2 of 5
2
Beyond Belief 2006
Posted: 03 December 2006 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14

I should probably add for the sake of completeness that during the conference Harris had one odd exchange where he was half-heartedly supporting the Buddhist notion of reincarnation, as well as perhaps some elements of extra-sensory perception or the like. (He basically claimed that there might be some evidence for them). I do recall that in his End of Faith there is a paragraph where he lent support to the notion that some psychic abilities might be real.

I raise this point because it adds to the troubling notion that Harris needs to get a bit more scientifically rigorous about his position. There is no more evidence for reincarnation than there is for miracles from religious statuettes. There is no more evidence for psychic abilities than there is for prayer healing. It is simply inconsistent for Harris to be excoriating some of these while quietly appearing to accept the others.

It does appear that Harris is generally much more accepting of miraculous claims when they are made by Buddhist or eastern religious folk rather than western ones. And I myself am certainly more amenable to Buddhist religious ideals over those from the west, particularly since they are much easier to naturalize. However there is no evidence for any of the Buddhist, Hindu or other eastern claims for supernatural states or abilities. Harris really ought to ditch that nonsense.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 02:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  196
Joined  2006-02-09

Harris

Doug:

That’s why I am not a Harris fan.  He is not a scientist nor a clear thinker.  He seems to find sense in a spiritual humanism - to me a contradiction.

:D Wes

 Signature 

Fairness is Justice

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 03:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14

Re. spiritual humanism, if you listen to the recent interviews with Ann Druyan (widow of Carl Sagan) you will find what I consider to be genuine spiritual humanism, one that is based firmly on the findings of science, with no space for supernaturalism of any kind. Druyan, Sagan and now Neil Tyson are my three “ministers” of spiritual scientific humanism.  :wink:

And I don’t see anything wrong with appealing to that sort of wide-eyed wonder and awe when discussing science, the universe, and our place in it. It is also a potent antidote to religious hand-waving.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  196
Joined  2006-02-09

Doug:

:D Using the word spirituality is problematic.  It carries all the baggage of spirits and non-corporal beings.  The word is heavily loaded.  It leans toward fuzzy headed new age images as well.  I find that the words “awe” and “wonder” quite adequate for describing those exact emotions.  Use of spiritual language confuses and blurs the line between the religionist and scientific humanists.  Operationally use of “spirituality” connected to scientific humanism is likely to give the average person the wrong message.  I suggest use of the word is at some level intellectually dishonest. :D

<Wikipedia uses the following definition - Spirituality, in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit. The spiritual, involving (as it may) perceived eternal verities regarding humankind’s ultimate nature, often contrasts with the temporal, with the material, or with the worldly. A sense of connection forms a central defining characteristic of spirituality—connection to something greater than oneself, which includes an emotional experience of religious awe and reverence. Equally importantly, spirituality relates to matters of sanity and of psychological health. Like some forms of religion, spirituality often focuses on personal experience.

Spirituality may involve perceiving life as higher, more complex or more integrated with one’s worldview, as contrasted with the merely sensual.>

BTW just because “Druyan, Sagan and now Neil Tyson…” use the word does render it acceptable (appeal to authority?).

Warmly, Wes
:D

 Signature 

Fairness is Justice

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 04:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14

Re. the word “spiritual”, if you listen to the recent Science and the City podcast (a recording of Druyan’s interview with Neil Tyson at the Planetarium in NYC), Ann Druyan was asked that very question in the Q&A. Her answer was interesting. The root of “spiritual” is the same as “inspiration”, that is, “spirare”, to breathe. We can dispense with the ghostly spiritualist stuff and stick to the basic inhalation of oxygen as the “inspiration” for our use of the term.

:wink:

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  196
Joined  2006-02-09

Spiritual

Doug:

Yes, as you say, we can: “dispense with the ghostly spiritualist stuff and stick to the basic inhalation of oxygen as the “inspiration” for our use of the term.”  We as scientific humanists can!  But it is not common usage and therefore misleading.

However, as Druyan and Tyson are famous and powerful and I am not I am stuck with the word.  I like it not.
:(

Wes

 Signature 

Fairness is Justice

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14

Well, I think so long as the term is used responsibly there is no real problem. And Tyson and Druyan are scrupulously responsible, as was Carl Sagan.

One possible benefit is that speaking in overtly “spritual” terms can draw believers to listen more sympathetically to atheistic speakers. Again, if those speakers are responsible, they will be able to demonstrate how one can keep hold of a sense of wonder and awe without recourse to supernatural mumbo-jumbo. So it has a certain tactical benefit as well.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  196
Joined  2006-02-09

Spiritual

Doug:

:D It may be a slippery slope requiring such precise definition.  Perhaps some can do it, but not all.  As a tactical move it is questionable as any intelligent believer would soon discover the vast difference in meaning.  Again I find its use duplicitous.  We must agree to disagree on this point, I think. :D

Warmly, Wes

 Signature 

Fairness is Justice

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14

Frankly, of the three, I think really only Druyan resorts to the term with some (very modest) frequency. Tyson appears open to its use but I don’t actually recall him using the term.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

[quote author=“dougsmith”]Re. the word “spiritual”, if you listen to the recent Science and the City podcast (a recording of Druyan’s interview with Neil Tyson at the Planetarium in NYC), Ann Druyan was asked that very question in the Q&A. Her answer was interesting. The root of “spiritual” is the same as “inspiration”, that is, “spirare”, to breathe. We can dispense with the ghostly spiritualist stuff and stick to the basic inhalation of oxygen as the “inspiration” for our use of the term.

:wink:

Hogwash, Doug.  That is a silly argument.  Words change meanings, and we have to use the meaning that is extant now.  I hope your wink was an acknowledgement of that.

A Unitarian minister chided me for saying “worship” was a religious word.  He pointed out that the root meaning was merely “worthy”.  I checked and he was right—in the ninth century when the word originated. 

I certainly feel emotional uplift at beauty, but I don’t need to attach the idea of there being something metaphysical beyond my brain and mind that’s causing those emotions.

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14
[quote author=“Occam”]Hogwash, Doug.  That is a silly argument.  Words change meanings, and we have to use the meaning that is extant now.  I hope your wink was an acknowledgement of that.

In part. But if we agree that words can change their meanings, it is obviously true that we can change the meaning again. That is what they are (in part) attempting to do, by going back to the original meaning of the word.

[quote author=“Occam”]I certainly feel emotional uplift at beauty, but I don’t need to attach the idea of there being something metaphysical beyond my brain and mind that’s causing those emotions.

None of the other people at this discussion believe there is anything supernatural, Occam.

(We all believe there is something “metaphysical”, but that’s a different subject entirely).

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2006 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

I just finished watching session 8 where Susan Neiman said that Einstein was some kind of a hero of the 20th century because of his humility. This is clearly not true. I remember him saying that soldiers acquired brains by mistake, or that people who only read contemporary literature and newspaper are blind, etc. He also made several explicit attacks on Fascism and Communism. Einstein was NOT Gandhi.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2006 01:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14
[quote author=“George Benedik”]I just finished watching session 8 where Susan Neiman said that Einstein was some kind of a hero of the 20th century because of his humility. This is clearly not true. I remember him saying that soldiers acquired brains by mistake, or that people who only read contemporary literature and newspaper are blind, etc. He also made several explicit attacks on Fascism and Communism. Einstein was NOT Gandhi.

Well, although I haven’t read a lot about Gandhi’s life, I am sure that as an ex-lawyer he was quick witted and would have said—or agreed to—similar sentiments as Einstein.

(For instance, when asked “What do you think of Western Civilization?” Gandhi apparently replied, “I think it would be a good idea!”)

Certainly Einstein had a very large ego and yet nonetheless argued against a certain sort of vulgar public egotism. I expect Gandhi was the same. That would make them both humble and not humble at the same time, in different ways.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2006 02:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

I am sure that as an ex-lawyer [Gandhi] was quick witted

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing when I woke up this morning. (Also, Gandhi supposedly treated his wife pretty nasty.) I couldn’t think of a better example though. I would have said Jesus, if he only didn’t get upset at that poor little dry fig tree…:cry:

Anyway, Einstein despised soldiers as much as Dawkins despises religion. And he made it pretty obvious. Einstein was not a good example of a humble pacifist.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2006 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14

I doubt you will find any famous person who was truly humble—humility requires a distaste for fame, and being famous requires something of a monomaniacal interest in your own abilities.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 5
2