Introducing myself with an explanation of basic terminology like objective and absolute


(Mitchell W McKain) #61

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.


(Mitchell W McKain) #62

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.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #63

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.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #64

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.


(Mitchell W McKain) #65

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.


(Robin) #66

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???


(Mitchell W McKain) #67

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.


(Mitchell W McKain) #68

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.


(Randy) #69

would be interested in your review of “apatheism” in the other thread


(Mervin Bitikofer) #70

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.]


(Mitchell W McKain) #71

scientism? Time to google…

sci·en·tism
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.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #72

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.

edited for clarity and correction


(Mitchell W McKain) #73

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.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #74

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!


(Randy) #75

Regarding scientism in intellectualism, I just read this quote by David Foster Wallace, a writer I never heard of. I’d be interested in your reactions.

I]n the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship…is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. … Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.

As he recites this laundry list of things not to worship, he interjects a telling comment, born of wisdom gained during substance-abuse recovery. “On one level,” he observes, “we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.”

He concludes his speech with a simple and heartfelt benediction: “I wish you way more than luck.”
this is for my review from Christianity Today.


(Phil) #76

ARandy, thanks for sharing. A beautiful article about someone I too had never heard of. It is a big world, and it amazes me how ignorant I am of so much.
The quote you pasted above from the article is profound, and the conclusion that only by worship of the infinite can we be satisfied strikes a chord.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #77

@mitchellmckain, thank you for your response.

However you must be confusing me with some one else. I am not trying to force my values on anyone. I am a part of this discussion as most are because I enjoy a free and spirited discussion of different views. Certainly, just because I disagree with you does not mean I as trying to force you to think like I think.

As for my values which I take to be basic Christian values I follow Paul in accepting the Fruit of the Spirit. As he said there no laws against these values. The are the basis of our free society, which is in danger because those who lead our country do not exhibit these values.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV2011)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness (generosity), faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I*t is clear that something is troubling you, but I know it is not me and I do not think it is Christianity, so specifically, what is it.

Daring the Western Middle Ages it seemed that the Muslim civilization centered in Baghdad might have been on the brick of creating modern science. However a Islamic theologian by the name of Al-Ghazali taught that modern science was contrary to Islamic thought and that and the fall of Baghdad spelled the end of scientific development in the Muslim world.

Facts are facts and history is history. Maybe this is a meaningless coincidence, but why would you really think about doing science if you thought that Allah directly controlled everything that happened, not natural laws.

Science is much more than just methodology. It is about a myriad of facts. It is also about reason and order as to how and why things work as they do. Please do not accept the superficial view that science is math and a photograph of the universe.

You are willfully confusing cosmology with metaphysics and philosophy. Bad move.

Whether cosmology has a relationship to philosophy might be a matter of discussion, ,but when you outline your beliefs you seem to think so. I certainly do, because my passion is to unify science, philosophy, and theology.

In other words Newton’s Law universal law is not universal. I do not think that this is a minor change. You did not mention that Einstein demonstrated that that mass creates gravity by bending space. **This fact are not an metaphysical assertion, but a verified scientific fact that we can use to understand the structure of the universe and how it functions. Please lose the B.S. in explaining away Einstein **
**

So, what religion is pushing tobacco or radium? Where is the problem?

Does this mean that we must be tolerant of hate speech?

This where we differ. You see the world as based on two aspects, the physical and the spiritual. I see it as based on three aspects, the physical, rational, and the spiritual.

You see the only way to resolve differences between people is through science objectively. I see the best way to reconcile the differences between people is though rational discussion, which uses all the tools of science, philosophy, and theology. No ways that this way is easy or simple, needed and of course not all differences are going to be resolved so we do need tolerance also. There is an old saying, In essentials Unity, in non-essentials Freedom, in all things, in all things Love.

[quote=“mitchellmckain, post:67, topic:39302”]
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.


(Mitchell W McKain) #78

Then please accept my profuse apologies. Apparently we have just misunderstood each other and leapt to conclusions.


(Mark D.) #79

I’m glad you two figured it out. Having interacted with you both enough to feel the disconnect in your conversation, I was tempted to step in. But just look how far civility and good intent will go in helping you correct a misstep! Nice work all around to you both, @mitchellmckain and @Mervin_Bitikofer.


(Mitchell W McKain) #80

Perhaps I was getting tired and overreacted. But the basic issue has been laid out already. Religious freedom requires secularization. There is simply no other way. And each time you react to this by pushing the secular into background and pushing your religious motivations to the foreground, it sounds to me like you are pushing your religious values on other people. In a different context I would not have that reaction. I would probably applaud those religious values. But the context is my explanation of the basic fact that we need secularization to make religious freedom possible in the first place.

Yes, the irrationality of religious extremists has been a continuing problem for the advance of human civilization, and science is at the forefront of those areas affected.

No! Science is a methodology. Period. You do not have to accept any facts. You are completely free to challenge ANY of them. But that leads you back the procedures which acquired those facts in the first place and when you do them for yourself, you will get those same facts, and then the method of science requires you to accept them. Reason and order are the methods of rhetoric used by all of civilization – that is the real foundation of human civilization from the politician to the preacher to the used car salesman. Yes science uses reason and order too, but clearly this is not what sets it apart. But back to the main point which you gloss over: Science is not a religion or metaphysical philosophy requiring you to believe certain things. Please don’t make that mistake.

Bad move indeed. But YOU are the one doing this. I just said science is NOT about philosophical opinions on reality. You even quoted this. Philosophical opinions on reality is metaphysics and philosophy. If you directly contradict my words like this, I will be forced to conclude that communication with you is impossible.

Big problem! I and all the rest of the scientists will oppose this with everything we have. You just made yourself enemy number one. That is a return to the dark ages and all of the horrors which go with it.

It applies throughout the universe but not to all situations. Harping on absolutes and universals is an affectation of ideologues – largely so they can distort the truth. I am not interested. I am not certainly not explaining away Einstein. That is ludicrous. I am a theoretical physicist and relativity is one of specialties (I designed a simulator to show what it is like to travel near the speed of light or near a black hole). No. What I am opposing is your attempt to warp science into your own personal philosophy.

Hopefully none. Why? Because science has demonstrated that these are bad for people. It is a problem if religion does not abide by these determinations of science. If they don’t, then the secular government would need to step in and shut them down.

It is simple logic that tolerance does not include a tolerance of intolerance. There is however a principle of appropriate response: to oppose violence with force, oppose discrimination with legal action, oppose hate speech primarily with public condemnation (and legal action if disruptive or in the wrong venue), and to oppose passive intolerance with education.

Incorrect. This is another example of you contradicting my words. You are the one supporting dualism and I am the one advocating monism. But monism supports many effective pluralities and dualities: mind and body as well as physical and spiritual. But while I explained these dualities and can explain more you simply declare your three aspects. And frankly it sounds petty rather than profound – I too can group any three random things together and call them aspects, big deal.

Now this is indeed an example of where we differ. The history of mankind does not support your claim that discussion can resolve the differences between people – just the opposite. What then of diplomacy?
Diplomacy is practically the opposite of discussion, where you don’t share your position – you hide it. Ever played the board game called diplomacy? It is a game where you lie and lie until you find the right time to stab your pretended allies in the back.

Not bad. The only problem is we don’t agree on the essentials. The essentials as I see them are basically right up there in my OP: Objective evidence must take precedence over subjective personal experience. Things based on sound reasons must take precedence over cultural convention. The secular, which makes religious liberty possible must take precedence over the religious. But these don’t jibe very well with an agenda of manipulation and control over others, so not everyone is going to like them.