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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

While I love Mr Diety this is my favorte episode of the whole bunch

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In his blog Humanist Dad writes:

THURSDAY, JULY 31, 2008
Forward vs. Backward Thinking

I’ve begun to wonder if there are only two different ways to think about truths in reality. The non-scientific mind tends to reason ‘backwards’ and scientists are trained to think ‘forwards’. I believe ‘forward thinking’ is superior but it takes some work to explain why ‘backward thinking’ doesn’t work yet appears, on the surface, to be legitimate.

I’ll look at these two ways of thinking by imagining a murder scene:

[]

and then goes on to illustrate how those modes of thinking often manifest themselves:

[…]

This, I believe, is the fundamental trap that theists fall into. They become backward thinkers. They start with an obvious conclusion (god exists, Jesus lived, Mohammed was the final prophet) and look only for evidence to support it. Conflicting evidence is ignored or a twisted explanation is offered. They are not interested in changing their conclusion – they want to be right.

Forward thinkers don’t assume any knowledge. They use a much more difficult mental process that forces them to base a conclusion on all available evidence – even if this conclusion conflicts with what they hoped was the right answer.

So, how do we teach a new generation to abandon backward thinking? Certainly more science education but teachers need to spend more time on the process (collecting evidence) and less time on giving the solution and asking students to confirm it….

A very good insightful read. Thanks friend.

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The Failure of Prayer

I just learned earlier today (via PZ’s Pharyngula Can we please just establish this one principle?) that the Wisconsin couple that let their daughter die in a diabetic coma

Thank God (the pun is very deliberately intended) their other children have been taken away from them for their own protection.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article (Parents charged in diabetes death) the father…

Dale Neumann told investigators that "given the same set of circumstances with another child, he would not waiver in his faith and confidence in the healing power of prayer," according to the interview statement.

Geez! "He would not waiver in his faith and confidence in the healing power of prayer," based on what? What kind of prior tremendous success has he had with prayer that outweighs its failure in protecting his daughter!

PZ makes a real great point in his blog article in pointing out that there is a possible catch in the state laws of Wisconsin that actually protects, neah it gives religious parents an exemption that allows them to murder their children if their actions are being done under the context of their religious belief.

Wisconsin law, Section 948.04 (6) states: "A person is NOT guilty of an offense under this section solely because he or she provides a child with treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone for healing…" Also in Section 448.04 (6) it states: "No law of this state regulating the practice of medicine and surgery may be construed to interfere with the practice of Christian Science. A person who elects Christian Science treatment in lieu of medical or surgical treatment for the cure of disease may not be compelled to submit to medical or surgical treatment." This section appears to refer to the application of Christian Healing as "Christian Science," since no reference is given to indicate it means a particular denomination such as the "Church of Scientology." And the writing of any law to protect only one denomination would violate the equal protection guaranteed under the constitution by protecting one sect over another.

That’s bloody sickening.

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This Is Positive Atheism

So I’m reading Pharyngula just the other day and I come across a post entitled:

This Is Positive Atheism

It sure is.

Her name is Nikki and her other YouTube commentary is interesting and well worth listening to. I wisk I was that awake and aware back when I was 22 years old.

 

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In one of the online construction forums I sometimes hang out in (remember I’m a builder-remodeler-consultant-programmer not a scientist) a discussion on Global Warming and whether it is natural fluctuation or not evolved into a discussion on the Evolution vs. Creationism & ID battle when wrote:

And ya know while I’m thinking about it has anyone else reading this ever noticed any kind of correlation between the Darwinist Evolution and Big Bang Denial crowds and the Global Warming Denial bunch?

I’m a science buff with a particularly strong interest in paleontology and cosmology and while my own observations are anecdotal if I was a betting man and knew someone was a ‘creationist’ or ‘intelligent design’ advocate I would wager they would also be part of the Global Warming Denial pack.

The discussion then detoured at that point.

Then in one post in particular a fellow there alluded to the way I was portraying "Christianity and it’s believers" as being "anti-religion".

I thought I’d post my response to that here since it provides some of the background and history on my thinking regarding the question of "are religion and evolution mutually exclusive?":

Hmnnn, Ricardo just what have I really said critically about Christianity so far other than hint that I think Christian Fundamentalism is ridiculously absurd (well now the secrets out and I’ll throw other flavors of fundamentalism in there with the Christian variety too).

Science isn’t intrinsically anti-religion but many religious claims are outright denied by the empirical scientific evidence we have while others sit in a kind of limbo where they can’t be proven or denied. To refer to Steven Jay Gould they reside in different magisterium (Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life).

And religion isn’t necessarily anti-science. From a Catholic (and moderate and progressive Protestant) perspective, while it wasn’t really accepted in his lifetime the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin with it’s law of complexity-consciousness in which the universe and nature grows in complexity and in consciousness is generally accepted and fits in with mainstream Darwinism.

Indeed in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on October 22, 1996 entitled ‘Truth Cannot Contradict Truth’ Pope John Paul II stated that there is "no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith" and even cited his predecessor Pope Pius XII (1939-58) as having proclaimed that too.

I the realm of Evolutionary Science there are some very notable and well known Christians. In fact the government’s star witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case was Kenneth R. Miller, a biology professor from Brown University. Miller is one of the leaders in the fight opposing the teaching of Intelligent Design and is the author of Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution and devout Catholic.

I’ve got two posts with video featuring Miller in one of my blogs Ken Miller on Intelligent Design in which pretty much destroys the arguments for Intelligent Design and A War on Science where he is featured in the video.

Geneticist Francis Collins is also another well known Christian in the field of Science. He’s author of the book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. There is also a good article in his own words on the CNN.com site with the self explanatory title of Collins: Why this scientist believes in God.

And Joan Roughgarden, who I’ll confess that I don’t know too much about since I only first heard of her a few months ago is another noted Christian who is a eminent professor of Biology at Stanford and has written books entitled Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist and Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People among others.

All that said in all due candor I should say I describe myself as Pantheist (which Richard Dawkin’s has notably described as "sexed up atheism"). I align myself with Einstein’s thinking regarding God:

I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings

and

A human being is a part of a whole, called by us "universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

I’m a pantheist/atheist who grew up Catholic and had that Catholicism flavored with Jesuit and Franciscan thinking and eventually eastern philosophy (theologically Thomas Merton helped put me on the trail to Zen and Alan Watts and others).

That said I am a harsh critic of religion, all religions, and perhaps something of a Dawkobot at times too, but then again I am also a harsh critic of the New York Yankees too.

__________________
J. Jerrald Hayes
Quietly Re-Thinking Out Loud

I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say on the question but that’s at least a start for now.

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