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Ian G Wright
02-10-2003, 04:48 AM
I just caught a bit of a discussion on a radio programme on ethics. One speaker said that creationism was a discredited idea held only by “a bunch of slack jawed cretins living on a mountain in Arkansas”.. He was corrected by another speaker who clamed that a recent opinion poll showed that 50% of US citizens were firm believers in creationism.
Can the 50% figure be anywhere near true? It amazed me,,,,,,,

IanW.

skuthorp
02-10-2003, 05:21 AM
I'd say dont go there Ian, but have a look at the US education system, (not the top end). There was a time when the same authority had 99% believing the world was flat when the Chinese had known for centuries it wasn't

[ 02-10-2003, 05:22 AM: Message edited by: skuthorp ]

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 06:29 AM
"Poke him Dad, make him move!" LOL

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 06:37 AM
when the same authority had 99% believing the world was flatVery, very few Europeans ever believed the earth was flat. There was a medieval scholar who advanced that notion, I believe (the name escapes me, just now) but his views were quite unorthodox, even in his own time. The standard opinion, from the time of the ancient Hellenes onward, was that the world was round.

Dante's world was round. When he and his guide Virgil arrive at its centre they suddenly find themselves climbing up instead of down!

Andrew Craig-Bennett
02-10-2003, 06:44 AM
Indeed so, Bruce. And Purgatory is an island at the antipodes of Jerusalem...

Listen carefully enough and you can hear the music of the spheres.....

I can readily accept that 50% of American citizens, or rather more, believe that there is a Creator. So do I. I would be surprised to learn that 50% take Genesis literally.

Dennis Marshall
02-10-2003, 06:48 AM
The ancient Greeks knew that the earth was round merely by attending to the curvature of the earth at the horizon. Bruce Taylor is right on his point about the flat earth -- it was a cultural myth. Sam Morrison's book on the European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages has some reference to this, I think.

Dennis

Dennis Marshall
02-10-2003, 06:54 AM
Ian, What ACB says. I am wondering if the topic itself is not simply an artificially created dichotomy that continues the Enligthenment prejudice that faith and science/faith and reason are necessarily hostile to one another and that faith is inferior to reason because it is seen to be irrational. It is a straw man argument. Referring to the poor Cretins of Arkansas makes me think so.

Dennis

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 07:01 AM
From the Catholic World News:

"George Bishop said in an article in the latest edition of Public Perspective: A Roper Center Review of Public Opinion and Polling that about 45 percent of Americans believe God created man within the last 10,000 years, as suggested by a literal reading of the Book of Genesis. Forty percent of Americans hold a theistic evolutionist view that God guided a process by which man evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, and only 10 percent believe in Darwinistic evolution in which God had no part in the development of man from lower life forms."

From a website in Montana:

"The poll conducted by the Gallup Organization was based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,016 adults. The poll has a plus or minus 3 percent margin of error.

Asked by name, 57 percent of people surveyed said they believe in, or lean toward the "theory of creationism," while 33 percent believe in or lean toward the "theory of evolution." Roughly 10 percent said they were unsure.

More specifically, 45 percent chose "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so," the statement that closely mirrors biblical thought.

A somewhat larger percentage chose one of the two evolutionist statements: 37 percent selected "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process" and 12 percent selected "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process."

Six percent had no opinion."

[ 02-10-2003, 07:39 AM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

Chris Coose
02-10-2003, 07:04 AM
I'd think that those who believe that we are about to enter a "just" war would be pretty near the same as those who'd believe their parents were Adam & Eve.

Wild, ain't it?

Andrew Craig-Bennett
02-10-2003, 07:18 AM
Thank you, Bruce....45%...I stand corrected, and am retrieving my jaw from the floor.

This is the nation that has put some of its citizens on the Moon?

The odd thing is that the 10,000 or so years is not evident from simply reading Genesis. It took Bishop Ussher some years to work out the date of Creation (4006 BC) from the Bible. I suspect that 45% believe something that they have been told - and, come to think of it, I doubt if the 40% have all read Teilhard de Chardin either!

Does this mean, as logically it should, that 45% of American children do not believe that there were such creatures as dinosaurs? Why did so many of them go to see Jurassic Park, in that case?

[ 02-10-2003, 07:20 AM: Message edited by: Andrew Craig-Bennett ]

Dennis Marshall
02-10-2003, 07:23 AM
Interesting data, Bruce. You'd think that the hegemony of state mandated public school education that we, Americans at least, would have been disabused of such notions. I bet Mr. Dewey is rolling over in his grave!

Dennis

Memphis Mike
02-10-2003, 07:50 AM
A man without faith is a lost one indeed.

NormMessinger
02-10-2003, 08:06 AM
Ian, the reference to the good folks in Arkansas is a terrible insult to the enlightened citizens of Kansas, my home state.

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 08:06 AM
Mike, there are many people with strong religious convictions who do not believe that the earth was made within the past 10,000 years.

The Catholic church, for example, endorses the view that the world is billions of years old. John Paul has even made an effort to reconcile Catholic doctrine to the findings of Darwin, although the Church in Rome currently favours the view that God guides the process we call natural selection.

[ 02-10-2003, 08:14 AM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

LeeG
02-10-2003, 08:11 AM
a bird in the hand,,oh wrong topic,
ok so 80% of the US public support a war on Iraq, except on Tuesday, Wednesda, Saturday and Sunday or if it alters the color of Anna Nicole swimsuit. My brother was teaching first year geology at University of S.C. in Charleston, blew his mind to talk to a student who was arguing the validity of creationism as a reality .

Joe (SoCal)
02-10-2003, 08:23 AM
Oy not this ****e again :rolleyes: God created apes you fill in the rest

martin schulz
02-10-2003, 08:30 AM
Originally posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett:
Does this mean, as logically it should, that 45% of American children do not believe that there were such creatures as dinosaurs? Why did so many of them go to see Jurassic Park, in that case?Well Andrew - I stayed for one year in the US doing my Senior year in High School in a small town in Indiana. My "family" there were strong Baptist believers. I had a hard time fighting for my right not to go to church. They said that those Dinasaurs bones werde put in the earth by god to try us in faith.

...there you go, hard to argue there (this year taught me the meaning of true tolerance)

Greg H
02-10-2003, 08:32 AM
I knew the belief was growing, but 45%....wow.
Some public school system's are required to teach creationism, if they teach evolution. Private school systems, can teach anything they want and things are in the works to give public money to private schools, as well as "faith based" social programs.

"It's remarkable"

Mrleft8
02-10-2003, 08:33 AM
Well.... This coming from a country where only something like 73% of highschool seniors could find the United States on a world map.... It doesn't really surprise me at all..... And also consider that an apparent majority believe that Dubya won the last presidential election....
Baaaa! Baaaaa! (can you say "sheep"?)

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 08:40 AM
http://www.cnn.com/2002/EDUCATION/11/20/geography.quiz/

Scary stuff...although, I note that Canada and Great Britain did only slightly better than the U.S. on the National Geographic Quiz (U.S. kids got a "D"...Canadians and Brits a "C". Swedes and Germans did best overall.)

Take the quiz yourself:

http://geosurvey.nationalgeographic.com/geosurvey/templates/question_1.html

[ 02-10-2003, 08:55 AM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

Rocky
02-10-2003, 09:01 AM
This is such an easy way to feel superior to your fellow man without much thought. Humans in their present form have been on the planet for, what?, 100,000 years, yet our history goes back no further than 5000. So what were they doing the other 95,000 years? Living in caves and spearing mammoths? Maybe, maybe not, we have no way of knowing. There is growing evidence of a universal flood at the end of the last Ice Age which effectively wiped out everything that went before, whatever it was, so to say God created man in his image in the last 5000 years or so, or that man created God in his image, cannot be as literally untrue as you'd like to believe. I'm no Bible-thumper but the evolutionists are just as guilty of mindless assertions as the creationists, and there are plenty of scientific coincidences that cannot be easily explained by evolution as you'd like to think. In the same vein, there is one aspect of evolution which would speed up the process tremendously: infanticide.

Greg H
02-10-2003, 09:10 AM
Lot of good creation myths out there. Just depends which religeon or culture you like.
Evolution is a theory and is by nature, evolving.

Fitz
02-10-2003, 09:26 AM
Evolution is not all that hard to see. Want to know how the dinosaurs walked, behaved, and lived? Take a good look at your bird feeder.

ishmael
02-10-2003, 09:27 AM
http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid50/p1610c5c4163852cfe6ab92d5cb9e2585/fca8685e.jpg

Andrew Craig-Bennett
02-10-2003, 09:30 AM
Originally posted by Rocky:
I'm no Bible-thumper but the evolutionists are just as guilty of mindless assertions as the creationists, and there are plenty of scientific coincidences that cannot be easily explained by evolution as you'd like to think. In the same vein, there is one aspect of evolution which would speed up the process tremendously: infanticide.Sorry, but not so. Like many people, you don't quite understand the theory of evolution by way of natural selection.

Infanticide would not "speed up the process tremendously", because infanticide is not natural selection.

May I suggest reading the book? It is not a bad read at all.

Sam F
02-10-2003, 09:36 AM
There are some criticisms of Evolution that are certainly not the brainchildren of slack-jawed Arkansans. Before you strap me to a stake and start dancing around, please remember that I’m only conveying information and that does not necessarily mean that I unreservedly support or am entirely convinced of what I’m about to relate. But everyone should realize that Darwinism isn’t perfect and that there is a long and intellectually valid history of objections to it.

Here's a very brief overview of some I’ve read of:

Macro Evolution has never been observed. By that I mean the transformation from one species to another. There are of course some fuzzy areas around the edges; like hybrid lizards that reproduce by parthenogenesis and thus form a sort of new species. Naturally there are all kinds of arguments about what constitutes a species and if defined loosely enough it’s possible to prove most anything but in the generally understood difference, say between wolves and tigers, there simply isn’t any observation of that sort of transformation, much less for the more extreme changes from fish to fowl.

But you may say that the fossil record does show a transformation of one species to another. Yes sort of. The problem is that while the evidence clearly shows apparent kinship between species it doesn’t really support Darwin’s explanation. Evolutionists know this and have tried out all sorts of strategies from modifications of Evolution (like Punctuated Equilibrium) to outright denial of problems with the evidence. It is not entirely unreasonable to conclude that they haven’t been entirely successful.
Basically, there is precious little evidence showing the actual transformation from one species to another. Fossil records indicate that species seem to be stable over time and that no gradual transformation of the sort that Darwin postulated takes place.

Micro Evolution is soundly proved however. What's Micro Evolution? Something along the lines of a better (relatively speaking) flu virus. The virus may mutate, or mix DNA with another virus, to form a more virulent stain. The problem is that it’s only a “better” flue not really a new organism. Darwin’s theory accounts for this nicely. Unfortunately his book is entitled “The Origin of Species” not the “Perfection of Species”.

Which bring us to the oldest (that I know of) scientific criticism of Darwin: that he didn’t explain the origin of species only their extinction or perfection. The key concept “survival of the fittest”, certainly accounts for a better virus. It also accounts for the extinction of organisms that can’t adapt to local conditions. Unfortunately the concept is also a bit like a type of circular reasoning called a tautology. It works like this: An organism survives because it is “fit”. How do we know it’s “fit”? Because it survived. Why did it survive? Because it was “fit”! Well that obviously true but what have you really discovered? One of the way theories are tested is by their predictive success. You can’t predict much with a tautology. Darwinists use the fossil record to test their theory but given the necessarily erratic and random nature of their evidence it’s really hard, working backwards, to prove much of anything concerning the actual workings of Evolution.

Another criticism that I’ve read of concerns mathematics. On this I am a very bad guide, being abominably bad at math. As a result I can only parrot what I’ve read. Here goes: Squawk! :D

Classical Evolution postulates unimaginably vast periods of time for species change. Given the known rates of mutation and their 99.9% (or something along those lines) failure rate, it has been estimated that the Universe (let alone Earth) has not existed long enough to account for life’s present diversity. Biologists naturally tend to howl at such assertions but so far I’ve not read a convincing counter argument. There was a recent Point-Counterpoint series of articles on this subject in Natural History Magazine. It made for interesting reading but I couldn’t help but note that the format was biased against the anti-evolutionists. These people were of such a scientific stature that they couldn’t be ignored but the series was arranged so that the Darwinists always had the last word.
I was left wishing for more discussion as even I could find holes in a few evolutionists’ arguments.

Hummm…. It looked an awful lot like an embattled orthodoxy at work. Personally, I can’t help but be conscious of a potential paradigm shift on the way.

Cap'n R an R
02-10-2003, 09:40 AM
If you believe a poll of several hundred or several thousand people gives you an accurate account of what 100% of a population believes then you are a true creationist.....only you are not really creating you are interpolating and accepting someone elses creation...you want an accurate count of belief strutures??? then count 100% of the population....otherwise you are accepting ...garbage in...garbage out!!

Scott Rosen
02-10-2003, 09:40 AM
Creationism versus Evolution is not an either/or choice. It represents a continuum of thought.

I think if you asked a group of so-called creationists, you'd find that there is a wide divergence of opinion among them. Only a portion of them would say they believe the story of Adam and Eve literally. Others would have integrated varying degrees of common scientific knowlege. Even among the so-called scientists who believe in evolution, there is not much agreement on how we originally got here. Some scientists are religious. If you doubt me, read some of Einstein's non-technical writings.

Sam F
02-10-2003, 09:46 AM
Originally posted by Greg H:
Lot of good creation myths out there. Just depends which religeon or culture you like.
Evolution is a theory and is by nature, evolving.Good point Greg but remember... looked at in a certain way Evolution serves very nicely as a creation myth.
I'm serious, not joking. Ask youself this question:
How many of those Evolution believers really understand it? How many have struggled with the theory's difficulties and flaws? Mighty few.

The rest take it on FAITH :eek:

Ken Hall
02-10-2003, 09:51 AM
What is a day to God?

God's word may be inerrant, but that doesn't mean us sinners heard it right. ;)

Andrew Craig-Bennett
02-10-2003, 09:54 AM
Sam - surely the Galapagos finches do, indeed, provide evidence of macro evolution?

They also explain the timescale. Where a niche is unfilled a species will rapidly occupy that niche and adapt to it. This has actually been observed, I fancy, with one of the finch species, where, as I recall, one species was wiped out on one island due to a local climate disaster causing a failure of its food crop. When conditions returned to the status quo ante, another species rapidly occupied the vacant niche and individuals in the niche- occupying population soon showed differentiation from the parent stock. Species formation at work!

Consequently, it seems fairly safe to assume that evolution does indeed proceed by way of sudden bursts and long periods of little or no apparent change within species.

I am taking the term species as usually defined - a population of individuals which are capable of breeding and producing fertile offspring.

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 09:54 AM
you want an accurate count of belief strutures??? No, an approximate one will do.

Joe (SoCal)
02-10-2003, 09:57 AM
"What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." --Albert Einstein

OOOH Good one hun ??? :eek:

Cap'n R an R
02-10-2003, 09:59 AM
Well,Bruce, for starters reference the Dewey..Truman election.....hands down Dewey won!!! until they counted the votes....100% of them....that's just a small sample of inacurate polling...Dewey never got even "proximate" to the White House...

Sam F
02-10-2003, 10:02 AM
Cap'n... Wrong Dewey! :D

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 10:04 AM
Einstein: "God does not play dice."

Bohr: "Einstein, stop telling God what to do.".

Ken Hall
02-10-2003, 10:04 AM
Nonresponse bias, Cap'n. "Dewey Defeats Truman" was entirely due to the fact that the paper in question conducted a telephone poll.

In 1948.

Who was more likely to own a phone in 1948? Phone service was by no means universal.Ergo, the answer is: "demographic segments most likely to be Dewey voters."

Now, the thing you got to watch for in today's polling is questionnaires with language slanted to provide the desired response (desired by them as is footin' the bill, that is). ;)

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 10:08 AM
If you want to figure out who wins you have to count the vote.

If you just want to have a rough idea (within a certain margin of error) how the vote breaks down, a poll will do.

Here's a postmortem on that poll (from http://www.studyworksonline.com/cda/content/worksheet/0,,EXP545_NAV2-76_SWK543,00.sht ml): (http://www.studyworksonline.com/cda/content/worksheet/0,,EXP545_NAV2-76_SWK543,00.shtml):)

“Dewey Defeats Truman” the 1948 Presidential Election
More than 50 years ago, in the 1948 Presidential election, the incumbent Harry Truman was running against Thomas Dewey, Governor of New York. All the major polls predicted Dewey would win.

The final results were Truman, with 24,105,812 votes, Dewey with 21,970,065, and two other candidates, Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond, each with a little more than 1,100,000 votes. In Gallup's final poll, he showed Dewey with a lead of 5 percentage points over Truman, 49.5 percent to 44.5 percent.

What happened? According to David McCullough, in his biography of Truman, “the polls were reasonably accurate up until mid-October, the point when Gallup completed his final survey of the campaign for the forecast that was released just before election day. The fault was probably not that the polls were imperfect, but that they were two weeks out of date.” A lot can change in two weeks, and it did in this case.

A Roper Poll of September 9 showed Truman trailing Dewey by 13 points. Roper then announced that he would discontinue polling, since the outcome was already so obvious.

Here are some other poll numbers, at various dates leading up to the election:

......................Dewey....Truman
Early September.....48%......38%
September 9.........44%......31%
September 20........51%......37%
October 11*.........100%.....0%
October 20..........49.5%. 44.5%
November 2, Election Day 45.5% 49.9%

The October 11 poll of 50 highly regarded political writers was released in Newsweek magazine. While not representative of the voting population, it illustrates the degree to which Truman was universally assumed to have no chance to win.

http://www.studyworksonline.com/worksheets/polling/images/trumanpoll.gif

After the election, pollsters re-examined their methods to find out why they went wrong. Instead of using quota sampling, which questioned a set number of people from different ethnic and age groups, they started using random sampling. They polled up until Election Day and developed their ability to predict who was likely to come out and vote.

[ 02-10-2003, 10:21 AM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

Rocky
02-10-2003, 10:26 AM
Are you saying infanticide doesn't happen? Or that it plays no role in natural selection? I'll see if I can find that article about beaks. An evolutionary change that was supposed to take centuries took place in less than 100 years. Your hard science also stipulated nothing could live in 800 degree water with no light and nothing but sulphur to breathe, until they found all those critters thriving around the black smokers. Then there was a mad scramble to give the credit to "science."

Sam F
02-10-2003, 10:33 AM
Originally posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett:
Sam - surely the Galapagos finches do, indeed, provide evidence of macro evolution?

Consequently, it seems fairly safe to assume that evolution does indeed proceed by way of sudden bursts and long periods of little or no apparent change within species.

I am taking the term species as usually defined - a population of individuals which are capable of breeding and producing fertile offspring.Yes, but it's a rather Micro-Macro don't you think? Really there can be no arguing with evolution on that level. It happens and is really a fairly common sense process.
But haven't you really only accounted for a better finch? No Evolution into a hawk or duck or even a sparrow… Just a better finch. We're primarily talking about beak size, something with a natural variance anyway. That's not a very impressive change is it? It scarcely qualifies as a baby step for Evolution.

According to the current state of knowledge, the term “species” is a mess. It is a mire if ever I saw one, but that said, I’ll soldier bravely on :D : One definition of species is its inability to interbreed with another species.
(Yeah, I know, how does that account for things like bi-generic hybrids? but generally it's thought of that that way.)
Can those various Galapagos finches interbreed? I've always wondered that and have never seen any info. Do you know of any?

BTW, If I remember my Darwin aright, he never postulated rapid change, only gradual.

My point is not that some sort of evolution isn't possible or hasn't happened, but that there are "respectable" (non-religious) objections to Darwinism, which is a different thing from objecting to evolution (little "e")

As GregH inadvertently pointed out, Darwinian Evolution substitutes for, and is in certain ways, a creation myth. It has had from its very beginning a strong element of faith. Even Darwin himself had no idea of genetics and thus had no way to explain the mechanism of Evolution. He just believed he was right. In the early days Darwinists had a very limited sample of the fossil record but ardently believed that missing links would turn up. They haven't but they still believe.

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 10:38 AM
OK, Ian...you've activated a bunch of dormant American creationists. Now what are you going to do with them?

I see a loooong thread coming...see ya when it's over, LOL.

whb
02-10-2003, 11:01 AM
What I don't understand is why we all see these theories as being so separate. Every culture has a creation myth of some sort.

Maybe they are all the same myth told in a fashion that could be understood by their relative audiences. I think the bible is the same. It had to be understandable to be effective. Does any human have the capability to really understand the workings of the creator, great spirit, mass consciousness whatever we want to call it/him/her/them.

Why build out individual species if you can plant a seed that will grow and change. When we talk micro evolution that is all it takes. The % difference in the DNA between us and the apes is incredibly small.

Its funny but we as a species can't often see the forest becuase we get lost in the toothpicks.

Anyone that thinks they really know the answers probably doesn't understand the question.

Howard

Memphis Mike
02-10-2003, 11:19 AM
We all evolved from Mr Ed.

Memphis Mike
02-10-2003, 11:44 AM
http://users.aol.com/mwn3/Surf2.gif

Joe (SoCal)
02-10-2003, 12:06 PM
Sam F
How did I know we were going to be on opposite sides on this smile.gif It's OK I still LIKE you :D . You make some marvelous points truly well thought out, good post.

Allow me to throw the genetic question into the mix. Recently I saw a show on PBS the origins of man. Wonderful show if you get a chance to see it repeated don't miss it. In this show a geneticist took the basic human code and sought out to find the origins of man. Now this CODE we all carry in us is set up as a one building block on top of another when you look at this code you not only see the individuality in us all you also see the similarity. You see the interrelationships between the races and cultures all meld into the single early human. But what you also see in that code is the code for other animals. Point of fact the flea was the first genome project then the mouse and up and up till you got Man. The Darwin is in the code so to speak :D Change one tiny letter in the code and you could have a different species. You also see this code build it self in the zygote and pre fetus stages of human life. There are stages in the development of a human if certain proteins or enzymes are not present the zygote would just as well turn out to be a chicken. So in the grand scheme of things it doesn't take a lot to unravel the code and or make a quantum leap in species

martin schulz
02-10-2003, 12:09 PM
Originally posted by whb:
Anyone that thinks they really know the answers probably doesn't understand the question.That's right - I know the answer is 42 but I somehow forgot the correct question.

[ 02-10-2003, 12:10 PM: Message edited by: martin schulz ]

Roger Stouff
02-10-2003, 12:17 PM
Well, both are wrong.

See, the Great Spirit commanded crawfish to go down to the bottom of the ocean and bring up the mud, as crawfish do. When crawfish had brought up enough mud, the land was formed.

Then the Great Spirit used some of the mud to make three forms of man. He fired the mud under the sun, three times each creation, one light, the other red, the other dark. These he sent out to populate the land.

In the late 1800s, my people, the Chitimacha or Sheti imasha which meant "those who live on the lake" started referring to themselves as Panctpinankanc or "man altogether red" because things had gotten pretty confusing.

That's the way I heard it, anyway.

Ian G Wright
02-10-2003, 12:17 PM
Ok, a horse can surf, but can a dolphin pull a plow?
Belive it or not this thread was not intended as a troll,,,,,,, honest! I really did hear the conversation at about 0945 on BBC radio 4. That double thud you heard was my jaw hitting the floor at about the same time.
Whatever the ins and outs of the argument I have no doubt that over a beer or two any slack jawed cretin up any mountain and I would get on just fine,,,,,,,,, I know this to be true 'cos I've done it, not in Arkensas granted, but several Yourapeen countries and a few in Asia,,,,,,,

IanW.

imported_Conrad
02-10-2003, 12:40 PM
A major problem with evolutionary theory is that it goes against the laws of thermo dynamics, specificall entropy, or the tendency for all matter to break down into lesser states in a closed system. Which is to say, things tend to decay, not integrate into increasingly complicated forms if left alone. Clearly the earth is a closed system, with a net loss of energy since its formation- not only has the planet its self cooled, but so has our sun, and the total energy of the universe continues to be dispersed over an apparently increasing volume of space. All of this argues for outside intervention of some sort, an externalized concentration of energy to move species to a higher level that they would not be able to achieve on their own. Not to mention the appearance of large numbers of species over relatively short periods of time which have no known links to past species.

While there's certainly more to it than a literal interpretation of the creation story, the theory of evolution as currently understood makes about as much sense. It does, however, allow mankind to see himself as somehow seperate from, and more importantly excused from, any obligation to a higher power.

[ 02-10-2003, 06:03 PM: Message edited by: Conrad S. ]

Fitz
02-10-2003, 12:47 PM
"Not to mention the appearance of large numbers of species over relatively short periods of time which have no known links to past species."

Just curious: Which ones?

Sam F
02-10-2003, 12:54 PM
Joe,
In the grand scheme of this it does take a lot to make a new species. Ask any biologist to do it. In a way, rearranging building blocks can do it, but… it takes a mind, a design and hard work first.
And it’s emphatically not Natural Selection.

A funny aside: The first time (AFAIK) that a new species was deliberately created was an attempt to cross a turnip with a cabbage. It worked all right and would be wonderful if anybody had any use for cabbage roots and turnip tops. :D

I'm afraid that such TV programs (I have not seen this one) often provide a misleading view of science. It's not that they aren't true, just way over simplified. The struggle, controversy, failed attempts and tentative nature of scientific findings is seldom made clear. On TV it all seems so straightforward. Move this letter and you've got a new species. The fact is that the vast majority of "tiny" changes (changes way too small to effect speciation) to an organism's genetics are lethal.

The fact that all known organisms are made of the same stuff isn't even news. Even the ancient Greeks postulated that. The point about genetic building blocks is that who/what makes those "tiny" changes to create a new species? The fact that we are made of the same stuff in no way addresses that question.

Back to the Creation Myth:
I'm not anti-evolution. I just am skeptical of Darwin‘s version of it and the scientific orthodoxy that has grown up around it.

I have no concern if Darwinian Evolution is disproved tomorrow. Then again I'm not a Modernist. A person with allegiance to the prevalent materialist dogma of the “modern” world would be in big trouble however.
His whole worldview would tumble down around his head…
That’s why they’ll fight any threat to that POV with “red tooth and claw”. :eek:

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 01:03 PM
A major problem with evolutionary theory is that it goes against the laws of thermo dynamics, specificall entropy, or the tendency for all matter to break down into lesser states in an open systemNo, no, no...a closed system, Conrad.

From "Ask an Astronomer" ( http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=441 )

"Does evolution contradict the second law of thermodynamics?
I probably won't get an answer to this one..... but entropy says the universe is breaking down... evolution says the universe is getting better! Please explain this.

This idea has been put forward by many people to try to prove that evolution is impossible. However, it is based on a flawed understanding of the second law of thermodynamics, and in fact, the theory of evolution does not contradict any known laws of physics.

The second law of thermodynamics simply says that the entropy of a closed system will tend to increase with time. "Entropy" is a technical term with a precise physical definition, but for most purposes it is okay to think of it as equivalent to "disorder". Therefore, the second law of thermodynamics basically says that the universe as a whole gets more disordered and random as time goes on.

However, the most important part of the second law of thermodynamics is that it only applies to a closed system - one that does not have anything going in or out of it. There is nothing about the second law that prevents one part of a closed system from getting more ordered, as long as another part of the system is getting more disordered.

There are many examples from everyday life that prove it is possible to create order! For example, you'd certainly agree that a person is capable of taking a pile of wood and nails and constructing a building out of it. The wood and nails have become more ordered, but in doing the work required to make the building, the person has generated heat which goes into increasing the overall entropy of the universe.

Or, if you prefer an example that doesn't require conscious human intervention, consider what happens when the weather changes and it gets colder outside. Cold air has less entropy than warm air - basically, it is more "ordered" because the molecules aren't moving around as much and have fewer places they can be. So the entropy in your local part of the universe has decreased, but as long as that is accompanied by an increase in entropy somewhere else, the second law of thermodynamics has not been violated.

That's the general picture - nature is capable of generating order out of disorder on a local level without violating the second law of thermodynamics, and that is all that evolution requires.

The idea of evolution is simply that random mutations within the gene pool of a species will occasionally occur that lead an individual organism to have some trait that is different from that of its predecessors. Now, it is true that these mutations, being random, would probably tend to increase the "entropy" of the population as a whole if they occurred in isolation (i.e., in a closed system). That is, most of the mutations will create individual organisms that are less "ordered" (i.e., less complex) and only some will create individual organisms that are more complex, so overall, the complexity goes down.

However, evolution does not take place in a closed system, but rather requires the existence of outside forces - i.e., natural selection. The idea is that there can be some environmental effect that makes organisms with a particular mutation (one that makes them more "complex") more likely to survive and pass their genes on to the next generation. Thus, as generations go by, the gene pool of the species can get more and more complex, but notice that this can only occur if the gene pool interacts with the outside world. It is through the course of that interaction that some other form of entropy (or disorder) will be generated that increases the entropy of the universe as a whole.

If the above is too esoteric, consider a simple analogy: a poker tournament. In poker, good hands are less likely to be dealt than bad ones - for example, the odds of getting three of a kind are much less than the odds of getting two of a kind. So in a poker tournament, most people will be dealt bad hands and only a few will be lucky enough to be dealt good hands. But it is the people with good hands who will be more likely to win and "survive" to the next round. So the "outside forces" (in this case, the rules of poker) acting on a random distribution (all the poker hands that were dealt) will tend to select out the best, least likely ones.

For further information, the Talk.Origins website has an extensive discussion about the evolution/thermodynamics controversy.

January 2003, Dave Rothstein (more by Dave Rothstein

Memphis Mike
02-10-2003, 01:08 PM
Ya see, Lassie, Flipper, not even Cheeta could
talk, so it had to have been Mr Ed.

Scott Rosen
02-10-2003, 01:12 PM
Bruce,

How do you draw the dividing line between closed and open systems? Only life can deliberately create order out of chaos.

You scientists are missing some very important points.

First, just because some species are observed to follow the theory of natural selection does not mean that all species follow it.

Second, just because natural selection can be observed over a short period of time does not exclude the possibility that humans or any other life form may have been created spontaneously, even if in a somwhat different form.

Darwin is not the guy who developed the theory of evolution. He's the guy who developed the theory of natural selection. He was a good scientist and well understood the limited nature of what he observed.

I am not a creationist, but I recognize the limitations of the various theories.

Greg H
02-10-2003, 01:22 PM
IMHO
Creationism (Christian literalist) is a given, fixed set of ideas. An unalterable story, where research can only be considered valid if it fits the known ends.

Evolution therory is idea derived from evidence and reasoning. It is measurable and changable. There is no (or should not be) fixed "story" that evidence has to be molded to. Every bit of information found that is counter to the current accepted ideas, changes the theory and brings it closer to reflecting the nature of reality. It is supposed to be questioned.

These two things are not exclusive of each other, nor can one substitute for the other. One addresses the internal world, the other, what we see around us.

....of course that is an illusion in itself.
;)

Fitz
02-10-2003, 01:24 PM
Sitting here on my tail (coccyx)is straining the spinal cord that great, great, great............................................. grandpappy Graptolite handed down from 460 Million years ago....

[ 02-10-2003, 02:07 PM: Message edited by: Fitz ]

brad9798
02-10-2003, 01:46 PM
I don't think God and evelotion are mutually exclusive lines of thinking. God facilitated life, and evolution has taken it from there.

BTW- if you have to choose based on as much factual information as you can find available, evolution has a more solid foundation for credit.

Also, Scott Rosen, I believe, stated that not all species may participate in natural selection ... take humans over the last 30-40 years, for one! ;) With modern medicines, treatments, etc. our bloodlines are becoming weaker with regard to natural selection.

Think about it, 100 years ago, someone with kidney disease would probably not live long enough to pass it on to their offrspring. Now- with treatments, they do. Just one example, of course ... but ...

Brad

Meerkat
02-10-2003, 02:01 PM
Along Brad's lines, I wonder how many premie babies grow up to have premie babies...

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 02:51 PM
How do you draw the dividing line between closed and open systems?Been a while since High School physics, eh?

In an open system, anything (matter or energy) can pass into, or out of the system. In an isolated system, neither energy nor matter can pass into the system.

The 2nd law of thermodynamics was formulated for closed (isolated) systems, and does not apply to systems which permit the inflow of new energy or matter.

As long as the sun keeps burning, there is a constant influx of new energy into the little system we have here on our blue planet. This energy causes matter to be reorganized in wonderful ways.

The sun and earth together comprise another system, one which is receiving relatively little energy from outside. We do receive cosmic rays, light from faraway stars, etc. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to predict that when the sun peters out, entropy on earth will begin to increase rapidly. Even then, the system will not be truly "closed" until maximum entropy is achieved throughout the universe.


First, just because some species are observed to follow the theory of natural selection does not mean that all species follow it.You know, I've never actually dropped my camera. It's quite possible that if I did, it would fall up!

Seriously, though, there is no reason (in principle) why natural selection couldn't operate alongside other mechanisms. A Viennese herpetologist named Paul Kammerer once claimed he'd discovered evidence of Lamarckian evolution in toads and salamanders. He seems to have faked some of his results, so he's not too credible. HOwever, even if Lamarckian adaptations do occur (and I can think of some plausible avenues for the heredity of acquired traits) that possibility doesn't really shake the vast body of knowledge that has been built on Darwinian theory. Likewise, the famous "jumping genes" that captured the public imagination in the eighties.


Second, just because natural selection can be observed over a short period of time does not exclude the possibility that humans or any other life form may have been created spontaneously, even if in a somwhat different form.Fair enough. Jack's post hints at one such "intervention".

[ 02-10-2003, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

Chris Coose
02-10-2003, 03:00 PM
My thinking/theorizing on this subject ended in early primary school.
During the AM I'd be taught a rigid Creationist story and then in the afternoon I'd watch the 3 Stooges.

htom
02-10-2003, 03:48 PM
There is a "Creationist" position that I think is very foolish that I don't agree with.

There are those who hold to "Darwinism" with an equal amount of passion and faith.

It seems obvious to me that He can make the historical record -- and our memory of it -- to be whatever He desires. How He has arranged our world to be the way it is, is for us to figure out.

It is not for us to be bashing each other about.

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 03:54 PM
Well said, htom.

Sam F
02-10-2003, 04:08 PM
The similarities are uncanny Chris.
As a kid I learned Evolution in the AM and then watched the 3 Stooges in the afternoon. I wonder what it all means? :D

Scott Rosen
02-10-2003, 04:11 PM
It's hard to believe in natural selection while you are watching the Three Stooges.

Meerkat
02-10-2003, 04:36 PM
There's just no evidence for creationism. Not one fossilzed angel feather has ever been found.

Dennis Marshall
02-10-2003, 04:42 PM
"no fossilized angel feather has been found. ." Thus speaketh the materialist oracle! :D

Sam F: Great points you've made. Will they help me out of my entropic tendencies as governed by the law of thermodynamics? Sheesh! That stuff is worse than Aristotelian metaphysics!

I have enjoyed this thread immensely regardless of Ian W's original intent.

Dennis

Meerkat
02-10-2003, 04:54 PM
Originally posted by Dennis Marshall:
"no fossilized angel feather has been found. ." Thus speaketh the materialist oracle! :D <snip>
DennisFaith - the irresistable urge to believe, no matter what the evidence says.

J. Dillon
02-10-2003, 04:56 PM
This thread is Misc. Non Boat Releated at it's best.

Thoughtfull discussion mixed with humor.

No body is bashing each other. Thank the creator , God or.....

I'm playing Albinoni's Adagios in the back ground and some how it seems fitting as the dialogue continues.

Please keep going.

JD

JD

Nicholas Carey
02-10-2003, 05:46 PM
Originally posted by Conrad S.:
A major problem with evolutionary theory is that it goes against the laws of thermo dynamics, specificall entropy,...Um, No.

Here are some links to explain the fallacy:

</font> Entropy, God and Evolution (http://www.acchurch.com/reading/evolution.php), by a evangelical christian physicist.</font> The Second Law of Thermodynamics in the Context of the Christian Faith (http://members.aol.com/steamdoc/writings/thermo.html), by an evangelical Christian physicist (PHd).</font> http://www.2ndlaw.com/evolution.html</font> Attributing False Attributes to Thermodynamics (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo/creationism.html)</font> The Second Law of Thermodynamics, Evolution, and Probability (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo/probability.html)</font>

Shang
02-10-2003, 05:56 PM
Shuddup aboud it, okay...!

http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid50/p42fa6c6d14f6b917eedb7b0b191b945e/fca827cb.gif

Sam F
02-10-2003, 06:06 PM
Originally posted by Dennis Marshall:
[QB
Will they help me out of my entropic tendencies as governed by the law of thermodynamics? Sheesh! That stuff is worse than Aristotelian metaphysics!

I have enjoyed this thread immensely regardless of Ian W's original intent.

Dennis[/QB]Dennis I've got a problem with entropy myself!
Have you checked out Evolutionary cladistics? Here's a mercifully short sample:

"New information concerning strengths and weaknesses of different methods of coding taxonomic polymorphisms suggests that results of some previous studies may have been unintentionally biased by the methods employed. In this study, we demonstrate that a form of sensitivity analysis can be used to evaluate the effects of different methods of coding taxonomic polymorphisms on the outcome of phylogenetic analyses. Our earlier analysis of higher-level relationships of bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) employed superspecific taxa as terminals and scored taxonomic polymorphisms using ambiguity coding. Application of other methods of dealing with polymorphisms (excluding variable characters, inferring ancestral states, majority coding) to the same data yields phylogenetic results that differ somewhat from those originally reported based on ambiguity coding. Monophyly of some clades was supported in all analyses (e.g., Microchiroptera, Rhinopomatoidea, and Nataloidea), while other groups found to be monophyletic in the original study (e.g., neotropical Nataloidea) appeared unresolved or nonmonophyletic when other methods were used to code taxonomic polymorphisms"

That's not really a fair thing to do to cladistics of course :D but it takes more faith than I'll ever have to wholeheartedly buy into that stuff...

Shang
02-10-2003, 06:13 PM
Coincidence?

http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid50/pea0a595442ab758a474c8ae94ea41704/fca823e6.gif

Perhaps not...

http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid50/p644190acd59b2083e284d39d25b3250c/fca823e3.gif

Keith Wilson
02-10-2003, 06:14 PM
OK, I don’t generally rant on the forum, usually contenting myself with a few ambivalent posts on Iraq and occasional answers to the few boatbuilding questions I actually know something about, but now I just can’t resist. I’ve politely ignored dogmatic libertarians, arguments that we should nuke anyone we don’t like, defenders of Al Sharpton, and the written equivalent of food fights. But Creationism!

Ladies and gentlemen, creationism, or creation “science” as its supporters sometimes call it, is utter and complete unredeemed codswallop, in the same league with Elvis sightings, alien abductions, phrenology, and the prophecies of Nostradamus.

I am a fairly religious person (for a Unitarian, anyway) and I think that religion can be a very valuable thing. However, I don’t look to religious sources to tell me how to fix my car or design a machine, nor should one use religion to explain how the different forms of living beings developed. Religion’s purpose is NOT to explain how the physical world works. It was at one time, when people knew less, and the thunder was Zeus having a bellyache or a drought was the anger of Thoth, but as our knowledge has expanded, we’ve moved beyond that. Careful observation of the world, and thinking about our observations, is what tells us how the world works. When this gets more organized, we call it science.

Of course we’ve got some of it wrong. Of course there are things we think now that are true which in 100 years, or even 20 years, we’ll think are ridiculous. Of course some scientists are narrow-minded dogmatic bastards; we’re dealing with human beings here. However, evolutionary theory is the cornerstone of modern biology, and there is no evidence whatsoever that casts doubt on the basics of natural selection. (The well-known “evolution by jerks” vs. “evolution by creeps” argument is about speciation in tens or hundreds of thousands of years vs. millions or tens of millions.)

Creationism is, bluntly, an attempt by conservative Christianity to poach on territory where it has no authority and nothing useful to say.

. . .

OK, thanks for listening, I'm much calmer now smile.gif

Memphis Mike
02-10-2003, 06:15 PM
Well, if it wasn't Mr. Ed, I can garrrrentee
it wasn't crawdads like Roger suggested.

imported_Conrad
02-10-2003, 06:22 PM
Well I stand corrected! As an intellectually lazy person I've latched onto too specific a concept, entropy, to explain the difficulty one might have accepting how higher levels of order could come to be in a system with a net energy drain. The papers Nicholas refers to suggest a more productive way to understand how an outside order or influence may be required to bring about the increased complexity we see today.

But work calls, so until later.....

Meerkat
02-10-2003, 06:27 PM
In case anyone is interested, the "law" of thermodynamics has been demonstrated (i.e proven) to be a special case of chaos theory.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled invocation of the mythical deity ;)

Ed Harrow
02-10-2003, 06:29 PM
Does all this figure into the fact that my workbench continues heading into greater and greater disorder and chaos? Might one of you have a bench that, with no provocation on your part, is becoming more orderly?

Good thread.

Ian G Wright
02-10-2003, 06:36 PM
Originally posted by Dennis Marshall:
"
I have enjoyed this thread immensely regardless of Ian W's original intent.

,,,,,and my original intent was what exactly?
Go on, you can tell me, I'm having a good day.

IanW :cool:

imported_Conrad
02-10-2003, 06:37 PM
Ah, chaos theory- now that's interesting stuff! It shows, for example, that even the "disorder" on Ed's work bench can be predicted, and really isn't random at all!

Is chaos theory the ultimate excuse for never having to clean anything up? :D

Greg H
02-10-2003, 06:50 PM
Ed's work bench and the mess it contains may not exist at all when it is not being observed.

Shang
02-10-2003, 07:54 PM
...What Keith said.

...But don't let that stop the fun !

Ian G Wright
02-10-2003, 08:29 PM
,,,,,,,, and perhaps the universe is just dust and shavings under the workbench of God,,,,,,, I wonder what he is really working on?
,,,,,,,and does he use epoxy?

IanW.

Dennis Marshall
02-10-2003, 08:55 PM
Sam F: Thank you for the mercifully short selection on evolutionary cladistics. I have only just now recovered my monophyla after it was polymorphed into angel feather and was restored by the inevitable forces of entropic degradation! :eek: In order to recover my humanity, I believe I need a sail.

Meerkat: Faith and reason don't matter. They are both illusory. :D

Dennis

Bruce Taylor
02-10-2003, 08:56 PM
I don't see Him as an epoxy sort of guy...sharp edge tools and a sure touch.

J. Dillon
02-10-2003, 09:07 PM
Hrumph !! of course Sam F, my thoughts exactly. :confused: Well put I might add. ;)

JD

Memphis Mike
02-10-2003, 09:09 PM
I'm tellin you all, It's Mr Ed! How could
anyone talk without Mr Ed?

David N.
02-10-2003, 09:25 PM
Great read ,

I wonder what argument the creationist will use should we ever find intelligent or other life form's , out side of our solar system .

Darwin was ok he was after all a wood boat bum !! .

Sam F
02-10-2003, 10:48 PM
Originally posted by Keith Wilson:

I am a fairly religious person (for a Unitarian, anyway) and I think that religion can be a very valuable thing.
I only know one Unitarian joke and it fits the subject!

What do you get when you cross a Jehova's Witness with a Unitarian?

Someone who goes door to door for no particular reason!

I grew up with a Unitarian so I have some idea of their "doctrines".
A sad fate for the Church that my friend attended 25 years ago. It's been taken over by Wiccans!
And that's no joke. :(

Mrleft8
02-10-2003, 11:20 PM
Yeah Roger, I agree..... BUT... Where did the Crawfish come from? Mudpuppies are of the mud themselves, and the Creator had lots of help from other folks that sometimes were asleep at the "Wheel". I think Earth Woman was fooling around with Kokopeli..... :D

Mike Field
02-10-2003, 11:40 PM
Originally posted by Bruce Taylor:
I don't see Him as an epoxy sort of guy...sharp edge tools and a sure touch.Well, sharp edge tools anyway.
.

Nicholas Carey
02-11-2003, 12:35 AM
Originally posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett:
Thank you, Bruce....45%...I stand corrected, and am retrieving my jaw from the floor.

This is the nation that has put some of its citizens on the Moon?Sadly, supposedly 20% of our fine, well-educated citizenry....

believe that NASA faked the whole moon landing thing in the Nevada desert -- in Area 51. Google for 'moon landing conspiracy', 'faked moon landing' or something similar.

I fear for my country.

[ 02-11-2003, 12:38 AM: Message edited by: Nicholas Carey ]

Nicholas Carey
02-11-2003, 01:04 AM
Originally posted by Sam F:
Dennis I've got a problem with entropy myself!
Have you checked out Evolutionary cladistics? Here's a mercifully short sample:
.
.
.
That's not really a fair thing to do to cladistics of course :D but it takes more faith than I'll ever have to wholeheartedly buy into that stuff...Pish-tosh...anybody can write like that.

Check out the Postmodernism Generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/cgi-bin/postmodern/). Every click a different, impenetrable and meaningless postmodernist essay.

The Postmodernist Generator uses the Dada Engine (http://dev.null.org/dadaengine/), a system for generating text from recursive grammars. You can thank the Ozzies for it. Read about its design in Monash University Department of Computer Science Technical Report 96/264 (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/cgi-bin/pub_search?104+1996+bulhak+Postmodernism): On the Simulation of Postmodernism and Mental Debility Using Recursive Transition Networks

Nicholas Carey
02-11-2003, 01:08 AM
Originally posted by Ed Harrow:
Does all this figure into the fact that my workbench continues heading into greater and greater disorder and chaos? Might one of you have a bench that, with no provocation on your part, is becoming more orderly?I've been working on that experiment for years. Nothing I can do will coax my kitchen counter into tidying itself -- except for action by an external agency (that would be me) :D

Nicholas Carey
02-11-2003, 01:14 AM
Originally posted by David N.:
GI wonder what argument the creationist will use should we ever find intelligent or other life form's , out side of our solar system .That's one of hte arguments put forth by proponents of The Unified Conspiracy Theory&reg; &mdash; that the governments of the world can't allow the [patently obvious] evidence of extraterrestrial life on account of the social turmoil that would be unleashed as every religion on the planet is undone.

Sam F
02-11-2003, 08:45 AM
Originally posted by Nicholas Carey:
[QUOTE]That's one of the arguments put forth by proponents of The Unified Conspiracy Theory&reg; &mdash; that the governments of the world can't allow the [patently obvious] evidence of extraterrestrial life on account of the social turmoil that would be unleashed as every religion on the planet is undone.Then why oh why are the Modernists (COMING SOON! Post-Modernists!) allowed to run amok in the media and propagandize our schools into irrelevance? That's a pretty lame conspiracy theory. :D :D

Sam F
02-11-2003, 08:52 AM
Ed, there are natural limits to the chaos of workbenches.
I wouldn't have believed it but I saw with my own eyes, a bench that put my sloppiness to shame. Some years ago I visited the shop of an elderly fellow who did machine work for my employer. His workbench had attained what geologists call the "angle of repose", that is, the stuff on it had reached such a slope that any addition simply rolled off.
It was awesome and I hung my head in humility for weeks afterward. smile.gif

Scott Rosen
02-11-2003, 08:59 AM
A workbench is an open, not a closed, system, so it's only as chaotic as its owner is sloppy. That's the fourth law of thermodynamics.

Roger Stouff
02-11-2003, 09:28 AM
Well, I woke up today with something relevant to say, but I see the tone of the discussion has wandered to good-natured fun, so I'll keep it brief.

I'm about 30 hours from a degree in Anthropology, though I'll probably never finish it because these dadgum wooden boats have taken all my money, time and concentration. smile.gif But anyway, while I was studying at university, my archaeology (my concentration area) professor told us something I think is relevant. I wish I had the numbers in front of me, but I can't find my old notebooks. It went like this: If you calculate the total number of species alive on the planet today, extrapolate backwards, you get a total number of species that have existed throughout history (roughly speaking.) Of that total estimate, the fossil record represents such an incredibly tiny percentage that any deductions made from it is at best educated guesswork.

Now, that's not to suggest that the whole thing is horse-hockey. But there are literally tons of pieces of evidence which don't fit the mold and are thereby ignored. Evolution, then, is probably an accurate but rudimentary understanding of a very complex process which we have only just begun to understand.

All the major sciences are dependent to some degree on each other. For evolution to work, geological science must be confirmed. If the geological paradigms change drastically, so do the biologicals.

Stephen Gould's indication that evolution can take place quickly and dramatically, what he called punctuated equilibirum, indicated that evolution perhaps works as conditions warrant. In the end, there are so many factors over so many eons of time taking place, we've only begun to skim the surface of understanding.

Creationism and Evolution proponents tend to divide themselves into rigid, unwavering camps, when IMHO, it is more likely a subtle and magical blending of the two which have created this rare and wonderful old earth of ours. When a holistic view of the sciences and spirituality can be embraced, our understanding of the universe will likely leap quickly forward.

Just my .02,

Best regards from the Rez,
R

Chris Coose
02-11-2003, 09:35 AM
It's hard to believe in natural selection while you are watching the Three Stoogesby Scott R.

Actually I thought it was more difficult to believe that we were created in "His own image and likeness" while absorbing the values of my childhood mentors/male role models.
One thing I did know from my morning religion classes though, was that it would probably be a sin if I ran a 2 point saw over my brother's head.

Keith Wilson
02-11-2003, 09:36 AM
Oh my God! "On the simulation of Postmodernism and Mental Debility . . " is just too good. If one is obscure enough, it's easy to sound profound. Reminds me of Borges: "I have mastered the secret of writing, which protects our art from the eyes of the common herd." Of course, some might accuse boat people of the same crime, what with our harpins and quarter knees and such, but it ain't really true.

Bruce Taylor
02-11-2003, 09:44 AM
That's not really a fair thing to do to cladistics of course but it takes more faith than I'll ever have to wholeheartedly buy into that stuff... Unfair all around, I'd say. I know people who would find passages from WoodenBoat magazine almost comically obscure:

"I picked up the bearding line from the lofting, established the rabbet, then spiled the garboard strake...." etc.

Technical vocabularies often sound silly to outsiders.

Ian G Wright
02-11-2003, 09:45 AM
A hundred eh? Not bad for an afterthought.

IanW

Ian G Wright
02-11-2003, 10:00 AM
You know, I wouldn't be suprised if you could get pretty near a 50% vote for any idea, old or new, daft or not, if you ask the right questions.
Does aromatherapy work? Does it work if you have no sense of smell? Is it better combined with chrystal healing? Is Cetol a great step forward or a tool of the devil? Whither epoxy? Is rot in wooden boats a bad thing (a) Yes or (b) not if it's only in other folks boats.
Upon which mountain do the majority of slack jawed cretins live? Is an afternoon nap a good thinggggggggggggg, , , , ,

IanW, wake me in a couple of hours?

ishmael
02-11-2003, 10:22 AM
I'm with Roger. Some synthesis of material reason and spiritual wisdom, which will transform our understanding of the universe and our place in it, seems just on the horizon. Wish we'd hurry up and get there already.

Rational thought and scientific exploration of matter are powerful tools, but so are techniques that fall under the rubric of "religion", such as meditation and prayer.

The problem for the scientist is that much religious practice tends toward individual experience. While certain aspects of it are quantifiable by reason, much of it remains the possession of the individual, who knows something unprovable, by way of their experience. They may be able to express it to others in ways that inspire but it is essentially private and untouchable by the scientific method.

This split between our rational and spiritual selves is often an issue for those who have been indoctrinated into one or the other. I was trained as a scientist. It was only after certain experiences outside my rational ken that I began to approach my spiritual self.

Specific dogma can be a first step, but in order to know the power of either self they must be practiced and exercised. The ability to reason is essential, and so is the ability to release what can become a cramp of the mind and approach less linear ways of being. It's easy to find a way to exercise the linear logical: go take a calculus class, or one in Newtonian physics. Finding a spiritual practice that fits can be a bit problematic. There is a lot of chaff, and strikingly less wheat about these days. But I'm conviced that if one keeps knocking, that door opens also.

Jack

[ 02-11-2003, 10:59 AM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

Bruce Taylor
02-11-2003, 10:33 AM
You're in fine form today, Jack.

Keep knocking...if somebody answers, will you hold the door open for me?

"Strong is the lion--like a coal
His eye-ball--like a bastion's mole
His chest against the foes:
Strong, the gier-eagle on his sail,
Strong against tide, th' enormous whale
Emerges as he goes.

But stronger still, in earth and air,
And in the sea, the man of pray'r;
And far beneath the tide;
And in the seat to faith assign'd,
Where ask is have, where seek is find,
Where knock is open wide."

Christopher Smart, The Song of David

[ 02-11-2003, 10:35 AM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

Sam F
02-11-2003, 10:35 AM
Originally posted by Bruce Taylor:
[QUOTE]
Unfair all around, I'd say. I know people who would find passages from WoodenBoat magazine almost comically obscure:

"I picked up the bearding line from the lofting, established the rabbet, then spiled the garboard strake...." etc.

Technical vocabularies often sound silly to outsiders.Not so very unfair Bruce. What I wanted to point out (perhaps too subtly) is that most believers in Evolution don't and probably can't understand it.

Therefore they have to take it on faith; take on faith a theory that is entirely materialistic and that denies any place for faith.
At the very least that's rather ironic isn't it?

What I did with that scientific abstract was lift the curtain a little bit to show what's really behind it. I realize that technical jargon can be obscure to the uninitiated but it can also serve to keep those same people outside, looking in at mysterious workings beyond mortal ken. It is quite possible that such a fog of obscurity can hide all sorts of flaws and misunderstandings.

In my opinion, the root problem lies in the difference between science and scientism. Real science, conscientiously carried out, will take care of itself.
Evolution however is not merely a neutral scientific idea but a potent ideological weapon, which is why it is so stoutly defended by people of a certain mind set.
Given evolution’s tentative nature (as others have pointed out) no one in his right mind would make social policy on the basis of a continuously changing and “evolving” theory. But the believers in scientism, amateur pro-Evolution boosters, do just that. They cause all sorts of chaos in society with their half understood “certainties”.
Again as opinion, I suspect that Darwinism may prove to been analogous to Ptolemaic astronomy. You know of course that Columbus and others used that astronomy to navigate. It works and is, after a fashion, true but it’s an incomplete truth.

Sam F
02-11-2003, 10:39 AM
Originally posted by ishmael:

It's easy to find a way to exercise the linear logical: go take a calculus class, or one in Newtonian physics. JackCalculus!? Easy for you maybe!! :D

Bruce Taylor
02-11-2003, 11:14 AM
Given evolution’s tentative nature (as others have pointed out) no one in his right mind would make social policy on the basis of a continuously changing and “evolving” theory. But the believers in scientism, amateur pro-Evolution boosters, do just that. They cause all sorts of chaos in society with their half understood “certaintiesHave any social Darwinists been participating in this discussion? I must have missed their contributions. If one of them should happen to speak up on behalf of these "half-understood certainties" I'll join you in setting him straight.

We do take much on faith, but not all kinds of faith are the same. Somebody mentioned thermophile bacteria, earlier. I've never seen the little buggers -- I'm relying on second-hand accounts of them -- yet, I am reasonably confident that they exist, and that I could see them myself if I had the proper instruments. Yet, my "faith" in them, if you want to call it that, behaves quite differently than my pastor's faith that God will provide. Discussing the differences could take a very long time.

That way lies epistemology, and the road is cluttered with ugly technical terms, like "apodictic certainty," "epoche" and "phenomenological bracketing". I feel tired, all of a sudden.

For an interesting discussion of certainty and faith, see Ludwig Wittgenstein's On Certainty.

Wonderful book.

[ 02-11-2003, 11:16 AM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

Adam C
02-11-2003, 11:28 AM
Our God is an awesome God he reigns in heaven above, with wisdom, power and love our God is an awesome God.

What's so difficult to understand?

Sam F
02-11-2003, 11:35 AM
Originally posted by Bruce Taylor:
[QUOTE]Have any social Darwinists been participating in this discussion? I must have missed their contributions. Have any have peeked in?
I don't recall mentioning that Capitalist crutch either btw.

Trust me on this. :D You don't want to get me started on Social Darwinism! :eek:

Bruce Taylor
02-11-2003, 12:11 PM
You did seem to have that in mind, Sam:


Given evolution’s tentative nature (as others have pointed out) no one in his right mind would make social policy on the basis of a continuously changing and “evolving” theory

Art Read
02-11-2003, 12:24 PM
"God is sitting in heaven when a scientist prays to Him.

God, we don't need you anymore. Science has finally figured out a way to
create life out of nothing - in other words, we can now do what you did in
the beginning.

Oh, is that so? Tell Me, replies God.

Well, says the scientist, we can take dirt and form it into the likeness of
you and breathe life into it, thus creating man.

Well, that's very interesting...show Me.

So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil into
the shape of a man.

No, no, no! interrupts God, Get your own dirt."

Bruce Taylor
02-11-2003, 12:29 PM
:D

Scott Rosen
02-11-2003, 12:41 PM
:D :D

Keith Wilson
02-11-2003, 12:57 PM
I think the “conflict” between science and religion is mostly illusory. Different questions, different answers. Religion (in which I’ll include philosophy and ethics) deals with questions like “What is the right thing to do?” “What does it mean?” Science (including any discipline involving rational work with the physical world) asks “What do we have here?” “What happened?” “How does it work?” Problems come when we confuse the two. Scientists have often made complete asses of themselves by trying to extrapolate into ethics and politics; Social Darwinism is the most obvious example. The cases of religion encroaching on the province of science are just as obvious, from Galileo to Bishop Wilberforce, to Lysenko (communism counts as a religion, thank you, if not a very good one) to modern creationism. I have never really understood why certain varieties of religion have so much trouble with what science has discovered. The universe, even the little of it we know about so far, is such an astounding and complex place that you’d think they would shake the scientists’ hands, say “The heavens declare the glory of God”, and leave it at that.

The essential point is that we need both. A whole human being will have generous helpings of both; it is absolutely not an either-or thing. These are questions we all need to work on, and I, at least, need all the help I can get.

FWIW, the place where Social Darwinism really caught on was Germany under the Kaiser, and then the Nazis took it well beyond its logical extreme.

Ian G Wright
02-11-2003, 01:49 PM
Originally posted by Adam C:
Our God is an awesome God he reigns in heaven above, with wisdom, power and love our God is an awesome God.

What's so difficult to understand?What? Well, punctuation, for a start.
IanW.

Meerkat
02-11-2003, 02:03 PM
Originally posted by Adam C:
Our God is an awesome God he reigns in heaven above, with wisdom, power and love our God is an awesome God.

What's so difficult to understand?Mythical Deity, line one!

Bruce Hooke
02-11-2003, 02:46 PM
Originally posted by Sam F:
Not so very unfair Bruce. What I wanted to point out (perhaps too subtly) is that most believers in Evolution don't and probably can't understand it.

Therefore they have to take it on faith; take on faith a theory that is entirely materialistic and that denies any place for faith.
At the very least that's rather ironic isn't it?I certainly could not understand much of the scientific literature on evolution, but I would vigorously dispute the idea that I therefore base my belief in the basic accuracy of the theory of evolution on "faith".

According to my American Heritage Dictionary, "faith" is defined as follows:

1. A confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. 2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. 3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance. 4a. Belief and trust in God. b. Religious conviction. 5. A system of religious beliefs. 6. A set of principles or beliefs.

Now, definition 1 would certainly apply to my views on the theory of evolution. I am confident that the basic theory of evolution is accurate. It certainly has flaws, and like most scientific theories, it is continually being refined, but I certainly confident in it's basic truth.

This brings us to definition 2, which in opinion is the heart of the matter. When it comes to my religious beliefs I cannot site any logical proof for them. However, on the theory of evolution I have the following logic to support my belief:

1. I have demonstrated to myself repeatedly that the scientific method of inquiry yields conclusions that accurately reflect the reality of the world around us.

2. I have been involved with enough science to have seen reasonably proof that the peer review process used throughout the world in modern science filters out ideas that do not have a sufficient basis in the observabed data, or that are clearly contradicted by tha observabed data (NOTE: This does not mean that there cannot be observabed data that raises questions about aspects of a theory, it just means that the theory is the best explanation yet produced for the available data, and there are no data available that fundamentally disprove the theory.)

3. I know that the people who are seriously studying evolution approach the subject via the scientific method and publish their work in peer review journals, as well as apply other peer review processes.

(Note, by the way, that it does not take a lot of science education for someone to have seen logical proof of the above three points.)

So, since I have seen proof that the scientific method, over time, leads us closer and closer to the truth, and since I have seen proof that the peer review process over time filters out "science" that is not sufficiently grounded in the scientific method, it is LOGICAL for me to conclude that the theory of evolution represents the current best thinking on how life developed and evolved, thus violating the second definition of "faith" and removing my belief in the theory of evolution from the realm of "faith". In order for this to "work" all I need to have faith in is the fundamental idea that the universe is governed by logic. It is the job of science to seek to understand this logic.

This does not mean that I don't believe in God. It means that I view God as too mysterious for me to understand via logic, and thus distinct from my approach to the logical and physical world around me. The logic that governs the universe may have been created by God, but since that cannot be proved either way, that is an issue of faith.

In closing, remember that there is much in the world that is not driven just by logic, such as many of the decisions we all make on a day to day basis. So, even if God is restricted to acting within the logic that runs the universe, there is still much that God can guide...

- Bruce

ishmael
02-11-2003, 02:55 PM
I remember watching Stephen Hawking on the TV one night, talking about his and other's search for a unified theory in modern physics. He said something to the effect: "When we find it, it will be easily explainable to the average person on the street."

It blew me away. My attempts to read modern physics have been like trying to decipher Martian love poetry, whilst having oral surgery.

I intuit the synthesis of our current dialectic between science and religion will be a similar release from narrow, provincial thinking. When it comes, it will be one of those 'aha' moments. "Well of course, why didn't we see that all along? How completely satifying and clear."

There are likely to be a few disgruntled materialists and religious dogmatists running about, but such is the way of punctuated equilibrium. ;)

I hope I live to see it.

Sam F
02-11-2003, 03:32 PM
Bruce,
Maybe I'm confused when you say:
"Now, definition 1 would certainly apply to my views on the theory of evolution. "

Aren’t we agreeing? Isn't that holding a belief based on a trusted authority?
Isn’t trust having faith in someone? In other words it’s like saying:
“I believe in Evolution because I trust scientists?”
Isn’t it the shortest of hops from that position to say that:
“I believe in God because the Pope says there is a God and I trust the Pope? :D

It seems to me, that to an empiricist, there's a fairly fine line between Faith based on authority and Faith that “does not rest on logical proof or material evidence”. A distinction yes, but not all that significant to a dedicated skeptic.

Btw, Empiricism is a tool and a darn good one but it can't and doesn't explain everything. In fact anything it can't explain is automatically thrown out. Unfortunately, removing something from consideration doesn't make it go away.

"This brings us to definition 2, which in opinion is the heart of the matter. When it comes to my religious beliefs I cannot site any logical proof for them. However, on the theory of evolution I have the following logic to support my belief"

I don't doubt that what you say is true for you, but it isn't necessarily true for other's religious faith.
I'll defer to someone better versed in Catholic theology than I (hint, hint :D ) , but reason and logic are at the core of that theology.

Bruce Hooke
02-11-2003, 03:54 PM
Sam,

Actually, my point is that I am NOT placing my trust in scientists, I'm placing my trust in science, or the scientific method, because I've seen with my own eyes that it works. Scientists are imperfect, like all human beings; science is a way to compensate for those imperfections as we search for the truth.

I would certainly agree that there are things that science and empiricism cannot explain -- that is where religion comes in. I certainly would not claim that science makes religion irrelevant.

I cannot speak to a logical basis for the beliefs of any religion because I am not aware of any (I'm not saying there aren't any, this is just outside my realm of knowledge), but I would be interested in hearing them since it my deepen my own understanding. However, in some ways religion, for me, is at its best when it does NOT try to base its beliefs to heavily in logic. I was raised in a largely Unitarian family, and my problem with the Unitarian church has long been that they seem to think everything is logical, and in so doing they forget the importance of the spirit, and the centrality in our daily lives of that which we cannot explain with logic.

Meerkat
02-11-2003, 04:08 PM
I would love to see someone make a logical argument for belief, faith and/or religion, along with supporting empherical evidence (actually, I'd just settle for the logical argument).

Bruce Taylor
02-11-2003, 04:11 PM
cannot speak to a logical basis for the beliefs of any religion because I am not aware of any"Certum est, quia impossibile est..."

Adam C
02-11-2003, 04:15 PM
meerkat,

You would love to see a logical reason for faith / religion. Conversely, I would like to see YOUR logical reason for your lack of faith / religion.

Point is, I can no more convince you of the existence of God than you can dissuade me from it.

Why Bother? You've picked your path...

Bruce Taylor
02-11-2003, 04:19 PM
Meerkat, if you're really into it...start with Augustine, then work your way through Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus and all the rest.

Pack a lunch...this could take a while.

whb
02-11-2003, 04:37 PM
The day we uncover the last piece of knowledge is the day we have no reason left to live. If love, for instance, was a predictable combination of chemicals and physics, why bother?

I would rather live with a certain amount of faith.

Howard

Meerkat
02-11-2003, 04:48 PM
Adam; You're assuming facts not in evidence. Stating that religion is not logical does not mean I have no religion. I do try to avoid faith and belief though. I'm a Zen Buddhist.

Mike Field
02-11-2003, 07:34 PM
Originally posted by Sam F:

Given evolution’s tentative nature... no one in his right mind would make social policy on the basis of a continuously changing and “evolving” theory...

You know of course that Columbus and others used that astronomy to navigate. It works and is, after a fashion, true but it’s an incomplete truth.I admit to not having followed this thread in depth, but surely there's a bit of a non sequitur here? The fact that a theory is evolving is hardly a reason for not using it as a basis for action. Rather, it's a reason for continuing to justify your actions as the underlying theory changes.

Of course it's practical to have a social policy based on a changing theory. It's the only way you'd have any social policy at all.

Columbus' use of the compass did work, just as Sam said, even though it was based on an "incomplete truth." The fact that theory has moved on and we now use gyroscopes, radio, and satellites for direction-finding instead of compasses doesn't make the discovery of America any less a fact.

What am I missing? :confused:
.

Dan McCosh
02-11-2003, 08:02 PM
I was going to stick to wooden boats, but here goes. Creationism and darwinism are not directly related, let alone mutually exclusive. The creationists are dogmatic about their religious beliefs, and will not accept any evidence or theory that contradicts them. Any Darwinist worth his salt is looking at one scientific theory, and ought to entertain any evidence or contradictory theory--otherwise, it's not science. "Social darwinism" is neither a religion nor a scientific threory--more an idiotic side trip for ideologues that tried to apply the language of a scientific theory to their own views of society.

Dennis Marshall
02-11-2003, 08:04 PM
Bruce Hooke said, "I have demonstrated to myself repeatedly that the scientific method of inquiry yields conclusions that accurately reflect the reality of the world around us."

Bruce, aren't you demonstrating is this statement the very essence of faith? Isn't it true that underlying your confidence in science's ability to make sense of the world is the belief (faith) that reality is intelligible? Isn't it true that the very foundation of your confidence in science, the faith in the intelligibility of reality, is the first principle that is impervious to rational justification? And isn't it the case that your faith in the intelligible order of the universe is confirmed in every act of demonstration that yields true knowledge of the world in which you live?

I think that your statement illuminates very well the complementary roles that faith and reason play in our knowing the fullness of reality.

Dennis

casem
02-11-2003, 09:13 PM
Don't you hate it when you come across a thread three pages too late and everything you want to say has already been said? Damn it! And I was loaded too - just got finished re-reading Carl Sagan's "Cosmos"!

Hey Meerkat, what did the Zen Buddist say to the hotdog vendor?

Meerkat
02-11-2003, 09:59 PM
casem; "Make me one with everything" ;)

IMO, faith is one of the things that makes one curious. Faith in the face of contradictory facts becomes fantasy.

casem
02-11-2003, 10:05 PM
Double Damn it!!

I guess you heard that one.

Bruce Hooke
02-11-2003, 10:24 PM
Originally posted by Dennis Marshall:
...I think that your statement illuminates very well the complementary roles that faith and reason play in our knowing the fullness of reality.

DennisWhile I think there are many ways that faith and science can compliment each other I certainly would agree that this is one of them. I think I hinted at it when I said "In order for this to 'work' all I need to have faith in is the fundamental idea that the universe is governed by logic," but I did not realize the full ramifications of what I was saying. I agree, as well, that an important corollary to this is faith in the idea that humans are capable of understanding the logic of the universe.

This does raise an interesting point in my mind. My faith in the logic of the universe and in our ability to understand this logic is reinforced regularly by my lived experience in the world. So, you could say that even this basic faith is based on logic. However, I'd guess that most people with faith in what we usually call religion find that their faith is also reinforced regularly by daily life. The only distinction left that I can see is the repeatability of scientific experiments (i.e., others can do the same experiment and get the same results - a fundamental principle of the scientific method), because I do not see repeatability as being a core component of religion. Which to me shows both how close the two are and how far apart they are...One is the inner life and the outer life...

Mike Field
02-11-2003, 10:45 PM
Originally posted by casem:
Don't you hate it when you come across a thread three pages too late and everything you want to say has already been said? :D Yep, sure do. Misc Non-Boat is moving right along here, Casey Junior. You have to paddle like hell to keep up. :D
.

Sam F
02-12-2003, 10:12 AM
Originally posted by Adam C:
meerkat,

You would love to see a logical reason for faith / religion. Conversely, I would like to see YOUR logical reason for your lack of faith / religion.

Point is, I can no more convince you of the existence of God than you can dissuade me from it.

Why Bother? You've picked your path...Adam,
Since Buddhist's numbers in the US have only recently risen to significant amounts, most people aren't familiar with their doctrines.
A wag once called Buddhism, "Catholicism without God." From my reading on the subject, that seems fairly close to the truth. At the core of that philosophy there is no God and the individual's goal is simply annihilation.
From the perspective of Western Civ, Buddhism is more like the teachings of Epicurius.
It is a philosophy of life in contrast to the revelations of Moses, Jesus or Mohammad.

ken mcclure
02-12-2003, 10:23 AM
What upsets me most about many "religious" people, be they be Creationist or Darwinist, is that they have taken unto themselves the "right" to force their beliefs on everyone else.

NormMessinger
02-12-2003, 10:28 AM
I helped a neighbor, a Seventh Day Adventist, with his harvest one year. He spent a lot of time talking to me, an adolescent, about God and the glory of heaven. He claimed heaven was in the sky just beyone where the most powerful telescopes could see. That was long before the W-Map was made. Heaven is much farther away than he thought. One wonders how he might adjust his faith to cope if he were still alive.

PatCox
02-12-2003, 10:40 AM
Sam, Stevie Wonder said "when you beleive in things that you don't understand" that is superstition. Interesting, isn't it? By that definition, a person can hold a superstitious beleif in something that is true, its just that his or her understanding of it is so faulty that they are really taking it on faith. I know a lot of people who hold such beleifs. There are people who believe that nuclear reactors produce power, for example, but ask them how and they haven't the slightest. There are people with a touching faith in "the market" and the "invisible hand," who ignore or are unaware of those aspects of market theory which point out that market failure is pretty much inevitable without government intervention. And there are people who take the theory of evolution by natural selection on faith. I am fascinated by this concept, that people can hold a supersitious beleif in things that actually are true; that doesn't change the nature of their beleif.

So thats neither here nor there. The fact is that the validity of the theory of evolution by natural selection has nothing to do with belief, it has to do with method. The theory of evolution by natural selection is as accepted as any theory in science, in fact, it is the basis of almost all biology today. Non-scientists get too caught up in the word "theory," they think this means it hasn't been proven. Thats basically an example of scientific illiteracy. Do you think Gravity doesn't exist because Einseins theory of gravitation is just a theory?

My own feeling is that I don't want my kids taught religion dressed up as junk science. Creationism is not a science, period. Everyone here has been debating evolution, which is interesting enough, but noone has mentioned the utter invalidity of "creationism" as science. Its not, its religion. If you want to teach my kids religion, fine, do so, but don't try to dress it up as science, its not science. Science is not like politics, where you are entitled to disagree, where each side gets to make its argument. Science has to do with consensus and once consensus is reached, their is no "equal time" for the dissenters. Giving equal time will only profoundly confuse kids, making them as confused and scientifically illiterate as those who think we should be teaching them "both sides."

I don't think there is any conflict between religion and science, myself. They concern themselves with different aspects of existence. The catholic church these days teaches that science illuminates gods creation so that we may better see the glory of what he created. Science, by its nature, is incapable of proving or disproving the existence of god. Hell, to my thinking, science is incapable of proving the existence of consciousness and free will. Yet we know these things exist. Look at the Turing test, that experiment regarding computers and consciousness, ever notice that it fails to even deal with whether a computer can "think" or be self aware, as we are, it just concludes that if the computer responds in such a way that we can't tell the difference, then its thinking. Thats because science is objective, it can't go deeper than that.

Likewise, religion won't teach you how to find a clean source of energy, or a cure for aids. But it will help you to understand the nature of being and your place in the universe.

God is in everything; we can catalogue and describe everything and explain how it all works, but that doesn't explain why, God is why.

hokiefan
02-12-2003, 11:01 AM
In my 9th grade Biology class (many years ago!), a student asked, "Mrs. Petty, do you believe in Evolution or in God?" She answered, "I believe with all my heart that God created the universe and everything in it. I also believe that Evolution was the way he did it." She also pointed out that the Theory of Evolution was just that, a theory. It was a theory put forward by scientists in attempt to explain observations made by those scientist. As more knowledge is gained, theories are refined, adjusted, tweaked, and sometimes scrapped in favor of another theory that better explains the data.

Its probably a good subject for another thread, but how many people have considered the short list of teachers who have really influenced your life?

Bobby

ishmael
02-12-2003, 11:02 AM
Norm's post is very interesting because it points so clearly to a medieval hangover many people who are religious (and many who aren't) have. They imagine heaven as a place not so unlike where they now reside, except with everything exceptionally pleasant. And they imagine God as some just, kindly, yet stern, greybearded sovereign, ruling for eternity (ie forever).

Many materialists, on the other hand, suffer a similar hangover from The Enlightenment. They imagine matter as some completely rational, solid stuff, behaving just like Newton said it should. Whereas modern physics has demonstrated that the vast majority of this seemingly solid stuff consists of empty space. And when you begin to pry at the nuts and bolts of it, to find out how they behave within that space, it turns out to be truly odd, from a purely linear logical perspective.

My working hypothesis.

Heaven is a state of consciousness, of being, to which we draw near by approaching eternity: not forever, but the ever present moment. More people than one imagines have flashes of the experience, but to cultivate it takes regular practice. If you don't get it now, what makes you think death will help?

God is not a creator outside of creation, but as Tillich said, the Ground of Being, again approached through cultivation of an awareness of eternal now. I like to imagine "Him" as the eternally unfolding creation. But we are admonished in the Hebrew Testament not to make any graven images, that is to not hold on to our imaginings.

As we, with our scientific minds approach the universe more and more deeply we find that this ground of being is odder than ever imagined. I would suggest to those with a religious bent to consider the possibility that God is the same.

Sam F
02-12-2003, 11:24 AM
Originally posted by Mike Field:
[QUOTE]

I admit to not having followed this thread in depth, but surely there's a bit of a non sequitur here? The fact that a theory is evolving is hardly a reason for not using it as a basis for action. Rather, it's a reason for continuing to justify your actions as the underlying theory changes.

Of course it's practical to have a social policy based on a changing theory. It's the only way you'd have any social policy at all.

Columbus' use of the compass did work, just as Sam said, even though it was based on an "incomplete truth." The fact that theory has moved on and we now use gyroscopes, radio, and satellites for direction-finding instead of compasses doesn't make the discovery of America any less a fact.

What am I missing? :confused:
.The problem with analogies is that sometimes they obscure rather than illuminate. I'm sorry if that's the case here.

My beef with Evolutionists is that some of them are easily as doctrinaire as any Fundamentalist.

To make Evolution "work" the theory has evolved a bit. From what I know of it, the changes are peripheral. At its core, the theory is still entirely materialistic.
At any rate, to the doctrinaire Evolutionists it is now and ever shall be Darwin. If any respected biologist had denounced him, I am unaware of it. Therefore it seems a fair place to start.

To sum it up:
Darwinian Evolution has to be taken on Faith. (at a minimum using Bruce Hooke's definition #1). Yet many (not Bruce!) deceive themselves into pretending that only facts are involved and therefore Faith has no effect. That is at the least hypocritical.
Even common language usage betrays that. It is very ordinary to hear and read statements that include "I believe in Evolution".
In my book, Faith is, well, Faith. It may as well boil down to: "My creation myth is better than yours." So long as that Faith is above board and in the open, I have not the slightest problem with it. But in the case of Evolution it isn’t.

That brings us to the social aspect. Darwinism's materialistic essence has widespread effects on society in ways that Ptolemy’s astronomy never could have. There is nothing so important to a people as their creation myth. It serves as a blueprint for society.
If we are God's children, his creatures as it were, that view has profound effects on society as a whole. In a mundane matter, if God says "Vengeance is mine." and enough people take it seriously, it has wide-spread effects on criminal justice and indeed the whole concept of justice. If a criminal slips through the net and gets away, a Christian believes he will nevertheless still face consequences. If he’s caught, certain things must not be done to him because he is God’s creature, not just a mere creature of the state.

If on the other hand, we are all just so much accidental stuff with no underlying purpose or destiny then that too has deep social consequences. In the criminal's example, if he's never caught he gets off scott free. To take things one step further, if we are all just an accident, what meaning can justice have anyway? The whole concept of right and wrong is just as much an accident as we are. If someone murders you, so what? He is just a biological machine, driven by genetics and/or environment. It’s just your bad luck to have crossed his path. And what was your life worth anyhow? You’re just another automaton as well.
This is the operation of a different sort of evidence. If Evolution is taken seriously, and its logical conclusions are spread through out society the result is intolerable and frankly stupid. Which is why that hasn’t entirely happened. It is not definitive proof of the theory’s falsehood but it is suggestive.

If it so happened that our origins were entirely materialistic, the workings of accidental and therefore meaningless cause and effect (as in Darwinism) and it were proved true… So be it. I'll live with the consequences, but it isn't proved and there is no prospect of it ever being so.

PatCox
02-12-2003, 11:29 AM
But Sam, there's the thing, I don't even understand why anyone has to beleive darwin is any threat to their creation myth. My church endorses evolution as a useful means of understanding the process by which god created the world. Darwin himself was a member of my faith.

Bruce Taylor
02-12-2003, 11:33 AM
Well said, Jack...you are in fine form.

Meerkat
02-12-2003, 05:00 PM
Originally posted by Sam F:
Adam,
Since Buddhist's numbers in the US have only recently risen to significant amounts, most people aren't familiar with their doctrines.
A wag once called Buddhism, "Catholicism without God." From my reading on the subject, that seems fairly close to the truth. At the core of that philosophy there is no God and the individual's goal is simply annihilation.
From the perspective of Western Civ, Buddhism is more like the teachings of Epicurius.
It is a philosophy of life in contrast to the revelations of Moses, Jesus or Mohammad.Sam; that's the problem with relying on wags - you miss the rest of the dog. I would say your reading has mostly been about Tibetan Buddhism, which I would agree is the catholicism of buddhist sects: lots of robes, ritual and incense. There are other sects of Buddhism that can be likened in their practice to Baptists and Episcopalians. Point being that Buddhism is no more monocultural (for lack of a better term) then is Islam or Christianity. There are at least two major divisions and countless schools within Buddhism.

Charaterizing (incorrectly) Buddhism as nilistic or annihilistic in nature suggests to me that you've mostly read the likes of Watts, Huxley and others who have tried to analyize Buddhism from within a western contextual framework. Buddhists don't belive in an imminant transcendental anthropomorphic "god", but we/I surely believe in "godness" - there is nothing that is not god. If the goal of Buddhists was personal annihilation, suicide would be a quick avenue to nirvana. In contrast, the real goal of Buddhists is to annihilate the illusory idea that there is any distinction between self and "godness" - perhaps how "make me one with everything" makes some sense?

I get the impression that you're trivializing Buddhism. If all you are going by is western thinking on the matter, that's perhaps understandable. I suggest you read D.T. Suzuki, Thich Nhat Hanh (who is a bit too sentimental for my tastes much of the time) or a host of other easterners writing in, or translated to, english. Another excellent book is Goddard's "A Buddhist Bible". Philip Kapleau and Robert Aitkin are also outstanding sources!

Of course, if you really want to know Buddhism, in contrast to knowing about Buddhism, I suggest a brief stint of meditation. 5 minutes a day for a month will likely tell you more then all the books ever written. (NB: Buddhist (specifically Zen) meditation, not Transcendental Meditation or other forms that focus on things outside of oneself.) An appendix to Philip Kapleau's "3 Pillars of Zen" is an excellent source of information on Zen meditation.

[ 02-12-2003, 05:24 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Adam C
02-12-2003, 05:54 PM
Meerkat,

Get a grip.

Adam

Keith Wilson
02-12-2003, 06:06 PM
"If Evolution is taken seriously, and its logical conclusions are spread through out society the result is intolerable . . ."

This has been a criticism of evolution for a long time. It's why, for example, William Jennings Bryan, who was no fool, and certainly not a wild-eyed bible-thumper, got involved in the Scopes tial. However, it happens to be wrong.

Several points:

Evolution is a deduction from observation of the physical world. If one likes or dislikes the conclusion, that has absolutely no bearing on whether it is true or false. That's equivalent to saying "If the odd sound in my car's engine really is a bad rod bearing, the results would be intolerable, therefore it can't be." The physical world is how it is regardless of our feelings about it.

However, evolution is only a description of what has happened, based on the best evidence we have. Those who think they can logically develop from evolutionary theory a "scientific" definition of right and wrong behavior, and there have been a few, are as deluded as the creationists and possibly more dangerous. How we should treat other people, and the value and meaning of our lives, has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not we and chimps had a common ancestor. There are many varieties of religion that accept evolution easily, without the slightest tendency to regard human beings as worthless automatons.

Meerkat
02-12-2003, 06:08 PM
Originally posted by Adam C:
Meerkat,

Get a grip.

AdamAdam;

Make a constructive post.

Meerkat

Adam C
02-12-2003, 06:36 PM
Meerkat,

Do you really buy into that garbage? I mean, if you are going to practice that utter foolishness to your own destruction at least abide by its tenets.

You seem to be bound by the Ten Fetters, Grasshopper...

[ 02-12-2003, 06:36 PM: Message edited by: Adam C ]

Meerkat
02-12-2003, 06:56 PM
Adam C; What garbage do you buy into?

Ross Faneuf
02-12-2003, 07:01 PM
If one considers any group of people who hold a belief in common, then one discovers that the basis for that belief vary among the group. In any group - say, those who believe in Darwinian evolution - some will hold that belief 'on faith'. They are laymen who choose (or must) accept the statement of the expert.

But the expert does not take the 'belief' on faith (at least, not if they are scientists). Their 'belief' is constructed on a rigorous framework of fact, inference, and theory, and typically includes careful statements of the level of accuracy (or inaccuracy) of what they say. An excellent example is the the announcement, in the last few days, of the results of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation experiment which allows a computation of the age of the universe at 13.7 billion years with an accuracy of 1%, replacing older estimates which varied between 12 and 15 billion years.

All scientific work does, actually, have an element of faith, although this is rarely of fundamental concern except in some branches of mathematics. This ground of belief has to do with fundamental axioms which no-one has succeeding in proving, and simply have to be accepted. An example is that time runs in one direction only (from the past to the future), or the basic axioms which underly mathematics (for instance, that addition works). None of these meaningfully affect this discussion - unless you really, passionately, believe that the universe is not 13.7 billion years old; which requires faith in a non-fact.

Most of us are, at best, expert in only one thing, and then only if we work hard and are luck. Of course we accept the pronouncements of experts in other areas 'on faith'. We have no choice. But we can expect that, for the most part, these experts have something more than 'blind faith' to go on. I would accept a Naval Architect's statement that a given boat design has adequate stability without necessarily knowing the exact details or reasons for her assertion. I have 'faith' in her expertise, but expect her to know how to apply stability criteria/calculations, and derivethem to some ultimate authority if challenged. 'Looks good' doesn't wash.

For me, the issue between Darwinian Evolution and Creationism is simple enough. Is there any way to support Creationism except by invoking faith in the sense of 'crea quia impossible'? I don't think so. By this I mean, that even the experts have only their faith to justify their belief. For me, in contrast with a genuinely scientific theory, this is completely unconvincing.

Evolution is a fact; it doesn't require me to believe/disbelieve. It's just there. No other explanation for the variety of life on earth achieves the status of a fact.

Let's remember that Darwin's theory, and its elaboration over the last 144 years, is not a theory of whether evolution occurs. Darwin took evolution as a fact, and so have all his successors. His theory is about the mechanism of evolution - how it occurs.

[ 02-12-2003, 07:09 PM: Message edited by: Ross Faneuf ]

Sam F
02-12-2003, 08:34 PM
Originally posted by PatCox:
But Sam, there's the thing, I don't even understand why anyone has to beleive darwin is any threat to their creation myth. My church endorses evolution as a useful means of understanding the process by which god created the world. Darwin himself was a member of my faith.Pat it isn't a threat to mine if that's what you mean. Believe it or not my homeschooled kids are exposed to evolutionary theory. But it isn't taught with out its flaws being presented. I think that's just being honest. We don't do Creation Science at all btw.

If you check out my first post on this thread you'll notice that I didn't use religious criticisms of Evolution. I generally don't. Religion isn't science and Science should never be treated like a religion. Unfortunately Science often is, which is one point I've been trying to make. It's a bad thing to do. It's bad religion and worse science.

Another point is that ideas have consequences. It isn't really possible for large numbers of people in society to hold allegiance to a materialistic vision of reality without having some effect on society. The effect isn't particularly salutary. That’s painfully evident if anything is. Remember the USSR?
.
I heard Stevie Wonder's Superstition song for the first time in years last week. Great stuff. Do you remember the Secret Life of Plants? I read the book that was based on... cabbages communicating with an unknown force to an unknown galaxy… and that was scary stuff! :D

Anyway I can't help but wonder if superstition isn't in the eye of the beholder. I've read Pagan Roman writers disparaging the superstitions of barbarians. Or was that just the pot calling the kettle black?

Meerkat
02-12-2003, 08:43 PM
Well, I guess I'm not destined to hear back from Sam on my response to his Buddhism post. Nor, it appears from Adam C. about his preferred "garbage".

Matters not: I'm perfectly happy with my "garbage" and he and everyone else is welcome to practice their own brand of "garbage" even if it involves ritual cannibalism, intolorance and bigotry.

Sam F
02-12-2003, 08:51 PM
Originally posted by Meerkat:
[QUOTESam; that's the problem with relying on wags - you miss the rest of the dog. I would say your reading has mostly been about Tibetan Buddhism, which I would agree is the catholicism of buddhist sects .Correct the "wag" was speaking of Tibetan Buddhism. You know wag means it's not to be taken too seriously?


Originally posted by Meerkat:
[QUOTE]
Charaterizing (incorrectly) Buddhism as nilistic or annihilistic in nature suggests... .Don't worry I'm not suggesting that Buddhists are followers of Nietzsche!


Originally posted by Meerkat:
[QUOTE]
Buddhists don't belive in an imminant transcendental anthropomorphic "god", but we/I surely believe in "godness" - there is nothing that is not god. .Remember I said from a Western Civ perspective?
And from that perspective Buddhists don't believe in anything defined as God.


Originally posted by Meerkat:
[QUOTE]
If the goal of Buddhists was personal annihilation, suicide would be a quick avenue to nirvana. In contrast, the real goal of Buddhists is to annihilate the illusory idea that there is any distinction between self and "godness" - perhaps how "make me one with everything" makes some sense?
Exactly what I meant. The goal is personal annihilation. The difference between annihilation and becoming one with godness is, again from a Western perspective, a distinction without a difference.


Originally posted by Meerkat:
[QUOTE]
I get the impression that you're trivializing Buddhism. Meer, I honestly intend no such thing. Buddhism has a ancient and noble tradition. If I had to go the philosophical/religion route I'd prefer Stoicism but I can see the appeal of Buddhism.

I don't mean this as an insult, but I sometimes wish you'd set a better Buddhist example. I also wish you'd make some attempt to stop trivializing other faiths as well.

Meerkat
02-12-2003, 09:25 PM
Sam; Thank you for responding.

When a westerner talks about a spiritual union with god, we generally don't think of him as becoming god or taking on the aspect of god or losing his sense of self. In like wise, realization of enlightenment, the union with "godness" is comparable IMO. To me, "personal annihilation" implies the death of sense of self/identity and I don't think that's what enlightenment is. Perhaps our difference is more one of semantics then substance...?

I mistyped before: there are two general theories of what is "god". The west holds god to be a transcendental anthropomorphic being called God and eastern religions in general have the concept of imminance wherein everything is god: there is nothing that is not god. De gustibus non est desputandum (but I would point out that the contrast seems a bit like creationism vs. evolution: god is made to fit the beliefs vs. silence on the specific nature of godness). Buddhists believe in godness, they just don't believe in "god". The difference seems to me to be one of "everything comes from god" (i.e. creation) vs "everything is god".

I am curious to know what concept you have of what a good Buddhist is such that you can suggest I ought to act more like a good Buddhist. I am personally not aware that Buddhists are expected/taught to act in any certain way.

I don't want to comment on "trivializing" - it would probably just lead to more rancor. I don't recall having called other religions "garbage", although I do admit to having made disparaging remarks (but I have NOT suggested that anyone ought to give up their beliefs and follow my preferred ones - a trait common among other religions!).

PatCox
02-12-2003, 10:29 PM
Sam, then you are reasonable and right, if I understand you correctly. The real issue in the US is the teaching, not the validity of the theory. Evolution ought to be taught in biology class, religion, including creation myths, should be left to your religious upbringing. I would protest against any atheist teacher trying to use evolution to disprove religion as loudly as I protest against the teaching of creationism.

As a practical matter, being aware of the several contentious and still debated areas involving evolution theory, I think its probable that most high school courses never rise to that level of sophistication in the understanding of the theory that these "problems" can be properly contextualized. Ie, gaps in a theory in particular circumstances are not necessarily sufficient to cast doubt on the general rule. It takes a thorough understanding of the philosophy of science in order to place a discussion of the "failures" of evolutiuon in a proper perspective.

Keith Wilson
02-13-2003, 10:20 AM
"Another point is that ideas have consequences. It isn't really possible for large numbers of people in society to hold allegiance to a materialistic vision of reality without having some effect on society. The effect isn't particularly salutary. That’s painfully evident if anything is. Remember the USSR?" Ideas certainly have consequences. I'd say, however, that there are several fallacies here. First, a purely "materialistic" view is by no means necessary to accept the evidence of evolution. I'd submit that there is no essential connection whatsoever. God can work through evolution just as well as spontaneous creation. Evolution is only incompatible with certain very narrow forms of biblical literalism, and there's a whole world of religion, a whole world of Christianity even, outside that camp.

Second, although I'm scarcely an atheist, It's certainly not "painfully evident" that "materialistic" and atheist, or at least agnostic, beliefs necessarily result in worse behavior than a theistic/religious view. One can of course be a jerk and an atheist, just as one can be a jerk and a christian, muslim, or buddhist. Likewise, one can be kind and virtuous regardless of one's belief in non-material things. The behavior of groups and states likewise offers little evidence that religion as such helps a whole lot - for every St Teresa, there's a Torquemada. I'll see your USSR and raise you the crusades - it can go on endlessly.

The old USSR is certainly not any place I'd want to live. However, I would submit that the troubles with the USSR were a result of tyranny, not materialism. The current governments of most western European countries and Japan are at least as materialistic (if by that one means non-religious, rather than greedy) as the old USSR, and although they’re not perfect, they are certainly not bad places to be.

Don't misunderstand me; I’m not saying that the standards of right and wrong taught by religion are not important or necessary, just that ethics and ethical behavior has no necessary connection to belief in non-material things, or belief in a deity.

Again, neither ethical behavior nor religious belief has any connection whatsoever with whether or not humans and chimps had a common ancestor.

Rocky
02-13-2003, 10:48 AM
Creationism is not the only theory that has a lot of fantasy in it, and if you accept that our history begins with the Great Flood then much of what the Bible says is literally true. And there are things that science did not predict or cannot account for, such as the life thriving around the black smokers in the deep ocean. Another one that intrigued me was that Venus, about the same size as Earth, should, by dint of its location, be about 90 degrees hotter than the earth, but is some 1600 degrees hotter because of some runaway greenhouse effect. You could say Earth was "blessed" and Venus "cursed." The main thing I learned in college was that obscure prose is always hiding something. Its real purpose is to disenfranchise the uninitiated from noticing or pointing out inconsistencies, unproven assumptions, and dishonesties in the theory. Since the claims made by the hard sicences can be verified, this is less of a problem, but not a nonexistent one.

Adam C
02-13-2003, 11:46 AM
Meerkat,

I was away for a while, not ingoring your questions.

Here is a PORTION of what the Bible tells me:

1. God, an omniscient, omnipotent being, created the earth by speaking it into existence.

2. God sent his only son Jesus to this earth, that whomsoever would believe in him would have eternal life. Conversely, those who did not, would not have eternal life.

Obviously, this is a brief synopsis and the breadth of my belief is quite a bit more complex. But that's the gist of it.

Adam

NormMessinger
02-13-2003, 12:28 PM
God is a mutation.

No, really. When a trait is so wide spread among isolated populations of any species there must be a genetic component. Seems to me a belief in some sort of "Power beyond human comprehension" is universally imbedded in humans. It might even be one of those comparatively few mutations that became the edge that the human animal has over all others that has put us at the top of the food chain. When was man "created in the image of God?" Why didn't the leopards eat Lucy?

Give a guy a little inkling of the power of DNA and there's no telling what he'll do with it. :rolleyes:

Meerkat
02-13-2003, 02:33 PM
Adam C; Ok. I recall that book. I believe it has a passage that says something along the lines of "I am the way and the light". Where does it say "I'm the only way and the only light"? I'm sure it's in there somewhere: Christians share the same convictions as the Jews, the Islamics and the Hindus (among others) that theirs is the one and only true revelation of god (or gods). Alas, from this rises intolorance and a willingness to call what you don't believe in "garbage". "Garbage" is only a label, like Christianity, Judasim, Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism that has nothing to do with the experience of those religions. I know you chose it to belittle what you don't agree with and/or don't understand, but the label is not the thing and does not diminish the thing unless you mistake the label for the thing.

I hope you come to realize that what's right for you doesn't make other beliefs wrong and that all people are far more alike than they are different. We are all members of the same nose-hole society and all on the journey of our lives, each on his/her own path.

Peace.

Meerkat
02-13-2003, 02:35 PM
Norm; It's been suggested that religion is a form of mental virus smile.gif

Adam C
02-13-2003, 04:10 PM
Meerkat,

Why don't you read the rest of it?

I am the way, the truth and the life, NO MAN COMETH TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.

I can quote a hundred scriptures along these lines. You don't have to believe in the bible. or anything, for that matter.

Just don't tell me what the bible says BEFORE ACTUALLY READING IT YOURSELF.

Regardless of whether you believe in it yourself, we can still debate on the bible and it's content. Strictly academic.

And I'm tired of spinless moral relativism...what is true for me is not true for you. There is only one truth. If your religion is hailed as the only truth, and mine is hailed as the only truth, one must be wrong.

[ 02-13-2003, 04:12 PM: Message edited by: Adam C ]

NormMessinger
02-13-2003, 04:17 PM
Um, I don't know about the meer. You mean like our cells are merely a home for the mitacondria? Then perhaps. So you are infering that since I am not religous there must be a phague, perhaps T-666 that has destroyed my infection?

So, why the universal "infection" of humans by religon of one sort or another if it is not genetic?

Chris Coose
02-13-2003, 04:18 PM
The Dahli Lama has been known to say that if science comes up with something that doesn't jive with the text, then the buddhists will change it.

Change is constant. No attachment.

Gotta love the guy.

Meerkat
02-13-2003, 04:24 PM
Adam; I have read the Bible some number of times - also aptly called the Gospel Fairy Tales.

Yup, if several religions all claim to be the one true truth, then it stands to reason that all but one of them are wrong - or that massive self-conceit isn't limited to one culture :D Most Buddhist sects makes no such claim. Most religions can easily be mistaken for the triumph of marketing over common sense if you're not taken in by the mumbo-jumbo.

I recall something else from the bible: "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you". Isn't that the golden rule? Does that only apply to fellow-christians?

You said "what is true for me is not true for you". I don't agree. You/I/We all need air, water, shelter and food. After that, most things are optional. You practice one religion, I practice another. That's the truth, and the only absolute truth is that we're born, we live and then we die. What we do between birth and death is up to us and there are as many ways to live as there are people on the planet.

[ 02-13-2003, 04:32 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Don Olney
02-13-2003, 04:27 PM
http://groups.msn.com/isapi/fetch.dll?action=MyPhotos_GetPubPhoto&PhotoID=nGAAAAH0GF0DW8su9B92akI1fnZZ1GWKq8VzLDOm88 H3OJoZ6WKlshwAAAAAAAAAA

Adam C
02-13-2003, 04:31 PM
Yes Meerkat, that applies to everyone. That's why I'm not going to argue with you about something I know very little about. Like buddhism. Why don't you reciprocate?

You also have a limited repertoire of bible paraphrases that ought not to be presented here. You can very easily distort the meanings by forgetting the context.

Peace.

Adam

Meerkat
02-13-2003, 04:37 PM
Originally posted by NormMessinger:
Um, I don't know about the meer. You mean like our cells are merely a home for the mitacondria? Then perhaps. So you are infering that since I am not religous there must be a phague, perhaps T-666 that has destroyed my infection?

So, why the universal "infection" of humans by religon of one sort or another if it is not genetic?In this theory of mental viruses, they're spread by word of mouth ;)

I'm not sure what cures one of such plagues (that will get Sam going - Sam; it's only an expression! ;) ), but it might have something to do with education finally outweighing belief and a willingness to stand outside the context from which such things made sense.

Meerkat
02-13-2003, 04:57 PM
Adam; As it happens, I was, at least nominally, a christian from birth to 18 years of age. I have read the bible and other christian sources repeatedly, gone to sunday school and church etc. etc. etc. I even won a bible quizz competition. If quotes from the bible ought not to be mentioned here, where should they be mentioned?

If it helps to balance things, here's one of Buddha's from his Parinirvana Sutra: "Let your own light be your guide". By this, he meant that you should let no authority outside of yourself decide for you what life is or what following the path (of Buddhism, but really, of any path) means. Wise words - illustrating that wisdom and truth are not limited to any one belief.

Ian G Wright
02-13-2003, 06:36 PM
Go thread,go! I'm proud of you!

IanW.

ishmael
02-13-2003, 06:46 PM
Interesting to me is the rapproachment between Buddhism and Catholicism. Thomas Merton is the modern seed, but I have a friend who is both a practioner of Vipassana and a devout Catholic.

Evangelical Protestants doubtless find this just more of the Devil's works; one more sign of the incipient battle between Christ and Anti-Christ, but I suspect such meeting of contemplative impulses is a very positive sign.

It's important to remember that Christianity is very diverse. If I were ever to devote myself to a Christian vision of the world, it would definately be Catholic. Even without the Latin mass, they have the best ritual. :D

Oh, and Meerkat, don't you think "ritual cannibalism" a bit fatuous and ungenerous? The consumption of the transubstantiated host (and Sam can correct me) is in order to take in the essence of the Christ, not to eat some dead body. How is that so different from your attempt to empty and so become "godness"?

It is this snipeing at other's beliefs that I think Sam was complaining about...snipeing without consideration of their symbolic power and meaning for the worshipper.

One human impulse is to empty of image, as represented by the more refined Buddhist traditions, and so become who one is. Another impulse is to engage the image, as represented by some of Christianity, and so become who one is.

Who are you to call one superior? They are both potential ways to enlightenment, and only the individual can decide which path is theirs.

[ 02-13-2003, 07:05 PM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

Meerkat
02-13-2003, 06:58 PM
There is a catholic priest and a jewish rabi who are both also Zen Buddhists. Undoubtedly other "multi-faiths" too. The Japanese in particular are big on multi-faith: a little Buddhism, some Christianity and a drop of Shinto, each covering different aspects of their beliefs/spiritual needs.

Dennis Marshall
02-13-2003, 07:15 PM
Meerkat said: "If it helps to balance things, here's one of Buddha's from his Parinirvana Sutra: "Let your own light be your guide". By this, he meant that you should let no authority outside of yourself decide for you what life is or what following the path (of Buddhism, but really, of any path) means. Wise words - illustrating that wisdom and truth are not limited to any one belief."

Meerkat, I think you might be putting words in Buddha's mouth. It is true that he said to "be your own lamp." This instruction was given to his disiples during his dying moments as they began to mourn their loss of their spiritual master. The fact of the matter is that Buddha established the "Middle Way" of the eightfold path so that those who followed it would achieve moksha from samsara by the extinction of desire and hence suffering. If one followed the way set forth by the Buddha, then one would experience the same liberation as the Buddha himself. Since no-one can come to enlightenment for another, the "be your own lamp" teaching is placed in its proper context.

Consequently, this does not mean "you should let no authority outside of yourself decide for you what life is or what following the path (of Buddhism, but really, of any path) means." The path of the Buddha is the path of Enlightenment. Consequently, the 4 noble truths and the eightfold path are the measure by which one's quest for enligthenment is measured and not vice versa. If the Buddha thought that following just any path was appropriate for achieving englightenment, he would have remained a Hindu.

The Buddha's focus on the individual's ability to achieve enlightenment represents a sharp dichotomy between the religious views of the Orient and Occident. In one sense, the quest for liberation in the East (including the insights of Greek Philosophy) demonstrates the universal human erotic drive to know being in its fullness. The wisdom gained from that search, of course, enriches humanity down to today. In the Occident, however, the focus is on the divine agapaic movement toward humanity and it is in God's revelation and the human response to that revelation in faith that constitutes the very soul of Western religion.

Here we have two very different conceptions of the nature of reality. They cannot help but clash because the truth claims of both East and West make absolute, not relative, claims about the nature of reality and the meaning and purpose of human existence.

Dennis

Sam F
02-13-2003, 09:15 PM
Today was busy hence the slow reply Keith.


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
[QUOTE] First, a purely "materialistic" view is by no means necessary to accept the evidence of evolution. … God can work through evolution just as well as spontaneous creation… I agree. I had hoped that I was clear on that. Evolution isn't necessarily materialistic.
Darwinism however is entirely so.


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
[QUOTE]Second, although I'm scarcely an atheist, It's certainly not "painfully evident" that "materialistic" and atheist, or at least agnostic, beliefs necessarily result in worse behavior than a theistic/religious view. One can of course be a jerk and an atheist, just as one can be a jerk and a christian, muslim, or buddhist. Likewise, one can be kind and virtuous regardless of one's belief in non-material things.
It is not the occasional person born with a mild temperament that is a concern. They are fairly harmless in any environment. It’s the people with a predisposition to nastiness that you have to worry about! My contention is that the prevailing "Creation Myth" stamps its character on a society. That’s why neither you or I would want to live in the old USSR!


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
[QUOTE]The behavior of groups and states likewise offers little evidence that religion as such helps a whole lot - for every St Teresa, there's a Torquemada. I'll see your USSR and raise you the crusades - it can go on endlessly.
I'll take the bet!

You are correct that in Christian societies one can find both saints and sinners.
It is, after all, a state of affairs predicted by Christianity.
But please tell me what saints Communism produced?
The answer is not one. The old USSR had its share of brave and moral people. Usually called dissidents, none had allegiance to Communist ideology. That's why they dissented. Some were indeed saints, but they were so contrary to their society’s governing myth.

The discouragement of good and the cultivation of evil is what make Materialist societies so good at killing their citizens. It’s not that other societies don’t do wicked and evil things but that there are no brakes on that behavior in a Materialist system.
There is no comparison between the body counts of Communist countries and any other contenders. My old Guinness book of records list deaths in the USSR in the “Great Purge of 1936-38 at 8,000,000 to 10,000,000 as being “not an exaggeration” while Chairman Mao managed to rack up a total of 26,300,000 between 1948-1965.
Those are depressing numbers.


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
[QUOTE] ... The current governments of most western European countries and Japan are at least as materialistic (if by that one means non-religious, rather than greedy) as the old USSR, and although they’re not perfect, they are certainly not bad places to be. Sorry, I should have defined terms earlier. In case it's being misunderstood, by materialism I mean a philosophical theory that "regards matter and its motions as constituting the Universe and all its phenomena, including those of the mind as due to material agencies."

I don't mean the sort of materialism where I might feel impelled to by a new Buick every year to keep up with the neighbors!


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
[QUOTE]Don't misunderstand me; I’m not saying that the standards of right and wrong taught by religion are not important or necessary, just that ethics and ethical behavior has no necessary connection to belief in non-material things, or belief in a deity.
Yes. I agree that ethics don't necessarily have much to do with religion. I think, as the term is usually used, it is more akin to manners... something tied to a particular time place and culture. That's why over time "ethicists" positions change. Watching them would be so amusing it the results were so sad.

Owens Cutter
02-13-2003, 10:11 PM
Excuse me but has anyone in the last 4 pages remembered for a minute WE ARE ON A WOODEN BOAT FORUM . ---Having said that--- did anyone recall how much of Jesus' life had to do with wooden boats , the sea , men who owned wooden boats, a guy who wasn't afraid of a little stormy weather. They called him KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS
If any of you could vote for a king in your life,
HELLO , This the guy you'd want running the ship,
Not some fiberglass guy.
as far as the round thing Don't get me started with "as far as east is from west" the wind and its "circuits" ... A GOD WHO SAILS WOODEN BOATS ...WHERE DO I SIGN UP?

Meerkat
02-13-2003, 10:36 PM
The nearest thing I could find on the web to the "let your own lamp be your guide" speech from the Parinirvana Sutra (Buddha's deathbed talk) is this:

"Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.
I have seen this translated in terms of "light and "guide", but this seems to be a good translation all the same
"Dhamma" is generally translated as "the way" or "the path" and in Buddhism does mean the Buddhist Way, the 8-fold Noble Path. My view is that everyone has his/her "way" to follow. Some follow Christianity, some Judaism etc. My opinion is that Buddha meant that you should discern the truth for yourself, not accepting blindly the teaching(s) of others. I think this sums it up as well:

Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it . . . or because it is traditional, or because you yourself have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings--that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
I don't agree that extinction of desire is the heart of Buddha's teaching. I think it is the extinction of attachment (to desire). Perhaps a matter of semantics, but I'm not so sure of that.

Dennis, that was a very scholarly response to my casual post on the subject. I would be interested in knowing what your background in Buddhism is.

Gassho

[ 02-13-2003, 11:23 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

PatCox
02-13-2003, 11:22 PM
Well, Owens, I have often thought that Jesus must have built boats, or at least repaired them. If, as the gospels said, his closest disciples were fishermen, he lived for a time at capernaum on the sea of galilee, spent time on boats and fishing. Of course, the gospels nowhere say he was a carpenter, is the only problem, only that he is the son of a carpenter. But its a nice thought.

Ian G Wright
02-14-2003, 04:27 AM
Don't die little thread, fly, be free!

IanW.

Mike Field
02-14-2003, 05:11 AM
Originally posted by Meerkat:
My view is that everyone has his/her "way" to follow. Some follow Christianity, some Judaism etc. Meerkat, presumably the "etc" in that quote above really means --

"-- and some have to be dragged kicking and screaming to get them to move down any path at all." :rolleyes:

Is that it?
.
.

Dennis Marshall
02-14-2003, 07:27 AM
Meerkat, let us just say that I have dabbled here and there.

I will agree that the Buddha insisted that his disciples not look to anything outside of themselves for enlightenment. In his doctrine, the secret to liberation lies within and not without. Nevertheless, the 8 fold path is still Buddha's challenge and experiment for his disciples to see for themselves that he teaches truth and the only way to discern that is to travel it.

Cessation of desire is the meaning of nirvana/nibbana. To clear up semantic confusion, we can look at the 4 noble truths in which Buddha outlines his vision of reality:

1. All life is suffering (dukkha).
2. Suffering is caused by desire (tanha).
3. To end suffering, end desire.
4. To end desire, follow the 8 fold path.

From this you can see that there is a real difference between the cessation of desire and detachment from desire. The contradiction I find in Buddha's thought is that it seems that all desire is eradicated except the desire for liberation which keeps one on the path. I find Buddhism quite attractive, in a Pelagian sort of way, but unsatisfactory on a variety of fronts, namely: his view of the human being, his view toward physical reality, to name two. I think the Western faiths, especially Christianity, have a much richer view.

As far as the question of Buddhist's believing in "godness" or the universal presence of a "Buddha nature" in everyone is a development on the Buddha's original teaching. It is difficult to say since the closest thing we have to Buddha's original teaching is the "Dhammapada" and this,many believe, is tainted by his disciples interpretations. Originally, Buddhism was atheistic at least, and agnostic at most, on questions of the divine. As Buddhism spread throughout the Orient, it adopted many cultural beliefs. This is why the Mahayana buddhist ideal (of which Zen is a part) is rather different from the Theravada buddhist ideal. Consequently, there are as many arguments over true doctrine within Buddhism as there are among Christians.

Dennis

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 07:55 AM
Originally posted by Mike Field:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Meerkat:
My view is that everyone has his/her "way" to follow. Some follow Christianity, some Judaism etc. Meerkat, presumably the "etc" in that quote above really means --

"-- and some have to be dragged kicking and screaming to get them to move down any path at all." :rolleyes:

Is that it?
.
.</font>[/QUOTE]Mike; To use an analogy, not making a choice is a choice in itself. Choosing to drift is as much a path as choosing a direction and striking off towards it. IOTW, you can drag a horse to water, but you can't make him drink ;)

[ 02-14-2003, 08:12 AM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 08:11 AM
Dennis; Indeed there are dogmatic differences both within the two major schools of Buddhism and between them. Even the exact translation of the 4 Noble Truths is at question. Some translators say that the first noble truth is: "All life is desire". It goes from there. Buddhism is not bloodless in it's goal: people still cry, laugh, eat and sleep whether enlightened or not. They have feelings about the condition of others about them and they still enjoy a good bowel of strawberries. They just don't get attached to the idea of strawberries or of people living forever. When strawberries are around, that's great and when strawberries are not around, that's great. When people die, it's appropriate to grieve if one feels grief. Suffering arises when one becomes attached to the idea of strawberries - that strawberries (or Aunt Jane) are necessary to life.

Academic study of Buddhism is a lot like reading about sex. It gives you ideas, but nothing like a good romp in the hay will really educate you about what sex IS. Zen talks about that which is Zen as not being expressible in words. Do not mistake the reflection in the pool for the moon itself.

I am curious on two points: what do you see as Buddha's view of people, and what you think makes Christianity so much richer? Buddhist cosmology, if I am not mistaken, has a much better appreciation of the physical universe - see Zukav et. al. "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" or Capra "The Tao of Physics" for example.

Peace

[ 02-14-2003, 08:26 AM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Sam F
02-14-2003, 09:11 AM
Originally posted by PatCox:
Well, Owens, I have often thought that Jesus must have built boats, or at least repaired them. If, as the gospels said, his closest disciples were fishermen, he lived for a time at capernaum on the sea of galilee, spent time on boats and fishing. Of course, the gospels nowhere say he was a carpenter, is the only problem, only that he is the son of a carpenter. But its a nice thought.Pat, That's a significant cultural difference between the current age and practically all the rest of history. It was understood that son's followed their father's crafts. Only when they chose another career was it considered remarkable. In Jesus' case, he obviously did choose another career, but it's safe to say that he didn't spend his first thirty or so years just sitting around watching St. Joseph work. It is a virtual certainty that he was a woodworker. smile.gif

Sam F
02-14-2003, 09:14 AM
Originally posted by Owens Cutter:
Excuse me but has anyone in the last 4 pages remembered for a minute WE ARE ON A WOODEN BOAT FORUM . Owens I sympathize. But the bunch that posts here couldn't stay on topic if their lives depended on it! :D :D

Keith Wilson
02-14-2003, 10:20 AM
OK, Sam, let me clarify. What I mean by “ethics” is standards of right and wrong. “Ethical behavior” in this sense is behavior that is right and just. “Manners” are one component, a fairly minor one. Ethics in this sense are a major component of all religions that I know about. The ten commandments are ethical principles, for example. Fundamental ethical principles are surprisingly consistent across all religions and cultures (don’t kill, don’t steal, help other people). People's idea about ethics also change over time, even within religions. There were many who argued vehemently in favor of slavery from a Christian perspective fairly recently, as such things go. One can certainly argue that right and wrong is unchanging, but as we imperfect humans try to figure it out, our ideas about it do change.

I will in no way try to defend communism (which has a lot of the characteristics of a religion, BTW) or the USSR. Tyranny coupled with modern technology and efficient organization can do amazing amounts of harm. My point is that ruthless brutality has no necessary connection to materialistic philosophy, and certainly no connection to one’s ideas about human origins. Many of the most humane (benign, just, free, good) governments on the planet are fundamentally secular in character. Governments based on a particular religion are often spectacularly bad. One can find all too many examples of dreadful behavior among those who believe in transcendent things, as well as those who are materialists. There is really no correlation.

The difference, I think, is not between materialists and non-materialists, but in one’s ethics, one’s idea of right and wrong. If one is convinced of the worth and dignity of human beings and the need to treat them with respect and kindness, it does not matter much if that conviction comes from the Bible, the Koran, the teachings of the Buddha, or completely non-religious sources. Ethics within religion are one source, but far from the only one. And if one is convinced that people are insignificant and can be disposed of for some higher principle, it doesn't matter much if that principle is the dictatorship of the proletariat or the will of God. And it certainly does not make one any more likely to knock his neighbor on the head, nor to have one’s political opponents executed, if one thinks that humans evolved according to natural laws, than if one believes God created Adam out of mud in the garden of Eden.

Of course, since evolution is merely a description of what happened, it is either true or not regardless of whether we like it. That’s the first principle of working with the physical world, whether fixing your bicycle or developing a scientific theory: We didn’t make the world, we only incompletely understand it, it is how it is regardless of whether we like it or not, and our job is to figure it out as well as we can.

[ 02-14-2003, 10:25 AM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 02:56 PM
Sam; I am still sincerely hoping you will describe how it is that you think Buddhists should act.

Chris Coose
02-14-2003, 03:34 PM
Meer,
Not sure what Sam might say to that.
I might answer,
We sit, we go to the business of the day, take rest, sit....
You know the answer.

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 03:37 PM
Chris; Yup - chop wood, carry water, mind kids, drive car smile.gif

gassho

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 04:45 PM
Dennis; You wouldn't happen to be the Dennis Marshall who is an associate professor of Theology at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan would you?

Dabbled indeed! ;)

Keith Wilson
02-14-2003, 05:28 PM
Geez, I get the feeling I've just been arguing about planking with Dave Fleming! Of course, there's a little more room for opinion in theology. ;)

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 05:31 PM
Personally, I'm excited to be able to discuss things like this with someone with a scholarly background! It just means (forgive the pun) I'll have to marshall my arguments better smile.gif

Sam F
02-14-2003, 05:33 PM
Keith, maybe we are communicating sideways or something!

I'm not sure how you get from point A to B.
If I hold an entirely Materialistic worldview, how do I use it to create a moral system comparable to even the most basic common denominator found in the major religions?

How do I get from the Universe, the Earth and life itself being an accident, to any meaning for life at all?

Sam F
02-14-2003, 05:43 PM
Originally posted by Meerkat:
Sam; I am still sincerely hoping you will describe how it is that you think Buddhists should act.I would rather have let it go but since it seems important... Please don’t take this as an insult. It is not intended as such.

If one's religion makes a difference in life, it seems that the results should be obvious. If not obvious, at least detectable. Ideally, a religious person would exhibit some characteristics that would be attractive to outsiders.
You've pointedly observed that Buddhism doesn't require you to transform your life (or at least your actions) in any way.
That would leave a sincere observer wondering, why bother? It's not much of a religion. Heck, even a bowling league demands more than that of its members.

Dennis Marshall
02-14-2003, 05:56 PM
Meerkat said:
“Academic study of Buddhism is a lot like reading about sex. It gives you ideas, but nothing like a good romp in the hay will really educate you about what sex IS. Zen talks about that which is Zen as not being expressible in words. Do not mistake the reflection in the pool for the moon itself.

I am curious on two points: what do you see as Buddha's view of people, and what you think makes Christianity so much richer? Buddhist cosmology, if I am not mistaken, has a much better appreciation of the physical universe - see Zukav et. al. "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" or Capra "The Tao of Physics" for example.”

Meerkat, I had typed a lengthy reply and was just about to send it when I lost my connection! Blast! I hate that. So here goes my second response in which I make a few comments and try to satisfy your curiosity.

First, I would like to know the references to the debate about suffering and desire. I have not heard of it and am interested in exploring that further. Right now, I am assuming that the Buddha (at the “Sermon at Benares”) made a real distinction between dukkha (suffering) and tanha (desire) and that the language reflects that real difference.

Second, the analogy equating the academic study of Buddhism with reading a sex manual limps, if you will pardon the pun. Buddha’s truth claim about the nature of reality is an appeal to my experience and he invites me to enter into the truth he professes through an act of faith (trust) that he in fact has experienced it most fully. In this regard, the analogy is more akin to falling in love than in engaging in sex. People, I think you would agree, can engage in sexual intercourse without ever really understanding it or knowing the fullness of love that sex intends to communicate. In the same way, people can practice the exterior forms of religion without ever touching the wellspring that those forms are intended to express. This is why the word “hypocrite” will never go out of fashion. Buddha’s claim and appeal is powerful precisely because we live in the same reality. However, unless I believe that Buddha’s way is the true way, then I will never commit myself to it in order to experience it in the same way he did. Consequently, I do not need to practice Buddhism in order to judge it as an inadequate expression of the truth of existence. To this point, I have not been convinced by the Buddha that his truth is worthy of my commitment of faith.

I find Buddhism unconvincing on a variety of fronts. In regard to its cosmology and anthropology, I find it very limited. Buddhists believe that greed, lust, and desire make the world go around. Consequently, life is a fatal wound that is inflicted upon us and, unless we take the Buddha’s medicine, we will be doomed to suffer it throughout innumerable lifetimes. The world itself is not good, but illusory. It presents itself as an impediment to spiritual enlightenment and so is something that needs to be escaped by turning within.
The practical consequences of such a view are, I think, readily apparent. If the world is illusory, then social and political life are less important than the individual quest for enlightenment. Because Buddhists are physical beings, they have to account for this in some way, but overall the focus of interest is not on the world or human society. If we look at China and Japan, for example, it is Confucianism and Shintoism respectively that provide the socio-political framework for organizing society more so than Buddhism.

In the Judeo-Christian orbit, life is a gift bestowed on us by God who is the fullness of existence. Creation is not an illusion but an expression of the divine goodness. Insofar as the world is created by a personal God, everything that exists bears the thumbprint of its origin and human beings do so in a particularly intensified way. As such, Jews and Christians do not attempt to flee from the world in order to encounter the divine, rather they run into it because it is the arena in which an encounter with the divine is possible. Since creatures bear within them the imprint of their origin, they tell us something true about God. While I am not familiar with the Zukav your mentioned above, I am familiar with Capra. And his writings are one attempt to give expression to the dynamic spiritual reality that he has observed in reality without naming the divine mind behind it all, Yahweh. The Tao is not a personal divine intelligence, but simply an impersonal power that is as unconcerned with the material world as the true Buddhist seeker. The Judeo-Christian traditions have a much richer and more profound understanding of the relationship between the created order and the creator, I think.

Time constraints have prohibited me from doing nothing but stuttering a response, so I apologize in advance for the presentation.

In answer to your query of whether I am that Dennis Marshall of which you speak, I must confess that I am. :cool: tongue.gif

Dennis

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 06:00 PM
Sam; not offended, although the bowling crack was a bit of a gratuitous snipe. I generally hold the vew that someone else can't offend me, but I can let myself be offended, and it happens smile.gif

I am not at all sure how I conveyed the idea that Buddhism doesn't require one to change one's life. That aside, I don't think it does - one's life is changed by choosing to adhere (or, FAR more importantly, to practice, which for a Zen Buddhist is primarily to meditate, both sitting and walking) to the tenets of Buddhism (or arguably to any other religion). Buddhism in general does not force itself upon those not interested in it.

Wouldn't you agree that it's more important to adhere to an "organization" (bowling league analogy) that supports one demanding from oneself compared to an "organization" that demands from one?

Andrew Craig-Bennett
02-14-2003, 06:26 PM
"Ritual cannibalism" forsooth!

It is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.

We Episcopals have the benefit of Calvin's theology, Catholic ritual and Cranmer's liturgy.

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 06:32 PM
ACB; body and blood verily ;)

Dennis; Many thanks for your response. I relish the thought of discourse with you! smile.gif

Next time you lose connection, click in the text box, do a ctrl-a (copy all) and then ctrl-v (paste) into another text editor. Later you can reverse the process (ctrl-a/ctrl-v) to reenter the post. This works well for ofline composition of responses to interesting posts - which is what I'm going to do with yours! Not to belabour the pun or anything, but I want to carefully marshal my response! ;)

WRT desire vs. suffering as the translation of dukkha, have a look at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma.html. Notice that the word itself isn't actually literally translated. See also http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html where the word attachment is used in lieu of desire as the cause of suffering.

More to follow.

Peace

[ 02-14-2003, 06:42 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

ishmael
02-14-2003, 06:35 PM
"The problem with Eastern religions is that they don't take evil seriously enough."

C.G. Jung

[ 02-14-2003, 06:36 PM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

Chris Coose
02-14-2003, 06:38 PM
If I might paraphrase Buddha. He said, Come by check it out, stay, that's good - leave, that's just as good. If you stay you might wake up a bit.

I'm a long time Vipassana guy and I don't know s**t, but I feel better as time goes by.

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 06:45 PM
Originally posted by ishmael:
"The problem with Eastern religions is that they don't take evil seriously enough."

C.G. Jung"The problem with Eastern religions is that they don't take C.G. Jung seriously enough."

Buddha :D

Meerkat
02-14-2003, 06:47 PM
Ish; you might find this of interest: http://www.thebigview.com/contents.html


The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.

Albert Einstein

Dennis Marshall
02-14-2003, 06:49 PM
Meerkat: I'm off to see the Two Towers with my bride. If you don't hear from me it is not that I am ignoring you. Thanks for the text pointers.

Ishmael: Good point! That is a dissertation in itself!

Chris Coose: I thought the whole point of Buddhism was to know?

Happy Valentines Day All!

Dennis

Chris Coose
02-14-2003, 10:00 PM
Chris Coose: I thought the whole point of Buddhism was to know?
Know what? smile.gif

Allow me to expand just a bit.
(Maybe) the whole point of Buddhism is to know... that you are awake.

Meerkat
02-15-2003, 02:37 AM
Actually, I thought it was about forgetting ;)

imported_Conrad
02-15-2003, 03:02 AM
Alas, as my child Albert found out, he was wrong- God.

Meerkat
02-15-2003, 04:21 AM
Originally posted by Dennis Marshall:
Meerkat said:
“Academic study of Buddhism is a lot like reading about sex. It gives you ideas, but nothing like a good romp in the hay will really educate you about what sex IS. Zen talks about that which is Zen as not being expressible in words. Do not mistake the reflection in the pool for the moon itself.

I am curious on two points: what do you see as Buddha's view of people, and what you think makes Christianity so much richer? Buddhist cosmology, if I am not mistaken, has a much better appreciation of the physical universe - see Zukav et. al. "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" or Capra "The Tao of Physics" for example.”

Meerkat, I had typed a lengthy reply and was just about to send it when I lost my connection! Blast! I hate that. So here goes my second response in which I make a few comments and try to satisfy your curiosity.

First, I would like to know the references to the debate about suffering and desire. I have not heard of it and am interested in exploring that further. Right now, I am assuming that the Buddha (at the “Sermon at Benares”) made a real distinction between dukkha (suffering) and tanha (desire) and that the language reflects that real difference.
Dunno about the sermon at Benares. Don't really know for sure about whether it's suffering or desire. I started out learning the 1st truth as "Life is suffering" and later was told it was "All life is desire". As I understood it at the time, it was claimed that it was a more accurate translation/interpretation. I can see how suffering and (attachment to) desire are related. (I personally lean towards it being "suffering", but I don't feel strongly enough to argue it.)

Second, the analogy equating the academic study of Buddhism with reading a sex manual limps, if you will pardon the pun.
I don't know - reading about sex is in no real way anything like actually having sex is it? Otherwise, why bother? It's messy, smelly and causes children ;)

Buddha’s truth claim about the nature of reality is an appeal to my experience and he invites me to enter into the truth he professes through an act of faith (trust) that he in fact has experienced it most fully. In this regard, the analogy is more akin to falling in love than in engaging in sex.
Funny you should say that - that's almost precisely how I would relate my experience with Zen! As for trust, see below.

People, I think you would agree, can engage in sexual intercourse without ever really understanding it or knowing the fullness of love that sex intends to communicate. In the same way, people can practice the exterior forms of religion without ever touching the wellspring that those forms are intended to express.
Yes, so true - and so often found in many religious adherents.

This is why the word “hypocrite” will never go out of fashion. Buddha’s claim and appeal is powerful precisely because we live in the same reality. However, unless I believe that Buddha’s way is the true way, then I will never commit myself to it in order to experience it in the same way he did. Consequently, I do not need to practice Buddhism in order to judge it as an inadequate expression of the truth of existence. To this point, I have not been convinced by the Buddha that his truth is worthy of my commitment of faith.
One of the things that was important for me about (Zen) Buddhism is that there is no faith or belief required. I am not a believer in the sense of taking things on trust/faith without _something_ to go by. Nor, may I quickly point out, am I a materialist. Zen teaches that there is nothing of Zen that is written or can be written. There are no words. If you sit for 5 minutes per day counting breaths for 30 days, something will happen - and at least for me it wasn't anything like 30 days.

I find Buddhism unconvincing on a variety of fronts. In regard to its cosmology and anthropology, I find it very limited. Buddhists believe that greed, lust, and desire make the world go around. Consequently, life is a fatal wound that is inflicted upon us and, unless we take the Buddha’s medicine, we will be doomed to suffer it throughout innumerable lifetimes. The world itself is not good, but illusory. It presents itself as an impediment to spiritual enlightenment and so is something that needs to be escaped by turning within.
The practical consequences of such a view are, I think, readily apparent. If the world is illusory, then social and political life are less important than the individual quest for enlightenment. Because Buddhists are physical beings, they have to account for this in some way, but overall the focus of interest is not on the world or human society. If we look at China and Japan, for example, it is Confucianism and Shintoism respectively that provide the socio-political framework for organizing society more so than Buddhism.
Where do you find that Buddhism teaches that greed, lust and desire make the world go around? The whole teaching is about that NOT being what the world really is! Life a fatal wound? I'm sure you're aware that being born inevitably leads to death - celebrate being alive!. Sorry, Buddha did not teach reincarnation - that stems from two sources: the acreted belief of some sects of Buddhism and an imperfect understanding of some early western authors on the subject. In "Thundering Silence: Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake" (Sanscrit: "Alagaddupama Sutta" or Chinese: Arittha Sutra) or perhaps the Sutra on "Living and Dying" (neither sure of the second one's title or that either are the correct reference - sorry. both tr. Thich Nhat Hanh), Buddha was asked, in essence, if there was reincarnation. He replied that he didn't know and they should come back in the next life and let him know. (We're still waiting ;) ) The world itself is not illusory - our ideas about it are when we are trapped in attachment. Buddhism is utterly about being IN the world, not cut off from it by abstractions (illusions). As a small example, a cat is a cat, not a "c a t". Can you express to me in words everything that you experience while holding a cat? Does the word "cat" really convey that whole experience? Are cats good? bad? - cats are cats.
Actually, at least in Japan, "Bushido" - the Way of the Warrior, which is solidly based in Buddhism and Zen, was the guiding principle of Japanese government from approximately 900AD to 1922AD and it's remnants persisted until 1945. A time, I might add, that saw levels of education and sanitation that where not seen in the west until the 20th century to the same degree (and some could well argue that those levels have still not been attained in the west). As I understand it, Zen had a profound impact on Korea as well, but that's something I have not studied much.

In the Judeo-Christian orbit, life is a gift bestowed on us by God who is the fullness of existence. Creation is not an illusion but an expression of the divine goodness.
Sounds like Joseph Cambell. Existance is not an illusion. In the Judeo-Christian orbit, creation is a story taken from the Sumerians IIRC (as is the flood, but I digress). It's a nice story. It presuposes an anthropological transcendental deity - if one does not accept that premise ...

Insofar as the world is created by a personal God, everything that exists bears the thumbprint of its origin and human beings do so in a particularly intensified way.
Apologies, but this strikes me as funny. In a world of Personal Digital Assistants, Personal Stereos etc. the idea of a "Personal God" strikes me as funny - can one accessorize one's Personal God? It also sort of blows out the monotheism concept no? (I admit it's a better notion then the "one sized god fits all" idea.)

As such, Jews and Christians do not attempt to flee from the world in order to encounter the divine, rather they run into it because it is the arena in which an encounter with the divine is possible.
Ah ah ah! Both eastern and western religious traditions have examples of those who withdraw from the world in order to be closer to their concept of the divine. In my tradition that is moderately so, but the idea and ideal of embracing the world as it is is also very much there - "a day without work is a day without food".

Since creatures bear within them the imprint of their origin, they tell us something true about God. While I am not familiar with the Zukav your mentioned above, I am familiar with Capra. And his writings are one attempt to give expression to the dynamic spiritual reality that he has observed in reality without naming the divine mind behind it all, Yahweh. The Tao is not a personal divine intelligence, but simply an impersonal power that is as unconcerned with the material world as the true Buddhist seeker. The Judeo-Christian traditions have a much richer and more profound understanding of the relationship between the created order and the creator, I think.
All of this presuposes the existance of a identity called God. Buddhists, at least most of them, are not uncerned with the material world - they just realize that it's not the key to happiness. If there is a God-person, then they seem curiously indifferent to the sufferings of individuals. The Tao, to use your expression, seems neither for or against people IMO and so I guess you could call it indifferent - except that it's everything and all of us! There is no escape from divinity - there is nothing that is not "god". In my experience, if you see the world as indifferent, the world sees you as indifferent - it is a perfect mirror.

Time constraints have prohibited me from doing nothing but stuttering a response, so I apologize in advance for the presentation.
Whew - I'm not sure I'd be able to take you at full bore - but bring it on! smile.gif

In answer to your query of whether I am that Dennis Marshall of which you speak, I must confess that I am. :cool: tongue.gif

Cool! glad to meet you smile.gif

DennisI'm not a scholar of Buddhism or of Theology. I am an interested reader up to a point. What I am more is a practicioner (clumsy word) of Zen Buddhism. You can't attain enlightenment by reading, especially not by reading scholarly treatises on the subject and more especially not when those treatises are written by non-practicioners.

I recommend the books "Buddhism Without Beliefs" by Stephen Batchelor and "Buddhism, Plain and Simple" by Steve Hagan.

NB. You can readily find contradicting positions on reincarnation to those I present here. It depends on the school and sect. I looked up the Benares Sutra (on the web) and did see references to multiple lives in what I briefly read. I'm sticking to my version ;)

The door is always open...

Peace

Ian G Wright
02-15-2003, 10:07 AM
Do Buddhists create or evolve? How old is the world according to Islamic teaching? If Darwin had been Hindu what might change?
I'm off outside for a lungfull of philostregen (sp?),,,,

IanW

Dennis Marshall
02-15-2003, 11:30 AM
Meerkat said: “One of the things that was important for me about (Zen) Buddhism is that there is no faith or belief required. I am not a believer in the sense of taking things on trust/faith without _something_ to go by. Nor, may I quickly point out, am I a materialist. Zen teaches that there is nothing of Zen that is written or can be written. There are no words. If you sit for 5 minutes per day counting breaths for 30 days, something will happen - and at least for me it wasn't anything like 30 days.”

Meerkat, I would like to make a clarification on what I understand faith to mean. As I read your posts, I get the impression that you think faith is some blind leap into a dark abyss without supporting evidence. If I am reading your wrong, please correct me. As I understand faith, it is the supreme act of freedom. It is the act by which we place ourselves fully at the disposal of what we understand to be true. The objects of faith could be many, for example, money, power, sensual, pleasure, prestige, etc. Since we are talking about religion, let us say that the object of faith is truth in its fullness and that whatever we understand to be the fullness of truth, this object of our act of faith becomes the center or pole around which we order our lives, our activities, and our values. Now, because the act of faith is rooted in the will, it is an irrational act. However, this does not mean that the act of faith is unreasonable. To be sure, faith can be blind, it can be wrongly misplaced, but this says more about the condition of the actor/believer than the act itself. Faith, moreover, is not an assent to propositions or doctrines, primarily. The doctrines that emerge out of religion are secondary explications on the act of faith and what is believed. These doctrines, in part, help us come to a greater understanding of both our act of faith and the object we place our faith in. But it is also true that the doctrines help us to ground our faith more solidly in the truth, and at the same time shape our minds and hearts in accordance with it. And this, I think, is a positive thing because, rightly understood, we ought not confuse the doctrine with the truth of existence. Whether or not Zen requires that you believe a particular doctrine is of only secondary importance. That you have found in it an explanation that, in some respects, rings true to your experience, evokes a response in you that is not simply a rational assent to it, but a commitment that entails placing your whole life at the disposal of this truth. The implications for the life of the believer can be analogously compared to the commitment of marriage.

Meerkat said: “Where do you find that Buddhism teaches that greed, lust and desire make the world go around? The whole teaching is about that NOT being what the world really is! Life a fatal wound? I'm sure you're aware that being born inevitably leads to death - celebrate being alive!. Sorry, Buddha did not teach reincarnation - that stems from two sources: the acreted belief of some sects of Buddhism and an imperfect understanding of some early western authors on the subject.”

The Bhavacakra, or Wheel of Becoming, is an artistic representation of the basic Buddhist worldview. It is, as you know, three circles contained within one another. The inner circle in which the snake, pig, and peacock are chasing each other’s tails represents the power of greed, lust, and desire, that produce samsaric (the continual life of death and rebirth) existence. The next larger circle represent types of afterlife (heaven, hell, the hungry ghost realm, and the demon realm). The larger circle contains all of those elements that condition samsaric existence, for example, the body, birth, death, the senses, etc.) Ignorance of the cause of samsaric existence is what binds one to death and rebirth and it is the only thing condition of human existence that is not absolute. Human beings can, by following the Buddha, overcome the ignorance that binds them to samsara. So, on this matter, I respectfully disagree with you.

Meerkat said: “Sounds like Joseph Cambell. Existance is not an illusion. In the Judeo-Christian orbit, creation is a story taken from the Sumerians IIRC (as is the flood, but I digress). It's a nice story. It presuposes an anthropological transcendental deity - if one does not accept that premise ...

Right, the Creation account in Genesis is borrowed from the Sumerians, but the differences between the two are so striking that it is the Hebrew, not Sumerian, text that has shaped the view of Western Civilization so profoundly. Stories, just because they may be mythical or legendary, are not therefore false or untrue. Indeed, there are truths about existence that can only be communicated through this medium. Buddha, as I recall, was just as fond of parables Jesus was.

Meerkat said: “Apologies, but this strikes me as funny. In a world of Personal Digital Assistants, Personal Stereos etc. the idea of a "Personal God" strikes me as funny - can one accessorize one's Personal God? It also sort of blows out the monotheism concept no? (I admit it's a better notion then the "one sized god fits all" idea.)

A close reading of history indicates that the concept of a “personal” God existed thousands of years before the PC. I would not accept the contemporary degradation of the meaning of person as the definition of person in the strict philosophical/theological sense. In our day, personal means individual, and individual means an autonomous agent who disposes things according to her own lights. In referring to a Personal God, I am using an anthropomorphism. Certainly, the anthropomorphism limps, because it is incapable of expressing God, who infinitely transcends all of our language and concepts. But this does not mean we can’t say anything positively about God. The anthropomorphisms work precisely because there is a correspondence between God and human beings who are created in God’s image and likeness. If there was no revelation, then, I think, the Buddhists who refuse to say nothing would be profoundly wise and correct in their silence. Finally, God is not one I dispose of according to my own whim. It is the other way around. My existence is at God’s disposal, which changes things entirely.

Meerkat said: “Ah ah ah! Both eastern and western religious traditions have examples of those who withdraw from the world in order to be closer to their concept of the divine. In my tradition that is moderately so, but the idea and ideal of embracing the world as it is is also very much there - "a day without work is a day without food".

Right, but Christian Monasticism is not predicated on the same anthropological or cosmological principles. Hence, it is very different in character than Buddhist monasticism.

Meerkat said: “All of this presuposes the existance of a identity called God. Buddhists, at least most of them, are not uncerned with the material world - they just realize that it's not the key to happiness. If there is a God-person, then they seem curiously indifferent to the sufferings of individuals. The Tao, to use your expression, seems neither for or against people IMO and so I guess you could call it indifferent - except that it's everything and all of us! There is no escape from divinity - there is nothing that is not "god".”

Here again Christians make a distinction between the creature and the Creator. While I agree that there is no escape from God, I think that God has clearly revealed himself in history as a person who is concerned for the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. The Hebrew Prophets are full of such concern, and the Incarnation of Christ is another.

Well, Meerkat, I think that I have left plenty here for you to respond to. Let me know what you think.

Regards, Dennis

Chris Coose
02-15-2003, 12:19 PM
From the Zen master Yogi Berra. The Buddha himself may have had to work at it even harder than this guy.

Tom Seaver, Hey Yogi, what time is it?
Yogi Berra: You mean now?

"How can you hit and think at the same time?"

"I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up I change bats... After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?"

Interviewer:"I've got lots of questions to ask you, Yogi"
Yogi Berra: " If you ask me anything I don't know, Im not going to answer."

"In baseball, you don't know nothing."

Just one from the bible to be inclusive.
"How dieth the wise man?
As the fool."
Ecclesiastes, 2;16

Sam F
02-15-2003, 06:01 PM
Meer,
You keep asking … Please understand that I do not mean to disparage, just understand.

You said: “I’m not sure how I conveyed the idea that Buddhism doesn’t require one to change one’s life”,
and
“I am personally not aware that Buddhists are expected/taught to act in any certain way.”

Is that not something of a contradiction?

I can’t help but wonder if your views are representative of Buddhism. If there is no particular Buddhist way, then as I said, what’s the point? A religion that has no effect on one’s actions or life is, at best, a mild anesthetic.

The problem I have in understanding your Buddhist point of view is that I usually can’t distinguish it from ordinary American atheism. Your standard post is reflexively anti-religious or at least anti-Christian. (Note your rejection, without proof, of the world’s Christian population in the “Recovering Secularist” thread.)


Originally posted by Meerkat:
Sam; not offended, although the bowling crack was a bit of a gratuitous snipe. The bowling league comparison wasn’t a snipe. It was meant as a serious analogy.

Members of leagues have allegiance to the game, its rules, rituals and culture. They organize their lives around the games. For instance, Tuesday and Thursday evenings may be off limits to any other activity, because those are bowling nights. It doesn’t take intimate knowledge of a dedicated bowler to know he is one.
You exhibit none of that in your routine postings.
For instance, your obvious hatred of missionaries (expressed in a previous thread) doesn’t fit Buddhist history. Buddhists sent missionaries all over Asia and spread the faith quite successfully, so how does a Buddhist express such contempt for activities they themselves engaged in?

I still don’t understand how you can exhibit such contradictions.

This is way OT. Feel free to flame me privately if you want to continue. ;)

Meerkat
02-15-2003, 06:20 PM
Sam; If you're going to misquote me and misrepresnt my postings, there's no point in continuing the discussion with you either in public or private. You didn't quote the full remark I made about change and if you can't understand the humor of those long past posts on missionaries and cannibalism, that's not my problem. (What is it you're so defensive about?) Having said that, you're right: I don't have a lot of respect for psuedo-altruists whose "unconditioned" love and assistance is predicated upon forced indoctrination in the "giver's" beliefs.

WRT to Christian populations, the original claim of "over 1 billion" wasn't backed by any references either IIRC. I admited that I couldn't exactly recall my source and invited anyone to post references supporting the 1 billion claim - no takers.

I SINCERELY doubt that there where Buddhist missionaries in any western sense of the word. Buddhism is not a prostlytizing religion by and large (I'm aware of one exception to that - a minor Japanese sect). In Buddhism, the door is open - there are no ushers trying to push anyone inside.

[ 02-15-2003, 06:27 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

ishmael
02-15-2003, 06:28 PM
Whew.

Meerkat
02-15-2003, 08:13 PM
Dennis;

You said:

The Bhavacakra, or Wheel of Becoming, is an artistic representation of the basic Buddhist worldview. It is the world view of ONE or a few sects of Buddhism. It is not universally recognized within Buddhism. There is another school within Buddhism that regards the "wheel of life" as an alegory for the cycle of attachment. It still looks like you're taking Tibetan Buddhism (or at least, some scholarly abstraction written by an outsider) as representative of all Buddhism. I can understand that given the many parallels between Tibetan Buddhism and Catholicism (single figure as head of the religion, many levels of priesthood, rituls, robes, incense). Some Christians worship with snakes - is this representative of all Christians? Some Christians claim that Catholics are not Christians (which makes me laugh! smile.gif ) - are they correct?


Right, the Creation account in Genesis is borrowed from the Sumerians, but the differences between the two are so striking that it is the Hebrew, not Sumerian, text that has shaped the view of Western Civilization so profoundly. Stories, just because they may be mythical or legendary, are not therefore false or untrue. There's a middle-ground between fact and fiction that makes myth credible? BTW, what are the critical differences between the Sumerian myth and that adapted by the Hebrews?



Finally, God is not one I dispose of according to my own whim. It is the other way around. My existence is at God’s disposal, which changes things entirely.
Says who? God is a product of man's imagination, created in order to explain what he/she didn't understand. Anthropomorphism of nature does not change nature, it merely distances one from a direct experience of that which is.


Right, but Christian Monasticism is not predicated on the same anthropological or cosmological principles. Hence, it is very different in character than Buddhist monasticism. So? the point was that both eastern and western religions do, despite what you said, have a tradition of withdrawl from the mundane.


Here again Christians make a distinction between the creature and the Creator. While I agree that there is no escape from God, I think that God has clearly revealed himself in history as a person who is concerned for the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. The Hebrew Prophets are full of such concern, and the Incarnation of Christ is another. Take the "creature" out of nature and how will he/she survive? Dominion as shepard or dominion as exploiter? Mankind as part of nature or Mankind separate from nature? Who revealed God? Himself? Unprovable, therefore inarguable. I can well believe that those people who wrote of God might have had concerns and made claims that theirs was the revealed word, but anyone can make such claims - and has.

Breathe, you are alive! Sieze the day, cherish the momemnt. Love and nurture the life within you and around you. Be one with everything! Take responsibility for ownership of your life and your part in all the life around you.

That which you are seeking is what is causing you to seek.

[ 02-15-2003, 11:35 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Sam F
02-16-2003, 12:01 AM
Originally posted by Meerkat:
Sam; If you're going to misquote me and misrepresnt my postings, there's no point in continuing the discussion with you either in public or private. .Here are two full quotes:
“I am not at all sure how I conveyed the idea that Buddhism doesn't require one to change one's life. That aside, I don't think it does - one's life is changed by choosing to adhere (or, FAR more importantly, to practice, which for a Zen Buddhist is primarily to meditate, both sitting and walking) to the tenets of Buddhism (or arguably to any other religion).”

This one was separated from the rest of the text by spaces so it’s safe to say it stands as a unit:

” I am curious to know what concept you have of what a good Buddhist is such that you can suggest I ought to act more like a good Buddhist. I am personally not aware that Buddhists are expected/taught to act in any certain way.”

That’s how you conveyed the idea “that Buddhism doesn’t require one to change one’s life”. In what way am I misquoting you? I said in my earlier post that this was contradictory. It is.
Meer, I’m not deliberately misquoting you. I have absolutely no reason to. I’m just trying to understand your own statements. I can hardly be censured for failing to understand something that is incoherent.

If I misunderstand or you miswrote (two things we all do from time to time) then why blow the opportunity, as you just did, to clarify your statements? It’s easy! Just say: “I miswrote that first [or second] statement.”


Originally posted by Meerkat:
You didn't quote the full remark I made about change and if you can't understand the humor of those long past posts on missionaries and cannibalism, that's not my problem. On the contrary, it is your problem. After multiple pages in that previous exchange, you finally were pinned down and used the “humor” excuse to get out of the mess you’d created. It’s still not funny.


Originally posted by Meerkat:
(What is it you're so defensive about?)
Huh? It rather sounds like you find me offensive not defensive.


Originally posted by Meerkat:
WRT to Christian populations, the original claim of "over 1 billion" wasn't backed by any references either IIRC. I admited that I couldn't exactly recall my source and invited anyone to post references supporting the 1 billion claim - no takers.
Is this how it works? You make several outrageous and unsupported statements and now someone else it supposed to find the data for you? I suggested you do the work yourself. I still do.


Originally posted by Meerkat:
I SINCERELY doubt that there where Buddhist missionaries in any western sense of the word. Buddhism is not a prostlytizing religion by and large (I'm aware of one exception to that - a minor Japanese sect). In Buddhism, the door is open - there are no ushers trying to push anyone inside.Well, I guess I’ll do this for you. Just this once.
Buddhist proselytizing started with the Buddha himself.
After he attained enlightenment at age 35, he formed a monastic order (another was formed for women in his lifetime) and spent the rest of his life as an itinerant preacher spreading the word of his philosophy. He died at age 80 so he must have had time to do some serious missionary work. I’ve read of Buddhist missionaries more or less by accident while doing other research. I don’t expect you to believe me however. Because it’s handy and because I haven’t entirely abandoned my older data retrieval systems, here’s a quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica on Buddhist scriptures: “A large number of Buddhist scriptures exist as the Buddhist scriptures, purporting to record the exact teaching of the founder, but they have all been put into their present form after the split up of the community into sects. One of these collections now exists in completeness in any Indian language, The Canon of the Theravadins,…. Which still flourishes in [Sri Lanka]… It owes its preservation to the fact that it was introduced into Ceylon by Buddhist missionaries in the 3rd century BC.”

How on earth do you think a faith spreads? Of course Buddhism had missionaries.


Originally posted by Meerkat:
Having said that, you're right: I don't have a lot of respect for psuedo-altruists whose "unconditioned" love and assistance is predicated upon forced indoctrination in the "giver's" beliefs.
Is this supposed to be humor?

Meer, you don’t know what you’re talking about in this matter. You don’t know the history either of your own faith or Christianity. So you’re a Buddhist? Be my guest! I’m not proselytizing. But be a good Buddhist. Go hit the books, read something from other points of view and free yourself of the secularist propaganda that seems to fill you with contempt and bitterness.

Mrleft8
02-16-2003, 12:12 AM
...." There's a fat man, in the bath tub, with the blues..."

Meerkat
02-16-2003, 04:32 AM
Sam;
You're still not getting the point of the quote - no religion can change you. It is you yourself through your adherence to the tenets and practices of that religion that changes you. As Dennis pointed out, there are a lot of people who go through the motions, obey the forms and never get the heart of the religion. If you had quoted the whole of my remark, that would be clear.

Yes, the Sri Lankan repository is known as the Tripitaka, the "three baskets", or the Pali Canon (as it was written down in a language called Pali). There is also a source of sutras through China. The first counsel of the community was not long after Buddha's death. The split into schools (and later, sects within those schools) occured about 150 years (ok, about 300 BC) after his death and that was about the same time that Buddhism came to Sri Lanka.

Ok, if you want to call the community of iterant monks and nuns who spread out across the country in the Indian manner to seek alms and who gathered for the winter to be with the Buddha to receive his teachings (a period called "Ango" and still observed) missionaries, I won't disagree with you, but I won't change my statement that they where not missionaries in the western sense. So far as I know, spreading the "gospel" of Buddha was not their primary intent.

How does a religion spread? One way is by proselytizing - another is by example.

I can assure you that I have read both Christian and Buddhist history, although it's been a lot longer since I've read Christian history than Buddhist history.

You have a curious way of misquoting and distorting things people say and demonizing them with labels - that's not much of a way of conducting a discussion. You don't know what I've studied or not, you don't know about my background beyond what you read here and yet you choose to think I'm unread, push "secularist propeganda" and bitter. What are you getting that's so bitter? I don't seem to have this problem with (for example) Dennis.

[ 02-16-2003, 04:37 AM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Dennis Marshall
02-16-2003, 07:41 AM
Meerkat, in my responses I have been trying to articulate the central tenets of Buddhism that make Buddhists of whatever stripe, well, Buddhists. The Bhavacakra contains those fundamental tenets in a simple catechetical form. I do understand that as Buddhism spread and became influenced by a variety of cultures that it began to take on its on literature and interpretation of Buddha's teaching. Pure Land, Zen, Tibetan/Tantric, among others are are variations that are grounded in a view of reality that is distinctly and uniquely Buddha's (e.g., the 4 noble truths, the 8 fold path, the three marks of reality, etc). The suttas/sutras of the various sects are further elaborations in a different cultural setting of the Buddhas core teaching. But it is the Buddha's teaching that defines Buddhism at its essential core.

Consequently, if those central tenets are rejected, can one still claim to follow Buddhism no matter what sect one chooses to follow? This is a serious question, especially given that Zen is separated from the Buddha not only by geographical distance, but by a huge expanse of historical time. And the distance between you and Zen, and you and the historical Buddha is even greater. When you add the cultural factor, the difference between East and West, the connection becomes even more tenuous. What is it that links you to this great faith, simply your choice to follow doctrines that you find amenable to your own view? And if that is so, is that Buddhism?

I ask these questions because just when I think we are arriving at some shared basis of knowledge from which we can explore things further, the foundation shifts and it seems we need to start building all over again. Now, this might be part of the unavoidable ambiguity pronounced by the Zen Masters, but I find it disconcerting.

Cheers,

Dennis

Meerkat
02-16-2003, 09:10 AM
Dennis;

I'll get back to you on the rest of it, but one thing leap out: this notion of an historical and cultural distance between me and Buddha and Zen. What of the historical and cultural distance between you and Christ; between Africans or Chinese and Christ? If you're going to argue "universal truth", what makes Christianity universal and Buddhism not? (I'm not overly worried about it - I think this notion is, to repeat your earlier pun, limp ;) .)

Zen claims and enscribes a direct lineage from Buddha, and in fact from a particular incident with one of Buddha's disciples. Has it changed over time? Inarguably it has! Ch'in/Zen Buddhism is the merging of Taoist ideas with Buddhism in China. In a like manner, Tibetan Buddhism is a merging of an indiginous Tibetan religion with Buddhism. Given that their "catechism" is the one you seem to think is descriptive of all Buddhists, are they the "true" Buddhists and all others somehow not?

I suspect the average Buddhist in the street is as concerned with this as the average Christian in the street was over the nuances of the schism over the nature of the trinity that gave rise to the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. The Buddhism I follow is centered on the 4 Noble Truths and the 8-Fold Noble Path.

Anyway, before we go any further, I would like to know what your background with Buddhism is please? I've been a Buddhist for 30 years now, I'm reasonably well read in some aspects of Buddhism, Christianity and religion in general and make no claims to scholarship of the subject. I'm not going within a country mile of Cosmology. I don't think I know much about Christian Cosmology beyond the notion of heaven, earth, hell, purgatory, saints and angels and the psychedelic complexity of Buddist Cosmology (in it's several versions no less!) didn't interest me that much. Too much of an intellectual exercise that didn't strike me as furthering me along the path.

Dubitando ad veritatem venimus!

[ 02-16-2003, 09:11 AM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Chris Coose
02-16-2003, 11:36 AM
Buddha strolls into a village. The villagers see something special. They approach and ask, "Who are you?"
Buddha relplies, "I am awake."

We sit to clear the mind to understand suffering.
We approach suffering with compassion.

Sounds like all the rest of em doesn't it?

Sam F
02-16-2003, 11:58 AM
QUOTE]Originally posted by Meerkat:
Sam;
You're still not getting the point of the quote - no religion can change you. It is you yourself through your adherence to the tenets and practices of that religion that changes you. As Dennis pointed out, there are a lot of people who go through the motions, obey the forms and never get the heart of the religion. If you had quoted the whole of my remark, that would be clear. [/QUOTE]

So religion is like the joke: “How many psychiatrists are needed to change a light bulb?
One, but the bulb has got to want to change.”

There’s some truth to that. My own view is that personal change is more of an interactive process. Yes the person must in a sense, will a change but the nature of that change is governed by the ideas being accepted. A meek and fearful person would make a different sort of Christian than a professional boxer but they’d both be identifiably Christians. Perhaps ironically, you’d find that their personalities might tend to resemble one another more after conversion.

One more time with feeling:
1. “I am not at all sure how I conveyed the idea that Buddhism doesn't require one to change one's life. That aside, I don't think it does…”

I agree. Any sincere religious conversion must necessarily change one’s life.
The part I don’t get is how it relates to this:

2. “I am personally not aware that Buddhists are expected/taught to act in any certain way.”

The only way I can think of to reconcile those two positions is that if #1 and #2 are both true, then the change in one’s life can’t correspond to anything uniquely Buddhist. Perhaps the personal change is required but is random in outcome? Some convert to Buddhism and immediately have a fondness for table tennis while others prefer sushi? Is that how it works?
A person more cynical that I, might conclude that you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too.

QUOTE]Originally posted by Meerkat:
Ok, if you want to call the community of iterant monks and nuns who spread out across the country in the Indian manner to seek alms and who gathered for the winter to be with the Buddha to receive his teachings (a period called "Ango" and still observed) missionaries, I won't disagree with you, but I won't change my statement that they where not missionaries in the western sense. So far as I know, spreading the "gospel" of Buddha was not their primary intent. [/QUOTE]

That is precisely what I want and it represents progress. I’m glad you agree.
I can even understand your definition, in that you define missionary, “in the western sense”, as an exclusively Christian phenomenon. That’s right. The Buddhist missionaries weren’t Christian.

QUOTE]Originally posted by Meerkat:
How does a religion spread? One way is by proselytizing - another is by example.
[/QUOTE]

Those missionaries did however pull up their roots and travel to foreign countries at a time when travel was extremely arduous. I can’t believe that they journeyed to lands filled with strangers for no particular reason and quite by accident happened to spread their faith by example. That strains credulity past the breaking point.

QUOTE]Originally posted by Meerkat:
I can assure you that I have read both Christian and Buddhist history, although it's been a lot longer since I've read Christian history than Buddhist history.
You have a curious way of misquoting and distorting things people say and demonizing them with labels - that's not much of a way of conducting a discussion. You don't know what I've studied or not, you don't know about my background beyond what you read here and yet you choose to think I'm unread, push "secularist propeganda" and bitter. What are you getting that's so bitter? I don't seem to have this problem with (for example) Dennis. [/QUOTE]

Meer,
Once again, I have no reason to either misquote or distort you. Why should I? All I’m trying to do is have an honest dialog. To do that, some common ground is necessary as a starting point. But with you that ground is always quicksand. Every time I try to hold you to a particular statement you’ve made (which is absolutely necessary for understanding), you don’t defend that statement but only say I’m distorting your words.
I could complain as well about your distortions. For instance, please provide one example of my “demonizing” you. All I ever expect is that you either stand by your words, or if you’ve misspoke to retract them. Everyone misspeaks or says dumb and ill- considered things. I do. You do. What is so demonizing about asking you to be consistent and coherent?
You are correct, I “don’t know what [you’ve] studied or not.” I can only know what you tell me through your writings. That’s why I said I couldn’t normally distinguish you from a regular atheist. The secular nature of your statements is so “American College Campus” that it’s almost a parody. I couldn’t help (and still can’t) but wonder at the nature of your Buddhism since it dovetails so perfectly with the spirit of the age. How is that possible for someone who owes allegiance to a philosophy from around 400 BC?

Meerkat
02-16-2003, 06:58 PM
Sheesh, I got one guy telling me that Buddhism and Zen are too far from me historically and culturally for a connection to be made and another who says my position is popular "American College Campus" and atheistic. I hope you'll both forgive me while I find that funny in a not-laughing-at-you kind of way! smile.gif smile.gif

I honestly can't speak as to what motivated the spread of Buddhism. My experience of western proselytizers is that they actively persue converts (i.e: "hi, would you like to hear the good news about...") and that is not, to my knowledge, the way of Buddhism (again, with the exception of one minor Japanese sect - Nichiren Shoshu). I imagine (note this is speculation) that a non-Buddhist comes to notice something about a Buddhist and engages him/her in conversation etc. (I don't claim to be someone that's likely to happen to smile.gif ), thus the idea of "by example".

Sam; I just don't think Buddhists fit some mode. There is a stereotype of Buddhists: green tea, brown rice, vegetarian, tie dyed, old Volvo, soft spoken, non-confrontive and it's true that some fit that, but it's by no means universal. I like green tea (maybe that's the key! ;) ), prefer white rice, am omniverous, don't own any tie dyed clothing and drive a Suzuki. I'm pro-choice/anti-abortion, don't believe in the death penalty, am for just wars and against unjust wars, don't have a problem with consenting adults doing their thing with other consenting adults so long as it's not obsessive, am not personally attracted to alcohol, but believe it's ok in moderation and very occassionally indulge in it myself. I guess the last salient fact is that i'm intolorant of intolorance, the strong/rich oppressing the weak/poor and peopele who take advantage of (exploit) other people in general. Oh, and I like boats! ;)

Dennis; Perhaps some clarification is in order. My issue with the Bhavacakra isn't what it represents (some of which is very much open to interpretation), but rather that the symbol itself is not a universal Buddhist symbol - as far as I know, it is (now, having died out in India) particularly/specifically Tibetan Buddhist. I'm not a Tibetan Buddhist, I'm a Zen Buddhist. The ornate robes, symbology, ritualized ceremony, many levels of indoctrination, the magic/tantric elements and chanting as a primary form of practice that characterizes Tibetan Buddhism don't appeal to me. It's not wrong, it's just not me. In contrast, Zen eschews most ritual, symbols, chanting, indoctrination, esotericism and the primary form of practice is meditation (sitting and walking). Tibetans and Zennists both follow the path, but in a different way. Like the other schools and sects of Buddhism, Zen has it's prefered sutras out of the many (in particular, the Heart, the Lankavatara and Diamond Sutras), but does not dismiss the others. Zen emphasises, above all, that practice (meditation) is the way to enlightenment and scholastic study is (almost strongly) deemphasized, at least for the layman practicioner.

Reincarnation may be a central tenant of Buddhism, but the specifics of what is meant by reincarnation do differ. Some see it as a concrete fact that the self (identity) is literally reborn into a new body and repeats that until he/she attains enlightenment and breaks the cycle. Another point of view is that the notion of reincarnation is the idea that it is the cycle of suffering/gratification/suffering/gratification... in this life. Still another is that one goes to something resembling heaven (the Pure Land) after one is enlightened (or perhaps it's just if one is sufficiently devout in this life - I'm not an Amida Buddhist). At what is perhaps the opposite extreme, the belief is that the identity ceases at physical death and it is the components of the body (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen etc.) that are reincarnated (recycled).

Buddhism is no more mono-doctrinal than is Christianity. Some sects of Christianity engage in pomp, circumstance, ritual and a highly organized priesthood. Others do not. Some have communion as a ritual, others do not. Some sects claim that theirs is the only true way (actually, a fairly popular claim ;) ) and others are more accepting. All follow the idea of a transcendental god, son of god, 10 commandments etc. (the divinity of Mary is schismatic).

As for me, I find it best never to let my dogma get in the way of my karma ;)

[ 02-16-2003, 07:18 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Paul Denison
02-16-2003, 07:06 PM
Remember, indecision is the key to flexibility. ;)

Ian G Wright
02-17-2003, 04:11 AM
Loquacious,
That’s the word I was looking for. I'm not sure if it applies to the written word but it's close enough.
Interminable, another good word.

IanW

Meerkat
02-17-2003, 04:15 AM
A life well lived is it's own reward.

Was that short enough Ian? tongue.gif

Meerkat
02-17-2003, 04:16 AM
It is not the destination, it is the journey.

Meerkat
02-17-2003, 04:17 AM
Be!

Ian G Wright
02-17-2003, 05:59 AM
Originally posted by Meerkat:
Was that short enough Ian? tongue.gif Nearly,,,,,,,

IanW

Bruce Taylor
02-17-2003, 08:25 AM
!

Keith Wilson
02-17-2003, 12:45 PM
Sam F asked how one can have ethics (morality, if you like) if one is a materialist – and I think by materialist you mean one who thinks that all observable phenomena, the whole universe, including human beings in all their complexity, are a result of the operation of natural processes. Nothing transcendent, no God, or at least one who stands well back and doesn’t interfere directly, nothing but the working out of physical laws. Why have any other morality than “grab all you can” if there’s no higher authority setting standards, and no reward or punishment other than what happens in this world? Well, I thought a fair bit about this one. Several reasons:

- Self Interest: Some define this very narrowly – “Do exactly what you want right now and everyone else be damned” - but most people recognized long ago that it’s not good to live in a community where people behave this way. Hence, the elaborate structures in every society to control people’s immediate selfish impulses. For example: It is in my self-interest that people don’t steal my stuff, hence I agree to the rules of the society which forbid stealing, even though it might be in my immediate interest to steal something. Hillel’s version of the golden rule “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you” expresses this perfectly. In fact, most of our laws are based on this principle. The ones that aren’t, but instead are based strictly on religious beliefs (blue laws, laws against homosexuality and other sexual practices) are disappearing as the society becomes more secular. Every society has some who don’t accept this; some are found in prisons, some in palaces, presidential mansions, or boardrooms depending on their skill and intelligence, but they’re always a problem.

In addition, most of us find that a purely selfish life is remarkably unsatisfying. This appears to be hard-wired in most people’s brains. I’m not sure why it is, but I’d bet (from a purely materialistic standpoint, now) that we evolved a degree of altruism because we are more successful in harmonious communities. Self-interest in the larger sense is, as I understand it, one basis of Buddhist practice – “Do this and you’ll have a better life” although there are folks here who know much more about this than I do.

Natural Selection: Those societies that have been most successful have done a reasonably good job of controlling their members’ selfish impulses and getting them to work to some degree for the common good. There must be a balance between the common good and the good of individuals. One problem with Communism was that it made the common good MUCH more important than the good of the individual; not only did this give an excellent justification to tyrants, but eventually people will only put up with so much. Many would argue that current western society tips the balance too far in the other direction, although I don’t think I’d agree. This would certainly be the argument from Confucian ethics – BTW, this is an ethical system that is almost entirely unconcerned with transcendent things.

Science: Science (in the broad sense, the process of trying to understand the physical world) requires certain values in its practitioners in order to work. These are honesty, integrity, curiosity, creativity – If one fakes results, ignores results one doesn’t like, or changes one’s ideas under political or religious pressure, one won’t understand the world, and as a direct consequence, what we try to build simply won’t work. “Eppur si muove” (which I’m just about certain he didn’t really say). Lysenko’s biology simply didn’t work, despite being in line with communist doctrine. Most significant scientific work has taken place in societies that highly value individual integrity and honesty.

And lastly, why not?: It is not one whit harder or more unreasonable to believe in standards of right and wrong with no God to enforce them, than it is to believe in God in the first place.

[ 02-17-2003, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

Greg H
02-17-2003, 01:08 PM
My karma ran over my dogma.

Sam F
02-17-2003, 05:46 PM
Keith, thanks for the thoughtful reply. I don't want to shortchange you with a hasty one. I've got too much snow to shovel at the moment. :(

Btw, did you check out "Recovering Secularist" thread? It may be of some relevance to the "increasingly secular society" idea. Of course, you can guess my views on the subject! smile.gif

Later!

Sam F
02-18-2003, 09:00 PM
Work keeps getting in the way of my duties here!
Sorry for the slow response and I'm afraid still a bit hasty!


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
- Self Interest: Some define this very narrowly – “Do exactly what you want right now and everyone else be damned” - but most people recognized long ago that it’s not good to live in a community where people behave this way. Hence, the elaborate structures in every society to control people’s immediate selfish impulses.
There are some problems with this. I think the sort of self interest you mean is usually called “enlightened”, which is a very different thing. To “enlighten” means to bring intellectual or spiritual light, something that rather undercuts materialism don’t you think?
I don’t think I’m putting words in your mouth to bring in “enlightenment” since you are consciously not describing raw self interest.
Has such a society ever existed? Not that I know of. It’s not through lack of trying though. The idea grew out of the 18th century Enlightenment and despite years of propaganda we are no closer than we ever were.
In addition, a society based on enlightened self interest would be anti-Darwinian at its core. There is nothing in Evolution to allow huge numbers of losers to survive as happens in every human society. Nature “red in tooth and claw” would be lethal to that system. So your enlightened society would be undercut as much by Darwin as traditional religious societies.

I suspect that you’re projecting modern attitudes onto the past. Did people sit around the campfire reasoning that a better society would be one of self interest and then create irrational religious structures to reinforce them? I doubt it.


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
In addition, most of us find that a purely selfish life is remarkably unsatisfying. This appears to be hard-wired in most people’s brains. I’m not sure why it is, but I’d bet (from a purely materialistic standpoint, now) that we evolved a degree of altruism because we are more successful in harmonious communities… Altruism has been a serious problem for Evolutionary biologists. So far as I know the only rationale that “works” is for organisms that are very closely related, near clones like ants bees and wasps. That does not work at all for humans who repeatedly exhibit altruism towards completely unrelated individuals. I know some people who are WASPs but that’s another matter!


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
And lastly, why not?: It is not one whit harder or more unreasonable to believe in standards of right and wrong with no God to enforce them, than it is to believe in God in the first place. I think I’ve demonstrated a few why nots for an Enlightened Self Interest society.
The problem with mere standards is that they don’t come with an “ought”. The question is not why not but why adhere to an arbitrary standard? Where is the “ought”?
I think you are also projecting the present on the past here as well. It seems that our ancestors didn’t have nearly so much difficulties as we “moderns” do in believing in God… and quite a few moderns manage the feat as w

Meerkat
02-19-2003, 03:54 AM
Altruism? That old myth has a longer beard than God's! There is no such thing! If you are paid sufficiently with your own satisfaction, gratification and/or sense of accomplishment, is it altruism? Are there really acts so selfless that there is no reward from them? I think it is possible to do something without the expectation of a reward (a definition of altruism), but I think there's always the knowledge that (at least) the self-reward will be there.

IMO, people do what they do for survival and recognize that survival means more than just personal survival; family, group, nation, species are vital elements of survival too. Some are even aware enough to include objects, plants and animals in the list (dominion as steward, not as exploiter). I don't mean this in a materialistic posessive kind of way either. Plants and animals are pretty inarguable, and some things are necessary to survival: air, clothing, shelter (food comes under plants and animals, although that is not their only purpose). By not too much of a stretch, I would include spirituality as something vital to survival. And (NOT to get Sam's goat), I don't think organized religion is pro-survival.

I guess I'm not destined to get a response to my last post to you Sam?

[ 02-19-2003, 04:11 AM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Keith Wilson
02-19-2003, 10:41 AM
Well, I’m going to get verbose here, so if anyone is averse to long posts, go back up and read about boats.

Sam, the laws and operation of every modern society I know of, whatever their religion or lack thereof, are based on “enlightened self interest”. “Enlightenment” in this case is not used in any spiritual (much less Buddhist) sense; it’s just a more complex longer-term view of self-interest I put up with restrictions on my freedom so that others will follow the same code, which is good for me. Under democracy we decide, by a more or less imperfect process, what restrictions we want to place on ourselves for the common good. People put up with this partly because of fear of punishment, but mainly because we realize that it’s in our interest to have a society in which most people follow the rules. The standard admonition to a child “What if everybody acted that way?” is a good example. Not everybody gets it, but most do, and that’s why I don’t have to fortify my house and can drive to work with a very small chance of anything bad happening to me.

And no, a bunch of hunter-gatherers sitting around the campfire 300,000 years ago probably didn’t reason this way. However, the reasoning, such as it was, probably went “I really want to take Ugluk’s piece of antelope meat, but if I do everybody will be mad at me. They might even kick me out of the group, so I’d better not.” And this last, my friend, was a more powerful sanction than anything we have today, since it probably meant slow unpleasant death.

I think that a very good case can be made that morality as enlightened self-interest is entirely compatible, indeed to some extent explained by evolutionary theory. This is what I’d call fundamental morality, which is pretty constant across different religions and cultures. It consists of basic rules like: don’t kill, don’t steal, be kind to your neighbors, be fair. It’s not moral rules that are specific to a religion or culture, such as: women should wear veils, don’t work on Sunday, don’t eat pork, that kind of thing.

I think, also, that what is popularly called the “Darwinian” view (BTW, a lot of what is called “Darwinian” is not actually something that Darwin would have agreed with – he was a VERY scrupulous and careful man) of the “struggle for existence”, “nature red in tooth and claw” etc. is not an accurate reflection of the environment in which we evolved. It reflects 19th century prejudices to a great degree - but this is another subject entirely, and one I don’t have time to deal with here; suffice it to say that scientists are human beings too, and their ideas are influenced by the society in which they grew up.

The human population until very recently, certainly until the invention of agriculture, was very small and very widely dispersed. “Competition” was only in rare cases between groups of humans for land or resources. Almost all of the “struggle to survive” would have been to find enough food, to take good care of the children so that some of them survived to adulthood, and, mainly, to resist disease. Most of the competition for large mammals is with disease; with microorganisms that want to colonize our bodies.

For a small group of hunter-gatherers in a very large wilderness there are very few “losers” that need to be weeded out, only those who have such serious defects that they really can’t survive, and those will die anyway. Every additional member of the group is valuable, and reasonable cooperation between its members is of immense survival value to all. For most of human and pre-human history we have lived as widely dispersed small bands of hunter-gatherers Remember that evolution is a VERY slow process when considered from a human time scale – 100,000 years is an eyeblink in geologic time, and our brains and bodies evolved to fit those conditions. Under those conditions, fundamental morality and cooperation, “enlightened self-interest” if you will, would be very valuable indeed, and would be a real evolutionary advantage.

Of course our ancestors had little difficulty believing in all sorts of Gods. They knew much less about the physical world than we do, so there was a lot more that was explained by the actions of one God or another. I am, BTW, most emphatically NOT arguing in favor of atheistic materialism. I have no problem at all with belief in God. I look at it sort of like I do evolution – God is either there or not regardless of what I think, and my job is to figure out the truth as well as I can. I do object to certain religions poking their nose into the proper domain of science, and I don’t think that evolution, nor even materialistic atheism, is incompatible with morality.

Adam C
02-19-2003, 12:33 PM
Keith,

Man, I wish I had your kind of faith. If you believe in evolution, you have more faith than I'll ever have, brother.

From total chaos to total order...from the goo to you via the zoo...NOW THAT'S FAITH! :D

Meerkat
02-19-2003, 12:36 PM
From physical evidence to "nice idea" - NOW THAT'S FAITH! :D

Keith Wilson
02-19-2003, 12:42 PM
No faith needed. It just seem the best explanation I've heard for the evidence as I understand it. I may be wrong.

Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
02-19-2003, 01:06 PM
According to Darwin in"the orgin of Species", Early organisms could have been created by god with the ability to vary or mutate into new species.
I don't remember the page in the peguin edition I own, but I seam to recall that it was mentioned when the auther was discussing his experiments with various specie of pigeons.

This makes Darwin, himself, a neo-creationist.

[ 02-19-2003, 01:07 PM: Message edited by: Thaddeus J. Van Gilder ]

Meerkat
02-19-2003, 01:11 PM
How far back do you push creationism? "God made the heavens and the earth, the ligtning and the primordial soup and saw it was good" doesn't have the same poetic ring to it.

We've come a long way since that primordial soup - all the way from soup to nuts! :D

Adam C
02-19-2003, 01:35 PM
I think in a lot of cases, evolution and atheism go hand in hand. If you fancy yourself as a cosmic accident, or perhaps a product of millions of years of evolution, then you might take the next leap and think in your heart that there is no god.

You are really afraid of being accountable to almighty god, aren't you? Inherently has very little to do with how we were created dosn't it? We've all go to serve someone.

Like I said, you all have more faith than I if you feel secure about going into eternity clinging to the belief that you are a product of nature.

Aren't you the least bit worried about the hereafter?

Meerkat
02-19-2003, 01:59 PM
I neither believe nor disbelieve in the existance of god or gods (why just one? who said so and how did they know?).

Genesis is a sweet story, but even it is internally inconsistant: where did the people Cain went and married among (I think it was he - it's been awhile) come from? If you take the bible literally, was it incest?

I am not the least bit worried about being accountable to "almighty god". If he exists and he's the merciful god monotheists say he is, he/she will forgive me for my transgression(s) and if he/she doesn't exist, then I won't have spent all that time kneeling by the bed praying to the mattress or getting dressed up on one of my 2 days off for the weekly sin washing. (I think religion is, or ought to be, a 7x24 thing and not the Sunday social gathering and soul fluffing it is for many people, but I digress.)

I think we all do serve someone - ourselves. That often looks like serving someone/something else, but in the end, it's a matter of choosing to do that, with not choosing being it's own choice and with it's own consequences.

Personally, I think thee and me end up as fertilizer - at least after the can rusts out and/or the ashes are spread. I like the idea of being buried in a linen shroud and a tree planted nearby to take nurishment from my remains. Alas, that's not practical with all the bodies these days.

The bottom line is that if you believe in Creationism, good on you. If you don't, then good on you too! The question is more about what is taught and why than it is about the facts (or lack thereof) of the matter. If you can reconsile both creationism and evolution, that's great, but please don't mistake a scientific theory, backed by much evidence, for an inspired story.

Adam C
02-19-2003, 02:10 PM
Meer,

What your saying is that if there is a God, you will bank on the fact that he is merciful and therefore accept you.

Isn't that nice? You live your life by YOUR rules, and then want god to accept you when you die, if he exists.

To parapharase Jesus, either be hot or be cold, but don't be lukewarm.

Another thing....in your life you will NEVER see evidence (concrete, scientific)of God. That's why its a matter of faith, and God responds to those who have faith in him.

Ye must believe.

But you believe in many other things you've never seen, don't you, Meer. Do you believe in the country of Swaziland? Yes? Why, have you ever been there?....what, you spoke to people who have been there, or is it a generally accepted fact?

But have YOU ever seen it?

The chair you are sitting on is comprised of an innumerable amount of atoms, all in motion. Do you believe that? If you beleive it because some scientist told you or you read it in a textbook, you're taking someone's word about it. You have never beheld this phenomena with your own eyes.

If you truly look for God, you will find him. The Word is nigh you, and you don't need to go up to heaven to find him, or descend into the depths to seek him out.

[ 02-19-2003, 02:11 PM: Message edited by: Adam C ]

Meerkat
02-19-2003, 02:55 PM
WHY must I believe?

Swaziland: seen pictures - most convincing. Still awaiting pics of the Pearly Gate or even a reliable report from a credible witness - more than one would be better.

Chair: not only have I beheld it, I've betouched it and besat on it ;) Yes, I believe in chair!

[ 02-19-2003, 03:01 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Sam F
02-19-2003, 03:15 PM
Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
Well, I’m going to get verbose here, so if anyone is averse to long posts, go back up and read about boats.

Sam, the laws and operation of every modern society I know of, whatever their religion or lack thereof, are based on “enlightened self interest”. Hang on. We’re not talking modern here. I know that many or our laws in the US, like those dealing with the purchase of Derivatives by county executives, are of modern creation, but the core laws dealing with real human problems like theft and murder are of great antiquity. Even our language betrays this fact. We call our laws, in the aggregate, the Criminal Justice System. We don’t call it the Self Interest System. That’s because the experience of crime cries out for justice, not self interest. And what is justice but the quality of being righteous? The doing of what is right, just and virtuous. Where do those concepts come from? It is historical fact that they are firmly rooted in the Judeo-Christian culture and far older than your 18th century vintage Enlightenment ideas.
Keith, you seem to exhibit a nice example of what is called Post-Christian sensibility. Your position is unthinkable except as the product of a decayed Christianity, cast away but unconsciously still providing the foundations of your thinking.
The Supreme Court may have forgotten it as well, but we should not forget that the 10 commandments still hang in their chambers. They weren’t put there for reasons of self interest.

Please note, I do not claim that a society couldn’t be constructed on self interest or materialist lines. After all, if Communism can serve as a foundation, what couldn’t?
My point is that neither you or I would like it much. I agree that the US seems to be heading in that direction at the moment. Want an example?
“D.C. police released a startling surveillance tape yesterday that shows a daylight killing at a Northeast Washington gas station and witnesses doing nothing to report the crime or tend to the victim as he lay bleeding on the concrete…”
For the complete story of a self interest system go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10391-2003Feb14.html
These people were acting in a self interested way. What was it to them if some poor devil got shot? It’s too bad but not their problem. That’s one of those little side effects I find intolerable, btw.

It has been my contention all along that the character of any society is strongly affected by its creation story, by its governing paradigm as it were. You more or less agreed when you said that you wouldn’t prefer to live in the old USSR. All societies that I know of, which choose a materialistic world view are horrible places to live. And that is no accident. Some paradigms produce long lived sustainable societies others soon collapse under the weight of their own contradictions. Materialist ideals fit human reality so poorly that they don't last.

Many people take certain of the behaviors they see around them as a given, something inherent and unmovable in society. Instead, those behaviors are often the result of commonly held beliefs and thus ephemeral. Societies are dynamic and in a way, living organisms. They are composed of individuals who are largely creatures of habit. We go on acting in certain ways for a few lifetimes after the reasons for those actions no longer apply. From an historical perspective, many of our behaviors are legacies of our Christian past. If they aren’t reinforced they will wither. Think not? They already have. I’m old enough to remember a time when it was safe for children to play all over town because all adults were expected to look after children. And they did. Society’s moral foundations demanded it. No longer!
The USSR started as a revolutionary movement staffed by believers who were more than willing to stamp out the habitual social inheritance of Russia’s Christian past, by murder if necessary. Thus the changes that society underwent were much faster than ours. And its collapse was more precipitous. Functionally, the US is faced with a predominant materialist orthodoxy different from, but as potent as Communism. Since the change has been gradual and strongly resisted, the damage has been limited, but it is real.


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
“Enlightenment” in this case is not used in any spiritual (much less Buddhist) sense; it’s just a more complex longer-term view of self-interest I put up with restrictions on my freedom so that others will follow the same code, which is good for me. Under democracy we decide, by a more or less imperfect process, what restrictions we want to place on ourselves for the common good. People put up with this partly because of fear of punishment, but mainly because we realize that it’s in our interest to have a society in which most people follow the rules. The standard admonition to a child “What if everybody acted that way?” is a good example. Not everybody gets it, but most do, and that’s why I don’t have to fortify my house and can drive to work with a very small chance of anything bad happening to me. That too is of relatively recent vintage. Even in the mid 20th century, your example of “What if everybody acted that way” would more likely have been stated: “You’ll go to Eternal Damnation if you act that way.” Even in these “Enlightened” times one can still hear that socially unacceptable version. That is the Achilles Heel of self interest. There are no real consequences for not obeying the enlightened vision and it is not all that readily apparent what is enlightened and what is mere selfishness. Sure the tribe might censure you but look how it works at a Washington gas station. Once you’re over that mild hurdle you’re off scott free.


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
And no, a bunch of hunter-gatherers sitting around the campfire 300,000 years ago probably didn’t reason this way. However, the reasoning, such as it was, probably went “I really want to take Ugluk’s piece of antelope meat, but if I do everybody will be mad at me. They might even kick me out of the group, so I’d better not.” And this last, my friend, was a more powerful sanction than anything we have today, since it probably meant slow unpleasant death. Have you never seen a schoolyard bully at work? It doesn’t work that way at all. From a Darwinian perspective, the strongest would simply have taken the meat and everybody else had better get out of the way or face the consequences. Some countries are organized that way: Most any dictatorship or North Korea for example.


Originally posted by Keith Wilson:


&lt;SNIP&gt;
Of course our ancestors had little difficulty believing in all sorts of Gods. They knew much less about the physical world than we do, so there was a lot more that was explained by the actions of one God or another. I am, BTW, most emphatically NOT arguing in favor of atheistic materialism. I have no problem at all with belief in God. I look at it sort of like I do evolution – God is either there or not regardless of what I think, and my job is to figure out the truth as well as I can. I do object to certain religions poking their nose into the proper domain of science, and I don’t think that evolution, nor even materialistic atheism, is incompatible with morality. Let's not be so superior about our great-great grandparents. True, our ancestors, collectively, knew less than we do collectively, but how much does the average man in the street know? Say about gravity... Scratch that! How much does the above average man in the street know about gravity? We all believe in it (as did our remotest ancestors) but how much do we really know about it? The more informed of us can recount the Earth’s escape velocity or mention the recent discovery that gravity travels at the speed of light but do we really understand it? I don’t think so. We understand how it acts in a more precise way but all the formulas really only amount to describing how gravity acts not what it is. Boiled down, it's not qualitatively that different from Ugluk's observation that a dropped rock falls... every time.

Frankly, much of what passes for knowledge in the modern world consists of only labels.
We say birds know when to migrate by “instinct”. Great label, but functionally we’ve only pushed back the mystery one level. We have a name for it so that’s enough, but it doesn’t explain the mystery one bit. There are an awful lot of people steeped in ignorance wandering around secure in the knowledge that they understand something because someone somewhere stuck a label on it.

Meerkat
02-19-2003, 03:38 PM
nuts...

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

NormMessinger
02-19-2003, 05:06 PM
Ian, help! This is your thread. Can't you get these guys to be brief?

Ian G Wright
02-19-2003, 05:11 PM
Originally posted by NormMessinger:
Ian, help! This is your thread. Can't you get these guys to be brief?I tried Norm I really did. I could delete the whole thing or,,,,,,,,

Ian G Wright
02-19-2003, 05:17 PM
,,,,,,,,,, I could re-post this,,,,,,,,

So anyway,,,,, there I was up to me neck in muck and bullets, peeling the last cwt of two tons of spuds when up walks the Colonel. “Knocker” ‘e ses to me, “We’re in the ****” ‘e ses, “We’re about to launch an attack on the henamy at first light and the Cook Sergeant tells me ‘e ain’t got no bacon fer the lads breakfast, Wot the bloody ‘ell can we do?”
“Well Bill,” I ses, ‘cos the Colonel and me was the best of mates, “Well Bill, you’re in luck . I ‘av befriended little Abdul wot is a local chap, and ‘e ‘as let slip that over in the next valley is an hoasis surrounded by fruit trees of all kinds, including that rarest of plants the Harab Bacon tree. I shall nip over there just as soon as I’ve finished up these spuds and pick enough bacon for the lads breakfast, that I will!”
“No you won’t, Knocker old chap.” ses the Colonel, “You are too valuable a man to risk, wot with you being the only man we have wot can work the gin and tonic machine. I’ll send that Texas Stan, ‘es always talking big, let’s see ‘ow ‘e does in a real war.”
So the Colonel details Texas Stan to creep into the hoasis in the next valley and pick all the bacon ‘e could carry. and after a bit of an argument about it might be better to send a liberal off Texas Stan crept.
Couple of hours later we ‘eard the most godawful racket from over the hill,,,,,,,,,, bangs, bombs, rockets glaring red and all like that. The noise died down, and a bit later, just in time for breakfast Texas Stan came crawling back. Shot to bits ‘e was, lumps of skin and hair missing an’ everything.
“Where’s the bacon for the lads breakfast?” asked the Colonel, quiet like. “Didn’t get any.” groaned Texas Stan. “Why the bloody ‘ell not?” ‘ses the Colonel, waxing a bit wroth. “Well Sir,” ses Stan, “That weren’t no Bacon Tree,,,,,,,,, that was a Ham Bush!”

Think that might do it Norm?

Meerkat
02-19-2003, 05:24 PM
Brief? Calvin Klein or Fruit Of The Loom? :D

How are briefs like a good poker hand? They contain a pair and the joker is wild ;)

[ 02-19-2003, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]