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WARNING: Open mind required.
Hard work is prayer. I find this kind of debate very frustrating as is presumes so many things that causes it to become a false dilemma. What is your definition of prayer? And how do you know what hard work is?
I understand that many people do not believe in God, prayer or anything remotely religious, and that is fine, but to those of us who do - we can often see the results of prayer where hard work will simply not change anything. So from the perspective of a person who does believe in prayer and hard work I think that these two are not mutually exclusive.
When I work hard and I know that the work I do is in line with God's will (which I establish through prayer) then prayer and hard work are two elements of the success I have in life.
You can't have good science without faith either. Science, just like religion, starts with an irrefutable assumption. For science to have any use at all, it needs this assumption to be true. If we posit that an assumption is true (especially an irrefutable one) then we believe in that assumption.
The irrefutable assumption, or strong assumption, that underlies both science and religion has a very unique character namely that these assumptions cannot be tested.
Religion starts with "there is a higher being that influences our lives". How do we test that? If the being is higher than ourselves, how can we possibly have the ability to test whether it actually exists or not? Without this assumption religion would have no use.
Science starts with the assumption "it is humanly possibly to objectively explain nature through analysis and deduction". It is? How can we test that? We have been trying for as long as science existed as a separate discipline after all, and so far we have only been able to subjectively interpret our findings into (sometimes) useful tools for our survival. But without this assumption science will have difficulty surviving.
Strong assumptions like these elicit interlinked webs of value-saturated concepts that builds towards a belief system, or faith. Thus, everything we know is built on faith.
Religion is a belief system, its expressed knowledge (books and stuff) as well a ritual expression thereof. Beliefs systems is the group of concepts of which religion would be a part element.
Philosophy on the other hand is the collection and process of discourse concerning how, what and why we believe. It is a meta-science of belief systems if you may.
Also, the west isn't really becoming less religious. The non-religious people are just more vocal due to the ability to freely express the opinions without too much social risk (teh interwebs is cool).
Hmm, seems like you made up a couple of contestable claims as well.
I never said science wants to determine what things such as beauty and love are. It is quite simply not a tool that can do so. So in that sense we agree. And yes, science does not impose beliefs, but scientists do because the moment they observe something, they interpret what they find within their mind's framework, which is always subjective to their value base.
I also did not say that religion is the only thing that determines value. What I did say was that the moment you start systematizing values, you get religion. Religion is by definition as system of values and its implied activities. So if one asks the question whether the world would be a better place without it, then I answer that our world will never be without it.
As for point 3): any statement can be contested, whether you use pure logic or the scientific method. Science is key to good governance, but it makes for a very poor government basis. If the scientific method is consistently applied then things like genocide could actually be proven effective is managing economies. You said it yourself: what about philosophy and culture?
On the last point, religion is a man made system. If we blame religion, we blame ourselves. More importantly, science created the atomic bomb (if you want I can point you to horrid human experiments during the Nazi regime as well, and even more in the good old US of A), so be balanced when you want to villanize a system.
People (not systems) have power because we give them power. It is very simple to say "it is their fault" and not take responsibility for our own willingness to submit to whatever we are being fed. Science and scientists have their place, and they have their demons. Science is by no means a stable, pure or precise thing (you just need to read scientific journals to see how much influence politics have on what e regard as "fact").
As for your idea on philosophical schools of thought - science won't stand for that, because philosophy can not be empirically tested. This is so because empirical tests themselves are based on philosophical reasoning that is fallible.
More importantly, and this may come as a shock to a thinker like yourself, people don't want to think much. They want to be told what to do because that way if anything goes wrong they can point a finger to the government, or scientists, or religion.
What we need is a practical way to abolish the concept of liberal freedom sans personal responsibility and social accountability.
I often write articles, and as I reread them I fix my mistakes, edit some paragraphs and then, before publishing it, I have an editor look it through. He changes it again until the article reflects it true purpose.
As such the article evolved, yet it was created.
The point is that evolution is not necessarily evidence against the possibility of a creator. It may in fact be proof of one.
Evolution has indeed been scientifically proven. The trick here is to ask ourselves what the constraints of the scientific method is and how that affects our understanding of evolution.
I trust the science that proves evolution, what I don't trust is the derivative opinions on why and how it happens. The how is still a very uncertain subject (due to its complexities) and the why (being a philosophical question, requiring value judgments rather than scientific deduction) is outside of the realm of the scientific method.
That being said, science has a fundamental assumption that influences its outcomes. It is the assumption that it is humanly possible to fully explain nature through analytical study. Whether it can or cannot be done is an entire debate in its own right, but that core assumption is reflected in the conviction that evolution entirely explains the process of life. Which of course it doesn't.
So, the fact that evolution has been scientifically defined, tested and found to be so has very little effect on what we believe the reason and purpose of evolution is. It may be a proven theory, but it is still a very incomplete theory.
I agree, there is no place for religion in the world today. But would you say that there is place for faith?
I find that atheists often (not always) lack the ability to trust, making it difficult to have faith, even if it is just to have faith in the human capacity to redeem itself once is a while.
"The people"? They are the ones who want democracy. Democracy being a system that fools "the people" into giving up their power to change their nations by giving it up to a bunch of power-hungry, rotten-to-the-core politicians intent on destroying the very society that put them there. These are the same people who choose religion as a means to find hope where a godless government is giving them war, xenophobia and the lie that they are in constant danger.
Please read what I wrote. I did not propose that scientists are incapable of experiencing beauty or love. I proposed that the "religious" system of science does just that (and no, not Scientology for those who want to misread me here).
Not all atheists are scientists no, but not all Christians are priests either.
So, the organization that destroyed the most art? The Roman government (which gave the Roman Catholic Church and subsequent movements their political savvy) destroyed empires along with all their treasures. That organization is in part what we use today to make laws, which dictate how we govern. See the resemblance?
Art gets destroyed by those in power, not to destroy art per se, but to replace the social symbolism it represents. It is always replaced by the art of the new ruler. Except, what art does the scientific method have in its rigidity? I'd much rather be ruled by a lunatic than someone that calls themselves rational. At least the lunatic is honest about what they are.
Science, venturing into stating its position on God, has come into the realm of religion. The atheist-scientific movement is vying for power in the highest ranks, touting their ability to be rational beings that base all they trust on what they can prove (which in itself is curious, because they cannot prove their own rationality).
At the hands of science art will die, because how do you prove beauty? At the hands of science love will die, because as every good scientist knows, love is merely hormones designed for procreation. It is as if scientists in general forget that the true value of something is often lost in the analyses of its parts.
Value is what rules society, the moment a scientist veers into defining values, he or she defines beliefs. The moment they do that they are creating a religious system because those beliefs will dictate the actions of the society they control.
So should atheists and scientists get control of government, how would that be any different from religions (which, I might add have most certainly only feature by name in the White House and not by function)?
As for violent books, go read something on the history of America and tell me there is no violence. Mankind is violent by nature, religion cannot be blamed for our lack of self control.
Do atheist not believe all of sudden? Of course atheist believe something! By the very nature of their name their beliefs simply exclude the possibility of a deity (a-theist). Atheists therefore also believe from a basic assumption namely that God does not exist. They cannot prove or disprove God's existence.
And you are right, I have seen many people die for their beliefs, including atheists whom, at their core, also only have assumption.
Religion is a system of beliefs and values, often (but not always) linked to a deity of sorts. It includes rituals, specific knowledge (captured in the writings of its founders) and a general agreement between its adherents as to what constitutes the core belief.
To believe (which is, to accept something as true with or without the necessary supporting evidence) is an innate human feature. We need it in order to exist as cognitive beings.
It works like this: we start with an assumption (as a hypothesis taken for granted, or a hypothesis that cannot be proven or disproved), either learned from our peers or deduced from our interpretation of our environment. On that conviction we build a new set of convictions. As time goes by, those very core assumptions are no longer questioned and we have a set of beliefs and values, around which we create rituals and social symbols.
On a broad level, science holds true to this phenomenon. It starts with the assumption that we are capable of understanding nature completely through the use of reason and logical languages (such as mathematics). It then builds on that assumption a set of rules as to how to do this, and a number of rituals. It then proceeds to provide a set of values (the value of questioning, the value of proof etc.) Without this very basic assumption science has no meaning, yet it is rarely openly questioned.
So, would the world be a better place without religion? For the world to be without religion, it needs to be without humans, and then "better" has no meaning. We only use that word if it applies to us.
I like science, so my answer, based on my argument, would be a simple "no".
I was poking a hole in the logic of your joke :)
You read a lot into my point that I haven't written. I was very specific about the fact that the term "racist" has a negative connotation. I was even more specific in my definition of the word in pointing out that a racist specifically has a negative perspective on other races. He or she sees themselves as generally superior based on the fact of their ethnic origin.
Your interpretation however generalizes what I wrote into the attribution of any value, and not specifically negative value. If I understand you correctly, stating that French are better lovers (because they are French) is then racist. I may misread you though.
I fail to see how the problem of racism needs to be academically logical for it to qualify as a problem. It is not adjectives in general that is the problem, nor the general use of them (after all, how else would we be able to describe a person?). It is the use of specifically negative adjectives, designed to impose inferiority onto another ethnic group that is the problem. So I propose that intent is the problem.
I do agree that the word "racist" is thrown around as a blunt weapon, mainly for the very reasons that made WWII so horrible. That fact does not add any value to the definition and recognition of a true racist though. If a person calls me a racist, they might as well call me an elephant - both statements would be equally unsubstantiated.
"I'm not a racist...But..."
Your genetic heritage doesn't preclude you from showing negativity to others based on their ethnicity. It is like saying black people can't be racist because they are black.
Any person who regards another inferior due to their ethnicity is racist, their own race notwithstanding.
War is a mechanism of economy. If resources are perceived as low, the the troops go out and acquire said resources. The question of whether or not Iran will be attacked hinges on a number of factors though namely:
- Can Bush justify sending more troops into a foreign country to pick a fight that, from the experiences with Iraq, will probably prove fruitless? My answer - with leaders like Obama inciting the concept of change, based on the American population's increasing irritation with the war, Bush will probably struggle to find enough national acceptance to give his economic backers what they want
- Can America effectively handle a gorilla war that involves nuclear devices? Since Iran won't be on the offense, they have very little to lose in using WMD's. The US on the other hand don't want to use nuclear weapons because they still need a society to serve their economic needs (a.k.a oil gluttony). Once again, the risk is too high.
Moreso because they can effectively use their weapons in Iraq (with so many American soldiers based there, they need not focus on the actual continent to prove their point) and maybe even take over that particular region
The question remains though how the American government will respond to the belief that they are heading for an economic recession that, should food, water, housing, energy and the resulting inflation spike taken into account, could result in a global depression. America under Bush administrations (current and past) responded with war to increase government spending as a means to stimulate the economy.
With Bush so close to the end of his term, and possibly facing impeachment, he will probably fail to pull the literal and proverbial trigger on this one.
Philosophy can be defined in a number of ways. In academic terms it is the science of thinking about thinking. In colloquial terms it is the collection of thoughts we hold about our perceptions of reality.
Inevitably philosophy is our exploration of what we believe to be true and real. As such, religion can be seen as the extension of a branch of philosophy.
I personally see religion as a social control system that uses the concept of God to keep society in line with what whomever is in power regards as true and real. That is why we have so many different expressions of religion - it all depends on how we interpret the basis for our beliefs, and the resulting ethics (in the original sense of the word) thereof.
In every case where we interpret, we have a frame within which we interpret. This is true for our beliefs concerning God. Therefore religion as a system of beliefs is in fact based on philosophy.