Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Dec 14, 2013 - 03:00pm PT
Chinese spacecraft lands on moon

First soft landing since 1976 puts China alongside US and former Soviet Union in accomplishing such a feat

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/14/chinese-spacecraft-lands-moon-china
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 14, 2013 - 03:35pm PT
To paraphrase Popeye, I is what I is; a spiritual atheist; non-capitalized, non-denominational, lacking all respect for higher authoratah.

Right on. That's me and I'm fairly comfortable in my own skin having spent a good deal of time alone innit :) . While I have visited various houses of worship (and I don't mean just churches) I've never really indulged in the symbolic creation tales, as my church mates all seemed to take it so literally! I can't take that sort of belief, I find it... embarrassing.

I was out for a bike ride one fine summer evening, down Modesto way, riding the canal banks. My way back home had a short cut through a church parking lot to avoid a very busy intersection and I used it countless times.

That summer's eve? Church had let out; I suspect it was Wednesday night though I really don't remember. It was a Calvary Chapel denomination. Prior to this ride I never gave it a moment's thought. I didn't know Calvary from Southern Baptist or Episcopalian.

I wasn't going fast because there were lots of folks streaming out to their cars. It was near dark, dark enough I could not see peoples' faces until I was right up on them, mostly silhouettes against the evening glow of the sky. Families, couples, individuals, all working their way to their automobiles.

I rode past a circle of folk. They were holding hands. Someone was standing in the middle and I don't remember if it was a man or a woman, I do recall it was a younger person, probably a teenager. I think it was a she, so I'll refer to her as such. She was, well, speaking in tongues.

Now I'd come across this before. I came of age as a spiritual atheist in the rural south where there was a church on every corner in every town and people commonly asked upon introduction of which faith did I partake. There were these tongue speakers in the Church of Christ and a few other, er... fundamentalist sects but other than some mild teenage contempt and scorn I'd never given it a whole lotta thought.

Something about Christ or the Holy Spirit assuming control of the worshipers body and speaking in old world tongues. Hmmm, sounded pretty whack to me. Still does. Nothing in my subsequent 40 years of worldly experience has 'shaken' (*haha* insider joke) that raw but mild contempt I hold for its practitioners. Sorry if that offends anyones' sensibilities. Write it off as the rough edges of a culturally insensitive atheist.

So anyway these folks at the Calvary Church were tongue speakers! I had no idea frankly. I'd thought that the obviously well-endowed church was more, um, I dunno, again I don't mean to be insulting by comparison (in any direction), wealthy, stuffy folk who took their religion in small, controlled doses. Man I was surprised.

And zoom I was by them, out of the parking lot and home only 3 minutes later. This happened, well I need to take off my socks to properly reckon the years ago. It obviously stuck with me. Ok, file that one under big surprise, I did not know about Calvary Chapel. Hmmm. Weird, brother. Weird.

Some years later I watched what I think is a brilliant movie, There Will Be Blood. I later read the masterwork by Upton Sinclair, sadly revealing my lack of a sound education in the humanities. I mean I've never read Jungle either harhar.

If you're familiar with either the movie or the novel Giant, you will know Sinclair was story-telling about the birth, growth and abuses of the California oil boom years at the turn of the 20th century. One of the characters in the movie was a dirt poor Bakersfield farm boy who becomes a preacher of one of the Tongue cults. The story is well told. File that one away.

I read another book, this one about the Great Earthquake of San Francisco. Oh I bet there's a ton of em out there but this one was penned fairly recently by someone versed in geology, Simon Winchester.


A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906, talks about geology and history and the impact of this event on culture, California and the greater world at large. Therein, I read with interest that the quake spawned a religious revivalism in California that in turn spawned the birth of the Tongue Cults.

Full stop - now there is a tidbit about the quake that I did not know! Translated into my crude language, the quake spawned a great 'Yer Gonna Die' movement and an accompanying 'get back to god' fundamentalism to get ready for the truly great event many seemed to think was surely just around the corner, the end of all things and the great gathering in the sky. That movement was born in California, according to Winchester.

Hmmmm. I did not know that.

Why did I take all this time to describe these seemingly separate (though not) things?

I'll throw in another that I suspect many if not most active participants in this thread have read... Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven. As you surely know, this book is intended to be an expose' of the Mormon church. Part of the work describes the birth of the church, the golden tablets, and the creation mythology, all attributed to the fertile mind of a single person. I'll leave the veracity of that mythology to others (oh Jennie where for art thou, and why does thee not too participate in our great cacophony???).

What I find interesting about the Great Quake story, and Krakauer's story and my own individual story of awakening to these cultural and religious events? Witness the birth, growth and propagation of a new religion, that's what. As Ward and Tyson say, "A new religion that'll bring you to your knees, Black Velvet if you please." And yes that song factors into this trip around the mind of Milktoast, too. Seriously, it does.

Ok one last literary reference if you will indulge me. American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a novel of fantasy and mythology that, in part, discusses the lifespan of religions. He makes a point therein, that a god (a religion if you will) only gains power through prayer, through worship. The act of worshiping is what breathes life into those gods and if there is no worship the god withers and eventually dies, or in Gaiman's terms, becomes essentially a powerless ghost. The more prayer, the more worship, the more powerful the god.

Now see I think in literal terms, don't we all? But I am at least part artist and I speak well the language of emotional symbolism too. And I got it, or I should say me and Neil, together, we got it. His ideas mixed with mine and I was and am fairly certain I understood what he was trying to convey with that brilliant novel.

Gods, fact or fairy, have a real impact on the world. That these gods have power in our world of concrete and dust is plainly manifest, witness the Crusades and 911. Whether we acknowledge it or not, gods gain their power through prayer, through worship. A god that commands millions if not billions of minds is a powerful god indeed. Mohammed is one of them, Christ and Buddha are some of the others.

Examine the world of troubles out there and understand, these gods are at war. They are fighting for eyes and ears, minds and hearts. They want more worshipers and the power that comes with them. And look at poor Zeus! We can see what happens to the old and forgotten gods that command no worshipers; relegated to history books and mythology, 7th grade material not to be tapped again unless you like that sort of shyte.

We have witnessed the birth of new religions, new gods, new creation tales. We have seen the death of old ones. We witness daily the vast wrestling matches between the current heavy weights, fighting hard to be The Greatest of All Time.

When someone tells me prayer has no power? I have to laugh and say, ARE YOU F*#KING BLIND??????? Of course prayer has power. We see and feel its effects every... single... day. How that power is manifest, well, we can quibble over the details and will but make no mistake the power is there and it is very, very real.

Our good friend High Fructose Corn Syrup, to bring this whole mess back to the thread, is a preacher of course. So too is Largo. Both of them every bit the preacher-man as the Pope. I am not jesting nor am I trying to insult, demean or argue either of them into a corner. I think and hope both of them will acknowledge the truth of it. They will do so because they must.

HFCS calls for a New Religion, one that will bring us to our knees. Not Black Velvet. (Black) Science if you will. HFCS maintains this new religion of which he (used to) write will be the (an) answer to old paradigms. He suggests (and sometimes demands :) ) that this new god will kill the old gods and thus empowered, through the hearts and minds of its practitioners (read - worship, read - prayer), the god Science will end our bondage to religion and open a new door to the future of humanity.

And doubtless it will. The process has already begun, make no mistake. It has. Neil Gaiman's American Gods, in a symbolic way, makes this same point quite well. The death of old gods and the birth of the new. America and much of the First World West, is already making the transition. And as difficult as this is for me to acknowledge, much less write, I must also tip my hat to our old friend Fattrad, and his relentless 'Culture War's perspective.

Its just that, well. Fattrad doesn't know where to draw the battle lines. These current god wars we humans fight are NOT wars between various sects all saying essentially the same things, no. With Buddha, Mohammed and Christ; the infighting there is a zero sum game and we all know it.

Some call it Fundamentalism; Fattrad surely does. That's a suitable term but the battle lines are where HFCS says they are. Its not a battle of old vs. old, no its old vs. new. This is a culture war yes. But its a culture war between knowledge and ignorance, between education and repression. For the old gods know the sad truth: the light of science is going to burn them out of existence. The more unfettered and brilliant that light of knowledge, about particle and astrophysics, medicine, biology, geology, and on and on and on... the more it shines the faster these disciples of the New God are going to KILL the old gods, as dead as Zeus.

This goes to the true heart of the discussion we all dance around here.

I will leave you with one last point however, and its a sticking point I've always had with HFCS's brand of religion...



the new boss will be the same as the old one. Because power corrupts and new gods gain power though worship. Its the power of prayer, and its as real a power as gravity. We humans assemble it, concentrate it and then release it upon the world.

And you may ask yourself, "My God what have I done?"

So please forgive me for I will not kneel to your gods. I fear them. I fear their power and with good reason. And of course I have my own gods, as Gaiman so cleverly outlined. And you have yours, atheist and theist alike. If you're curious about American Gods and you're ok with symbolism, the true gods of America are well cataloged therein.

Cheers God Junkies
DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 14, 2013 - 03:59pm PT
John Long, a couple of weeks or so ago you posted that you were now willing to answer personal questions, to go ahead and ask.

You said that you would answer directly, clearly, and without diversions.

I am hopeful that you will answer what I have asked you a couple of times now.

Are you a Christian, and if not are you are follower of any organized religion?

I WAS RAISED A CHRISTIAN BUT I HAVEN'T IDENTIFIED MYSELF AS SUCH SINCE I WAS A KID. I DO NOT FOLLOW NAY ORGANIZED RELIGION AND I DON'T CONSIDER MYSELF A VERY RELIGIOUS PERSON.

Do you believe in a god in the traditional sense, as the ultimate creator?

YOU MEAN TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN SENSE, BECAUSE OTHER RELIGIONS HAVE MUCH DIFFERENT NOTIONS ABOUT REALITY. WHAT MY CONTEMPLATIVE EXPERIENCE TELLS ME IS THAT WHILE THINGS ARE ALWAYS IN A STATE OF FLUX AND EMERGING, NOTHING IS CREATED IN THE NORMAL SENSE. EVERYTHING IN INFINITE WHILE THE FORMS ARE FINITE AND SHIFT MOMENT TO MOMENT - BUT THERE IS NO LOSS AT A DEEP LEVEL, MUCH AS ENERGY IS NEVER "LOST."

Do you believe in a god in the sense of being the architect, overseer, of human lives?

MY EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN ME THAT AWARENESS IS NON-LOCAL, MEANING IT IS NOT THE EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL. BUT IF YOU WERE TO EXPAND THAT TO THE INFINITE DEGREE, AS YOU'D NEED TO DO TO FIT THE "GOD" CRITERIA, SUCH A GOD WOULD BE UNGRASPABLE BECAUSE HE/SHE WOULD INCLUDE THE AWARENESS THAT IS LOOKING. SO AGAIN, SUCH AN OVERSEER GOD WOULD BE TOO BIG TO GET YUR HEAD AROUND IN THE SENSE OF SAYING, "THERE HE IS."

Do you believe in a god who "keeps score" and rewards or punishes in an afterlife.

NO. BUT KARMA SEEMS TO BE A POWERFUL FORCE IN UNMEASURABLE WAYS SO WHO KNOWS HOW THE SCORECARD READS.

Do you believe in any kind of afterlife for you personally, and if so please describe.

BECAUSE I HAVE SEEN THE PERSON "I" DISSOLVE BEFORE MY VERY EYES, I KNOW THAT WE DON'T ACTUALLY EXIST IN THE WAY THAT OUR DISCURSIVE MINDS SAY THAT WE DO - AS INDEPENDENT, objective FOLK WITH A STAND ALONE EXISTENCE. SO THERE IS NO THING, NO SELF TO CARRY ON AFTER DEATH. BUT EXPERIENCE ITSELF IS INFINITE.

JL
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 14, 2013 - 04:05pm PT
Hey largo thanks for the above. To see where a person is headed its often useful to understand from whence they came... as momentum and vectors often carry the day.

DMT
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Dec 14, 2013 - 04:19pm PT
and so JL....

to conclude my questions...

yes or no, am I correct that you:

were raised a Christian, yes

do not believe in a god, supreme being, creator in any traditional understanding way

do not believe in an Afterlife

do not ascribe to or follow any organized religion


Therefore, from the above I conclude you are an Atheist or "at least" an Agnostic

fair enough, thank you

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 14, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
Why do you capitalize atheist?

DMT
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Dec 14, 2013 - 05:18pm PT
oh, no big deal Dingus

I am after all an ATHEIST and have been since age five or so

I also capitalize Christ, Lutheran, Budda, the Koran, Islam and lots of other nouns, thats all

by the way, nice post of yours above, enjoyed reading about your perspectives
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Dec 14, 2013 - 05:20pm PT
Okay, "IGO" (LOL) in yet another attempt to burrow into your private psyche in a vague effort to score debating points, I will ask you these questions:

1. What is your favorite ice cream?

2. Do you like Argyle socks?

3. Have you experienced a hard drive crash in the last 6 months?

4.Are you, or have you at any time, been a member of the 4 -Square Pentecostal Church?

5. Do you staunchly disavow Werner Braun at this time?

6. Do you think JGill can make a real mandala if given enough time?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 14, 2013 - 07:25pm PT
do not believe in a god, supreme being, creator in any traditional understanding way


Not quite. I said that I have no experience with a creator God in the Biblical sense so I have nothing to base any belief on. Ask the same question from a heart-based (I'm Mind based) explorer and you might get a different answer that would probably be "right."

Emptiness, as we've been pointing to in this thread, is often designated as "God," but not as some divine thing we can hold up like a velvet Jesus. God in this respect is the All, and includes us and our minds - the whole shebang. Panpsychism and all of that is really just an attempt to hang a label on this, but there's no nails and no string, the frame is borderless and the portrait is clear as water.

JL
MH2

climber
Dec 14, 2013 - 08:18pm PT
the portrait is clear as water.


Water bends light. Emptiness bends your mind.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 14, 2013 - 08:59pm PT
by the way, nice post of yours above, enjoyed reading about your perspectives

Thanks Norton and thanks for satisfying my curiosity on the capitalization.

I'm the opposite and tend to avoid capitalization of those same words. :D Its not a huge deal on my part but it is on purpose.

DMT
PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Dec 14, 2013 - 11:32pm PT
Good post DMT

For me it brings up the question of why do I feel compelled to tell some people about zen meditation? For this audience it was more of a need to clarify inaccuracies of what the practice really involves as in the need to correct the woo woo impressions or the presumption it is about attaining some special mental state etc..

Regarding your science as the new religion or prayer; I have a few scientist friends that I thought would be interested in zen (as in taking a close look at what is going on in your mind) but to even bring up the subject is awkward ; they see it as "old religion" based on beliefs "woo woo".




Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Dec 14, 2013 - 11:58pm PT
Yep. The old gods must die. If someone seriously approached you about sacrificing a goat to Odin, would you feel comfortable with that?

Cheers
DMT
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Dec 15, 2013 - 02:18am PT
Dingus, that was a wonderful post!

But I see ur'all still stuck in the material world. New...,Old...,what's the difference?... Science?
Gag me with a fork! What if you knew EVERYTHING there was to know in the universe. Would you be able to produce the feeling of love at a snap of a finger? Nooooooooo.
Can the Sun or the Milkyway, with all of their energys and matters produce Love?
Jesus proclaims to be THE GOD OF LOVE.
IF, IF there is A God, why would He proclaim to be a God of Love?, and not the God of power, or energy, or matter, or some silly Thing like that? Even a magnet can bend light. Maybe God of Magnetism?
Everyone here reading this knows Love can change light into darkness. And when Love is gathered together it can say to that mountain "move" and it shall MOVE!
The Bible says whenever two or more men are gathered together in the same mind God is present. This is where we have the power of God. God cannot lie! And He Loves to be proven right. Test Him.
I dare you
moosedrool

climber
Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Dec 15, 2013 - 02:28am PT
If someone seriously approached you about sacrificing a goat to Odin, would you feel comfortable with that?

Of course not! You are supposed to sacrifice a goat to Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection.

You do fly a lot, DMT, don't you?

;)
moosedrool

climber
Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Dec 15, 2013 - 02:36am PT
What if you knew EVERYTHING there was to know in the universe. Would you be able to produce the feeling of love at a snap of a finger? Nooooooooo

We know right know how to produce pretty much any feeling using electrical or chemical stimulations.

Sorry, man. All our feelings are nothing else but electro-chemical interactions between your neurons. And you can't tell the difference between the real and induced feelings either.

;-/
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Dec 15, 2013 - 02:47am PT
^^^ I'm sure when you look at the cover of sports illustrated you consider that love?
moosedrool

climber
Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Dec 15, 2013 - 02:54am PT
^^^ I'm sure when you look at the cover of sports illustrated you consider that love?

???

you lost me
WBraun

climber
Dec 15, 2013 - 11:20am PT
All our feelings are nothing else but electro-chemical interactions between your neurons

Making absolutes and non proofs is not the scientific method and shows poor fund of knowledge ....
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Dec 15, 2013 - 12:01pm PT
We know right know how to produce pretty much any feeling using electrical or chemical stimulations . . . . All our feelings are nothing else but electro-chemical interactions between your neurons. And you can't tell the difference between the real and induced feelings either.

Sources? Citations?

What would be the difference between real and induced feelings? I think you're hung up on "real objects" as the cause of feelings. I think if you read through current thinking on how feelings arise, you might want to reconsider whether it's "real objects," interpretations, or something else that triggers chemistry in the body.

It used to be that folks in brain and cognitive science thought that people first came to interpretations of situations that gave rise to feelings. Today, more and more, researchers are reversing that causality: feelings give rise to interpretations. In other words, the chemistry happens first (due to instincts), and then consciousness comes up with explicit interpretations (if it does at all). I point you to each of the following researchers' works: Prinz (cognitive philosophy), Barsalou (cognitive science and brain science), Damasio (neurobiology). I think Jan might have some thoughts about these ideas from anthro.

One point that could be made from these studies and ideas is that the discursive mind follows, but does not lead. Of course, that could have implications for free will. It could also suggest that thoughts, intentions, motivations in human subjects are much more mysterious than traditional brain and cognitive theorists have led many to believe.
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