Thursday, August 04, 2005

Sensationalism?

Pharyngula::Bush endorses Intelligent Design creationism

so like, I was thinking. It strikes me that this is basically the age in which the future of religion is going to be decided. The more science I read, the more I see a growing disjunction between Science and Religion - Reason and Magic, as wiser men than I have called it. Not you, Dan, whoever you were quoting. But yeah, I think science has to win, even if it looks bleak right now. The more we learn the more the scientists can do and the priests and shamans can't. Mythology can't cling forever. Jon, this isn't even going as far as your imperative towards the scientific method - it's a pure value question and I believe straight-forward memetic evolution will sort it out.

Religious advocates are becoming, by necessity, almost antagonistic towards science - or at best ambivalent towards the processes that drives science.

By the same token, the scientific community seems to be putting up with less and less from the religious community. It's getting to the point now where one will have to chose a faction: either one believes in science, or one believes in religion. It didn't used to be like this - it was never a question of values. It used to be, "Yeah, I believe in God and God made the world and the world has physics, duh." So you could accept both using nice clean-cut second grade logic.

But now, there are certain values that are coming into question - and nothing illustrates this better than the "intelligent design" debate. The religious community must by default ultimately reject the basic scientific value, reason. I like how completely exasperated the author of the above-linked article sounds - the debate has moved from the theological speculative realm to a practical realm where, quite literally, a large portion of uneducated americans are insisting rather strongly that their children be taught lies. Intelligent Design is NOT a valid scientific theory, it's unfalsifiable, untestable, un-anything. It is a myth! I am not going to say that it is impossible that it is true; but to say that it is scientific is offensive.

So yeah, a value split. Are you there with God, the old white man with the beard and "holy water" on his breath, shouting down the scientists and damning fags and jews and censoring art? Or are you with the progressives, the godless, with value on truth and freedom and reason?

God, that is an old debate. Why am I just really feeling it now? I have been doing a lot of pop science reading, ever since Pinker got me started, and ya know what? They have answers for damn near all of it and they know what answers they need for the rest. I like the guy who said "What bothers me most about the creationists isn't that they are willing to believe a lie but that they are willing to settle for such a boring, easy lie. I mean, once we figure out How It Happened, the truth will be so much more astounding and beautiful..."

So yeah, I like that truth is knowable. Findable. Etc. I am with science. If you or your god want to come give us a hand, we could use the help on an AIDS vaccine, or ironing the kinks out of string theory. If ya'll just wanna sit around scratching your holy arses, well, I guess that's your prerogative but don't come near my kids, I don't trust you or your motivations.

Now, religion and LITERATURE, well, that's a different story. Catholocism is the single grandest work of art I am familiar with. If you want to teach creationism in English class I won't complain - though Milton is a better writer than, apparently, God, and I recommend Paradise Lost over Genesis, but ya know, to each their own.

Man, am I gonna become one of those really irritating people who are vocally against organized religion (pause for effect, as they do, when they say that, and looking at you meaningfully while giving you time to understand how clever their distinction between organized religion and non)? Nah, I don't think so, it's really not worth really arguing about or discussing (outside of your lit class).

Another article, a review of a book. I didn't find this too helpful but it has a few interesting thoughts in it Click.

So yeah, I guess science on my mind.

Here are a few more links for you:
3 Quarks Daily: Science, Lit, Culture Blog. Stephen Pinker's glowing endorsement.


Cosmic Variance: Science Blog, various social opinions thrown in for fun. Informal. Lots of useful links on the sidebar.


Devil's Details: Web Design Nexus. They notice little details that people have put into their pages, anything noticable or interesting. Cutting edge design ideas. Kinda cool.


So some good newws:

  1. Scholarships: Apparently I DO have three quarters worth of National Merit. Groovy. That leaves me with one quarter of college that was paid for by a mysterious unknowable benefactor. Maybe it was god?

  2. Job: I emailed my old boss Skip to ask if he had any room for me in his lab. He is in charge of the Digital Union, a primarily Mac-driven research center that is filled with prototype technology. He told me that, given the stuff I am into (web design, macs, photoshop) he might be able to find a place for me. Yippie.

  3. Internship: Oh hell, I will just write about my current activities after this.



So yeah, work is going okay. I finished with the chemical company on friday. Starting this week I am spending a month in the Main Office where I started, writing reports. Have been trying to come to terms with exactly what happened at chemical company and why the page isn't done. It comes down to this: my supervisor was supposed to get me new content to put into the page. He first set about asking for said content around the 20th of July. As opposed to, say, March. As of today, said content has not yet been put together. I have gotten the page as far as I can get it. From here on out they is on their own, I guess. I will of course go back after my report writing to teach him how to make websites. At that point, if he has gotten it all together I will show him how to update the page. If not, it really is not my fault. I harbor no ill will and now that the threat of deadline is no longer over my head I am not filled with the murderous rage that characterized my mood all summer.

Speaking of which, I should mention that Todd, next year's intern (not to be confused with our old todd), told me that he's been reading my blog. (hi todd!) That's cool and all but it begs the question where did he hear about it? I suspect from Charley and Charley from Pat or something like that so it's all cool. Actually even if he heard about it from my boss and she is secretly aware of it it's fine. The one thing that worries me though is that my posts of late have been none too flattering towards little old niihama or this little old kaisha. So Todd, I don't want to scare you off. I have been crazy frustrated at times, but if I had it to do over again I would still come to Niihama. I would just perhaps be more organized about it. Anyway read around and you will find (erm, I hope) that I also have plenty of nice things to say.

This has turned into a bloated little post, eh? Still, not as long as those I wrote in my glory days. 5, 6 pages at a time, ne? Sometimes up to 10? Can't believe ya'll read all this shit. Posting has been sporadic and sparse of late tho, eh? Maybe like 5 posts this summer? Ah well, I believe I said in my very first post that there would be draughts. Is that how you spell Drout? english is funny.

Anyway, another month left in Japan, adventuring - and so, by extension, another month of Japanese Adventures. (That's the name of my blog.) After this I will open a new website and new blog, but not for a while I suspect. I will likely host it on Jon's www.gardennet.org, as soon as we get that sorted out. But that is in the future. In the meantime, if you want to be made aware of any future blogging activities from me, please drop a comment.
Comments:
(It's old Todd) Am I old? I'm only 28! ^_^

Sorry for hogging your comment area, but this post is just right up my alley.

I'm an atheist. Here are my opinions.

Religion will never lose out to science beacuse it serves an entirely different purpose, spirituality. As much as I dislike the teaching of contrived religions (99.9% of them are), they're there becuase it's human nature we lack the spiritual support from "within". So we seek something else, so we created religions. But Science can't really help that, yet, or ever?

What science can do is explaining how things work and came to be but people can always refuse to accept the truth, and they often do. I'm sure you've come across stubborn religious folks who wouldn't let go no matter how weak a case they have. They choose to believe lies becuase they're told they must buy into the whole package as one. Sooner or later they won't have to. The Bible and others will(?) fall apart, but there will always be "bigots". But if they go and pretend their pseudoscience is real, they won't last too long.

On the other hand, the more we search in our sicentific ways, the more we've become awestruck as to how the hell we even got here. The elite of our scientists to this day still have problems ruling out a higer being, whatever that might be. And about the String theory, it's the single most deviated science claim I've ever seen. And deviation as it seems, if it turns out to be correct, we'd manage to take a huge step, like the earth being round. Otherwise it's just amusing science fiction.

p.s. the new guy Todd left a comment on my blog. I assume that's him. He corrected my Japanese. There was yet another intern named Todd who came from your Uni years ago (maybe 5 or 6), so this won't be the first time Niihama has another Todd.
 
Yes, I recognize the truth there. I guess the distinction is, the religion of the future will have to adapt. American Conservative Christianity is taking a very stubborn stand as anti-science, and that meme won't survive. The meme that will survive is, religion to fill in the gaps that science can't yet fill. The scope of religion is inversely proportaional to the degree of knowledge that we have. I believe that eventually we will reach a state where scientific truths and whatever distilled religious principles remain will overlap, and this distinction will be gone.

Sound about right?
 
"memetic evolution will sort it out." are you talking about spiral dynamics here? Becaues the evolution of worldviews, including valuue strutctures, will indeed sort it all out, and see exactly how every stage in the evolution of conciousness serves a nessisary function. And is it not so that teh words leading scientists were themselves mystics to some degree. Science is even beginning to use mystical termonology, such as Being, Wholeness, COnciousness, Causality, Mystery, Unfied Energy, and so on. So maybe seperating pre-rational religion, based on mythology, with tranrational spirtuality, based on logic reason and contemplative insight. Or simply exoteric and essoteric religions. religion will win, because science is a religion.
i agree with you freind.
Physics, in short, deals with, and can only deal with, the world of symbols and shadows, not the light of connciousness beyone the shadow cave. Or, physics deals wiht shadows, or imprints, the world of seperate things interacting with each other. to go beyond teh shadows and things and into the unified field, is to go beyond physics and into the metaphysical or spiritual. and it does not every deny physics or science, but trancends and includes science. and that is why so many of our pioneering physicists were mystics. or so it seems to me.
 
sorry about the typos.
 
ha, I won't necessarily disagree with any of that. I guess my argument is mostly against people pushing for religious education using dead stories as doctrine. You are representing one new direction of religion, the sort of adapted and broader view which doesn't compromise scientific values and doesn't deny reason. For now, I guess what you are saying is harmless. But I say that with some trepidation - if science, if human wisdom, ever shows what you believe to be false you must be willing to abandon it, unlikily as that may seem. I guess religion is okay when it is painting pretty pictures or supplying useful ways of thinking regarding things we don't know. But once we fill in those gaps, we need to let the stories go.

As todd pointed out, there is a human need for religion - Pinker even identifies that to be the case in How The Mind Works, it's just a mechanism we have evolved with. I just get irritated when we let simple things like evolved tendencies and preferences get in the way of progress.

But what the fuck do I know?
 
nothing, asshole
 
What is progress, though? Is religion any sort of progress? i used to think not. i used to think prayer was actually crippling. Religion only made people happy in their grasping, contempt in their enslavement, or even complacent in teh face of the terror and injustice awaiting them. REligion gives people a map laced with fear and numbing dogma with which to face the world and then to stagger sleepily and nearsighted into the swamp of confusion and pain, without reason.
But that is not religion at all. a group of "christians" came to my campus once and protested modern day christianity, claiming it was actually santanism, for satan had disguised himself as chrstiantiy, and everyon was unkonwingly worshiping satan. the proof is in teh misery and the consumerism and amterialism. i agreed!
authentic religion, i have come to realize, does not involve beliefs, but the death of the beliver. where the self is not made contempt and at peace, but is made toast. killed, so that the eternity, the emptiness and mushin behind death and life can be identified and then rightly worshiped.
Wait, where was i.. what am i even talking about? you dont disagree with me.
It is interesting that religion is lobe in the brain. I agree. but i, like you, also think that conciousness is not centered in teh brain or body, but is actually non-local, and exists as the source and suchness of the entire consmic play, outside of time, not outside the body, but in a spacleless, timeless demention beyond the world of form altogether. I like platos analagy of the cave, if you didnt already notice. And where did you get all the poetry? great stuff, man. keep writing. i love how you wright and your cold heartedness. And it keeps me company on boring days at the office.
 
I would say religion is no sort of progress, it is rather an anchor to the past and a drive we have to maintain tradition in some sort of vast, meaningful continuum. I find myself frequently almost violently anti-traditionalist - I feel that too many things in this world are tolerated only because it has always been so, and that's not good enough for me. Religion ties us to a world with no medicine and no science and no social justice.

With regards to irritated christians, well, whatever. Anyone who is going to preach to me that the modern world is worse-off than a world 50 years ago is going to have to stand still so I can inject them with smallpox as they talk, then drop them in a hotbed of whatever particular racist group would be most likely to eviscerate them. There are certainly many social problems in this day and age but spending time on college campuses telling other people that their god is actually satan in disguise is only going to irritate most people. One would like to imagine the existance of a slightly more efficacious road towards social reform.

With regards to your buddhist metaphysics, again, I won't disagree with you but at the same time I don't really care. I don't feel particularly inclined (most days) to abolish the self, though I am willing to acknowledge the value that many perceive in that course of action.

I am inclined to argue that conciousness is indeed located in the brain, or at least in the body, a product of various electro-chemical reactions and not hocus pocus - but if you give scientific names to hocus-pocus and describe it using falsifiable and reasonable principles I will be the first to read your essay.

And thanks for the compliments. I get the poetry from too many years of reading this crap, it has rotted my mind into a sort of sappy emotional goo with a frigid, mean exterior. C'est la vie.
 
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