Thanks for your story. Well said on many points. In some of your closing remarks, you said “so long as the secular is acting to protect us from the excesses of religion then we must accept that our religious liberties only make sense when the demands of the secular are given governance.”
This also is a sensible remark, but it presumes (I think) that the secular is more reasonable and less out of control than the religious aspect of things. We do need to respect the partidular beliefs of others, incl religious, even if we do not agree. In that sense, some sort of non-religious, or secular, standard has to exist. But secularism can and has run rampant in the 20th century, and probably before, The one field-- secularism – is not cool, calm, and rational – while the other frothing at the mouth. Also, both these areas seem determined to influence the other, and it probably cannot be otherwise. Religion, for example,.argued for and then argued against slavery in the past…and probably secularism alone, outside of some sort of religious or moral influence, would never have thought to throw off slavery — and very nearly did not…
But I do generally see what you are saying as a whole…
I am sorry to rain on your parade, but I fear that the basic alternatives that you are using, science and religion, objective and subjective, absolute and relative are FALSE dichotomies based on outmoded Western dualism which is the foundation of our way of thinking.
Take for instance scientific reductionism. The idea is that if we just dig deep enough we will discover the Absolute or basic essence of nature or being which will enable us to understand all the secrets of Reality.
However, this is not what happened. When science dug to the basis of physical reality it found quantum mechanics. Quantum reality is not objective, Matter can be energy and energy can be matter. Probability which is not absolute reigns.
Newton said that there are absolutes in nature, absolute time and space. Einstein said that this was not true and Einstein was right. Nature is relative and so is truth.
Now it is true that some kinds of truth is more relative or complicated than others. Scientific truth is less complicated than moral truth. This does not make one less or more than the other.
We must not give up on moral truth just because it is more complicated and difficult to understand and carry out than scientific truth. Indeed we must value it more.
However here I do not think that the issue is rally truth, but values. We need and society has the right to expect basic values in life, primarily: honesty, truth telling, keeping our commitments, and respect for others.
As long as people maintain these values, it really does not make much difference why they do so. The problem today in the USA these values, which are basic to the Christian faith have broken down and it seems that to a significant extent the church has contributed to this.
So you think that science or secularism can help restore the values of community?
Incorrect. The above gives the definition of these terms as I use them. You are free to define these terms as you choose and if you only object and do not define them for yourself then your statements are likely to communicate nothing. We are left with only dictionary definitions which give a choice of many meanings.
Your meaning here is very unclear. Are you saying that science is necessarily reductionist? I am a scientist and I reject this as many scientists do also. Instead they see the phenomenon of emergence implicit in the very structure of science: math, physics, chemistry, biology. Reductionism would imply that there is no biology but only chemistry and no chemistry but only physics and no physics but only math. But this is absurd. In each case the former is only a tool to bring some understanding of the details but emergent properties mean that each is a science in its own right.
I don’t recall anyone making such a prediction. Quantum physics is also founded on written procedures which anyone can follow to get the same result and it is therefore just as objective (according to my definition) as any of the other sciences. But what can you mean by your claim that quantum “reality” is not objective? The dictionary gives the definition of impartial and I am not even sure how you mean that to apply to a “reality” – are you saying there is a reality in quantum physics which is not the same for everyone??? You seem to be confusing science with some kind of personal metaphysics.
As for energy, what physics has discovered is that everything in the physical universe both substance and action are all different forms of energy. And what can we make of your comment on probability? The dictionary gives definitions of absolute as complete or universal. The proposition that quantum physics is incomplete has been disproven and all the evidence shows that it applies everywhere in the universe.
Neither said anything of the sort. Your philosophical characterizations their science are absurd. Newton gave mathematical rules for motion and gravity which continue to be used because their accuracy in most applications are fabulous. Einstein improved upon these to extend our ability to calculate motion and gravity for more extreme circumstances which are rather hard to find. So what do we make of your comment on nature. Are the laws of nature relative to something? Hardly! They work the same way everywhere and no matter who does them depending only on the variable in the equation and on nothing else. What do you imagine they are relative to?
Yes relativity is founded on the idea that motion is relative, and then discovers quite surprisingly that a other things like simultaneity are also relative. Thus when you try to talk about what is happening in a distant place like on mars or in the vicinity of Alpha Centauri at the same time as something here on earth then you have to careful. On mars, “at the same time” includes everything that happens in a period which is at least a 4 minutes long (i.e. what you might view as simultaneous could any time in the period depending on your relative velocity) and near Alpha Centauri it is period more than eight years long.
Oh… does this mean you are defining the word “relative” as “complicated and difficult to understand?” Frankly I think what is complicated and difficult to understand is rather relative to the person. Some people find math and science too complicated and difficult to understand while others like me find it easy – perhaps even easier to understand than people, philosophy, or religion.
What we must do in a free society is distinguish between “moral truth” which is founded on objective evidence and absolute reasons from “moral truth” which is founded on subjective inclinations, personal experience, and relative to religion, culture, and personal ideologies. The former can be the basis of law and judgment governing everyone while the latter has no value except in the conduct on ones own personal life.
Incorrect. The reason why they do things is what distinguishes between what is reasonable for the person to guide his own life and what is reasonable to expect from others. Thus in a free society we don’t impose Islamic laws regarding prayer times, but they are certainly free to organize their life so they can pray whenever they want.
I think science can determine if there are objective reasons for prohibitions and thus whether it is reasonable to demand that others abide by them. I think secular rule is required for the existence of religious liberty. Otherwise you can move to a Muslim nation where they force their religion on everyone, and if you manage to make a country where they force your religion on everyone then I will not live there – not peaceably.
Your use of the term “secularism” goes very very far from my definition of the term “secular.” What can I do in order to understand what you are talking about except go to the dictionary. Google gives “the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.” Accordingly I can only applaud that this has run rampant in the 20th century and before because I don’t want your religion or Islam or some other religion running either my city, my state, or my country. Perhaps that is not what you are talking about, though apart from the dictionary I can only guess at your meaning.
So here is a guess. My guess is that when you talk of “secularism running rampant” by secularism you mean something like the term “godlessness” in the Bible, which seems to be a synonym for being without a moral compass of any kind to take what you want without respect for property and the well being of others. Though in this case I would guess you are equivocating a bit so that anything deviating from your personal set of rules is equated with that kind of lawlessness. I cannot see this as anything but a pretext for forcing your religion on other people. Anyway, at the very least, this is the sort of confusion which arises when you do not define your terms. It is precisely why we need the distinction between what science and objective evidence can determine is truly harmful to others so that we can make people keep their personal ideas and moral fetishes to themselves and leave other people alone.
“Secular state” would, I suppose, be a better term. But there is really no such thing as value-free or nothing being influenced by the philosophies or morals of another. Even wanting people to keep hands-off with their “personal set of rules” is a value judgment.
I started a (now locked) thread many moons ago where we hashed through some of this … though there too we would probably run afoul of your charge that terms are still left ill-defined or undefined. Nonetheless, I’m curious if you’ve read what Leslie Newbigin has written on the subject?
I hadn’t heard of Leslie Newbigin. Did a quick lookup and ordered “Honest Religion for Secular Man,” from the library but don’t know if it will work since the libraries here have become almost useless since tax laws caused book companies to shred all of their old books.
All I have is this description of the book:
“Religion is much too great and permanent an element in human experience to be swept out of sight,” writes Bishop Newbigin. “I want to ask what must be the religion of a Christian who accepts the process of secularization and lives fully in the kine of world into which God has led us.” His answer involves relating the universal fact of secularization to the biblical picture of the nature and destiny of man. It involves, too, some criticism of recent Christian responses to secularization - but the whole tone of this book is positive. The emphasis is on knowing God, being God’s people, and living of God in the midst of the secular.
Whether religion is swept under the rug is up to the individual and the kind of world secularism is leading us into is one of freedom of religion – less ability by fanatics to force their religion on others.
A review of the book has this quote by Gabriel Vahanian addressing the question of whether paganism is secular. I am not sure if this is connected or not. But while I don’t think paganism is any more secular than Christianity, I am strongly opposed to the anti-paganism found in some sectors of Christianity. I would not only recognize the pagan influences on Christianity but I would celebrate them. It is the influence of Gnosticism (gospel of salvation by sound doctrine and works of the mind, for one) which I would revile instead.
Another site focuses on Newbigin’s talk of “the myth of a secular society” which sounds like something to which I would be greatly opposed. It is not a myth it is an ideal to struggle for, just like science and Christianity. The reality often diverges from the ideal and thus you have to work at steering it back to the ideal you are striving for. It is quite true that things can stray too far in extremes as the anti-religious try to sweep religion under the rug, characterizing it as primitive science and mental illness. But the truth is that this is just an example of them pushing their religion on other people. And thus fighting for the secular ideal would require opposing what they are doing.
Yes and that is a value judgment which I strongly support. To be sure, every society must impose things on its citizens and the society I choose to live in is one which imposes the ideals of tolerance and religious liberty which logical consistency requires a secular separation of church and state as well as limiting the rule of law to what can be objectively established by science as harmful to others.
You are “dumbing” down science so that it applies to math and not how the laws of science actually work. I you are doing to embrace science then you need to go the whole way and embrace its cosmology which are related to philosophy and theology, but originate in science and are part of science.
Scientific cosmology says that the nature of Reality is interdependence as determined by E = mc squared, and not Newtonian absolutes.
I expect that when Newton said that matter could not be created or destroyed, and time and space were not related, he was thinking of them as creations of God. If he thought that they were eternal, we know now for sure that they are not.
For the sake of argument I will accept this general statement as true. It is true that that which is true can be obscured when human traditions and practices are attached to it, and we need to separate the substance from its forms. Of course we need to make sure that our practices achieve the goals of our beliefs.
The problem is 1) That we are left with two types of Moral Truth and 2) they are divided incorrectly as objective/absolute and subjective/religious/relative. However morality is not absolute. Morality is social and that is why we make laws based on consensus, but it is a consensus based on values. The problem today is that the consensus has broken down because we do not share the same values.
Here you state that science can help people come to consensus about good laws, which is true. No one except maybe some Fundamentalist Christians and Islamists has said that reason should not play a role in morality and law making.
The problem with what you say is that Science is the discipline which helps us to understand how things work, not what makes things “good.” After we determine what are good values, then we can use science to implement and actualize these values.
Sam Harris has said that that which is good is that which minimizes suffering and science can determine the best way to do this. Whether or not you agree with this definition of what is good, it is not an absolute objective scientific fact, but a statement of faith.
The problem with Islamic law is not prayer times, unless you are an employer who finds it difficult to accommodate these breaks in the work schedule. The problem is that there is no separation of mosque and state as you advocate as do most Christians today. Under Sharia slavery is legal, because it was accepted as legal at the time of Muhamad.
You speak of secular as if it means devoid of theological content, which is not true. The Christian worldview is the basis of both separation of Church and State, and modern science.
Reality for the Christian is not monistic, as it is for Islam and it is for Dawkins. Reality for Christians is seen as based on Western dualism or better three and one. Reality is not absolute as you would have it, but rational, which means that it is both One and the Many, Unity and Diversity.
One cannot make objective decisions unless one has all the facts. When one makes moral choices, one never has all the facts, but we are called to make the best decisions we can using all the resources humans have at their disposal, including philosophy, theology, and science.
The role of secular government is to maintain civil secular order. The role of Faith is to build the Kingdom of God. The are not in conflict, because the second is similar, but higher than the first. They both value telling the truth, but the government cannot punish people very time they tell a lie.
Faith encourages people to have a positive morality and positive values, not just to obey the law, whether it be the laws of government or the laws of God. Again these values have eroded in our culture, our society, and our churches.
I’ve only read his “Proper Confidence” and “The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society”. It looks like you’re getting one of his earlier works first published in 1966. I’ll be curious what you find there. He was a bit more critical of the secular program than it sounds like you are, so it would be interesting to hear your reactions to some of his ideas. The first book I reference above is a short read, and very much to the point of what is often discussed around here. Again, I’d also be curious what your reactions to this previous thread would be. My OP there is a brief introduction to the second book above. If you want to post a reaction we could start a new thread on it, or just keep going here, or unlock the old one.
The most recent one I could even order on inter-library loan is “Truth to tell: gospel as public truth.” Did that. Will will see in 6 to 8 weeks if either of these orders get me anything.
True, but I am doing more than that. I am distinguishing between objective truth and subjective truth, where only the former provides a reasonable expectation that other people should agree.
In the case of the objective truth of science there are written procedures which anyone can follow to get the same result. This removes it from the area of privilege to one of simply being willing to do the work. But in the case of subjective truth this is spot on and it is why there can be no reasonable expectation that others should agree.
Our fallability only applies to subjective judgements. Science reaches beyond this by continually testing its conclusions with written procedures anyone can follow to check that they get the same results. There is nothing fictitious about this kind of intellectual integrity. But of course people often claim objectivity and integrity when in truth they have nothing but pompous opinion which none of their credentials give any justification of real substance. Just because one has a science degree doesn’t mean one is living up to the ideals of science in all of ones activities – and we shouldn’t expect this. There is a difference between science (founded on objective observation) and life (which requires subjective participation). Therefore some discernment is required to determine which a person is doing at a particular time.
He seems to be confusing secular with objective. It is a choice to live in a free society, not the result of some scientific experiment. But you have the platform in a set of ideals once you make the choice and thus impose tolerance and religious liberty, which certainly requires considerable limitations on what religion is allowable (e.g. human sacrifices are not acceptable).
Just because something insists it is not religion doesn’t mean it isn’t subjective and thus subject to the same limitations in a free society. Atheists often like to play this right-by-default game with special pleading for negative positions, so they can push all the burden of proof on religion. This of course must be rejected as dishonest rhetoric through and through.
But if we choose to live in a free society then we agree to put tolerance and religious liberty on a somewhat higher pedestal with a social contract requiring all citizens to accept these limitations.
You are having quite the debate with Mr. Sawtelle. The concepts of “tolerance and religious liberty” are good ones, but they are recent concepts in human history, it seems, and not evenly applied. Are you suggesting that “science” can establish what is “harmful to others”??? The new scientific pope would be whom? the current holder of the Lucasian chair at Oxford? (or Cambridge, forget which).
I am not being facetious, but do you think science is the measure of all things? Is this somewhat your religion, in a sense???
On the contrary, you are the one dumbing things down with poorly defined generalizations, while I am bringing the discussion down to demonstrable specifics and examples of how science actually does work.
Incorrect. Science is not a religion or metaphysical philosophy requiring you to believe certain things. Science is a methodology and all it requires is for you to follow that method no matter what you may believe.
Incorrect. Science is not about philosophical opinions on reality. It is about calculating measurable quantities and this includes the measurable quantities found in the equations of BOTH Newton and Einstein. Digression into metaphysical speculations on the meaning of equations is best left to the idle babble of the bar-room and pub – OH and to forums like this one, of course.
I think this is another example of you dumbing things down to the point of absurdity. Of course early scientists said a lot of things which scientists have no reason to remember, but what a google search of “Newton said matter neither created nor destroyed” turns up is…
There is a scientific law called the Law of Conservation of Mass, discovered by Antoine Lavoisier in 1785. In its most compact form, it states: matter is neither created nor destroyed.
In 1842, Julius Robert Mayer discovered the Law of Conservation of Energy. In its most compact form, it it now called the First Law of Thermodynamics: energy is neither created nor destroyed.
In 1907 (I think), Albert Einstein announced his discovery of the equation E = mc2 and, as a consequence, the two laws above were merged into the Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy: the total amount of mass and energy in the universe is constant.
None of these are said by Newton and when the word “matter” is used, it actually means mass. This is not actually altered by Einstein except in a common confusion by the non-scientist. For example, what do you think happens when you shoot laser beams or antimatter at a black hole? (test! quiz! exam!)
It was reasonable to assume they were separate until we learned different but none of this really changes the validity of Newton’s laws of motion and gravity except that there are situations beyond our everyday experiences where they do not work. For the point of Newtonian physics was not metaphysical assertions about space and time but about calculating measurable quantities.
But this is incorrect. Science and medicine helps us understand what is good for our physical well being. So, for example, no religion pushing tobacco or radium as good for us is worth listening to. It is only when you move to things which nobody can measure that science has nothing to say. But that is precisely where we must accept a diversity of opinion.
I do not agree with either part of that statement of Sam Harris and I agree this is a statement of faith for his religion. Science is very limited in what it can determine, BUT when it does then it is something which we can reasonably expect people to accept. And that is the problem with things outside those limits – we CANNOT reasonably expect other people to accept them.
I don’t really care whether you think it is devoid of theological content or not. It is necessary for religious liberty because I don’t want your religious fetishes shoved into my life. End of story. Nor do I care what you think is the basis of separation of church and state or modern science. Such subjective opinions are irrelevant and certainly does not mean that you should have a back door through which you can shove your religion into ether government or science. And I say this as a Christian, for the fact is there are more incompatibilities between different sectors of Christianity than there are between Christians and atheists.
Dualism is a good example of one of these difference – a part of YOUR Christianity, not mine. I am a substance monist and you know why? Because monism has more explanatory power than dualism. Monism provides an explanation for many dualities and pluralities. Ice, steam, water as three phases of one molecular substance. Heat, motion, mass, light, all different forms of one quantity called energy. All excellent explanations and so that is a methodology which I use for all things. Mind and body? Two interdependent living organisms in different self-organizing substrates but both a part of the same system of space-time mathematical laws. (Yes, with regards to the mind-body problem I am a physicalist – and yet the effective duality of mind and body is still there and quite strong, with not only different needs and desires but a completely different system of passing on an inheritance to the next generation) And because I am a Christian, I also believe in an effective duality of physical and spiritual largely based on 1 Cor 15, and yet I would also suggest that they also are different forms of a single substance which might be called pre-energy or the pure potentiality of being itself.
Once again you are using questionable terms without defining them. I never considered reality to be a matter of convention, which is what your denial of absolute implies to me - intriguing but peculiar. The most important distinction I would make with regards to reality is objective versus subjective. And what I typically say is that although the evidence for an objective aspect to reality is excellent, there is no evidence to support the claim that reality is exclusively objective. And furthermore there are excellent pragmatic reasons for believing in a subjective aspect to reality. In my own personal worldview these are strongly connected with the physical (objective) and spiritual (subjective). The physical is based on these space-time mathematical laws that basically force things to be the same for everyone who are a part of them, regardless of what they may want or believe. The spiritual, on the other hand, is very much a matter of choice, value, faith, and desire and thus cannot be separated from these things.
In any case, these last two topics should help to demonstrate the vast diversity of thought regarding things which you seem to be taking for granted as basis for judging things which involve other people – and that is very shaky ground.
And in a free society this role includes protecting people from the excesses of religion when they seek to impose their way of thinking on other people.
Both the role of faith and the definition of faith is not only different in different religions and denominations, but even between different people. For you it seems to be defined as a loyalty to a set of beliefs. For me, faith is choice we make regarding those things for which there is no proof or evidence. Its most important role is the foundation of all knowledge, because logic can only take us to conclusions from the premises we start with.
Building the kingdom of God is the work of God and not a clueless bunch of sinful blind guides. And thus the role of faith here is what God asks from us, to have faith that He knows what He is doing – to simply go forward in what we know is right and let Him take care of the rest.
In a free society the secular must have precedence over the religious because it is only the secular which makes a freedom of religion possible. The values of your religion is your problem and nothing justifies you pushing them on everyone else. The values which are important in a free society are quite different – these are the ones which support tolerance and respect for the liberties and well being of others.
Agreed. And what went before is a morass of filth and ignorance which I will fight to my last breath and drop of blood against a return to.
Oh… I did considerably more than just suggest it. But I think you are missing the most important point. It is not that science can determine everything, but only that when it does then we have a reasonable basis for expecting other people to agree with it
The objectivity of science is found in written procedures which anyone can perform to get the same result. Delusions of authority by various religious pontificators have absolutely nothing to do with it.
No. That is why I make a distinction between the objective and the subjective - TWO different measures of things. Like I said above, we have excellent evidence that there is an objective aspect to reality but none that reality is exclusively objective and excellent pragmatic reasons for believing in a subject aspect to reality also. But the objective must take precedence and only the objective provides a reasonble basis for expecting others to agree.
So for example, atheists can complain until blue in the face about things not making sense them and the lack of evidence for the beliefs of others, but since they have no objective evidence that God and spiritual things do not exist then it is not reasonable for them to expect other people to agree with their religious opinions.
Science is an activity which uses a method for answering particular types of questions. It most certainly is not a religion or a way of life, and those who talk and act as if it could be anything of the sort are participating in a delusion. Science is based on objective observation. Life requires subjective participation, and it will most certainly not wait for proof or evidence. Thus we are forced to make choices without evidence – to live as it were by faith, whether we would like to admit this unavoidable fact or not.
The above are making it sound like you are (even as a theist) still in the grip of scientism. I.e. you do see some privileged plane from which you and others enlightened enough to pitch their tents there should be able to adjudicate between all the subjective morass of the lesser platforms squabbling with each other below. It is precisely this that I think Newbigin has fatally critiqued. I know you said that you have understood and perhaps been able to dismiss Newbigin’s critique in this regard. And I can’t be sure you aren’t right - after all I haven’t read enough of your material to be sure I fully understand where you are coming from yet (through no fault of your own as you are rapidly providing a prolific volume here that I probably will not be able to keep up with.) But I have read two books of Newbigin’s. And I haven’t yet encountered a critique here that would cause me to entirely jettison his as the still more critical one. For one thing, he writes with more participatory self-awareness of the limitations of so-called “objective” views. You seem ready only to celebrate your standing from within just such a newly emerged, self-appointed objectivity that shows little or no proclivity toward introspection. You might make the case (or have already made it) - don’t get me wrong. I’m only saying I have yet to see it or be persuaded. Or perhaps I’ve misunderstood your passion here entirely.
It didn’t help my perceptions that you also wrote [with regard to bluebird’s comment on the recency of the tolerance and religious liberty]:
Oh dear. I may be reading more into this than it says, but I hope your reflection was strictly limited to human rights issues, and that this isn’t a spill-over reflection granting any credence whatsoever to the “dark ages” delusions of recent science enthusiasts who see nothing redemptive, much less emergent from earlier clerical ages. If you do think all that, then I will beg to differ with you there. Of course they knew much less than we do now, behaved quite atrociously at many points, and I wouldn’t want to switch back to that era any more than you do. But nor do I indulge the opposite error of supposing that all such ages were primarily domains of ignorance. Those who do so (often in the name of a ‘liberating’ secularism, no less) do the same violence to history that YECs do to science.
But that’s quite enough out of me on something that may be far beyond (or different than) what you meant. I will preemptively apologize for the many places I’ve probably failed to understand you. But if some of this was correct, then you will have lots of friendly (if not all believing) allies to chime in with you here.
Edited – and with this addition too: [BTW, I got Newbigin’s “Proper Confidence” and the other one as well by purchasing them for my Kindle-device reader. If you have any such available, I think they were maybe $8 or a little more each.]
thought or expression regarded as characteristic of scientists.
excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques.
I AM a scientist. And that is why I am well aware of the limitations of science far far far far better than the non-scientist. Hmmm… Do you think I should cancel my library order and not waste my time?
Human rights issues are important to some people.
Exactly! I find the romanticism for some of these eras to be incomprehensible. Of course I do not mean there was nothing of goodness or intelligence at all. Of course there were. What we have now is built upon their efforts. All the more reason to oppose those who would turn back the clock.
What you could get out of it is entirely up to you. I think it might expose you to interesting new ideas, but … depending on how committed you are to a “science knows best about everything” platform, you may end up considering it a waste of time.
Which is why your scathing critique did well to stay focused on that alone (if indeed it did.)
That’s a relief to hear. So you haven’t bought into Draper or White’s revisionist history that sees nothing of the middle ages but “the great interruption”. My concern was to avoid both errors – that of romanticizing the pre-enlightenment periods to make them seem better than they were, and the opposite error of romanticizing the enlightenment as some great good that birthed itself despite all that came before rather than being birthed by all that came before. I’m not aware of anybody in this forum that seems in danger of the former latter error. There may be some still falling off the horse the first way though (middle ages=lost to religious ignorance); and I am delighted to discover you are not one of them.
[added edit: as so often seems true of real history, the actual truth seems to lie in between the “in spite of” and “because of” extremes, and the one thing real history does seem to most consistently be is … messy.]
I repent of my earlier fears and expressed doubts, and shall read with interest as I can to further correct any misunderstandings I might still have.
But I don’t believe science knows best about everything any more than I believe your religious ideology knows the best about everything. Science simply gives us what we can reasonably expect other people to agree about because it consists of written procedures anyone can follow to get the same result. The only reason to complain about this is if it gets in the way of a program to force your religion on other people.
Does science know best about the limits of what is real? No it does not. Reality is not something that science is concerned about – that is a subject for metaphysics which belongs to philosophy not science. Science looks at the world through a filter and so it only sees the things which make it through. I believe in God and the spiritual precise because I do not accept that this is the totality of reality. I also explained that life requires subjective participation so trying to limit “everything” to what can be apprehended by objective observation is not reasonable.
But I have made this clear numerous time and you keep insisting on this absurd strawman that I think science knows best about everything. Why is that? I think it is because you want to make your religion the filter and arbiter of what everyone must believe. For that is the only thing which won’t work with what I have been explaining.
Human rights issues are at the heart of it, but it is the poison which make it rotten to the core. Racism, misogyny, classicism, and slavery may seem like isolated little flaws to you but the reality is the endless abuse of women and children. Have you every wondered why God focused so much on asking people to take care of widows and orphans? It is because without the protection of men who cared for them, they were considered fair game for the most vile abuse imaginable. You may paint a pretty picture on things like classicism and slavery but in reality they were just a way of making the abuse of other human beings an accepted part of life. Yes there were good and intelligent people but the norm was a bunch of filthy perverts. It is no wonder that Calvin believed that human beings were totally depraved – in his time, they mostly were exactly that.
Yeah you probably want to believe that Christianity changed this single-handed, just as the atheists would like to exaggerate the role of atheists and Deists. But in reality, it was both. You really should face up to the fact that most churches really had some very serious flaws, and claiming that they were making the world a better place is ludicrous.
I usually don’t buy into anybody’s theory. I have my own theories. I take it from the title of John Draper’s book, “The history of the conflict between science and religion,” that he blamed the Dark Ages on Christianity. This is idiotic. Frankly, the reason for the dark ages was all these barbaric tribes who descended upon and conquered all of Europe. They adopted Christianity it is true, but they also continued to have the most bizarre superstitions like those opposed to taking a bath. When I said they were filthy, it wasn’t a metaphor.
And as for romanticizing the so called “enlightenment.” Don’t make me laugh. Sure I despise the middle ages. But the periods which followed found whole new reasons to inspire my disgust also. People didn’t flee to the new world because Europe was a utopia. Of course they mostly just brought their abuses with them to the new world. No… you have misunderstood me indeed if you think I romanticize ANY of the past. It was all completely horrid. Does that mean we have a utopia now? Hardly. But it is better in many of the most important ways.
I assure you, I do not. And I agree with you that such things are not gone now either.
Again, I avoid both errors just as you here do too. Much to agree with here, though I would strengthen your statement from “most churches” to “all churches”, and I would soften the last sentence considerably as I do think God does work through his church, even in its institutional forms, as atrocious as its behavior has too often been.
But yes, I am relieved to see that I misunderstood you. Sorry for that. Blessings on your continued thoughts and exchanges!