to the guilt of being so radically enslaved by "the look" and therefore radically missing their own freedoms, the participants can experience masochistic and sadistic attitudes. This happens when the participants cause pain to each other, in attempting to prove their control over the other's look, which they cannot escape because they believe themselves to be so enslaved to the look that experiencing their own subjectivity would be equally unbearable.

Mar 12, 2013 - 12:53pm PT

Veil of Spirits
Veil of Spirits
Credit: jogill

A little graphics to relieve the tedium . . .

Mar 12, 2013 - 01:06pm PT
Check out The Existentialist's Nightmare by Bertrand Russell.

Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Mar 12, 2013 - 03:47pm PT
Largo brings up the idea that the "Recovery Movement" has a high success rate because of it spiritual leanings. These two points are commonly held by believers in those movements. However, many studies which I have read and respected in years past do not support the claim of high success rates.

While AA and 12 step programs often claim 75% or 90% success rates, they only tend to measure their successes. They do not accurately measure their failures and they do not compare their success rates with the spontaneous remission rate. A few numbers that I have heard are that 50% of alcoholics eventually give it up and that on a yearly basis about 5% of alcoholics become sober. Another number that I have heard is that 80% of those do so on their own without any formal intervention from 12 step, treatment centers or so forth.

It has been a while since I really studied this, but my recollection is that the percentages are pretty similar for other drugs as well.

This link is a bit of a diatribe against AA, but it has a lot of good points.

It seems to me that if an alcoholic lucks into a particularly supportive and helpful recovery group, then their chances of recovery should be improved. However, there are lots of examples of well intentioned people and groups who are actually self destructive or bad for those around them.


Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 12, 2013 - 04:29pm PT
All that Largo can say is that believing it makes you feel better, and helps you to have something to lean on, basically. The 12 step program does have a spiritual part.

You also have some Christian sects that don't accept modern medicine. They will let their children die from a bad appendix.

I was talking to a Dr. about this very topic a few months ago. I think that if it is a minor, the parents can be tried for a crime.

If it is an adult, you can refuse treatment. It comes down to simple things such as refusing blood transfusions sometimes. That is their faith, though. I would wager that without modern medical care, prayer loses far more often than medicine does.

By the time you get your first gray hair, you will have seen friends die by the bottle and even more friends who beat it through AA.

I don't see this as any proof of a spirit. All it says is that belief itself can be important for some.

John will never be able to prove anything beyond the material. Never. He is going on his spiritual quest by a different path than most people of faith, who simply use the religious faith that is available and convenient to them. He has a problem with those for some reason and is trying to find spiritualism inside his self.

He may believe it with all of his heart, but he can't make a compelling argument to sway us. By us, I mean the scientists, the atheists, the Christians, the Krisna's and everyone else.

The mind is an amazing thing, so I would love to hear his reports of his experiences. We could put that in the context of our own experiences.

That doesn't mean that anyone will believe him. I am starting to get into Joel Osteen and am thinking about giving him all of my money. I will get richer if I do.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 12, 2013 - 05:18pm PT
If there's any hard and fast conclusion I've drawn from life and this thread it's that no one can can compel anyone to believe anything. And no one is going to convince anyone who already has their mind made up. We can certainly entertain ourselves however, in the attempt.

Ice climber
the ghost
Mar 12, 2013 - 05:26pm PT
Mark 16: 16-18 (New King James Version)
16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

So Klimmer, if you can't drink poison, then you do not believe.
If you do not believe, you will be condemned.
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 12, 2013 - 05:28pm PT
Good stuff
It's hard to keep up on
But if you want to blame me for bumping this thread, please do

"Damn you Dr. F, you just bump this thread to try and get big numbers!"

It's not me bumping it
But who cares, please
carry on...

Messages 13541 - 13560 of total 22697 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews