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In case you need further proof that Americans are stupid….
Posted: 22 November 2005 09:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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Actually I do make a mental distinction between different “types” of Christians.

I have read quite a bit of theology and history of religion and the development of the different sects.

So, I can say that fundamentalists are an issue, but not necessarily Christianity.  There are reasonable Christians that can move past the literacy of the bible into a more mystical sense of God.

But what I see on other boards, particulary aethist boards, is a dismissal of all Christianity.

I think this is reaction to fundamentalism, but it is painting with a broad brush on all forms of Christianity.

I also notice another trend…deconversion.  Just from my browsing boards and reading other people’s stories, I notice that fundamentalists are more likely to deconvert to a more liberal Christianity or go aethist all together.  I read one poster who argued this was because Fundamentalism was to “rigorous” and too “demanding” for most people to follow, but I think its because its not reasonable, nor all that spiritual.

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Posted: 23 November 2005 07:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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Forgive my ignorance, but who are the Ya-Ya sisters?

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11:28-29

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Posted: 24 November 2005 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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Myshkin,

I was wondering what your interest was in Sam’s book and did it help you in any way. A less liberal Christian than yourself could certainly read it as a defensive tactic and gain nothing from it’s content.

Paul

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Posted: 24 November 2005 11:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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It’s from a book called “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” that became a movie.

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Posted: 25 November 2005 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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Americans may be stupid, but we run the world, everybody wants to live here, everybody wants to visit here, everybody wants to copy our styles, everybody wants to see our movies, everybody wants our products (except our cars), everybody reads our newspapers, everybodys watches our news channels, everybody this, everybody that.

So, I guess everybody wants to be as stupid as us Americans. grin

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11:28-29

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Posted: 25 November 2005 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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Americans may be stupid, but we run the world, everybody wants to live here, everybody wants to visit here, everybody wants to copy our styles, everybody wants to see our movies, everybody wants our products (except our cars), everybody reads our newspapers, everybodys watches our news channels, everybody this, everybody that.

This was all once true, but sadly no more.  If you still think it is true, I suggest you get out more, and/or watch something besides FOS.

Here is what you fools are doing to us:

 

Do you think the rest of the world is standing in line to attend schools here as they once did?  Don’t make me laugh!  But it’s OK now, I think folks are starting to awaken to what your agenda is, and are beginning to fight it all over.  Dover is only a start.

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Posted: 25 November 2005 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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hampsteadpete, funny but, the country that believes in God over science is running the world and the countries that believe in science over God are falling apart. Go figure.

(must be something to this God over science crowd, LOL)

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Posted: 25 November 2005 05:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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Call it economic inertia, or “even in a hurricane turkeys can fly.”  We have the luxury of being mostly dogmatic Christians precisely because of our economic strength.  Which is cause and which is effect?  I can see how this idea that man was put here to rule over nature might lead to capitalism (and incidentally the disrespect we have for nature in general).  I can see how it would be tough to separate some of our success from our Christianity.  Of course, it was really the Jews who did the real work   )  (please take that with a grain of salt).

The science and industry guys that helped build this country did so by basing their progress on evidence, not by what they read in the Bible.  We have secularism to thank for our current position in this world - secularism that has spent the last few hundred years flattening the literalist Christians.  But progress is no guarantee.  I really wonder how far this country is now from burning heretics alive and mowing down atheists for their wayward beliefs.

The truth is that a mostly Christian country just happened to be the first hugely successful democracy in the last 2000 years.  Being the first doesn’t guarantee success in the future.  The point is to think long-term, 50 to 100 years from now.  Unless of course our super-hero Jesus returns to save the day.  I wonder what color his tights will be…

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Posted: 25 November 2005 06:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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I think you are correct tanspach, those two ideas go together perfectly - and they might even have been born together. And in that same vein I have an answer for TChamps ranting about how the whole world wants what America has got.  American culture is really the first nationality whose prime objective is to sell - it’s the inevitable result of their foundational ethic (a capitalist democracy).  The problem with the American identity or even “The Americn Dream” is that it really is a fantasy.  I mean it looks damn good when you see the commercial and it’s easy to convince others to go out and get it, but shortly after you buy it very quickly you realize that it was just a fantasy, just a dream, just an advertisement that you’ve paid for and will continue to pay for in many ways for a long, long time.

I believe that this “selling of the American fantasy” is at the heart of why America is so greatly disliked everywhere on this planet.  The reason is that other cultures have been sold on the American vision only to discover that after they jettison their own native culture and adopt the tantalizing American ideals, they are very abruptly left with a destroyed economic, social and cultural landscape. The rich, who run the fake democracies, get richer and richer while the poor become destitute and their lives are destroyed - all for the sake of a fantasy that actually doesn’t even work in America itself.  Look at the poverty and homelessness and hopelessness in so many parts of the American dreamland.  Is there really a fair democracy in the USA where the truth gets told and every voice counts?  Yet around the world American multinationals keep on selling the same fantasy dream to those who are easily persuaded by the latest technologies.

I don’t want to defend a religious fanatic and fundamentalist nut like Osama bin Laden, but what if you could see right through the fake promises of the American dream and at the same time you also could see its glitzy promotional vapours spreading into your own, very different, native culture, threatening to obliterate it in the very near future?  Does ObL see any good at all in the American promises, probably not.  All he can see is that ominous shadow that threatens to bring a quick death to the very heart of the world as he knows it -  to him it is coming to destroy his homeland and his people’s very core of being. He is the son of a wealthy family who has travelled to many different parts of the world, has he seen what happens to a country that buys into the fantasy called America? Surely he has - and perhaps he has only see the bad examples.

If Osama bin Laden had spent time in Sweden or in Denmark or in Switzerland he might realize that you can buy certain aspects of the American dream and you can incorporate those into your own unique culture and in that combination of freedom and education and social responsibility and economic enterprise you can build a nation that embraces the best possible human conditions and strives to make life better for all those who participate in the national experiment of life.

Yes, America is great at selling a fantasy, but maybe the rest of the world doesn’t want to live in a fantasy - a dreamworld where the carrot is held out like a lure to cull in the desperate rabbits - surely there has to be a more equitable way of life?

Bob

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Posted: 26 November 2005 01:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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I seem to remember when I took economics along time ago, part of what contributed to the “greatness” of America was a wealth of Natural rescources. 

The attraction was owning your own land.  Making your own living.  Exploiting unexploited rescources.

Well, we run out of those, and we suck the rest of the worlds now to support our lifestyle.

I know a few foreign students going to school here now.  One is German, one is Swedish.  Both flunked out at home, were limited by their grades to what universities they could attend at home, and were sent to the US by their parents to get an education they didnt qualify for at home.

Interesting.

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Posted: 26 November 2005 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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[quote author=“psiconoclast”]The biggest difference though, and the most important, has to do with certitude.  Believers are certain that they are right, and everyone else (who believes something else) has it wrong.  Whereas most of us (I am speaking of the freethinkers here) are certain, not that we have it right, per se, but that the fundies have it wrong, methodologically, and, very probably, in conclusion as well.

The average Christian, in my experience, automatically dismisses anything outside of what they believe.  The average freethinker, on the other hand, categorically rejects certain kinds of arguments.

On the surface, both sides might seem to be very similar, but with differing beliefs.  While I agree that, emotionally, people tend to get worked up, and argue in much the same way, on both sides, when the arguments are distilled, and pursued dispasionately, these differences become glaring.

-Matt

Thanks for the clarification, although I’m not completely certain the difference is as great as you make it out to be. It’s not been my experience that most skeptics think not that they aren’t right, but merely that their fundamentalist opponents have “it” wrong. I think skeptics believe they have “it” very right indeed when they say fundies have it wrong. Here’s a quote from Sam Harris: “Our technological advances in the art of war have finally rendered our religious differences—and hence our religious beliefs antithetical to our survival” (p.14). If that’s not certainty, I don’t know what is. As for “dispassionate pursuit,” I think it’s an illusion, or, rather, an attempt by those subscribing to one epistemological foundation to attack the rationality of others by pretending to the “cool, calm, scientific,” and thus currently authoritative approach to the questions.

Now, if you’re arguing against fundamentalists and them alone, I agree they have methodological problems. But if you’re agruing against Christians and just calling them all fundamentalists, I’d be interested to know what you think our methodological failures are. Sorry for the delay, there was a turkey calling my name in a quite seductive voice!

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Posted: 26 November 2005 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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[quote author=“myshkin”]Thanks for the clarification, although I’m not completely certain the difference is as great as you make it out to be. It’s not been my experience that most skeptics think not that they aren’t right, but merely that their fundamentalist opponents have “it” wrong. I think skeptics believe they have “it” very right indeed when they say fundies have it wrong. Here’s a quote from Sam Harris: “Our technological advances in the art of war have finally rendered our religious differences—and hence our religious beliefs antithetical to our survival” (p.14). If that’s not certainty, I don’t know what is.

Well, this is essentially Sam’s entire premise, so, his entire book is the supporting argument.

I agree with you, though, that skeptics think they have it right when they say the fundies have it wrong (in fact that is what I said originally).  Again, though, there is a difference worth noting:

1.  I believe in such and such deity/religion etc.
2.  I believe that your belief is incorrect because the foundation is based on flawed reasoning, and therefore, your conclusion is not one that I would accept without additional (and better) corroboration.

As for “dispassionate pursuit,” I think it’s an illusion, or, rather, an attempt by those subscribing to one epistemological foundation to attack the rationality of others by pretending to the “cool, calm, scientific,” and thus currently authoritative approach to the questions.

Obviously it is extemely difficult (perhaps even impossible) for a human being to be dispassionate in all matters.  That being said, we are able to glimpse at what being truly dispassionate might be.  Logic and mathematics are clearly endeavors to create cognitive machinery, if you will, that is capable of the constancy that our emotional human minds are not natively capable of.

However, I’ll step back from dispassionate, and go with uncertainty instead, because it is, to a large degree, what I am actually defending.

The problem that I have, in general, with believers is that their belief systems seem to require certainty concerning the unprovable.  While I might engage in speculation regarding the unprovable, I don’t feel the need to get terribly upset when my speculation is questioned.  The best way that I can think of to explain my feelings, on this matter, is to describe the beliefs (which are held with certainty) as being “conceptual singularities”.  These “conceptual singularities” are like their spatial counterparts in the sense that, once approached, they are quite difficult to leave again.  It is my opinion that many religious believers orbit these regions of thoughtspace very tightly, and won’t/can’t leave.

Now, if you’re arguing against fundamentalists and them alone, I agree they have methodological problems. But if you’re agruing against Christians and just calling them all fundamentalists, I’d be interested to know what you think our methodological failures are. Sorry for the delay, there was a turkey calling my name in a quite seductive voice!

No worries about the delay, I have been traveling myself.  I certainly don’t call all Christians fundamentalists.  From a practical matter, I am mostly concerned with the fundamentalists, because I believe that, when I disagree with them, that discussion is often meaningless, and I also question their innate ability for compromise with regards to policy issues.

I also believe that non-fundamentalist Christians are wrong.  You certainly don’t seem like a fundamentalist, but I really don’t know what you specifically believe, other than clearly being a Christian of some sort.  So, the best I can do is offer some insight into general problems of Christianity.

It is late, and I am tired though, so I will keep it brief.  If any of these points make sense, we can pursue them further, if not, I can go into greater detail.

I have serious issues with the Bible, which Christianity is based on.  There are passages, in the Bible, which were, when penned, quite obviously intended as literal (or mostly literal) truth, but which do not match up with observable reality (Noah and the Great Flood).  There are practices which are advocated (the taking of slaves) which do not seem, to me, to be easily explained.  The taking of slaves is wrong now, and it has always been wrong.

Obviously there are any number of ways in which Christians reconclie these things, but, from my perspective, they are engaging in mental acrobatics to maintain the sacrosanctity of a book which a healthier approach would simply admit is flawed, at least in some places.

-Matt

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Posted: 02 December 2005 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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Anthro here.
1- Let me digest the replies to my post.
2- given my dial up it is better to review and contemplate offline - and cut and paste in the reply box.

Cheers,
Anthro

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Posted: 03 December 2005 04:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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Matt,

The best way that I can think of to explain my feelings, on this matter, is to describe the beliefs (which are held with certainty) as being “conceptual singularities”. These “conceptual singularities” are like their spatial counterparts in the sense that, once approached, they are quite difficult to leave again. It is my opinion that many religious believers orbit these regions of thoughtspace very tightly, and won’t/can’t leave.

Congrats, excellent mental picture for me.

Rod

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Posted: 03 December 2005 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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For those of you who can’t stand long winded commentaries please ignore.

quote “It’s true that Christianity exists in many forms right now. But are scientists themselves in perfect agreement on all things? Hardly! Witness the Dawkins/Gould debates.”

It is interesting how you phrase your first sentence. You make it sound like the future will bring unification of religious thought or of a single religion. That I am certain will never happen!  However, dominate Christian and Islamic religious groups are doing a heck of job stamping out the remaining indigenous culture groups and their religious traditions. When I was doing research in the Philippines I would run into every “flavor of savior” Christian group working to convert the Filipinos (on Mindanao, the Malay Islamic groups were working on the few remaining indigenous mountain dwelling societies). (As an aside, did any of you catch the NPR story on the extinction rate of traditional/indigenous languages and the rush by linguists to record the languages before they die out? My foggy memory recalls the die off rate at more than 100 per year – someone with high speed connection can double check me on this.) I would get proselytized by various missionaries and I always asked them why they were in the Philippines when the Philippines is the most Christian county in Asia – 90+% are Christian, albeit only 3% are of a protestant persuasion. Generally, the response was along the lines of having the better interpretation or the correct truth of G_d’s will and the biblical scriptures. I asked if the Catholic Filipinos would be saved if they remained Catholic and majority of answers was “no”. Now what I find really interesting is how the Filipinos have developed their own flavor of Catholicism – is appears to be very similar to any evangelical, charismatic religious group in the US in appearance (hand waving, singing, praising, etc). Two further observations: 1- Filipinos are not necessarily bound to a religion for tradition or belief. My close Filipino friend, and Anthropologist at the University of the Philippines, is one of eight children. The first 4 children were raised Catholic, the last 4 children were raised Protestant. His parent’s explanation is that just in case one of the religions is correct and the other is wrong, at least four the children will be on the right tract for salvation. A very pragmatic approach – don’t place your eggs in one basket. 2- there is a strictly Filipino created religion, based on Protestantism called “Iglesia Ni Christo”.  It was founded in 1914 is found in many countries and has a larger membership than Jehovah Witnesses. Here is an example, much like Mormonism, that is a homegrown religion developed by a charismatic individual that has twist or new interpretation to the existing religion traditions. This one reason why there will never, ever be single worldwide religion – religious beliefs mutate and evolve like viruses.

Ok, that is the response to your first sentence….let me take another draft from my Guinness and move to the next sentence. Of course I now have to scroll back up to see what you wrote….

There are many many things that scientists are not in agreement on. This is a good thing. First, it keeps research moving forward (continual observation, testing, retesting, refinement, questioning). I want someone to review my research and say – “hey did you thing about this”, or “your analysis looks incorrect”, “did you try testing your hypothesis this way”. Debates in science occur around three main areas: methodology, testing and data, and any theory (whether developed inductively or deductively). Methodology – the process by which I observed, extracted data, or measured some physical object. Many arguments deal with how best to analyze an object. This done for two reasons: a- to make sure the measurement is accurately reflecting the conditions/characteristics of the object, 2- that it is independently repeatable. A quick example – my wife and I are looking at paint samples – we have a small piece of paint that we wish to match the color – we go to the color palette at the paint store and we each begin to select sample chips that we think match the paint we brought into the store. Well we each look at the samples separately and then we show each other the one we picked. They are not even close to being the same in hue or chroma. We get under the “full spectrum” lights at the sample rack, we go outside into the sunlight and try to see which chip matches the sample we came to the store with. To solve this dilemma, there is a piece of equipment that all paint stores now have that is a spectral analyzer – they slide the sample into the analyzer and reflective light coming off the chip is read, the reading is converted into the colors and amounts of pigment needed to be mixed with the paint, a voila’ a marriage is saved.

The development of the spectral equipment has occurred over many years with researchers looking how best to capture light wavelength, how bright the emitting light needs to be, how best to build the sensor, etc. All this is published in various engineering journals and over a period of time an agreement for a standard in how to measure reflective surfaces is established. That standard may be codified into international engineering standards (referred to ISO) and becomes the method for measuring light wavelengths from paint chips. That is not to say that research stops, right now there are graduate students looking other methods to test the reflectivity of paint – perhaps with organic compounds instead of light sensing equipment, finding a way to miniaturize the equipment even further or find a way to mass produce the equipment for a lower cost.  Testing – how does one go about measuring and reporting the findings in a way that others can replicate? In the discussion above, the process of measuring reflected light requires that the equipment used for testing be rigorously reviewed – what is the best type of light wavelength to use, what is the best sensor to record the reflected light (collecting the light that is reflected versus what is absorbed). All these individual pieces are developed, tested, refined, retested until a group of people say “let’s standardize our testing around X approach”. From then on, people will begin the use and then rely on the testing process to extract reflectivity values – often it will be given a name – the Blogg testing process. So I now have a device and method to record data values for many types of light reflectance. Scientists can use this test and when they compare analyzes from their independent research it is understood that they are both using the same system to test and record the measurement and thus the data are comparable and reproducible. Theory – Now it gets complex. It depends on how you approach developing a theory – inductively or deductively. Inductively – from a series of observations, conclusions are drawn, the conclusions coalesce into the development or 1 or more hypotheses, through a series of testing and refinement (eliminating, modifying, or generating new hypotheses), a theory may be formed. Deductively, is basically the process in reverse – theory – hypotheses – testing and observation. (Please note this is very course review – I wrote one dissertation I don’t need to write another – there are many good books that will fill in the huge gaps I am leaving). The debates at the theoretical level get complex because you have to sort out one or more lines inquiry (say 3 main hypothesizes), each needing testing, observation, data collected, compared to other research findings, discussed, compared again, modified, etc, etc, etc ad nauseum. Debates at the theoretical level become very complex, multithreaded discourses. It is at this point that the public gets involved – vis-à-vis the discussions regarding climate change that are being proffered in the media. And they love to hear that scientists are arguing over data, methods, or theory and use it as a justification for why science can’t get its act together and that it is run by a bunch of liberals with a political agenda.  Science does not operate in the media via sound bites.

Scientists are in agreement on lots and lots and lots methods, theories, and tests. Sure, there are lots of research topics that are still being debated and tested and discussed, but over time they will be resolved. Medicine is a great example of how the scientific process is applied and refined. If you listen to any of the following radio shows – Sunday Rounds, The People’s Pharmacy, or Dr. Dean Odell – you will get to hear researchers talking about the status of different fields of medicine and what different researcher are doing. The People’s Pharmacy is interesting because it looks at traditional, herbal medicinal treatments and then reviews the scientific/medical research regarding the herb. In some cases the efficacy of the herb may be supported (aspirin is a classic example) and in other cases it may not be supported (St Johns Wart). Old traditional, homegrown methods like treating toenail fungus with Vaseline is effective; but how exactly does it work? Well testing demonstrates that it smothers the fungus.

Science is a self correcting process and over time theories that are not supported are withdrawn or demonstrated to be incorrect – e.g. polegany of the early 19th century that suggested blacks were a different species than whites ( a great way to justify slavery). The religious dogmas of the 15th through 18th centuries continue to permeate western culture – e. g. 1679 and the development of the Great Chain of Being. Perfection and G_d at the top, angels, white Europeans,…..black Africans, Apes…….invertebrates and the least perfection. This model spilled over into general cultural use, and was used into the 19th century to justify many horrific acts.  If science was not self correcting, then we would still be using models/theories have since been proven to not be supported by the evidence – flat earth, earth as center of the universe……etc etc etc At each step of the analysis and testing scientists would argue and debate portions of the research at hand, but in the end resolution and consensus and acceptance occurred. So when, religious types point disagreement amongst researchers as a flaw in the scientific process, they are not seeing the full research process – only snapshot of conditions at that point in time.  I argue that religions are not self correcting and do not review, modify, or add to the central tenets of the dogma – you have to believe in what you are being told, to have faith. The faithful see their religious system as a snapshot in time – static - and too do not see the modification and cultural adaptation over the decades and centuries – vis-à-vis all backpedaling in the face of scientific discovery (a recent example is the Catholic ban on condoms, but in the face of the African AIDS pandemic African Archbishops are openly defying central authority because they understand the science behind public health and the only way to slow the spread of AIDs at this point in time is with the use of condoms.)

Quote “While you certainly have a point, this says nothing about the truth value of the claims various religions make. Moreover, my point above about differing interpretations of scientific fact holds. Interpretation, whether of text or observational evidence, is by no means a clear-cut procedure. Interpretation of texts is known as hermeneutics; interpretation of observable data by scientists is known as theorizing. Both science and religion interpret revelation: the revelation of the world to the human mind and the revelation of God in Scripture. Antithetical? No. Different? Yes. “

I think you have smushed (a technical term) several ideas together in this statement. First, the truth value of various religions are specific to and believed by the culture group. Large regional religions like Christianity still has its various flavors of truth and it is interpreted slightly differently in different regions of the world due to the underlying cultural and historical conditions (see Philippine example above). Observation of data is not at the level of theory. Interpretation of data is not always at the level of theory. Much, if not most, of the day to day science does not focus on the theoretical portion, rather the methodological process and testing régimes are by far and away the most frequent. Theory has a place in defining the parameters and characteristics to test and evaluate, and if supported making a statement that summarizes some aspect of the physical and cultural world.

Religion can not self correct and it has made an interpretation of its texts, canonized them and spread them out it followers as the “truth”.  So religious scholars like Sprong or Ehrman who have researched the politics of current and early Christianity, or translated written texts that have been uncovered in the past several hundred years about Jesus as a child, will never be included/added into the bible. Sprong and Ehrman are looked on as religious “theorists”. The fact the bible is a living, evolving document is lost on 99.9% of Christians (who reads the King James Version anymore – we have simplified the text for easier consumption. Further, I have a family protestant bible from the 1870s that states that Catholics are the antichrist -  hmmm…. 1870s, 1880s lots of southern and eastern European Catholics immigrated to the US about that time.

In a vault in Paris, locked away in a very secure location is a small square of metal. That piece of metal is the basis for the entire worldwide economic and monetary system. That piece of metal is the standard that used to determine exactly what an ounce weights. 200 years ago, with simple weight balances the piece of metal was weighted and determined to be an ounce, this weight standard went on to set the standard for what an ounce of gold would weigh and hence the gold and paper monetary systems are built from it. However, from time to time, the ounce bar is taken from its secure location and weighed using more advanced and accurate measuring devices. So what was determined to be 1 ounce 100+ years ago is really 97.343% of an ounce (rough numbers). Using this recalculation the whole worth of gold by weight in the world had to be recalculated and the paper value adjusted accordingly. This is an example of an assay or standard measurement. Most of the physical sciences strive to generate various assays (chemistry is a great example for this). Everyone agrees on the measurement, the world economy relies on the measurement. The only argument that exists is, “is there a way to more accurately measure the “standard ounce” to perhaps 1000 decimal places? By doing so, given the trillions of dollars in the world, adjusting the weight standard could make or lose a country billions of dollars. For an interesting read look and the development and standardizing of the metric system – so smart, so elegant, so useful, but stupid Americans can’t grasp the concept (leaving the US one of only 3 countries in the world that still uses Imperial ounces and gallons measurements).

Reviewing my tome so far, is an example of why scientists don’t debate religious folks – it too darn hard to explain the whole process in a 20 minute show.


Quote “Why do you take this admittedly extreme view? I see no inherent problem with believing both evolution and God at the same time. In fact, I do it myself. My caveat is that the evolution I believe in is not the pseudo-science now promoted by Dawkins, Dennett and others who claim evolution makes metaphysical claims it certainly does not do.”

My view is extreme. As an Anthropologist I have tried to disengage myself from the cultural cornfield I was raised in, and try to station myself on the moon looking down at all the culture groups that exist(ed) in the world. From this macro viewpoint it is apparent to me that: 1- no religion can claim to be the correct/right religion because all religions make that same claim. 2 – religion is a culturally created and defined system to explain the unknown, establish social order, and establish “moral” boundaries. Wonderful attributes to soothe an emerging conscience. 3- the evolutionary evidence satisfies my scientific measures to explain that we evolved over the past 8 million years, 60 million if you want to go back to the earliest forms. 4- I have no problem recognizing that I am an animal form that evolved like all other animals on the earth. 5- which has lead me to conclude that is no G_d of any shape, form, or substance; and the G_d concept is a human construct. 6- ergo I fall into the camp of an Atheist. I can not be a scientist and believe in a religion – which one do I choose, which is the right one – much like my Filipino friend, perhaps all my children should be raised in a different religion – spread ‘em around in the hope that one will believe in the correct G_d.


Quote “Not true. I was raised into a fairly conservative evangelical tradition, and I believe Catholics and Baptists both will be present in heaven. These sort of arguments do no justice to the ecumenical dialogue going on these days; of course the media would rather focus on the ridiculous rants of Robertson and Falwell than take the time to report on a positive development in American religion (although if a positive development in American religion isn’t breaking news I don’t know what is!).”


I still conclude that a person who adopts a specific religious interpretation will always believe that their approach to god/religion and salvation is the correct one. The concept of “evangelical” denotes that the faith is actively promoting its faith, witnessing to the unsaved, and building it following via conversion - or breeding like rats. Even though you may believe that Catholics will be in heaven with Baptists, now be honest, isn’t there a part of you, a small part of you,  that wishes other people followed your “flavor of savior”? Just as there is ethnocentrism there is religiocentrism (my religion is better than yours, or we are the chosen religion).  An example, I have a dear friend who is a retired Methodist minister. He was chaplain at UCLA for many years and held a ministerial position in church for many years after that. He told me the following story and I asked him to write it down for me.
“The year was 1952, the summer after we arrived in Fullerton. Several Churches in the community had begun a practice of joining in a large ecumenical outdoor Sunday evening service in the local ballpark. Various clergy took part in the service, as did church choirs. The aim of the service was not only to provide a time of celebration for church members but also to reach out to unchurched townspeople. A prominent preacher, usually from out of town, was invited to bring the message. After a number of fundamentalist types had been invited, I suggested at a planning meeting for the event that some of us would like to hear from a prominent speaker from a more modern, liberal persuasion, pointing out that we had supported the other speakers. The response, given by Rev. E. Woody Hodson of the First Baptist Church was simple: ‘we couldn’t support such a speaker, toleration is part of your creed but it is not part of ours!’”

That pretty much sums up the futility of ecumenical councils and demonstrates religiocentrism and the dogma reflected by hard line – evangelical churches.  I would hypothesize that religious conservatism has increased since 1952 – perhaps there is religious scholar among the readers who can “test” this hypothesis or has data to clarify my statement?

In short, Harris’ basic tenet that moderation can have no place in western religious tradition is on target. You either believe in the full text of your scriptures, and follow it to the tee, or you must abandon it, there is no middle ground. As such, I should have been killed numerous times for using the Lord’s name in vain. I do not expect to change your mind or anyone else’s. I do want to correct the misconceptions about the scientific process and in that regard, if you do not believe in, trust, or support the scientific process, then you must reject all advances that are scientifically based (medicine, engineering, physics, etc).  You can’t mistrust the process on some topics (evolution ( see the National Geographic magazine about 1-2 years ago on the topic of evolution)) and support it in others – there can be no moderation in this regard. You accept the soundness of science as apply to all areas.


Myshkin
“alas I’m just a typical Norwegian Minnesotan who grew up in a house where it wasn’t an issue to be a conservative (theologically) Christian and a reader/thinker. These homes do exists, believe it or not!”

But do you proselytize, are you truly evangelical as you stated earlier?

It sounds like you are more a Deist, ala’ Jefferson. Perhaps you have read his letters and his version of the Bible – referred to as the “Jeffersonian Bible”?

BTW- (on a lighter note) what is your favorite Jello dish? Seriously, a group of geographers have used the density and distribution of Jello based foods as a way to determine the boundaries of the Midwest – the eastern edge is Buffalo NY, where lime jello with carrot shaving was top on my Mom’s cuisine.
Cheers,
Anthro

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