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What is scientism? 
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Post Re: What is scientism?
geo wrote:
But again, don't they address different domains (or magisteria, to use Gould's word)? I see science as the pursuit of objective knowledge.


Quote:
And, yes, it works the other way too. By disparaging people's religious beliefs, religious skeptics are saying that believers are wrong while they are right. But because religious belief is a subjective experience, it can't be wrong. It's like arguing with someone about whether they enjoyed a movie or not.


But religious belief is not merely a belief about the meaning of life. It is making (false) claims about how the world works, and about historical events.

ant wrote:
Theism has certainly had a positive, meaningful impact on humanity.


I don't believe this is certain. I would concede that it provides comfort to people, and that it has had a role in influencing moral beliefs. It has also had a role in countless wars and murders and intolerance.



Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:37 am
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Post Re: What is scientism?
DWill wrote:
Like geo, I prefer 'materialist,' to capture some of the idea of 'scientism' (without the pejorative part). With materialist, it's more clear that the term applies to specifics and is not a description of personality. Way back when modern science was revving up, some English Romantic poets worried that science would overwhelm us with its materialist view, robbing nature of what they viewed as transcendence. Wordsworth expressed some of this in his famous sonnet "The World Is Too Much With Us". The later American Romantics, who called themselves Transcendentalists, agreed. Even as keen a scientific mind as Thoreau's insisted that research and fact were meaningful only in the context of a being called Nature.

The problem with science, for me, comes down to reductionism misapplied. Reductionism has been essential to the physical sciences, but in the different areas of human culture and history it never seems to work. Trying to reduce culture to natural law or measurement often destroys what we're looking at. We run into another problem labeled by Wordsworth: "We murder to dissect." In perennial wisdom, the idea that materialism doesn't suffice has long been captured in the Bible adage, "Man does not live by bread alone."


This is so eloquently put and I feel it elevates this discussion to a different level by actually showing the power of metaphor and poetic language. "We murder to dissect" really stays with you. I'm going to read some Wordsworth today. Thanks, DWill.

I've always thought that the study of evolution if anything allows us to see ourselves as part of nature while many religions have only worked to foster the delusion that we are apart from nature. And, yet, it cannot be denied that many people need that spiritual perspective. I still feel the ultimate solution is to understand these separate roles played by science and religion. The pretense that religion is somehow an alternative to science or competes with science is an incredibly negative force in our culture.

More later. On the road today.


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Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:48 am
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Post Re: What is scientism?
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It has also had a role in countless wars and murders and intolerance.


This is the standard line that atheists utilize when they attempt to indict religion as being largely responsible for the evils committed by mankind.

It's a bit morbid to think there exists some informal body count as to which "side" is more culpable - religion or secularism. It's certainly true beyond a shadow of doubt that secularism has played a major role in war, murder, genocide, intolerance, and other barbarous behaviors. But that is by and large ignored because the underlying emotion here is not outrage against the atrocities committed by man collectively, it is the disdain toward religion specifically.


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Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:01 am
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Post Re: What is scientism?
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I've always thought that the study of evolution if anything allows us to see ourselves as part of nature while many religions have only worked to foster the delusion that we are apart from nature


I like this. So very well put.

But Christ did in fact have an appreciation of nature:

Quote:
“ See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."


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Last edited by ant on Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:04 am
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Post Re: What is scientism?
ant wrote:
Quote:
It has also had a role in countless wars and murders and intolerance.


This is the standard line that atheists utilize when they attempt to indict religion as being largely responsible for the evils committed by mankind.

It's a bit morbid to think there exists some informal body count as to which "side" is more culpable - religion or secularism. It's certainly true beyond a shadow of doubt that secularism has played a major role in war, murder, genocide, intolerance, and other barbarous behaviors. But that is by and large ignored because the underlying emotion here is not outrage against the atrocities committed by man collectively, it is the disdain toward religion specifically.


That's because wars are not fought for "secularism," but they are sometimes fought for religion. The standard line for theists is that Hitler and Stalin were killing people because of atheism, but that makes no sense. Atheism is merely a lack of belief in God.



Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:27 am
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Post Re: What is scientism?
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That's because wars are not fought for "secularism," but they are sometimes fought for religion. The standard line for theists is that Hitler and Stalin were killing people because of atheism, but that makes no sense. Atheism is merely a lack of belief in God.


Part of my point is that even godless people can commit crimes against humanity. They don't need a God to worship or commit sacrifice too. It's an ideology they kill for.
That's not difficult to see or admit, unless the emotion behind "religion is bad!" is too strong to overcome in favor of objectivity.


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Last edited by ant on Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:39 am, edited 2 times in total.



Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:38 am
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Post Re: What is scientism?
ant wrote:
Quote:
I've always thought that the study of evolution if anything allows us to see ourselves as part of nature while many religions have only worked to foster the delusion that we are apart from nature


I like this. So very well put.

But Christ did in fact have an appreciation of nature:

Quote:
“ See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."


Reverence for nature and the idea of being stewards of the planet are not religious tenets at all. Buddhists hold a reverence for nature as well. Ideas of universal love are also seen as a Christian ideal. But you don't need to believe in Christ to accept the notion of universal love. These are basic cultural ideas that exist outside of religion.


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Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:35 pm
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Post Re: What is scientism?
ant wrote:
Quote:
That's because wars are not fought for "secularism," but they are sometimes fought for religion. The standard line for theists is that Hitler and Stalin were killing people because of atheism, but that makes no sense. Atheism is merely a lack of belief in God.


Part of my point is that even godless people can commit crimes against humanity. They don't need a God to worship or commit sacrifice too. It's an ideology they kill for.
That's not difficult to see or admit, unless the emotion behind "religion is bad!" is too strong to overcome in favor of objectivity.


There are usually many complex conditions on the ground that lead to violence, even when religious differences are specifically cited. Certainly religious intolerance is a contributing factor in matters of hatred. Here in North Carolina, the religious right are furiously pushing a constitutional amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman. It's weird to me that this would be a religious issue at all. Why do pastors and ministers feel that it's their domain to define marriage in society? This is another example of religion overstepping its bounds. Why do we deem men of the cloth to be arbiters of our morality? What special training or knowledge do they have? It's what happens when people stop thinking for themselves, passing of their own moral responsibility to group-think.


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Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:49 pm
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Post Re: What is scientism?
Quote:
But you don't need to believe in Christ to accept the notion of universal love. These are basic cultural ideas that exist outside of religion.


That is a reflexive response from atheists who believe theists in general feel religion is necessary in order to feel a reverence and universal affinity for the natural world. That simply is false and I do not believe anyone here made that assertion.

Christian, Buddhist, Taoist tenants all express an admiration and reverence toward nature. An even hand would recognize that.
Not saying you aren't even handed. Just highlighting that aspect of religion.


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Last edited by ant on Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:26 pm
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Post Re: What is scientism?
Quote:
There are usually many complex conditions on the ground that lead to violence, even when religious differences are specifically cited.


Yes, the world is a highly complex arena, with and without religious factors considered. To finger a literalist, extremist facet of religion and broad brush it as being responsible for "people flying into buildings" or "drugging the masses" is simplistic.

Quote:
Why do we deem men of the cloth to be arbiters of our morality? What special training or knowledge do they have? It's what happens when people stop thinking for themselves, passing of their own moral responsibility to group-think.


I do not support men of cloth influencing legislation. I support fair, balanced laws governing society.
Group-think is inherent in all institutions, including the scientific/political arena. It can not be avoided.

Here are some examples of group-think in play:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

The Space Shuttle disaster can be seen as one also.

For the sake of the argument, let's both agree that religion is a detriment to society.
How would you go about resolving this problem?
Besides beating the "separation of church and state" drum, what else would you do?


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Last edited by ant on Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:19 pm
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Post Re: What is scientism?
Dexter wrote:
ant wrote:
Quote:
It has also had a role in countless wars and murders and intolerance.


This is the standard line that atheists utilize when they attempt to indict religion as being largely responsible for the evils committed by mankind.

It's a bit morbid to think there exists some informal body count as to which "side" is more culpable - religion or secularism. It's certainly true beyond a shadow of doubt that secularism has played a major role in war, murder, genocide, intolerance, and other barbarous behaviors. But that is by and large ignored because the underlying emotion here is not outrage against the atrocities committed by man collectively, it is the disdain toward religion specifically.


That's because wars are not fought for "secularism," but they are sometimes fought for religion. The standard line for theists is that Hitler and Stalin were killing people because of atheism, but that makes no sense. Atheism is merely a lack of belief in God.

Maybe it helps to look at the matter this way: Religion, whatever we might think of it, has been probably the most potent force for mobilizing people the world has ever seen. Secularism? How can that be said to have mobilized anyone? So the potency of religion is so much greater to begin with, and so we have greater extremes of good and bad stemming from it.


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Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:34 pm
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Post Re: What is scientism?
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Religion, whatever we might think of it, has been probably the most potent force for mobilizing people the world has ever seen.


Perhaps the greatest example in human history of the quickest, most lethal mobilization of a people is Hitler's Nazi State. It is not related to religion, but was a combination of factors - psychological, economical, and political.

When the appropriate climate exists and the right man positions himself to exploit the needs of a people experiencing a desire to regain security and be "liberated" from the aforementioned stress factors, you have the making of a potent, formidable force, WITHOUT religion playing a predominate role.

Hitler, although a morally depraved monster, was a master manipulator that was able to seduce the masses with his "politics of exclusion."

Hitler wrote..,

Quote:
"To begin with, Judaism is definitely a racial and not a religious group...
The result of which is that a non-German race lives among us with its own feelings, thoughts and aspirations, while having all the same rights as we do."


The Versailles Treaty left Germany in economic ruin. It crippled future growth potential and left the people of Germany in a situation of economic desperation. Once a people with great national pride, they suddenly found themselves in a position of miserable desperation.

Hitler was in love with militarism and his personal "Mein Kampf" that he was able to psychologically transfer to a desperate people. In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote Vienna was...,

"the hardest though most thorough school in my life" in which he obtained "the foundations for a philosophy in general and a political view in particular which later I only needed to supplement in detail, but which never left me"


World War I also helped shape his character and military value system. His usage of war propaganda was also a key factor.

We don't need a further review of history here. Most of us are familiar with the monstrous crimes committed against a race of people, by a people, indoctrinated into a racial and political ideology of superiority. The war waged was not a "Our leader was raised as a Catholic and you aren't Catholic, therefor you must die!" war.

Although there are certain individuals who are satisfied with a superficial analysis of this event and will curtail their analysis when they find a word like "Catholic" in the record, the Nazi movement was the greatest example of the mobilization of people to commit atrocities unrelated to religious tenants. I'm sure there are more examples out there to consider.


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Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:58 pm
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Post Re: What is scientism?
ant wrote:

For the sake of the argument, let's both agree that religion is a detriment to society.
How would you go about resolving this problem?
Besides beating the "separation of church and state" drum, what else would you do?


I wouldn't say that religion is a detriment to society. I think the inclination towards radicalism and fundamentalism---thinking in black and white--is a negative and sometimes destructive force, whether or not it manifests itself in religion or some other ideology. The Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, who massacred 77 people, was acting on his extreme political beliefs. But he could easily have fomented his rage around some religious belief, I have no doubt.

We sometimes talk about religion as if it is its own entity with its own agenda. In that it's like the argument that guns don't kill people. People kill people.

If anything all rational members of society should understand that religion has a place as a personal belief system.


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Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:02 am
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Post Re: What is scientism?
geo wrote:
ant wrote:

For the sake of the argument, let's both agree that religion is a detriment to society.
How would you go about resolving this problem?
Besides beating the "separation of church and state" drum, what else would you do?


I wouldn't say that religion is a detriment to society. I think the inclination towards radicalism and fundamentalism---thinking in black and white--is a negative and sometimes destructive force, whether or not it manifests itself in religion or some other ideology. The Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, who massacred 77 people, was acting on his extreme political beliefs. But he could easily have fomented his rage around some religious belief, I have no doubt.

We sometimes talk about religion as if it is its own entity with its own agenda. In that it's like the argument that guns don't kill people. People kill people.

If anything all rational members of society should understand that religion has a place as a personal belief system.


The new atheists are attempting to turn the word religion into a pejorative term.

What's your take on that?


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Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:36 am
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Post Re: What is scientism?
ant wrote:
geo wrote:
ant wrote:

For the sake of the argument, let's both agree that religion is a detriment to society.
How would you go about resolving this problem?
Besides beating the "separation of church and state" drum, what else would you do?


I wouldn't say that religion is a detriment to society. I think the inclination towards radicalism and fundamentalism---thinking in black and white--is a negative and sometimes destructive force, whether or not it manifests itself in religion or some other ideology. The Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, who massacred 77 people, was acting on his extreme political beliefs. But he could easily have fomented his rage around some religious belief, I have no doubt.

We sometimes talk about religion as if it is its own entity with its own agenda. In that it's like the argument that guns don't kill people. People kill people.

If anything all rational members of society should understand that religion has a place as a personal belief system.


The new atheists are attempting to turn the word religion into a pejorative term.

What's your take on that?


It's difficult for me to respond to the general tenor of the term "new atheists" which seems to be an effort to frame atheism as an unified position or organized movement. Atheism simply means without belief in God which is hardly a unifying doctrine. Writers such as Dawkins, Hitchens, and Sam Harris have written about religion, but they each have unique perspectives. I don't think it's fair to summarize either of these writers' positions as an attempt to "turn the word religion into a pejorative term." I'm quite sure that's not what any of them are attempting to do.


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Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:52 pm
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