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Posted: 06 February 2011 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Occam.

My use of examples of marine/aquatic tree populations was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek response to the hyperbolic statement that religion is “the only part of the world that refuses to adapt.” Refusal, or, more often, inability to adapt is a fundamental part of the diversity feature of evolutionary systems. More accurately, a broad spectrum of adaptive capacity and mechanisms is what has driven the wonderfully diverse ecological (and social) communities we have on this planet. Extinction is an important part of development, and usually is the direct result of an inability to adapt.

As far as the author’s references to Christianity, she specifically referred to “heaven” and “hell,” which are connotatively associated with specifically Christian eschatology, and further went on to reference the Papal position on sexuality. Noting that, I proceeded in the same vein.

One’s contention should, ideally, proceed from analysis of data, rather than the other way around. To select a datum on the basis of support for one’s position is affirming the consequent. To clarify my contention with her statement: I took issue not with the author’s conclusion about religion, but the method by which that conclusion was reached. Seeing an unqualified reference to “religion” in general, we should expect supporting analysis to include a representative data subset that seeks to accurately portray features consistent throughout religion. My counterpoint was focused on demonstrating that her analysis was of a dataset far too limited to be extrapolated for religion generally, and as such, is another example of a converse error. It might have been more accurate for the author to refer to theological conservatives, or possibly even religious conservativism.

Religion->Western Religion->Western monotheism->Western Christianity->Post-reformation Christianity->Theological conservatism

My point is that her argument may be accurate, and I can most likely conjure up enough coordinating data in my mind to corroborate that, but it is not precise. Good scientific thinking demands both accuracy and precision.

I get a little uncomfortable with a generalized dismissal of religion, because I think that it runs the risk of categorically writing off all ideas that come from a religious perspective. While I don’t think that I have it in me to “believe” in anything, I have learned that many times the believer’s perspective can yield something wise, beautiful, creative, or challenging to me. Talking about religion as if it is a singular force automatically lumps people like Rick Warren or Tom Cruise into the same category as David Abrams, Ken Wilber, or Paul Tillich. The former are patently incapable of forming a rational view of the world, but the latter are all incredibly creative thinkers from whom there is a great deal to be gleaned.

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.”
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Posted: 06 February 2011 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Write4U - 13 January 2011 10:49 PM

I agree. Scriptures do contain valid moral guides. Unfortunately, the good is often overwhelmed and obscured by the mythical falsehoods.

And the refusal of so many to view their scriptures as mythological, rather than literal. The value of Aesop’s fables for instilling good Western virtue in children does not hinge upon their historical veracity, and I would argue that the same can be said of most religious texts’ value as moral guides.

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“Ah! How cheerfully we consign ourselves to Perdition!”
-Melville-

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.”
-Pynchon-

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Posted: 06 February 2011 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I’ve heard some polls say that 46 percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution.  This would include a few members of Congress.  They don’t say that they don’t know much about evolution and have no opinion, they say they DON’T believe in it.  They get these opinions from their churches and religious leaders.  Where else do these opinions come from?  Evolution is a proven fact with mountains of evidence and yet they STILL don’t believe it.  This is not cherry picking evidence.  It’s hard for me to look at this evidence and not conclude that theists are resistant to adapting.

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Posted: 06 February 2011 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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brightfut - 06 February 2011 11:22 AM

I’ve heard some polls say that 46 percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution.  This would include a few members of Congress.  They don’t say that they don’t know much about evolution and have no opinion, they say they DON’T believe in it.  They get these opinions from their churches and religious leaders.  Where else do these opinions come from?  Evolution is a proven fact with mountains of evidence and yet they STILL don’t believe it.  This is not cherry picking evidence.  It’s hard for me to look at this evidence and not conclude that theists are resistant to adapting.

Is that not why we use the term “Dogma”?

Wiki:

Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or by extension by some other group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioner or believers. The term derives from Greek δόγμα “that which seems to one, opinion or belief”[1] and that from δοκέω (dokeo), “to think, to suppose, to imagine”.[2] The plural is either dogmas or dogmata , from Greek δόγματα. dogmata is more etymologically correct, thus preferred.

[ Edited: 06 February 2011 11:31 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 06 February 2011 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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brightfut - 06 February 2011 11:22 AM

I’ve heard some polls say that 46 percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution.  This would include a few members of Congress.  They don’t say that they don’t know much about evolution and have no opinion, they say they DON’T believe in it.  They get these opinions from their churches and religious leaders.  Where else do these opinions come from?  Evolution is a proven fact with mountains of evidence and yet they STILL don’t believe it.  This is not cherry picking evidence.  It’s hard for me to look at this evidence and not conclude that theists are resistant to adapting.

Again, you’re making a converse error. You’re using the example of some American theists to make a conclusion about all theists. Further, you seem to be making the assumption that all of those 46% are theists. I have met people who claim to be atheists or agnostics who still have trouble understanding the quality of evolutionary theory’s arguments. I would guess that this is a product of both deceitful marketing by groups such as the Discovery Institute (who try to hide the obvious religious overtones of ID/Creationism behind elevated diction and pseudo-scientific language) as well as a lack of critical ability on the part of the nonbelievers, but they are there nonetheless. Alternately, almost all mainline churches affirm evolution as the mechanism by which the universe’s diversity arose. I think the number you quoted above suggests something more damaging about Americans than about theists.

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.”
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Posted: 06 February 2011 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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The_Au_Mean - 06 February 2011 11:34 AM
brightfut - 06 February 2011 11:22 AM

I’ve heard some polls say that 46 percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution.  This would include a few members of Congress.  They don’t say that they don’t know much about evolution and have no opinion, they say they DON’T believe in it.  They get these opinions from their churches and religious leaders.  Where else do these opinions come from?  Evolution is a proven fact with mountains of evidence and yet they STILL don’t believe it.  This is not cherry picking evidence.  It’s hard for me to look at this evidence and not conclude that theists are resistant to adapting.

Again, you’re making a converse error. You’re using the example of some American theists to make a conclusion about all theists. Further, you seem to be making the assumption that all of those 46% are theists. I have met people who claim to be atheists or agnostics who still have trouble understanding the quality of evolutionary theory’s arguments. I would guess that this is a product of both deceitful marketing by groups such as the Discovery Institute (who try to hide the obvious religious overtones of ID/Creationism behind elevated diction and pseudo-scientific language) as well as a lack of critical ability on the part of the nonbelievers, but they are there nonetheless. Alternately, almost all mainline churches affirm evolution as the mechanism by which the universe’s diversity arose. I think the number you quoted above suggests something more damaging about Americans than about theists.

Citing a few aberrations here and there one way or another does not prove anything either. One needs only look at history to see that religions have resisted change for centuries, often violently and oppressively.
Dogma (in scripture) does not evolve. The text is never changed, only the interpretation changes, but that is always a subjective view and carries no weight in discussing scripture. When I see the language changed, I’ll believe in the evolution of scripture. Until then, I see scripture as a dangerous and confusing message.
No spiritual message (scripture) should tolerate secular application, especially if it judges other people’s values and grants the “true” believer certain holy or moral rights “above” those of others.
This is why the US constitution specifically includes “separation of church and state”. This law applies equally to church and state.

[ Edited: 06 February 2011 12:12 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 06 February 2011 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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My point was not to prove anything, necessarily, simply to suggest that the statements made can be easily disproved by a few simple examples. As I said in an earlier post, precision is as important as accuracy.

One needs only look at history to see that human culture in general has resisted change, often violently and oppressively. Religion, like science, might be easily co-opted by those with oppressive or ambitious intent, but that does not mean that religion itself is the cause of said oppression. I think the fact that you can see examples of oppressive regimes in such a wide variety of dualistic, pantheistic, polytheistic, monotheistic, etc. religious environments is a pretty good argument for the fact that there is an element of humanity that seeks to oppress.

I don’t know that I really understand your second paragraph. Are you saying that when religious folk apply reason or criticism to their scriptures they are doing something wrong? Further, I haven’t said anything about the evolution of scripture, only the evolution of religious cultures (and specifically, I’ve been talking about Western Christianity). Looking at the Bible, you can see a pretty interesting linguistic evolution. The concise book you can buy in a store today is just a selection (that has its own serious problems, certainly…Geza Vermes has written extensively on the problems of Nicea) or averaging of thousands of source documents that are all written in ancient forms of languages. The language of the Christian text changes often, and is debated constantly. Due to a lack of exposure, I’m not very familiar with the structure of other holy books such as the Qur’an or the Vedic texts, but I would imagine that they are in a similar state of flux.

I think part of the problem here is differentiating between the most superficial or public view of these topics and cultures, and the more nuanced conversation going on in scholarly circles. Unfortunately, the same arguments are often used against science, citing old or outdated information that may even still find its way into elementary textbooks (and is sometimes correlated to dogma), but is not considered current by actual scientists. One of my first jobs after college was as a biologist working in the Everglades of Florida, and at almost every public meeting someone would bring up information from a study done 25 years earlier that yielded all sorts of incorrect conclusions. None of us was working based on those conclusions, but because it was the most accessible representation of the type of work we were doing, and much of it included harmful recommendations, many people wrote us off entirely. I think that it is fair to note a difference between pop-culture religion and religious scholarship (both secular and affirmative).

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.”
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Posted: 06 February 2011 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Write4U - 06 February 2011 11:27 AM
brightfut - 06 February 2011 11:22 AM

I’ve heard some polls say that 46 percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution.  This would include a few members of Congress.  They don’t say that they don’t know much about evolution and have no opinion, they say they DON’T believe in it.  They get these opinions from their churches and religious leaders.  Where else do these opinions come from?  Evolution is a proven fact with mountains of evidence and yet they STILL don’t believe it.  This is not cherry picking evidence.  It’s hard for me to look at this evidence and not conclude that theists are resistant to adapting.

Is that not why we use the term “Dogma”?

Wiki:

Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or by extension by some other group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioner or believers. The term derives from Greek δόγμα “that which seems to one, opinion or belief”[1] and that from δοκέω (dokeo), “to think, to suppose, to imagine”.[2] The plural is either dogmas or dogmata , from Greek δόγματα. dogmata is more etymologically correct, thus preferred.

I see the danger you are pointing out.  I’m not saying that people should believe in evolution because I say so or some group or organization says so.  They should believe it because ultimately the EVIDENCE proves it.  The people who say they don’t believe in evolution are doing more than just disputing and questioning evolution.  They say, no, I believe that evolution is not true.  People who don’t see reality the way it actually is are not going to adapt to reality very well.  There ARE things that rational people can agree on even if we come from different places and perspectives.

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Posted: 06 February 2011 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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I agree

The_Au_Mean
One needs only look at history to see that human culture in general has resisted change, often violently and oppressively. Religion, like science, might be easily co-opted by those with oppressive or ambitious intent, but that does not mean that religion itself is the cause of said oppression. I think the fact that you can see examples of oppressive regimes in such a wide variety of dualistic, pantheistic, polytheistic, monotheistic, etc. religious environments is a pretty good argument for the fact that there is an element of humanity that seeks to oppress.

I agree with all the above. However, there is a difference in a dictatorship founded by a megalomaniac or a thug and “holy” scripture, which remains even when the “offenders” are gone. It remains fertile ground and the very dogmatic consistency of scripture allows for wave after wave of “fundamentalist” interpretation.

[ Edited: 06 February 2011 01:28 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 06 February 2011 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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“hey say, no, I believe that evolution is not true.  People who don’t see reality the way it actually is are not going to adapt to reality very well.  There ARE things that rational people can agree on even if we come from different places and perspectives.”

Absolutely. Well stated.

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Posted: 06 February 2011 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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brightfut - 06 February 2011 11:22 AM

I’ve heard some polls say that 46 percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution.  This would include a few members of Congress.  They don’t say that they don’t know much about evolution and have no opinion, they say they DON’T believe in it.  They get these opinions from their churches and religious leaders.  Where else do these opinions come from?  Evolution is a proven fact with mountains of evidence and yet they STILL don’t believe it.  This is not cherry picking evidence.  It’s hard for me to look at this evidence and not conclude that theists are resistant to adapting.

This would include many members of Congress.  sick When they have debates and are confronted with the question, very few will admit to accepting evolution. In fact they seem to wear their ignorance, or the ignorance of their constituency as a badge of pride.

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Posted: 07 February 2011 01:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Actually, when one considers the tax advantages available to both prophet and non-prophet tongue wink organizations , some of our more recent social conventioneers appear pretty bright if not exactly honest about what they’re doing.  Say… what about that social security exemption thing?

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

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Posted: 07 February 2011 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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gray1 - 07 February 2011 01:41 PM

Actually, when one considers the tax advantages available to both prophet and non-prophet tongue wink organizations , some of our more recent social conventioneers appear pretty bright if not exactly honest about what they’re doing.  Say… what about that social security exemption thing?

LOL, I am not sure if that was a play on words, but giving it the most generous interpretation, I don’t think it is a fair comparison.

Tax breaks for for-profit corporations is indeed corporate welfare, but non-profits (other than PACs) are usually designed to implement a government program designed to serve the less fortunate. As they are not in business to make a profit, they do not pay taxes other than normal payroll taxes for their employees. In fact many non-profit companies supplement their funding with private donations (foundations, raffles, cookie sales, etc), not from receiving “special” tax breaks.

Personally I believe that churches should pay at least some taxes, from which they are now exempted, but then we have a potential conflict with “separation of church and state”.

[ Edited: 07 February 2011 06:15 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 08 February 2011 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Tacit subsidy?  Dollars not taxed because they are given to churches, foundations and other such qualifying NGO’s amount to a tacit subsidy of such universally special interest organizations by our government.  As such it is a means to subvert the laws which are supposed to prevent same and diverts that which would otherwise be collected in taxes.  Little wonder that the government is quickly going bankrupt as the various special interests who want to better control how and where their money is spent continue to grow.  Any dollars diverted in such a manner must be replaced by (you guessed it!) increasing taxes and deficits. 

If anything at all is truly worthy it would in any event be supported just fine by post-tax dollars.  It’s time to stop the snowball or die, but that takes balls of another sort.

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Posted: 08 February 2011 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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gray1 - 08 February 2011 10:54 AM

Tacit subsidy?  Dollars not taxed because they are given to churches, foundations and other such qualifying NGO’s amount to a tacit subsidy of such universally special interest organizations by our government.  As such it is a means to subvert the laws which are supposed to prevent same and diverts that which would otherwise be collected in taxes.  Little wonder that the government is quickly going bankrupt as the various special interests who want to better control how and where their money is spent continue to grow.  Any dollars diverted in such a manner must be replaced by (you guessed it!) increasing taxes and deficits. 

If anything at all is truly worthy it would in any event be supported just fine by post-tax dollars.  It’s time to stop the snowball or die, but that takes balls of another sort.

The greatest tax subsidies and tax exemptions are for the large corporations. We even pay them to ship jobs overseas. Now that is inexcusable.
However the non-profits I referred to are designed to implement actual government spending. These programs are designed to help the very poor (old) with weatherization, assistance in utilities, food banks, etc. For any program under 1 million dollars the non-profit gets 10% for administrative costs. For programs larger than that, the administrative portion becomes smaller. This has nothing to do with tax breaks, they are expressed spending programs.
However I will stipulate that there are also non-profits which are basically designed as a means to avoid paying taxes. Those are the real culprits. But in the end, the billions of dollars for tax breaks for the very wealthy (who do not spend these incentives on domestic manufacturing) is the main problem in our current fiscal mess. And of course an ill conceived war in the middle east. History teaches us that prolonged wars are the downfall of many rich and powerful civilizations.

[ Edited: 08 February 2011 12:00 PM by Write4U ]
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