Tuesday 26th of March 2019

a bee in the bonnet between "scientia" and "religio"...

bee

Peter Harrison, an Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland, provides his account of the religious foundations in scientific knowledge. 



In his essay, Virtues of the Mind: Reconceptualizing the Relationship between Religion and Science, on the ABC, he sees that the study of nature that emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was directly informed by theological discussions about the Fall of Man and the extent to which the mind and senses had been damaged by that event — which, as Gus would say, is a fictional account of our place on this planet.
Harrison has thus suggested scientific methods were originally devised as techniques for ameliorating the cognitive damage wrought by human sin.
I could be cynical and suggest that this essay, mostly extracted from his recent books  "The Territories of Science and Religion" and "Narratives of Secularization" is a promotion for people to buy his works. That is fair enough.

Then people like Darwin came in. 

I thus have a MAJOR problem with Harrison view, though he might be academically correct on his gymnastics in regard to sciences being “helped by the religious influences" considering he has a good job from this learned account. 

I would think that by the time Laplace was doing his mathematics and his sciences, the idea of god had vanished from most scientists' work. In the time of Euclides, Archimedes and Pythagoras, the concept of Christian religious beliefs had not entered the psyche of these men who were trying to understand natural and philosophical processes.

Furthermore, as the Catholic Church SUPPRESSED the scientific inquiries for many centuries, most scientists from the Renaissance onwards had to confess being “Christian” while doing their own investigation of what-was-what in secret. I did not see much support from the popes in regard to Copernicus or Galileo. 

Scientists had to challenge the rubbish taught by religion, and if science got helped by religious beliefs, it is only that sciences mostly developed IN OPPOSITION to these beliefs. A lot of alternative thinking also came from the Moors (the Muslims) who had invaded Spain and had been rejected from France, but whose information still permeated Europe.
In these times, most artists were also employed to create powerful images to promote the delusion of religion and that of kingdoms. This is what history recorded, without paying any attention to the lone alchemists who in their relative poverty tried to solve the ailments of humanity, with or without religion. This is one of the reasons why Leonardo di Vinci was often in trouble with the Church, apart from his suspected homosexuality.

The fall of man relates the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience. This doctrine comes from a biblical interpretation of Genesis chapter 3. I cannot see this ficticious story helping the sciences in whatever fashion to the inquisitive minds, except in total rejection of this doctrine preposterous proposition. 

Many religious people still try to conciliate sciences and religion by any means in order to maintain a dialogue (or maintain the “upper moral hand”), but the difference between religion and sciences is like a superman saving-the-world comic magazine and a précis on quantum mechanics. No relationship exists, though one can simplify sciences into a comic book at one stage or another, scientific concepts cannot be fictional nor be simplified, and they become too powerful and too complex for the association to be continued. 

In our era, there is no conflict between sciences and religion, not even a “difference of opinion”, because they’re not on the same level. They are in completely separate spheres of understanding. Religion is bathed in ignorance of facts and promotes fiction, while sciences demand a precise knowledge of facts, despite statistical uncertainty in rigorous specific methods of observation. 

I could be wrong but I think that Peter Harrison is a semi-believer with a foot in both camp who is trying to protect the religious hubris by separating the moral aspect of religious beliefs away from the sciences. Meanwhile sciences have certainly approached this area with powerful studies of how natural elements interact with each other. Nature, seen as matter — and mind which itself is an expression of matter based on memory — gives us proper clues on our uncertain behaviour to manage it, not the travails of a sinning soul in a dictum world of divine or devil actions. 

The scientific observations — and manipulations of nature, as well — have witnessed many cascades of interrelationship from which we can extract better social codification that can at some stage render present religious-based morality obsolete. This is where we decide to recognise OUR responsibilities or not, by choice.

By the end of this process, there may not be much difference in our natural acceptance of reward and rejection of pain — against the belief of eternal life or hell in religious code — but scientifically this acceptance has to be made on a humanist secular nature inspired level, not from godly dictum. This is why the development of Artificial Intelligence is so frightening to religious people.


Gus Leonisky
Your local alchemist...

too catholic...

Members of a Baptist church in Red Bank, South Carolina, have caused a stir for recently voting to remove a statue of Jesus from the front of their building because it appears too "Catholic in nature."

WAFB report said members of the Red Bank Baptist Church voted 131 to 40 to remove the statue that was created by a former member and graced the front of their church for more than a decade, because it was causing confusion about their theology among members of the church community.

Jeff Wright, Red Bank's senior pastor, and Mike Dennis, the church's chairman of deacons, said in a letter dated May 10 that former member and artist Bert Baker, who hand carved the statue for the church in 2007, now has until May 31 to remove the statue.

 

Read more:

https://www.christianpost.com/news/baptist-church-votes-remove-statue-je...

 

Items like this make me snigger... Sorry... Picture at top by Gus.

Fighting our own demons?…

So: what to do? Where to go? I am no agnostic; I accept wholeheartedly that a higher power exists. Quo vadis? I am aiming for a higher end – that much I know. I’m just not sure anymore where that is. Amor fati? I accept it; I just wish I knew its source. We humans crave enchantment and sacrament, and I know I’m not the only one yearning to accept the underlying bases of those forces in the way Arseny and Odysseus accepted them. But like so many moderns, I just can’t take that final step.

That question near the end of The Odyssey gets me every time: “And tell me this: I must be absolutely sure. This place I’ve reached, is it truly Ithaca?” I yearn for Ithaca; I yearn for home. I only wish I knew how to get there.


http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/searching-for-ithaca/

The questions by the Rod Dreher's reader during the "Walker Percy Weekend" is timely. Walker Percy devoted his literary life to the exploration of "the dislocation of man in the modern age." His work displays a "combination of existential questioning, Southern sensibility, and deep Catholic faith". End of story. Well, not quite.
"The dislocation of man in the modern age", is not knew. I wrote about it at the time of Sir Walter Scott who moaned about the industrialisation versus the old romantic ways of becoming decadent. I also mentioned this process that bamboozled the "poor" at the awakening of the “Renaissance". This dislocation is a change of illusion and accepted purpose, often acquired through the religious faith, nowadays towards a more organic feeling, with scientific and mechanical support that we tend to use but not understand — and this of course encompasses WOMEN who also have their “own” demons to fight.
Here one could say that “our demons” are nothing more than our inadequacies, our misunderstandings and our inability to adapt and comprehend that all our beliefs have been build like sand castles on a beach at low tide. We need to move up.

Thanks to his antics and deliberate clownish performances, Charles Bukowski  became the king of the underground philosophy and the epitome of the battlers in the ensuing decades. He has thankfully been forgotten by Academia...

In Paris, 1900, similar clowning was more serious with artists revolting against the Academia to be swallowed up by the main-stream blancmange by the 1960s. Recognition of avant-garde by the middle-class is like death of the movement. You soon find yourself wearing slippers and smoking a pipe by the fireplace — this ain't going to help fight a revolution. Comfort will kill off your insurrecting braincells...
So what to do? Here is some gentle advice from Charles:

Don't fight your demons. Your demons are here to teach you lessons. Sit down with your demons and have a drink and a chat and learn their names and talk about the burns on their fingers and scratches on their ankles. Some of them are very nice.

The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.

Charles Bukowski

So we can do our own clowning nonetheless.

Is the main final step, accepting that we are clowns, "forever" trying to juggle too many balls? I hope so... I've been doing it since I was born and I have dropped quite a few.
Read from top.

in democritus we trust...

Democritus (/dɪˈmɒkrɪtəs/; Greek: Δημόκριτος, Dēmókritos, meaning "chosen of the people"; c. 460 – c. 370 BC) was an Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher primarily remembered today for his formulation of an atomic theory of the universe.[3]

Democritus was born in Abdera, Thrace,[4] around 460 BC, although some thought it was 490 BC. His exact contributions are difficult to disentangle from those of his mentor Leucippus, as they are often mentioned together in texts. Their speculation on atoms, taken from Leucippus, bears a passing and partial resemblance to the 19th-century understanding of atomic structure that has led some to regard Democritus as more of a scientist than other Greek philosophers; however, their ideas rested on very different bases.[5] Largely ignored in ancient Athens, Democritus is said to have been disliked so much by Plato that the latter wished all of his books burned.[6] He was nevertheless well known to his fellow northern-born philosopher Aristotle. Many consider Democritus to be the "father of modern science".[7] None of his writings have survived; only fragments are known from his vast body of work.

...

Most sources say that Democritus followed in the tradition of Leucippus and that they carried on the scientific rationalist philosophy associated with Miletus. Both were thoroughly materialist, believing everything to be the result of natural laws. Unlike Aristotle or Plato, the atomists attempted to explain the world without reasoning as to purpose, prime mover, or final cause. For the atomists questions of physics should be answered with a mechanistic explanation ("What earlier circumstances caused this event?"), while their opponents search for explanations which, in addition to the material and mechanistic, also included the formal and teleological ("What purpose did this event serve?").

 

Read more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democritus

 

"Everything existing in the universe is the fruit of chance and necessity."

                                                     Democritus

 

I will leave this very lucid and complex thought to the attention of Peter Harrison, the Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities... Read from top.

god leads us astray...

On the ABC religion and Ethics opinion page, Professor of nuclear Sciences, Ian Hutchinson shows his religious credentials:

 

Ian Hutchinson is Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is the author of the forthcoming book, Can a Scientist Believe in Miracles? An MIT Professor Answers Questions on God and Science.


I, as a Christian, have evidence that supports my belief that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and rose from the dead on the third day. It's important to recognize that this evidence is mostly not scientific evidence. It could not be, because the question is not a scientific question about reproducible phenomena; it's mostly an historical question. The historical evidence for the resurrection is stronger than for many events in the ancient world that are accepted as uncontroversial. I'm not saying that the resurrection is obviously true; but I am saying that there's serious evidence for it.

Therefore, a stark contrast between "faith-based" and "evidence-based" can't be maintained in respect to this, and perhaps most religious claims. Instead, what must be done in respect of these questions is to ask how good is the evidence that supports it. And that's an assessment that I think Christianity bears very well. It is also an assessment that good science bears very well. Indeed, as long as science is true to its principle of describing the natural world naturally I, as a scientist, think it deserves its high prestige.

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2018/05/24/4847755.htm
————————————

Gus:
I would say that this charming Professor has not understood anything about the universe, neither through religious beliefs nor through sciences. Nor have you, Gus, would claim nasty souls (I don't believe in souls) and they would be right. As an existential atheist, I PREFER science to religion — and though sciences do not explain anything, religions tend to sweep the dirt, under the carpet of mysteries...

To start with, his “historical evidence” knowledge about Jesus was written at least 50 years after the "facts” — and most of the New testament was written hundreds of years later, mostly when the powers in charge in need of controlling information to control people, saw this as a nice tool to get people to submit to their higher authority. There is plenty of historical evidence to this manipulation of history, including during the Council of Nicaea — when Emperor Constantine I, an unbaptised catechumen, presided over the opening session and took part in the discussions. Some of the “discussion” included the “trinity” formulation that, later on, someone like Newton rejected. Scientifically speaking, Newton’s solar system equations had sustainability problems so he added the hand of god in them. These problems were sorted out by the atheist, Laplace. So, Ian Hutchinson’s own historical evidence of Jesus does not pass “mustard” (muster). 

Christian beliefs have been manipulated for the last 2000 years to suit a need to control people and thwart new scientific discovery, with massive resistance to science and its will to undermine what sciences really means. When the religious boffins cannot beat new evidence they distort the meaning of these evidences to fit the crumbling narrative of the Genesis and all the already existing contradictory records within the bible itself. The need for "redemption" is a RIDICULOUS concept. Why do we need to be saved? Please explain this from a scientific point of view.

There is no connection between the rigorous scientific mind and the religious deceit. There is deceit sometimes in sciences but NOT IN ITS PURPOSE, but there is a complete deceit in the religious intent. 

Soon, if not yesterday or the day before that, it will be scientifically demonstrated that consciousness is a result of change in matter relationships — and not a god given gift. Actually, empirically, one should understand that the demise of memory leads to a reduced form of consciousness, till death occurs. Dementia is not a result from sin. Volcano eruptions and earthquakes are not the results of sin. Miracles are bad faith interpretations of what started with misunderstandings of reality. Presently we have blood-weeping virgins statues popping in and out of the miracle samplings. Please don’t go there. It is far less a mystery than my plants dying of thirst because of the lack of rain...

Can we accept this? Yes we can and we should. But the religious scientists, like Ian Hutchinson are still at sea, trying to reconcile two different spheres of interpretations. They are the most dangerously ignorant people despite their greater knowledge. I say dangerous, because they feed the evangelical nutcases with their daily dose of delusion while appearing authoritative. Ugly.

Ian Hutchinson needs a total reset of his understanding of sciences, not just manipulating a few atoms, neutrons and protons… The universe is too complicatedly random for having been created by an intelligent dude. Matter in relationships developed our random consciousness like that of dog, cats, cows and cockroaches. The size of our memory, bigger than needed for survival, has actually given human a quandary that made us ask questions individually and collectively. For many years, the answers to these questions were dogmatic beliefs that did not fit reality too well, but they got ingrained through massive brainwashing in our management of reproduction, of fear, of conflicts and of pain. 

Sciences bring the truer answers to our questions — and at the same time debunk the previous beliefs. But the religious beliefs through so many years of perpetration have become INDUSTRIES. There is a lot of cash and power rewards in maintaining the religious artful deceit. 

Read from top.
And by the way, the title of Ian Hutchinson's piece: "How Much Faith Should We Put in Science?" the answer is zero. Zero faith. Faith and sciences don't mix. Faith is blind and sciences are seeing.

stirring the nest of believers...

A long-term study of Australian biology students reveals how attitudes towards creationism and evolution have shifted.

The survey, published today in the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach, was started 32 years ago by Mike Archer at the University of New South Wales.

"I wanted to know what percentage of our incoming university students held a [creationist] view, which in effect meant we were wasting our time trying to teach them about the science of evolution," Professor Archer said.

Students were asked to anonymously answer whether they thought:

  1. God created humankind in the past 10,000 years (creationism), 
  2. God guided the evolution of humankind over millions of years, 
  3. God had nothing to do with human evolution, or 
  4. They had no opinion on this topic.

"We had this interesting reaction to the survey in the first year," Professor Archer said.

"The creationists I knew said watch this space. They said this 10 per cent is going to steadily go up."

"So we decided to keep the survey going each year just to see if there was a change happening in the community," he said.

 

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Dr Archer has stirred the nest of believers... 

 

Meanwhile on this great little site, we've been stirring them up as well. Read from top and read amongst many articles:

 

The greater meaning of meaninglessness...

the god placebo...

 

...

Nor, finally, can we ignore the very practical fact that depicting faiths as interchangeable insulates mental health professionals from the accusation that they are engaged in explicitly religious activity. In a society where so much of psychological research and treatment is government funded—the product of a time when social science and religion were viewed as mutually exclusive—any effort that threatens to frame one faith as superior to any other is certain to trigger First Amendment objections.

If there is a downside to this scrupulous non-sectarianism, it has been the development of a dry, technical language for studying religion that not only leaves the public cold but obscures the extent to which the century-old gap with religion has been bridged. At this point, mental health professionals and the clergy “have a lot in common and a lot to learn from each other,” says Pargament. “Bridges have been built and there’s been some good progress,” he adds, though “not nearly as much as there could be.”

How future psychologists will eventually resolve the tension between their reluctance to be too religiously explicit and their desire to be more relevant to the layperson is hard to predict. All that we can say for certain is that the old wall between science and religion, which not that long ago dominated and defined their field, has clearly been breached.

Dr. Lewis Andrews was executive director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy at Trinity College from 1999 to 2009. He is writing a self-help book based on the spiritual wisdom of America’s early college presidents.

 

Read more:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/psychology-finally-find...

 

God moves in mysterious ways. The discovery that one is one's own guru, god, chief of staff and bottle washer can be frightening to people who never had the blessing of being atheist. Accepting one's own failures and successes is more rewarding than passing the buck to someone — a Male bearded man on a cloud — for our own responsibility, personal and social. Responsibilities ARE HARD WORK. Accepting "god" in psychological manipulation of patients is a horrendous breach of ethics. It's not to the psychologists to encourage beliefs in god or not in patients, but to find ways for them to improve their life whichever way they feel best with. The placebo effect is well-known but it does not mean that god should be part of the psychological equation to solve "problems". The delusion of god is not a problem solver, but like booze and drug, it can modify perception and more often than not will encourage submissiveness when the reverse is needed. 

Go away, Lewis Andrews ...

 

Gus 

Atheist. Read from top.