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View Diary: Bill Maher: Religion, Rationalism and Belief (138 comments)

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  •  re: On science (2+ / 0-)
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    valadon, UndercoverRxer

    Science is neither an "institution" nor an "ideology," it's a method for evaluating competing theories.  And scientific theories generally become widely accepted by the scientific community only after they are subjected to rigorous peer review.  It may have its limitations, but I have yet to encounter a better way of determining the legitimacy of competing ideas.  It's certainly preferable to blind faith.

    •  Re: science (1+ / 0-)
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      Yes, a method, but it's hardly self-serving.  

      That's where ideology and institutionalization come in, which was my point.  I don't think science can be taken apart from both.

      And I believe I mentioned the idea of "peer review" through the notion of consensus. So I don't see your point there.  There are rules and those knowledgeable people see that they are followed.  But those rules of what makes "good" and "relevant" science are fundamentally anything but objective.

      I never said that blind faith is preferable.  Or that it's not a legitimate form of evaluation.

      However, to dismiss the ambiguities in the sciences by pretending that human beings and perception play no part in it is rather naive.  That in particular strikes me as closer to blind faith in itself.

      •  The map is not the territory. (2+ / 0-)
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        KayCeSF, dirkster42

        On Science vs. Religion and Expectations vs. Faith

        The reason to privilege "science" over "religion" is that most members of scientific communities value the method of experiential anchoring and explanatory integration, whereas most members of religious communities insist on upholding mythical beliefs which can not be validated.

        I agree that there's no sense in claiming that science can be objective. What matters is that its ethic is about empowering people to make claims that endure the test of incessantly honest investigation.

        Religion is about what some people want to uphold. Science is about what holds up.

        Btw, I'm willing to throw in with Einstein and embrace faith in the idea that the universe is friendly.

        •  Hmm (1+ / 0-)
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          I don't know if I can embrace an absolutist position and "privilege" science over religion.  This can lead to oversimplification.

          For instance, I think that your point about "what some people want to uphold" vs "what holds up" doesn't address the fact that there's a remarkable diversity in religion (the interpretation of sacred texts, creating shared goals across communities, etc.) or that science can be limited by funding and what is "needed" by the state, etc.  

          I would also argue that "validation" means something in society as far as "use" is involved.  But if we're looking at use, then religion is useful as well in terms of maintaining order, creating communities, etc.  Yes, it has been used for terrible things (so has science), but to focus entirely on religion as static and unchanging is too broad a stroke (as much as saying science is static because of its principles is similarly too general).  Both belief and rationality offer a language for auto-critique.

          In any case, I think the sensible thing is not to be dismissive of either, but to realize that there are certain domains to which one might be better suited than another (How useful is all "science" to rural societies in the global South who have their own systems already? There are studies where it's had horrible consequences).  Context is incredibly important.  I'd want science to have a hand in my cell phone, but I would strongly disagree with the line of thought that whole populations who follow non-rational beliefs are ignorant and "backwards" , when their beliefs have served them well across generations.  

          Basically, I feel a wholesale dismissal of religion/belief is a dismissal and rejection of an important part of human experience.  I would be wary of science when it oversteps its bounds, becoming another way of solidifying a hierarchy and silencing others.  Same with religion.  Context is key.

          •  Privilege vs Absolutism (1+ / 0-)
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            We can not escape the awareness that we make choices for ourselves, and that those choices have consequences within our social milieu. Being aware also that I encounter a discernable reality, I recognize an opportunity to reflect on and communicate about that encounter in an intelligible manner. I choose the method that combines experiential anchoring and explanatory integration because I think it provides the most promising approach to durable intelligibility. Why? Because I seek to echo the persistent discernability that I feel I have encountered in the world.

            Privileging that attitude is my choice, and one that I would urge for others. But I don't consider it absolutism (I'll grant triumphalism, maybe). Rather, to say the urge for honesty (scientific, or otherwise) is pre-chosen would be absolutist. Perhaps you'd agree with that.

            I certainly don't deny that religion is useful. See my other comment here titled "God is our greatest invention." And I certainly don't deny the diversity of religions. In fact, their very ungroundedness permits amazing veriegation. My point is to ask, "What do we want for ourselves, here, now?"

            •  Really fascinating points (1+ / 0-)
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              My point is to ask, "What do we want for ourselves, here, now?"

              I could get onboard with this question if that "we," "here," "now"  gets defined as a moving base of sorts.  But the self-relfexiveness is always a great beginning, I think.

              My qualm is that science can sometimes be so taken by its pursuit of universals (and I'm really wary of universals, though I recognize the need) that it forgets that it has it's own baggage.  It loses that self-reflexiveness.

              So for instance when you say "communicate about that reality in an intelligible manner," I would offer that "intelligible" is quite bound by a number of elements.  Again, I don't to dismiss the common language of science--it's pushed humanity forward no doubt, but in my view it's also important to historicize it to avoid falling into the trap of blind acceptance and worship. I guess that would be my way of paying tribute to this "honesty"/self-reflexiveness.

              So I do agree with you about "honesty" as an absolute as far as all discourses involve  some form of the law of noncontradiction to be intelligible.  

              Great discussion, I'll check out your other post. :)

              •  I've really appreciated your coments here. (0+ / 0-)

                It also kind of baffles me that people have such faith in the union of science and moral progress, when the greatest threat we currently face is Global Warming, to which the scientific/technological advances of the twentieth century add no small part.  And if we end up blowing up the planet with nuclear weapons, well, thank Einstein, et al.  All that doesn't mean that science doesn't have positive results, which I know you know, but others on this thread have shown themselves incapable of thinking outside of some very narrow binaries.

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