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On Fridays, the National Public Radio (NPR) show "Talk of the… - AdrianG — LiveJournal [APOD]
November 21st, 2004
10:55 am

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From:adriang
Date:November 23rd, 2004 05:06 am (UTC)
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    Here you are idealizing scientists as being 'better' than 'most people'; as if scientists themselves are not people.

I must say that I am mystified by this characterization of my remark. Are you sure you read it carefully?
    Objectivity, as I use the word, is equally relevant to science and religion.

It's hard to know what to do with this statement. Certainly, under the common understanding of the word, objectivity does not seem important to most religions that I'm aware of, although the set of religions that I'm aware of is small. In particular, in Christianity, religious knowledge seems to come from authority. If there is any evidence to suggest that objectivity is a core value of Christianity, I am unaware of it.

On the other hand, objectivity is valued in science. Surely the tendency in science to reduce data to quantities which can be measured is evidence of of the value science places on objectivity.
    As it exists today, science is not pure and it is not an entity that can be 'attacked.'

There is something going on in school boards across the country that I'm inclined to describe as an attack on science. I'm open to suggestions on how to talk about it, but it seems like you are simply trying to define words so that they aren't useful to talk about these events. I don't think I agree with the point you are making, and in any case, defining words so that the other party can't say what's on his mind hardly seem like a good way to facilitate an exchange of ideas.
    Or does the possibility of people believing the wrong thing frighten you?

Surely you are turning the problem on it's head. My objection is that these religious extremists are attempting to exclude a mature and well established field of science from public schools because THEY are afraid of people believing things that offend their religious sensibilities. These religious fanatics can believe whatever they want, but I am not inclined to concede to them control of our public schools. For most of recorded history, when Christianity has been free to suppress contrary ideas, unspeakable evils have been the result.
    Combining them, the general quality of being increases, and that person can be more effective at certain things.

It would be nice if combining ideas always led to good things. I am not at all convinced that introducing religion into science can do anything but harm. But setting that concern aside, for a moment, do you understand that we are talking about a set of religious fanatics who have been trying to ban the teaching of evolution in school for nearly a century? Do you understand that giving those people more power is not going to result in one big happy family of diverse ideas for us all to enjoy?


I must say that it is difficult to even understand what you were trying to say throughout most of you comment. It seems like you may be avoiding any precision of language in the discussion, and I am concerned that the issues at hand can't really be discussed unless different concepts are kept properly separated. You seem to be claiming that there are not meaningful differences between religion and science, and I hope you'll pardon me for being blunt, but any such claim is simply dead wrong.

I think you genuinely meant to communicate a point of view, here, but I am concerned about the semantic games that I think I see going on in your comment, and I am worried about whether or not we can find enough common ground, within this topic, to carry out a meaningful discussion.

Adrian
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From:lonepair
Date:November 23rd, 2004 07:21 am (UTC)
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Hmmm... Yes, I am aware of the other meanings of objectivity, though I thought including a more specific usage would be helpful.

I agree in the essential points you bring up here with respect to handing over control to religious Fundamentalists of any denomination. You are quite right, unspeakable evil has been the result of placing power in the hands of uneducated and unscrupulous people. What I didn't elaborate on was the human tendency to usurp power for short term personal goals, which is equally possible with power derived from scientific advances as it is power from church or state. I don't trust anyone.

"You seem to be claiming that there are not meaningful differences between religion and science, and I hope you'll pardon me for being blunt, but any such claim is simply dead wrong."

No, I'm claiming that both are extremely useful, and that life cannot be fully engaged without both. It is up to the individual to integrate the experiences of same, which takes mental and emotional discipline.

Perhaps I am being as dogmatic about individualism as these Christians are about creationism; I find that when I know the truth about a given matter; I don't care anymore what others think. Apparently you do, and that is something I will have to live with, haha. I actually kinda like it when some people don't believe me, because I know I can take advantage of their stupidity later... a character flaw, perhaps?

We certainly seem to enjoy the use of words, don't we? ;)
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From:adriang
Date:November 23rd, 2004 07:11 pm (UTC)
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    I'm claiming that both are extremely useful, and that life cannot be fully engaged without both.

Hmm... I don't think I agree with that, as stated, but it could be that our disagreement is more about words than essence. I think we might at least agree that there are things outside of science which are important, and that religion often touches on those things. Spirituality is an awfully imprecise word for those things, and I worry that is has connotations that I don't want for the purposes of this discussion, but I can think of no good alternative, for the moment, so I will use it. It seems to me that religion often touches on spirituality mainly as a means to its real end, and that real end is to gain control over people by claiming monopoly authority over spirituality. It may be that some religions don't do this, but I am concerned that by saying that religion is what people need, I might be encouraging people to satisfy this need by going to the power mongers in those religions that use that tactic.

Do you see why I'm concerned about this way of putting things? I'm not sure we actually disagree on the essential point.
    I don't care anymore what others think. Apparently you do, and that is something I will have to live with, haha.

I think we all have a tremendous capacity for mental self-indulgence and even self-deception. I don't think any of us can learn to think well without testing our ideas against the sensibilities of others. It is the habit of anticipating criticism of our ideas that makes us more careful at thinking, and it is mainly experience that teaches us what types of criticism we might expect.
    We certainly seem to enjoy the use of words, don't we? ;)

I hope so, since this is a text based medium. 8-)

Adrian
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