Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Nov 8, 2013 - 10:44pm PT
Try and concentrate on something, anything,

What happens, without exception, is that our minds narrow focus on the thing at hand

What you said in that post was that if I concentrate on something then I narrow my focus on that thing. You are saying the same thing twice with different words. Might as well say that if I narrow my focus then I narrow my focus.

Must I narrow my focus to just one thing? I am not allowed, or cannot think of a second thing at the same time? Are you sure that is even possible, let alone natural? Is a feather just one thing? (To me it isn't.)

Where do you suppose my focus was before looking at an item on my desk? If on one thing, then no need to narrow it further, eh? If on more than one thing, then maybe the Moon was or could be one of those things.

I still see no reason to expect "the evaluating mind" to fear meditation.


Nov 8, 2013 - 10:52pm PT
The mind must evaluate, ... no ... it's forced to evaluate.

But the soul must control its mind, just as the driver controls the steering, brakes and throttle .....

Nov 8, 2013 - 10:59pm PT
The brain is not the operator, but the machine.

You tell your brain what it must do, and the brain acts on that basis.

The physical brain does not think, reason, experience love and emotion, or have the capacity to discern between truth and error, justice and injustice, right and wrong, etc.

You are not the body nor the brain ......

Boulder climber
Nov 8, 2013 - 11:00pm PT
I don't think I'm dissing science, least not in my mind. I'm simply recognizing its limitations. Wouldn't you say that most things have limitations? (MikeL)

Of course. As an expert in organizations and management you have more of an overview of the entire process of using and interpreting a technical marvel. I'm talking about the inventions themselves. And, yes, I have experienced what appeared to be inefficient processes in a hospital, with someone coming in with a notebook asking questions, then an hour later someone else coming into the room asking the same questions, the doctor reading the wrong x-ray and telling me I had advanced emphysema when the previous week I had sprinted up and down hills, breathing lightly, being forgotten in my room for four hours while due to be released, being prescribed a medication that worsened my condition, etc.

But the device used to perform my heart ablation worked beautifully and precisely. Bully for science!

Nov 8, 2013 - 11:03pm PT
Technology affects what and how we "do work," and how we "do work" affects how we understand technology. It's a conversation.

True! Sometimes I have to slap the microwave twice before the turntable goes 'round. It does heat reliably, though.

Nov 9, 2013 - 12:29am PT
The microwave is absolutely the worst source of heat to cook.

Numba one is cow dung.

Modern science has no clue why that would be.

Frontmental and HFCS would never ever get it period.

Well maybe in 108 more lifetimes .....

Nov 9, 2013 - 12:48am PT

Really, I'm no expert. I just have read a lot in areas that were of interest to me. These are those areas, thank goodness.

I wasn't dissing hospitals, either. I'm a bit in awe of what was done to me . . . no, for me. Let me say that I'm a bit amazed how much comes out well and apparently accurately. I did note with interest how I was being diagnosed and when therapies were being weighed and considered. I was surprised how often the doctors informed me about the latest research studies, how far they could be extended, or how narrowly their results could be interpreted. If I were not familiar with research, I would have been intimidated, lost, and unhappy that they were throwing studies at me and expecting judgments. How different medicine is these days from when I was a kid. Then, you simply did what the doctor told you to do.

Ditto, MH2, with regards to my own microwave. I'm still impressed with what it does. :-) However, I agree with Werner. . . absolutely the worst cooking method. Turns everything into cardboard. Next to cow dung is wood, I believe.

Hey, you guys know me by now. I'm an aggravating nitpicker about what I think I can honestly say that I know. Half of my conversations with you are really conversations with myself. (You didn't mean to be willing dupes in my own process, did you?) I certainly don't hope or expect to be converting anyone to anything.

Sport climber
Nov 9, 2013 - 05:28am PT
Even from a position as absurd as the pope position you can do something good:

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

"This week's images of the pope kissing and praying with a man severely disfigured by illness are truly gothic. I do not say that intending to belittle or caricature the condition, apparently neurofibromatosis, from which this man who attended the pope's general audience in the Vatican is suffering. What is gothic is the return to 13th-century values in this picture of a Christian leader showing humility and charity by physically interacting with someone visibly sick and visually different from those around him. St Francis of Assisi, whose name Pope Francis has adopted, was a master of simple, powerful popular gestures: he invented the Christmas crib and reputedly preached a sermon to the birds.

Disease, in the world of St Francis, was mysterious and awe-inspiring. There was virtually no effective medicine. The sufferings of Job were a reality for all those infected by illnesses no one understood. Few illnesses today can inspire the deep sense of awe that once attended leprosy and plague: so it is harder to inspire saintliness, kissing the boils of the sick. Francis has found a face so unusual and estranged from the normal that as he touches and prays with its possessor he seems to reenact the spirit of St Francis himself.

Is this a publicity stunt? No, because it expresses more than an empty gesture ever could. Charity and humility and love really are Christian ideals, and for someone in the pope's position of power to so graphically express them is full of concrete meaning. Be like Christ: identify with the outcast. This pope's idealism is so clearly readable in his actions that it is missing the point to call him a clever communicator. He knows that he is a living symbol and that by identifying with this man he is making the church itself grow more human.

Can politicians emulate this pope's bold symbolic language? They'd be laughed at and called cynics. So why can he get away with it? The word we are looking for is authenticity. Pope Francis appears utterly authentic and honest. He does not seem cynical in this image because we accept his sincerity and seriousness. This is what politicians have lost in modern democracies. It is why people turn to Russell Brand. There is a deep crisis of belief in democratically elected leaders but Pope Francis has the answer: you who seek to lead, look at this picture, it has a message for you.

A simple message. Do and say what you believe."


Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 9, 2013 - 09:40am PT
Mike, I enjoy your posts, so don't take this the wrong way, but you grossly mis-characterize models. Many models make absolutely perfect predictions of physical events.

Perhaps you are thinking of weather models, which measure a chaotic fluid type of mechanics. If you looked at them, you would understand this. You would need a little primer on meteorology, but they are getting better and better. One of the big problems is simply the coarseness of the data. Weather balloons go up at selected sites around the world at 00Z and 12Z. Unfortunately that grid is too course to make perfect predictions.

Let's just say that we take a Newtonian model of the universe. If you don't go too fast, or get too close to a large mass, relativity won't affect the trajectory of, say, the Cassini or Galileo spacecraft. You can send them on complicated orbits where they may dive down and slingshot around Venus and even fly right back to Earth in a year or two to get a slingshot from the Earth. You can trace out an extremely complicated trajectory and hit it on the money. There is no great mystery here, but if Jesus had sent Galileo and Cassini to Jupiter and Saturn 2000 years ago, it would have been regarded as an actual miracle.

Every second of your life, even right now at this very instant, your body is being pierced by many neutrinos from distant supernovae, 13 billion year old light from the edge of the known universe, and the cosmic microwave background radiation from the beginning of the Universe (which was predicted before it was discovered, by the way). Yep, a few photons here and there are making it through the atmosphere and hitting you, 24/7. Now why don't you find this interesting?

Feynman wrote a fantastic little book: QED. He explains the weird behavior of light in that book in a form that we can all understand. His path integral explains the behavior of light.

I've never really ragged on these mental voyages, because there may be something to it. I would say that everything is matter, so you are looking at awareness the wrong way. Perhaps I am wrong. I don't discount you guys looking to be totally aware.

I'll toss a hundred bucks on that bet, but the time frame would have to be infinite. We can't do it now, but we are learning how to understand consciousness from a material perspective. Since we can't experiment on live brains very much due to ethical concerns, there are still many people working on this with non-invasive techniques.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 9, 2013 - 09:50am PT
Regarding some of the Christian values, I still share a lot of them without a need for God.

I do not believe in the God of the old testament, and to believe that Jesus walked on water is a bit of a stretch (Where are all of the miracles today?).

Jesus taught love, compassion, empathy, and humility. There are some beautiful Bible versus that some people ought to read.

This is mainly ethical and moral. I see a shortage of these qualities in the real world.

Hebrews 1:3
Nov 9, 2013 - 10:45am PT
Mark 10:18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Jesus said that to him because the guy asking the question didn't know who he was talking to, God in the flesh!

God IS Good, we on the other hand can do good at times!

Nov 9, 2013 - 10:52am PT
Credit: MikeL

Nov 9, 2013 - 11:12am PT
Base, I don't think I grossly misrepresent models. I think I have plenty of other people's research to back up my characterizations, as well as a fair amount of consideration on my own. That models "work," unfortunately, is hardly proof-positive that they represent or truly map reality. I apologize for putting it this way, but I think it's just a little naive and uninformed to think that any model is reality. You don't have to be a philosopher or a teacher of the scientific method to see that. There is only one reality, and you're experiencing it right now in the only form it comes.

With that said, I am fine with what they do and enable. They are excellent puzzles to while away one's time on this planet. They are necessary for conversation. They contribute to people's feelings and subjective well-being. It's almost impossible to think how anyone could live without them. But some purportedly do. (That's MY puzzle.)

Here's a little question for you: How is it that testing any model generates residual effects that the model doesn't capture or predict? Where is the model that generates no residual effects? What model perfectly predicts all effects?

I hope you're taking all of this for just what it is: just some conversation to while away the morning. :-)

Be well.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Nov 9, 2013 - 11:16am PT
Michaela, I enjoy your cooking, so don't take this the wrong way, but you really screw up the meats not to mention the desserts.

Be well.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Nov 9, 2013 - 11:19am PT
That models "work," unfortunately, is hardly proof-positive that they represent or truly map reality. I apologize for putting it this way, but I think it's just a little naive and uninformed to think that any model is reality. You don't have to be a philosopher or a teacher of the scientific method to see that. There is only one reality, and you're experiencing it right now in the only form it comes.

Didn't we all learn this by 8th grade?

Oh, I see, just whiling away the time. While away, then.


It's almost impossible to think how anyone could live without them. But some purportedly do.

Only those without a nervous system.

Please, somebody gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon.


photo not found
Missing photo ID#329362

"In 1445, the Paris Faculty of Theology explained to the bishops of France that the Feast of Fools was a necessary event in the Christian calendar."

Everything has its place, I guess.

Nov 9, 2013 - 11:23am PT

I'm an aggravating nitpicker about what I think I can honestly say that I know.

And I am a liar. I don't actually have a microwave oven.


Isn't it a bit tricky to rely on just your own knowledge to assess what you honestly know? How about testing your knowledge in the world around you? Doesn't knowledge come from experience?

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 9, 2013 - 11:56am PT
There is a poor schizophrenic man who wanders downtown. He is so far gone now that he can't even speak intelligibly. He never asks for handouts, but many people who see him on the street give him money for his food and smokes.

The appropriate Bible verse here is:

What ye do for the least of these, ye do for me.

Some good stuff in the bible. I think it has been bastardized by all of these "prosperity religion" types, such as Joel Osteen. For them, it is all about riches in this life.

They seem to have forgotten the line about a rich man not getting into heaven. The whole camel through the eye of a needle.

That is an ongoing theme in the New Testament. Jesus cared most about the poor and sick. He didn't seem to have much interest in the rich.

I still believe in the material world being the only world. I just like some bible passages.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 9, 2013 - 03:16pm PT
I still see no reason to expect "the evaluating mind" to fear meditation.

The amazing thing is that people keep thinking I'm guessing about these things.

Why do you think that people keep arguing about this and that discursive and never sit down for even ten minutes and see what happens when the discursive is no longer given a paramont position? Becasue the discursive keeps tossing up reasons NOT to do so, warnings and so forth. And we have Ward keep insisting that exploring non-discusive realms is the willful rejection of the discursive, while we have said 1,000 times that it is not.

Or MH tying his head in a know believing that he can concentrate on two things at once, can narrow focus and evaluate a cheeseburger and an equation at the same time. Again, there are not suppositions or opinions and anyone can verify any of this if they just get quite and observe.

If you want to taste the non-discursive, imagine your awareness going out from your body in every direction forever, concentrating on nothing, and just keep your focus wide open and your attention fused on no thing in particular. See how long you can do so before you find your self evaluating or following some thought or putting words to this or that. Notice when you are doing this you no longer have your awareness wide open, but you have narrow focused on the thing in question. That is the discusive intruding and kicking back in gear.

Picture your awareness like the iris on a camera, that can focus on a thing, then you can open it back up to infinity during which it is impossible for your brain to generate words on the expoerience without your attention shifting to those words.

Watching this play of your focus and awareness, going in and out like bellows, is very instruction in seeing how the discursive works and does not work. But there is never any effort to limit or diss the discursive, but rather to keep you focus open.

Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Nov 9, 2013 - 03:24pm PT
The whole camel through the eye of a needle.

I don't know if its true (maybe Go-B knows ) but the original Aramaic word for " camel" and "rope" were very similar and may have led to the faulty translation.
The Aramaic word "gmla" is the same for camel and rope , depending on the context. One can easily see the derivation of our word "camel" to the Aramaic "Gmla". Furthermore,even the Greek word for thick rope is "kamilon" and the Greek word for camel is "kamelon"

That they would be originally similar makes sense--- in that rope of various sorts would be closely associated with camels in the ancient Levant, being used on a daily basis, even today, for saddle and mounted cargo lashings, etc..Moreover , much of the rope available in antiquity in that part of the world were actually made from camel hairs .( I wonder if they could have held falls?)

If this is all true then perhaps our proverbial Messianic declaration should read:

...it is easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

And yet there still exists controversy a-plenty over this translation.

Hebrews 1:3
Nov 9, 2013 - 03:38pm PT
I like this...

What's the meaning of Jesus' teaching about the camel going through the eye of a needle?
Dear Straight Dope:

Recently I was having a "discussion" with a Southern Baptist friend of mine and I asked him how he could reconcile his well-to-do lifestyle with the verse in the Bible in which Jesus says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." His reply almost floored me. He said that The Eye of the Needle was a gate leading into Jerusalem which was notorious for being almost impossible to get a camel through. Please help me clear up this malarkey! I would have posted on the message board, but I don't understand that stuff (am I stupid?). So I'm just praying that somehow this will get through to you.

— Nat

SDSTAFF CKDexthavn and SDSTAFF Diannecar reply:

The answer requires some history (from CK), some theology (from Diannecar), and an assist on both from a Ph.D.-in-divinity friend of CK's:

First, the text itself. According to Matthew, a certain rich young guy comes to Jesus and asks what he has to do to have eternal life. Jesus says it's simple: keep the commandments. The young man asks which particular commandments and Jesus says the ones about not murdering, stealing, lying, or committing adultery; honoring your mother and father and loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself — those commandments. The kid persists and says that he has always done those things, even when he was a child; there must be something else he needs to do. Jesus says, "Okay, I'll tell you what: if you want to be perfect, sell what you have, give the proceeds to the poor and come follow me." This is thought to be a suggestion that the rich young man was kidding himself if he thought he had kept the law perfectly. Odds are, like most of us, he loved himself a little bit better than he loved his neighbor.

Anyway, the kid hears that and goes away sadly, "for he had great possessions" (Matthew 19:22). Then Jesus utters the famous line (Matthew 19:24) about how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Next, the history and archaeology. The notion your Baptist friend has picked up apparently comes from a single ninth-century commentary asserting that in first-century Jerusalem there was a gate called the Needle's Eye which a camel could only get through on its knees. (Sort of like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: "only the penitent man will pass …") A cute allegory, but there's no archaeological or historical evidence for the existence of such a gate.

There's a good brief discussion in the article on "kamelos" in Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 3, pp. 592-594 (one of the standard works on New Testament language). TDNT, and other commentators with an interest in history, point out several parallels in later rabbinic language about the impossibility of getting an elephant through the eye of a needle: it's a way of describing something so difficult it's grotesque.

So the "Gate of the Needle's Eye" notion has no firm historical basis. It looks like a way of getting around the plain (but inconvenient) meaning of the text.

Setting the text in the whole New Testament context, wealth is consistently presented as problematic. I suspect the modern notion owes less to the Bible than to the Puritan notion that success in economic life was a sign of God's blessing.

Now, the theology. The message was viewed by the disciples as pretty bleak. In 19:25 — just after Jesus uses the comparison — the disciples respond, "Then who can be saved?" "By human power, it is impossible," says Jesus. Then he offers a glimmer of hope: "With God, anything is possible." Even the salvation of the rich. As a miracle.

On the other hand, it would be equally dangerous to argue "I'm poor, so I'm okay." The words of Jesus aren't intended to give anybody a false sense of security. My friend the pastor adds, "Apart from the mercy of God, we're all done for."

— CKDextHavn and Diannecar

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