Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Messages 17901 - 17920 of total 22989 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Oct 30, 2013 - 09:12pm PT
There is ample evidence of global environmental disruption throughout history producing the sort of collapse you mentioned in China , but on a much greater scale.

It is now thought that the coup de grace of the late Roman Empire (among many other acute episodic resultants) was probably due to a massive eruption of Anak Krakatoa near Java in the Indonesian archipelago circa 535 AD:

The extreme weather events of 535–536 were the most severe and protracted short-term episodes of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2,000 years.[1] The event is thought to have been caused by an extensive atmospheric dust veil, possibly resulting from a large volcanic eruption in the tropics,[2] or debris from space impacting the Earth.[3] Its effects were widespread, causing unseasonal weather, crop failures, and famines worldwide.[3

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_weather_events_of_535–536

Perhaps the first of many invasions of Europe from the Eurasian steppes occurred with great ferocity at about this time. In the wake of retreating Roman legions, hordes of starving Huns , Vandals, and perhaps even early Mongol contingents, descended upon Eastern and Southern Europe with unrestrained rapacity, adding immeasurably to the already on-going woes of the inhabitants there.
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Oct 30, 2013 - 09:14pm PT
Jan, if I remember correctly, The Chinese were masters of passive aggressive warfare and the "silent treatment". Given enough time, the Chinese managed to "peacefully" subdue half the civilized world. As for the rest of it, they could have cared less about it. There are written records of 13th-18th century travels to far flung reaches of the planet that generally came back with the same conclusion: don't bother....we got everything here.

But I also remember reading that the Chinese were a hugely superstitious culture. Coupled with hubris, it made for an interesting attitude; how they ever stuck with Buddhism and Confuscianism is a mystery to me.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Oct 30, 2013 - 10:11pm PT
Well from the Chinese point of view they were the only civilized people in the world and others just naturally imitated them. In return for admitting that the Chinese had a superior culture, the tributary states got a lot of valuable gifts in return. This profited peripheral groups like the Okinawans very much. The most amazing example of imitation to my mind is the fact that many borderland people adopted tones to non-tonal languages to sound more Chinese.

There were also Chinese who traveled to India, who remarked that it was richer than China both materially and in religion (Fa Hsien/Faxian early 400's AD and Hsuan tsang/Xuanzang 630's AD).

Buddhism was nearly eliminated from China in the 800's by the ruling classes who always favored Confucianism, with its obedience to authority.

As for superstitious, we never use that word in Anthropology. Prescientific is a better term and applies as many have noted on this thread, to a remarkable number of modern Americans as well.Interestingly early western missionaries to China claimed that the upper classes believed in nothing and the lower classes in everything, a description that strikes me as apt in regard to the current American scene as well. The common denominator? I believe it's falling dynasties, theirs and ours.
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Oct 31, 2013 - 08:34am PT
Jgill:

I understand that modern mathematics (since 1800s?) have claimed to have solved most or all of Zeno's paradoxes. It's my understanding, however, that the dialogues about Zeno's paradoxes continue today.

I am no mathematician.

If you believe that all of reality is fundamentally mathematical and composed of finite elements, then you can argue against Zeno's ideas formally.

If you argue that reality can be grasped using common sense and direct observation, then Zeno's riddles can lead you to a view of a Single, One Reality not of single elements but One Fact. Zeno's was concerned with pluralists views of his time (that there are multiple objects that objectively exist), and to that extent his riddles apply to our views today.

I've heard from some folks that pure mathematical solutions are not sufficient to overcome Zeno's riddles because mathematics do not appear to be Reality to some. (I also understand that mathematicians don't agree with that claim when they can solve those problems formally.)

Space and time may not be continuums as mathematicians model. Models are models. (I believe that would be my strongest counter-claim, but it looks to be a tautology to me.)

Mathematics may not be applicable to space, time, and motion at all; space, time, and motion may be artifacts determined purely by analytical procedures.

The issue seems to be whether space, time, and motion have infinitesimal parts or not.

(Ok, my brain is tired.)
MH2

climber
Oct 31, 2013 - 09:17am PT
In other words, what I sense from your writing is that there is some kind of bifurcation going on between a world of things that science describes (hard physical objects) and a world of human being (intentions, actions, consequences, meaning).

I could be wrong. If this strikes you as a dumb conversation, just ignore it.



Apologies for going back sooooooo far in the thread.

I was traveling Mike, not ignoring you.


To clarify a bit, I see a difference between things that science can make reliable statements about, and things that it can't. As with many of the issues discussed here, you must use your own judgement to decide where science is useful and where it isn't. There isn't a fixed border that I can point out to you, only examples of questions well to one or the other side of the line. We might need to go beyond 2 dimensions, also. I like to think of reality as a cloud of n-dimensional ellipsoids.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Oct 31, 2013 - 09:34am PT
To clarify a bit, I see a difference between things that science can make reliable statements about, and things that it can't.


There is also the broader and much more slippery question of how much our evaluating minds fashion the "things" we see "out there."

The quote above harks back to the fixed universe model, whereas reality is a self same thing or grouping of things with a fixed existence independent of other things and consciousness. Wisdom traditions would tell you this is an illusion if you are hanging onto it in some ultimate way. Our evaluating minds say the independent existence of things, which remain self-same no matter if Yosemite Pete or a little green man is looking at same, is an illusion.

JL
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Oct 31, 2013 - 10:25am PT
Hey Largo, you ever write anything that wasn't bolted to the visual cortex?


Yes. But perhaps a more interesting question is: What kind of science would have evolved if everyone was blind?

What's more, we evolved (survival) to objectify what is "out there," and that gives us a certain perspective that we tend to believe is in fact objective and real beyond our visual and cognitive perspective. Conversely we can shift our inquiry to within, and abide with perception itself, and this will give us an entirely different perspective, and one not furnished by the comfortable and habitual mental grooves we normally live in and take for "real."

Imagine how far out of those normal grooves and perspectives people had to move to discover that the evolved mental mind set is in many cases entirely mistaken, that the speed of light is a constant, for example, and that the mind is inherently "empty" and is no-thing. These concepts are easily assimilated once understood, cognitively and experientially, but arriving at them in the first instance was revolutionary.

JL
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Oct 31, 2013 - 10:43am PT
What kind of science would have evolved if everyone was blind?

I'm going to channel Werner here and say that everyone IS blind, which is why we have the science we do. It is exists the way it does in spite of our "blindness" as it were....

Consider the following:
If the entire electromagnetic spectrum were as wide as the US, that part visible to us would be as wide as a dime. Our hearing covers a pretty tiny range as well. As for multidimensional space, the 3 we can sense are pretty limited. As for the rest of our senses, we're pretty useless; in effect, blind.

A potentially more interesting question is "who would we be if we didn't have words?"
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Oct 31, 2013 - 11:09am PT
There is also the broader and much more slippery question of how much our evaluating minds fashion the "things" we see "out there."

Not much ,apparently.

If the evaluating mind or the non-evaluating mind had any degree of substantial power in fashioning the things out there then human experience would be almost 180 degrees out of phase from where it is now and has hitherto been.

If the evaluating mind were involved in an on-going "fashioning " of external reality it would necessarily follow that this fashioning would by default include our deepest and most required and requested desires---such as the desire and need to survive.

If you doubt my word try the experiment by launching yourself into the lion enclosure at the zoo shortly before dinner time there , and see what your evaluating mind fashions at your slippery whim.

Credit: Ward Trotter
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Oct 31, 2013 - 11:16am PT
Why can't we ever have a middle ground around here? What's wrong with saying that the universe and the physical objects in it exist whether we're here or not and that the evolved senses of living beings will sense these objects differently depending on their own unique evolutionary history? People look, dogs smell. Science is based on looking more than smelling the universe.

That doesn't mean animals smarter than dogs couldn't construct a science based on smell on some other planet does it? Both science and eastern philosophy have a built in anthropocentric bias. The eastern version is that humans are the only animals capable of enlightenment and therefore a human birth is the highest one in the scheme of reincarnation.But is it?

Who knows what whales and dolphins are capable of thinking? Elephants are much smarter than we ever imagined as well. What if we looked at Fort Mental's question from their perspective. What would a whale or dolphin be if they had hands with opposable thumbs for putting their ideas into reality like humans?
WBraun

climber
Oct 31, 2013 - 11:24am PT
Jan

In your last sentence you answered your question.

They were all "what if"

This means you ultimately do not know.

One who has questions like this will seek to know the answer to those questions.

Those who say that there is no answer have poor fund of knowledge on the real aim and truth of "Science".

True "Science" always seeks the truth whether east or west......



Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Oct 31, 2013 - 11:26am PT
the evolved senses of living beings will sense these objects differently depending on their own unique evolutionary history?

It matters less how an animal senses the beautiful cat above and more upon how the mind of the sensing animal fully processes and appreciates the possibility of landing (fashioning mind and all) on the big kitty's dinner menu.

If the external world were essentially subject to our subjective whims and predeterminations ---then threats to our well-being and survival would not exist in that external world.
jstan

climber
Oct 31, 2013 - 11:37am PT
Fort/Ward/Jan above, have a very interesting discussion going.

I think Jan is correct that we should see the different perspectives that individuals have can usefully be thought to be a consequence of different experience.

I would have the brashness to suggest, as did Ward, that those who have a perspective that does not mesh with the real external world, have an increased chance of winding up on someone's dinner plate. Either that of W's or one belonging to someone who advises we take stuff that simply cannot be verified, as being real. No lions are required. Only knaves.

Of the latter, we have a surfeit. Indeed, the competition between candidates for the job of being a knave, is just as fierce as is the contest between two lions over a downed wildebeest.

I am not practiced in the art behind MikeL's question. But it does seem the possible discreteness of time, at the Planck level, currently seems to be at the center of understanding the quantum. This possibility may even date back to Heisenberg.

If one were looking for a reason to live long, staying around to hear the answer to such questions, is an exceptionally good one.

Seen another way, perhaps our approach now toward answering these most fundamental questions of all, explains why people at present also seem very interested in archaic folk explanations.

We are afraid we won't like the answer. Such a behavior - is quite human.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Oct 31, 2013 - 11:47am PT
The issue seems to be whether space, time, and motion have infinitesimal parts or not (MikeL)

Yes, those arguments do go on. Chronons, for instance, as the smallest indivisible units of time, etc. My own approach is classical analysis, which provides a hypothetical continuum as a limit process in both space and time. Not being a physicist, I don't know if these unanswered (unanswerable?) questions have any bearing on actual physical results.

Why can't we ever have a middle ground around here? What's wrong with saying that the universe and the physical objects in it exist whether we're here or not and that the evolved senses of living beings will sense these objects differently (Jan)

Amen to that, Jan. But then it wouldn't be so much fun!

Edit: Just saw jstan's reply, so maybe chronons are important!
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Oct 31, 2013 - 12:06pm PT
Credit: apogee
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Oct 31, 2013 - 12:25pm PT
If you doubt my word try the experiment by launching yourself into the lion enclosure at the zoo shortly before dinner time there , and see what your evaluating mind fashions at your slippery whim.


That's what the esoteric arts are largely about: Experiencing directly what this life is before the definitions, words, measurements and so forth start raining down. But that's only the first step. The real heavy lifting is is letting go of the imagined agency who perceives - which cannot happens at the level of the ego since the ego cannot let go of itself. It is not something you can try and do, but a natural consequence of a process.

Also, I am convinced that the fact that our preceptions fashion our notions and beliefs about objective reality is something that can never be understood in strictly cognitive terms. A tiger will only be a threat if you have a meat body. What if you didn't. The object reality of the tiger as a threat would be gone owing to the nature of the subject. That is a concept lost on folks - that the object changes as the subject changes. Not saying there are not real things in the world.

JL

jstan

climber
Oct 31, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
Edit: Just saw jstan's reply, so maybe chronons are important!

I think we need to await Ed's post.

When I first got on ST in 2006 I knew there would be incredible threads. Like this discussion and the Sacherer thread.

Internet sites are very like a war. Unending nonsense interrupted occasionally by unbelievable excitement.
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Oct 31, 2013 - 01:42pm PT
I think Jan is correct that we should see the different perspectives that individuals have can usefully be thought to be a consequence of different experience.

The sample size, as far as I can tell is 1, that being Helen Keller.

On the other hand, the seriously brain damaged offer some unique perspectives....which also offer insight on brain/mind evolution over time.

Jan, asking a bunch of cranky middle-aged white guys for middle ground is a little like asking them to talk about their "feelings".
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Oct 31, 2013 - 01:49pm PT
Welcome back, jstan. "Archaic folk explanations", is a useful substitute for the s word but could be seen as insulting unless specified in terms of chronological development - archaic came before modern etc.

As for Werner's reply. I think it's more complicated than just knowing or not knowing. Buddhism at least, says that intention is the most important aspect of behavior, but even that is complicated.

I love the Buddhist respect for all life. I couldn't help but wonder as a scientifically trained modern person however, what was the karma of boiling the water to prevent our own illness when that massacred millions of living beings from worm larvae to amoebas to cholera bacteria. The explanation I got from the Sherpas was "if we don't see them in the water, we don't worry about them".

This was easy for them to say, harder for those of us who have looked through microscopes. Does this mean then, that I get worse karma for boiling the water than they did because I know what's in there? Or is it enough to just be mindful of the problem? Is it ok to wish those nasty parasites and bacteria a better reincarnation next time and kill them anyway because my reincarnation is more important than theirs because I'm closer to enlightenment than they?

A good fund of knowledge is one thing, applying it properly is another.

And meanwhile FortMental, it is my "feeling" that cranky middle aged white guys are fun to talk to anyway.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Oct 31, 2013 - 02:43pm PT
The real heavy lifting is letting go of the imagined agency who perceives (JL)

Couldn't resist reprinting this. What a hoot!


;>)
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