Thursday, November 30, 2006

ive been tweeking on this symposium all week. discussions of god vs. science by some of the heavies; dawkins, ramachandran et al. i know most folk dont have the inclination for three days worth of discussion but i thought that i would put up a link of one two hour segment that is especially dramatic and well argued. both sides were a little better represented here. otherwise the conference has been pretty biased toward science. which i of course enjoyed because of the unusually large anti-religous resentment i have been carrying around recently. unlike in my youth, i now generally try to keep my feelings about religiosity to myself. but then again that is usually much easier to do. if it interests you then there is lots more to see at the symposiums main site.

19 comments:

Chris (C. Brian) said...

EA,

I downloaded the segment to which you linked; I love dialog/debate/plenary sessions on ultimate issues . . . especially reason vs. faith. So I look forward to giving this a careful listen. It's interesting to think about the many worldviews that people hold: atheism, agnositicism, deism, pantheism, theism, etc. Concerning the face-off between naturalism vs. supernaturalism . . . I am familiar with one heavyweight philosopher/theologian (who also has co-written and co-edited materials with those who are diametrically opposed to his views) is William Lane Craig. Here is a link to the transcript to one of his debates with Quentin Smith: http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/craig-smith_harvard00.html. I am actually originally from Santa Barbara, CA, and a few years back, I attended one of Craig's debates with a biologist at UCSB. I actually had the opportunity to ask him a question in a discussion group after the event. I was impressed with his combination of erudition and graciousness. He is a pretty masterful public speaker, too. I respect that his work may not be your cup of tea. However, I myself prefer a more "philosophy of religion"-type discussion as opposed to the religio-politico rhetoric that bombards us.

Chris (C. Brian) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peter said...

Hey Eric,

I was just wondering if you had the Panic Channel's album, and what your opinion on it was?

I've got mixed feelings myself..

Anonymous said...

E-

Over time science renders supernatural beliefs less super and more natural.

Personally, I consider myself all religions and no religions at all. I am all the religions that had long died off, along with all the religions that are yet to be. One hand holds a religion-free god the other hand is scientific and existentially attached to nothingness. If I were to invent a religion, it would be one that allows the simultaneous ability to digest and utilize seemingly contradictory concepts.

My Jewish birth religion has completely morphed into what can be considered a cultural experience such as recipes, holiday dinners, idioms, games w/the family, etc. The holiest, most sacred land not being a wall in Jerusalem, it is the spot under each individual’s feet.

Emotions that impress as divine are permeated from music, writing, art, education, orgasm, gardening as well as both extremes of community and isolation. Divinity is often found in nonverbal communication with the elements, plants and animals (including the human animal). Old cathedrals, men in robes, exclusive righteousness and the likes have never really done it for me. I feel closest to god or science or whatever we want to call being alive whenever I am filled with resonance, compassion, empathy and creativity. I connect with inventive, clever, sincere, honest people on a spiritual level, rather than people trained in holy book regurgitation.

I pray to God all the time. I also sing daily. That is in addition to verbally directing the universe to bend to my will. The universe often does materialize what I have requested. I am simply using the tools this physical life has provided. Tools that the Los Angeles Unified School System and various organizations neglected to provide. Tools that grow over time and are strengthened like muscles. The concept of Mantra is huge. This world is one big laboratory for what is an endless amount of experimentation.

I don’t fault or think the lesser of anyone for his or her beliefs. This is not to assume I subordinate my beliefs, coping mechanisms, to any individual or group. Individuals and groups are simply responding to their framework. They are functioning within the boundaries of idiomatic logic and exposure. There is a lot of corruption woven into all individuals and groups. There is good reason for this. There is a patch of yin in yang and visa-versa. John Steinbeck reflects in Tortilla Flat; (paraphrasing) there is a soft white underbelly in the crustiest creatures. The most benign people are capable of the committing the worst horrors. Or something of that nature.

Doesn’t mean I wont fight or resist when actions of an individual or group are a threat (physical, economic, creative or otherwise) to the well being of myself and/or loved ones. Even if I have to fashion love and laughter into the most effective weapon possible.

Life is a liquid experience, constantly taking different shape. This includes religion, science, sexuality, relationships, creative outlets, ad infinitum.

With respect and kindness,
Mike

-ea. said...

wow mike. nice. i am reminded in your post of two things. one is i remember hearing joseph campbell talk about myth, and by extension religion, as being a face that we put on the unknowable. so that we have a way to meditate on or experience lifes great mysteries. the second is the wisdom in assigning lifes mysteries their proper place. that is, figuring out the difference between a question (answerable and worth pursuing) and a mystery (unanswerable like 'why are we here?').

Anonymous said...

whether it's food, drugs, tv, music we all try escape reality. i know for me, listening to jane's helps alot...perhaps i too use it as a escape. the truth is, life sucks for everyone, there is a low for every high. everyone is depressed in their own way. why dont we grab a gun and put it all to rest? it seems like a very easy answer to end this tragic comedy called life...but we dont...why? fear of the unknown? perhaps thats proof of religion. you wont find that in a science text book.

Anonymous said...

By training, I'm a therapist...so the minutiae of science vs. God thing is lost on me. M'lady is a doctor (currently a resident) and her father a math prof (both Orthodox Jews). And due to her training, many of our friends are docs of some sort...and they all practice/believe in Traditional Judaism. Most claim, to some degree, that their faith is reinforced by their studying and working with dna/cellular structure and behavior.

In the end, they find it odd that secular and religous folks are all hot and bothered by Dawkins et al. One of 'em stated that you'd never ask a scientist to comment on the sublime nature of a poem. Why do we care what they think about God?

matt volpe said...

Hi Eric,

I found this piece pretty fascinating, thanks for the link. The way I see it, when I was young, I grew up in a pretty religious Lutheran/Catholic family-- doing the church thing on Sundays, on the holidays, et al. After I was confirmed I pretty much divided myself from religion. As I got older and understood the world and the people in it, I began to feel sometimes there wasn't a God or he went on vacation. So not to remain completely jaded and bitter, I decided to take it upon myself to just do my own praying, shape my own private relationship with a higher divinity more or less. I've learned through my life experience thus far, and from my very fortunate good luck of having amazing parents and a best friend sister, that as long as one is a good person, truly good in a sense that they are good listeners, helpful and understanding and generally just radiate a positive vibe into a negative room that that is as good if not better than belonging to any religious sect. Just being a loving, generous person is the best thing I think one can do. I plan to instill this in my son the best I can. It really all boils down to faith in oneself really I believe. As for the science aspect of it, I feel that there are very legitimate clues as to human life orginating from science. When push comes to shove, however, I tend to lean towards the religious side of things as I guess it's just part of me from a young age and I'd like to believe there is a higher power that created humanity more supernaturally than scientifically. Then again, I work for the Sci Fi Channel, so what I'm saying could be complete bs we were created by Battle Star Galactica... ( a bad joke, I know). Take care and talk soon EA, Matt

-ea. said...

anonymous- by training, im a bassist....so i dont understand what the first line of your post means. the fact that some see the double helix and they see ttheir god in the beauty of it while some might just see satan is an example of why there is a dialogue about this. there is a confluence of both releigion and science on our world view. there is obvious overlap. this might not interest you particularly but in the public sphere these issues need to be addressed while we have an administration that makes scientific policy decisions based on chrsitianity and rallies religious feelings to vote on questions of biology.

Anonymous said...

" anonymous- by training, im a bassist....so i dont understand what the first line of your post means."

My point is that most folks who aren't trained in the hard sciences, read a headline: "Sam Harris claims God is Dead...Dawkins claims religious people are dangerous" and because, in the Western world, we value science over art, facts over beliefs, etc., we tend to take what they say as, well, God given.

Oddly enough, Dawkins is catching flak for being as intollerant as those on the religous Right. Case in point, his debate with Collins (Time, Nov. 13, 2006).

"this might not interest you particularly but in the public sphere these issues need to be addressed while"

We don't disagree. And I'm interested...so far as my background (not in science)and time allow me to partake in the discussion.

Tanya said...

Just read about a book release of a series of lectures Carl Sagan first delivered in 1985. 'The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God.' I may have to pick this up as I really like this quote from it: "Does trying to understand the universe at all betray a lack of humilty? I would suggest that science is, at least in part, informed worship."

-ea. said...

tanya - i will have to check that one out too. i heard ann druyan (his wife/collaborator) say something at the symposium that i loved which was in reply to someone saying that scientists were dogmatic like the religious; that scientists were attached to being right. druyan said that she disagreed because when a scientist comes along and proves everybody wrong we give them a prize.

Anonymous said...

Sagan either jacked or is alluding to William James masterpiece "The Varieties of Religious Experience". Intersting choice.

Be well,

SR

Anonymous said...

If I was ever curious about the mystery of slight reconciliation between empirical thinking and spirituality, it is within the realm of people getting sober for extended periods of time. The idea of a "participative god", one that actually answers prayers is definitively an evil god. I am reluctant to ask any higher power for anything primarily out of guilt, but more to point because I know that any god that answers my prayers actively participates and makes active changes in my life. If that were true and absolute then this omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent being must be evil. How can I be chosen when so many others have clearly pleaded or begged for real mercy in clearly more deserving conditions?

Anonymous said...

Be well,

SR

-ea. said...

sr- i agree completely with your reasoning. i often find it insulting when people say that god answered their prayers because it implies that god decided against others who in the same situation did not get a happy ending.

it sounded from your other post that there was something specific that you wanted me to answer. boundary crossing concerns etc. i am not sure what you are asking. you can be direct if there is something you would like to ask. im good at letting folks know if they have crossed into something off limits.

Anonymous said...

Yes. I don't mean to be criptic; this is an open forum. Has this disdain for an "active" higher power been problematic in your recovery from drugs and alcohol? If so, how did/do you reconcile the opposing perspectives..

Be well,

SR

-ea. said...

sr - sorry its taken me so long to get back to you. i just remembered that i owed you a reply to this. im daunted about being able to clearly answer this without making it book length. my continued recovery is based on two things that a belief in god traditionally provides. faith that although things may get dark it will be alright in the end. and two that i do not always know what is best for me; proper humility. firstly, the faith i have is born, not from a care-taking god but from my experience with the truth of my life; the experience of the scale of emotional pain. i do not need to believe that everything is going to be peachy, or have lots of mystical meaning, for a temporary pain to be bearable. or to have meaning for that matter. secondly, i am well aware, and on a daily basis keep myself well aware, that i am not in possession of the complete set of information about the world. this keeps my mind open to all the new assistances life offers, keeps me from getting too attached to (and wrapped up in) my judgements of people and places, and therefore i continue to grow wiser while remaining teachable. l knew before i began answering, this seems so incomplete an answer to your question that i am reticent to even post it. but there you have it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Eric, for real. I struggle mightily with this. I think there are a couple of very worthwhile concepts addressed here and I will give myself time to intelligently address them. I have found so few in my recovery that struggle with this concept for many reasons.
Thanks again; have a wonderful day.

SR