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Can Science & Spirituality go together?
Posted: 29 August 2007 10:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Yes, Occam does raise an important point. To a certain extent when we use the word “spirituality” in a secular context, it is a redefinition of the term. Ann Druyan had to deal with this issue in a recent lecture she gave at the NY Planetarium. Basically IIRC she suggested that we re-define “spiritual” in a non-religious sense—it is a feeling of awe and wonder at the universe; an awareness of the huge scale of reality when compared to oneself and one’s daily concerns. It is also an awareness of the beauty of (at least some large aspects of) the natural world.

I do think that people resonate with this aesthetic approach to nature, and do like to have their petty concerns put in perspective from time to time. It’s a healthy project, and one totally amenable to naturalization.

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Posted: 29 August 2007 11:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Yes, the issue of redefining terms comes up a lot here. We are stuck with metaphors and language handed down from millenia of primarily religious believers. I think it is rarely useful to deliberate claim a new meaning for a word and think it can be enforced. But I do think that sometimes using a word at the edges of its commonly accepted meaning can shift the meaning in that direction. I think “soul” would be really hard to claim for a secular purpose, but I think “spirituality” has a fuzzier boundary and could perhaps be shifted to less supernatural menaing with time and use.

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Posted: 30 August 2007 03:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  When we start using words the religious majority has already defined, and we wimp out and say, “well we’ll just redefine them to eliminate the theistic portion of the meaning” we are on the road to religious hell. 

Words have an agreed upon meaning, and we can’t change those agreements by just deciding to define them differently when everyone else is still satisfied with the present meaning.  If we do so, then everything we write will mean something different from what we wanted it to. 

It’s like the Unitarian Minister who always chose theistic songs for the group singing during the service.  I suggested that she choose some of the neutral songs instead, or if she wanted balance, I’d write new lyrics so that we could sing “When the Atheists Come Marching In”, and we could sing the old Tom Lehrer song, “The Vatican Rag”.  She replied, well when we use the word “God”, just mentally change it to “love”.  I’m sorry, but that’s just plain excrement.

Spiritual is predominantly a religious word, and it’s silly of us to think we can force the general community to change it’s definition no matter what we want it to be.  There’s a perfectly good word, “awe”.  Why try to replace it with a religious word?

Occam

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Posted: 30 August 2007 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Occam - 29 August 2007 09:41 PM

Spiritual or spirituality.

Occam

Alright, then yes, I agree that most people don’t see ‘spirituality’ the same way I do.

What I’m saying is that spirituality is compatible with science if it isn’t given any supernatural backing. Once ‘spirituality’ crosses into the unprovable or the supernatural, it cannot be reconciled with science.

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Posted: 30 August 2007 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Excellent point, Occam. It is precisely why I’ve always hesitated using the words “spiritual” and “soul” in a secular way to express emotion. I’ve also argued that the term has the potential to confuse scientific meaning. Here I am thinking mainly of claims made in “Alternative Medicine”. Often, I have seen alt. med. claims obfuscate scientific language and at times I notice the term “spiritual” placed within the understanding of the claims. This would lead me to see how it could confuse science by becoming part of an unscientific medical claim masked as science mainly by using scientific jargon.

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Posted: 30 August 2007 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Well, Occam, I don’t agree in the case of the word “spiritual”. As Brennen says, this word has a vague usage in standard english—it has the same roots as “inspiring”, “inspirational”, etc. I think there is a core sense to the term that can be recovered without recourse to supernaturalism, so long as it is done in the right context. E.g., Sagan, Druyan, Tyson or us here. I think it is important because no other single term in English expresses quite what we want to. “Awe” isn’t quite right; it’s part of the sense of the term but not all.

That said, I know the term isn’t for everyone.

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Posted: 30 August 2007 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Occam - 30 August 2007 03:02 AM

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  When we start using words the religious majority has already defined, and we wimp out and say, “well we’ll just redefine them to eliminate the theistic portion of the meaning” we are on the road to religious hell. 

Words have an agreed upon meaning, and we can’t change those agreements by just deciding to define them differently when everyone else is still satisfied with the present meaning.  If we do so, then everything we write will mean something different from what we wanted it to. 

It’s like the Unitarian Minister who always chose theistic songs for the group singing during the service.  I suggested that she choose some of the neutral songs instead, or if she wanted balance, I’d write new lyrics so that we could sing “When the Atheists Come Marching In”, and we could sing the old Tom Lehrer song, “The Vatican Rag”.  She replied, well when we use the word “God”, just mentally change it to “love”.  I’m sorry, but that’s just plain excrement.

Spiritual is predominantly a religious word, and it’s silly of us to think we can force the general community to change it’s definition no matter what we want it to be.  There’s a perfectly good word, “awe”.  Why try to replace it with a religious word?

Occam

Yes, we can, Occam.  Saying “I’m gay.” is not the same as it was 60+ years ago.  At one time you could say that and people thought one was happy.  Now if someone says that, it refers to a sexual preference, not happiness.  So, yes the meaning of words in the English language can change.  They are not set in stone.  I can come up with more words later that have changed over the years too, if you’d like to prove my point even more.

[ Edited: 30 August 2007 07:59 AM by Mriana ]
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Posted: 30 August 2007 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Well, Occam I think word usage does change over time, and while I think deliberate attempts to redefine words, especially with strongly entrenched meanings, are often a failure, I think usage conventions can be influenced when a group of people take up a new use that is, as I put it, at the edges of the current meaning. The very fact that there is disagreement here about how strong a supernatural connotation the word “spiritual” has demonstrates cracks in the facade that can be exploited. I would agree with you that “God” can hardly be redefined successfully, and I felt the same about “satanism,” for example, but I don’t think the same is true for all words. How many atheists reflexively say “Bless you” when someone sneezes? It’s become an almost meaningless reflex. When you stub your toe and say “damnit!” are you really thinking about consigning your toe to eternal perdition? I think the religious content of many words and phrases has leached away with widespread usage, so at least in principle it is possible.

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Posted: 30 August 2007 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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A. Ben-Shema - 29 August 2007 01:22 AM

Is it not possible to be both Spiritual/Religious and Scientific?

With or without contradictions?

[ Edited: 30 August 2007 02:46 PM by morgantj ]
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Posted: 30 August 2007 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Don’t you know God does relativity?  LOL

http://www.forgivendriven.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1812

psik

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Posted: 30 August 2007 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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I agree with Occum that the word spirituality has a specific meaning in 2007 terms.  I don’t acknowledge that Socrates, Spinoza, Hobbes or Einstien may have used spiritual in un-religous terms because the majority of people don’t care.  If I say that I am a spiritual person at work everyone will assume I am religious.  I recognize terms can change.  For instance, the media used to report “Muslims praying to Allah!” This put Muslims on bad terms of us & them and supported hatred, so the media changed their reporting to “Muslims praying to God” forcing the public to put it in context.  This change of terms may have solved a small portion american hatred of Muslims, but it didn’t solve the problem completely.  People with a set belief can still interpret the new term as “not their God” or “doing it wrong”.

Science dismisses the notion of a spirit.  Any claim of spiriuality with science is a form of religion that cherry-picked a lot of religous belief out of the picture and a science that refuses to be informed.

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Posted: 30 August 2007 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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when I say something is dope, im not referring to a mind-altering substance that is ingested.

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Posted: 30 August 2007 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Saying science is spiritually moving is soooo last year.  cool smile

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Posted: 30 August 2007 09:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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You people can’t have it both ways.  Either words change their meanings or they don’t.  Doug, you point out that inspire has the same root as spirit.  Ok, but so what?  Inspire no longer has the theistic attachment that goes along with spirit.  This is the same argument that a Unitarian minister used when I objected to “worship”.  “Its root is from and had the same meaning as worthy.”  So I looked it up.  He was right—in the ninth century. 

Yes, Brennen and Mriana, I agree that words change over time.  In the nineteenth century if I said, “I had intercourse with Mrs. Jones today”, people would realize I meant that I had a nice conversation with her, and that was all.  However, it takes the majority of people who use the word to change it.  As much as I would love to have the delusion that we secular humanists are the majority, I’m afraid we are a very small minority.  We aren’t going to change the theistic meaning of “spiritual” come hell or high-whatever no matter how much you would like it to change.  The word belongs to the theists, not to us, and we have to realize that. 

If you insist on having sex with someone who has a social disease, sooner or later you’ll get that disease.  If you insist on using words that have a psycho-theistic disease, sooner or later you’ll be infected with that theistic mind-set (even if it’s subconscious and very minor).

Occam

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Posted: 30 August 2007 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Occam - 30 August 2007 09:57 PM

You people can’t have it both ways.  Either words change their meanings or they don’t.  Doug, you point out that inspire has the same root as spirit.  Ok, but so what?  Inspire no longer has the theistic attachment that goes along with spirit.  This is the same argument that a Unitarian minister used when I objected to “worship”.  “Its root is from and had the same meaning as worthy.”  So I looked it up.  He was right—in the ninth century. 

Yes, Brennen and Mriana, I agree that words change over time.  In the nineteenth century if I said, “I had intercourse with Mrs. Jones today”, people would realize I meant that I had a nice conversation with her, and that was all.  However, it takes the majority of people who use the word to change it.  As much as I would love to have the delusion that we secular humanists are the majority, I’m afraid we are a very small minority.  We aren’t going to change the theistic meaning of “spiritual” come hell or high-whatever no matter how much you would like it to change.  The word belongs to the theists, not to us, and we have to realize that. 

If you insist on having sex with someone who has a social disease, sooner or later you’ll get that disease.  If you insist on using words that have a psycho-theistic disease, sooner or later you’ll be infected with that theistic mind-set (even if it’s subconscious and very minor).

Occam

Then, without attempting to usurp loaded words or to coin new words (Dawkins’ “Brights” come to mind…), what would you suggest we do in order to have this meaningful conversation without giving up half of our dialogue to the enemy from the get-go?

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