Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Sep 14, 2014 - 03:27pm PT
Red is the color of the first chakra, of passion and of life. Everything from brothels to the blood of childbirth to mortal wounds - the most primary of all colors.

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Sep 14, 2014 - 03:50pm PT
Meanwhile, I'm still pondering Norton's agnostic label. Of course that has to be the answer in any intellectual discussion it seems to me. Beyond that it is all belief. Atheism takes faith in one's own judgement, whereas most people believe in a certain kind of God, because they have faith in their own cultural background.

Then there are spiritual experiences of which I've had many. The mind influencing the mind, an extra genetic inheritence of serotonin? Or an encounter with an unseen world? It sure felt like an encounter. Of course people on this thread have done a good job with references to neuroscientific studies of how the mind can fool itself and the idea of statistical anomalies. Still.. I know what it felt like.

And then there's participation in religion which I find fascinating. Maybe only an anthropologist can participate emotionally in ceremonies that are based on beliefs that aren't necessarily shared? Or maybe it's an artistic temperment's gift to appreciate the aesthetics and ignore the commentary (right brain supercedes left?)

Most of all, I think I follow the Confucian precept, "If a person lives as they should, they have nothing to fear at death". Confucius of course, taught the Golden Rule 500 years before Jesus. It's the journey, not the path. And above all, that there are many paths.


Social climber
Sep 14, 2014 - 04:39pm PT
Jan, a question

and incidentally, I majored in Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, I loved it greatly, learning about human origins both physical and culturally, like you !

but on to your quote:

-300,000 years ago – first (disputed) evidence of intentional burial of the dead. Sites such as Atapuerca in Spain, which has bones of over 32 individuals in a pit within a cave.[20]

Jan, ok let us presume between you and me that there is no dispute, that 300K years ago there is evidence of intentional burials, as compared to I suppose just random deaths with the bodies not arranged and decomposing.

Question: WHY did you then make the assumption, what led you to it, that intentional burial IS evidence of "religion"? Why could you not equally have assumed their was NO religious significance and those people simply liked the idea of burying their friends instead of leaving their bodies and walking away, why did/do assume a religious connection? I do not.

Somewhere out there
Sep 14, 2014 - 04:46pm PT
Jan - You sound like a believer to me… Ask yourself “How would Jingy come to the conclusion that Jan is a believer in the “whooy”?

Speaking of fairy tales, how many people here told their kids or cousins, nephews and neices, neighbor's friends etc. there was a Santa Claus and pretended there was?

 Ok, are you assuming that I ever believed the santa junk? Also, you assume I carried this “pretend” with me past the age of 10… What if Jingy picked up on the fake holiday of chistmas at a young age and never really felt the overwhelming joy that the advertisers and other humans said he should be feeling. I was young enough to ask myself if it really was a special season or if all these people have collectively agreed to go along with a theme during these times…?
(I'd think you'd know that when the premise of the first part of a statement is inaccurate, it paints the rest of the statement slightly more inaccurate, no matter how factual it may be)

Or the Easter bunny?

 Oh, man, if only you knew… this was one that I never received a satisfactory answer for and almost immediately lopped it off the “Special Date” dates I celebrated.

Or the tooth fairy?

 earlier than the other two…

There are very few here I suspect who went against those cultural customs, so it might be worthwhile to ask yourself why you propagated those fairy tales?

 Again, this sort of implies to me that you think I carried any of the social/cultural norms with me like you or “the average” guy did… Don’t get me wrong… I wouldn’t raise a fuss as a child… I just never participated in the hooky ceremonies… Pointless I thought. My mind had become aware of the fakeness of the seasons… haven’t thought too much about them since, with the exception of listening to other atheists talking about passover and the like…

And did your participation in those myths afflict those kids with life long trauma, damage to society etc.

 Again, you go on like a christian, you’re on a track, you can’t get off because I am as you imagine me to be… I cannot answer to this stuff… none of it seems true to me when I apply the template over my life experience…

And then ask the harder question of why you didn't stand up for reason and rationality then?

 Because grampa, gramma, mom and dad were going to be there, and since I was part of the family and could not be left home at such a young age….
Again, you sound as though at ages 5 - 13 I may have been able to sway an entire family of, what I have come to call not so big thinkers.

After all that, you might be able to understand some of the reasons people stay with religion.

 Like, I get what you’re saying… I think what you are saying is that people get used to the stories they tell themselves for such a long period of time that there comes a time when its too late… you might as well just stay with it… it’s all you’ve got.. and you may no longer question anything about anything about it.

Then ask yourself why you are against some myths and not others?

 What myths am I for again?

I would guess it has to do with the power structure behind some and not others that you really object to?

 Forgive me for not being of the elite enough to know what myth has a power structure? Wait, do you mean the church? If so, you have to be more clear if you want me to attempt

Then maybe it is more beneficial to think how to balance or undermine those power structures (following the U.S. Constitution would probably be a good start) rather than quibbling over the details of the legends and myths themselves?

 Well, it’s good that you think so high of me that you think I can change laws to fit my angles on life… As a more openminded person, I’d have to say…I’m not really trying to change the world. And even if I did end up changing the world with anything I have to say, you can bet it will amount to nothing in my favor while I am alive.

A better place, a more perfect union… not a perfect union… but a more perfect union.

I am an anthropologist who knows that religion has been a vital part of people's lives in every society except a few in modern times. The oldest evidence of religion goes back 300,000 years so I would be slow to discard it, until people come up with something that functions as well in its place, which they haven't so far.

 You think we have not come up with something better than religion in 300000 years? You need to talk to JL.. That guy’s philosophy talks are big, and then you need to get out and see the world… (of course that’s not what you meant, what (i think) you meant was humans have not come up with a better way of explaining their earlier habits, culture, and societies.

My profession as a college teacher leads me to ask provocative questions so people have to think in new ways.
 And still you have not asked for evidence for any of the great works done by either the book, the people in the book, or the people carrying the book…

I’m asking for the hundredth time Is a god needed for any of this real sh#t happen? No? Ok, then we can put it aside now and move on to more of the real…

DMT has caught on to this and just gave an interesting answer. Nobody else had the courage to wade in on Santa Claus however. Much easier to tilt at imaginary windmills instead of facing one's own contradictions.

As an anthro student/major/degree holder/professor I would think that if you were trying to win a case for something you would have presented evidence…
Also, as an anthro student/major/degree holder/professor... Like..., I have nothing that says this is the case, so forgive me if I'm wrong, but as an anthro student aren't you supposed to have objectivity on the subjects you study? If I was going to study an african tribe for some kind of nuanced question question about tribal morality, I would not inject myself into the tribe as this messes up the study... right?

Please see the above statement again for further review, and you and I have proven that we both make the same mistakes when it comes to assuming things… So, how about an answer to the question: Is “a god” really needed for any of this to take place?

High Minded Whooy Edit:
Maybe only an anthropologist can participate emotionally in ceremonies that are based on beliefs that aren't necessarily shared?

 It takes a special kind of human being to become an anthropologist these days... They are a special breed..... Just ask one!

Sep 14, 2014 - 06:39pm PT
^^^ You sound like an atheist version of Westboro Baptist church ^^^^

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Sep 14, 2014 - 07:53pm PT

I'm not sure if they used to joke in your anthropology classes or not about using religion as a catch all explanation for the unknown. The famous example we learned was of little rubber balls found in Mayan ruins which were presumed to be "ritual objects" but later turned out to be a type of tennis ball.

Maybe the same thing is happening with neanderthal. I notice that the pendulum now seems to be swinging against ritual and religious interpretations of some of the old finds. Archaeological interpretations go through cycles and I notice that the more and more ancient Homo sapiens finds around the world, the less special neanderthal seems and the less interest and attention and attribution of advanced characteristics.

In general, deliberate burials are thought to be indications of a belief in an afterlife and that belief is the foundation for religion. Heads of bears and human heads facing east could also indicate sun worship, especially since neanderthals lived through several ice ages. The body of a child buried with the head separate from the body and under a triangular stone though later, is indicative of some kind of belief in magic. Of course a lot of this conjecture comes from the religions of living hunters and gatherers, who have been studied by anthropologists.So far as I have read, there has only been one group of them found that does not believe in an afterlife.

I don't know if you took a class on religion specifically, but anthropology defines it pretty widely, terms like mythological, magical, animistic, reverential, transcendental, all the way through to millenarial messiahs and cargo cults. There's such a variety that almost anything can be called religion. Some people might call burials and their customs "beliefs" or superstitions rather than religion.

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Sep 14, 2014 - 08:09pm PT
Jingy, I am responsible for my ideas and you for yours. You're an atheist, and you are very antagonistic to religion. That's your right. We all have the right to think what we wish unless it harms the public interest. I don't care if a person believes in God or not, but I am a firm supporter of the separation of church and state. That's the constitutional reference I was making.

It's interesting that you stopped believing at an early age.You have had a long term consistent stand. As for whether religion has produced the best that man can think or whether science or philosophy are better, that's an individual value judgement. If you like JL's reasoning, you would really like Indian philosophy, Hindu, Buddhist, and secular.

You're right, there's a whole world out there. Rather than be mad at one group in one society, live in some others and see the variety available. You might be pleasantly surprised. I hope you are.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
Sep 14, 2014 - 09:48pm PT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Sep 14, 2014 - 09:58pm PT
It can't be said any better or clearer than this...

If your belief system is not founded in an objective reality, you should not be making decisions that affect other people.

Neil deGrasse Tyson


That is art, Wade! :)

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Sep 15, 2014 - 03:59am PT
Am I the only one here who sees a contradiction in the last two posts? Good luck with a male oriented rational utopian republic! Gotta love this thread!

Social climber
An Oil Field
Sep 15, 2014 - 06:51am PT
I was in the Smithsonian yesterday, and followed their great exhibits on evolution of life and man. I took lots of pictures to post up for BB and Go B when I get back.

I can't say that I am a true atheist. I had a very thorough Methodist childhood.

I found that the best way to meet the local native Indians or Eskimos in Alaska was to go to church. I have sung hymns I Inupiat with a little old Eskimo lady and I sharing an Inupiat hymnal. That was pretty cool.

Social climber
So Cal
Sep 15, 2014 - 08:35am PT

In 1925 the renowned philosopher and mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead speaking to scholars at Harvard said that science originated in Christian Europe in the 13th century. Whitehead pointed out that science arose from “the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher”, from which it follows that human minds created in that image are capable of understanding nature.

The audience, assuming that science and Christianity are enemies, was astonished.

Equally astonished are scientists writing in the March 12 edition of Nature, the respected science journal. These scientists are studying a treatise written in 1225 by Robert Grosseteste, a bishop and theologian, which is “dense with mathematical thinking” as it describes the birth of the universe “four centuries before Newton proposed gravity and seven centuries before the Big Bang theory.”

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Sep 15, 2014 - 09:54am PT
Can atheist Sam Harris become a spiritual figure?


I’m Not the Sexist Pig You’re Looking For


Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Sep 15, 2014 - 09:59am PT
If your belief system is not founded in an objective reality, you should not be making decisions that affect other people.

Do you mean by this, objects we can measure? All else being stuff that is simply imagined and unreal?

You might want to bone up on Jung for a spell. He was one of the first westerners to demonsttate that not only are we pushed from behind, but drawn fromthe future, by ideas and dreams and unrealized potentialities that are as yet no part of "objective reality."

There are great advantages to adopting a purly physicalist stance in many practical matters, or as they say in Ze, being where your feet are. But there are great limitations to this stance if held to tightly, as a fundamentalst holds their doctrine.


Social climber
Sep 15, 2014 - 10:11am PT
I don't know if you took a class on religion specifically, but anthropology defines it pretty widely, terms like mythological, magical, animistic, reverential, transcendental, all the way through to millenarial messiahs and cargo cults. There's such a variety that almost anything can be called religion. Some people might call burials and their customs "beliefs" or superstitions rather than religion.

yes Jan, credits in the history of religion were part of the Cultural Anthropology required

and yes, I see but do not accept the position that because we cannot know the minds of our ancient ancestors that because they buried their dead instead of walking away from their bodies that therefore they were exhibiting "religion"

seems a very weak deduction to make .....

I don't understand how burial denotes a "hope" for an afterlife, or religion, to me it could much more easily be assumed to be a tidying up, so to speak, of dead bodies

and if, as you clearly seem to maintain, that burial 300K years ago means they were religious then I ask you, Jan, to consider that assumption flawed.......

Social climber
joshua tree
Sep 15, 2014 - 10:31am PT

, to consider that assumption flawed.......

I don't see it as flawed. Only inconclusive.

If hers is flawed, then surely urs is also.

Sport climber
Sep 15, 2014 - 10:41am PT

The Simpsons - Willie's Views On Scottish Independence

Sep 15, 2014 - 10:55am PT
'Faith' is the strength of one's beliefs in the absence of evidence.

Atheism requires no faith - in one's beliefs or anything else.

Atheism is merely a rejection of the first 2 of the following 3 claims. By default, atheists consider the third claim to be the most likely as being true. Such an assessment, being data driven, represents the opposite of a faith-based conclusion.

1) Gods exist but that cannot and do not interact with our world. Given that they cannot, therefore, be detected, this claim is not testable and therefore nonsensical.

2) Gods exist and they can and do interact with our world. This is the claim made by nearly all deistic religions. In the face of copious evidence of absence - which constitute refutations of numerous claims made by various religions, atheists consider this claim as unlikely to be true. Agnosticism chooses to ignore an enormous body of evidence of absence, and therefore constitutes an uninformed or dishonest assessment of these three claims, often in an attempt to 'just get along' in a highly religious world.

3) Gods do not exist.

Popularity or longevity of a belief does not speak to its validity. For the same 300,000 years that religion supposedly has been in existence, man has only realized that the earth orbits during the last .008% of that time. Man has only realized that the expansion of our universe is accelerating - a revelation fundamental to the very nature of everything there is - during the last .0005% of that time.

Human understanding of our world is not a linear process.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Sep 15, 2014 - 11:03am PT
'Faith' is the strength of one's beliefs in the absence of evidence.

Technically, this is incorrect.

Faith is trust. Period. Only religious faith Christian style or blind faith is trust in one's beliefs in the absence of evidence.

I refuse to cede this great English word (which is also part of our love songs, stories, lit, film, etc.) to christian religious framing of conversation.

Heck, I even have a reason and evidence-based faith (trust) in my climbing rope. So there. Nothing to do with religion or supernaturalism.

The curious thing is why so many non-religious people fall in the trap day after day, year after year, of using religious language and framing even though (they say) they're not religious. Perhaps I can understand it a bit. Because some just don't know what loaded languaging or loaded framing is in the first place, they don't pick up on it. They should read some George Lakoff.

Atheism requires no faith.

Atheism requires no blind trust (blind faith).


When I look in my side-view mirror, see no cars behind me, and then pull a u-turn in the street after leaving a climbing crag, that too is an excellent example of "faith" or trust. But again, it is not a blind faith but a reason-and evidence-based faith.

Stop ceding the English language to Christian religion and caving to its definitions of English words and we might start making further progress on this front as well. Send!

Sep 15, 2014 - 11:09am PT
I will let you quibble with the dictionary with regards to your solo definition for the word 'faith'.

You'r free to make up your own language, of course.

You can't call it English, however. That's not your call.

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