Will religion fade in the near future?

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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Storyteller » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:25 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote:... there is no evidence in their favor. I think much more is at play.


I agree that more is at play, but the evidence is the same for religious fervor leading to poverty as it is for poverty leading to religious fervor: a very high regional correlation (in the US at least) between abject poverty and religious affiliation. We have never attempted to test which way the causality runs.

A causal connection has never been established to begin with.

I suspect that if one asks a devout Christian from a half-starved African village and a smartphone-addicted Westerner of the same age to accomplish a real-world productive task requiring imagination and creativity, the outcome will not favor the Westerner.


The circumstantial evidence is pretty strong, in that 100% of the aid is going in one direction. The ills of former colonies have much more complex origins than religion, of course, but it's humorous to suggest that they are better problem solvers than we are.

Is it really?

A typical urban Westerner is not a great problem-solver at all. Circumstantial evidence abounds whenever a piece of technology on which urban Westerners are so reliant - car, washing machine, computer - malfunctions. How many people can fix a basic malfunction in their household electrical appliances? Is it really so humorous to suggest that a man who is more self-reliant - one who by necessity cooks in woefully under-equipped kitchens, keeps an ancient car running decades past its warranty, fixes their own everything - from shoes to sewing machines - might be a better problem-solver than a middle-class guy who went to Harvard but cannot change the tire on his bicycle?

In fact, I suggest to you that If there is one universal benchmark for creativity and problem-solving, it is cooking. And cooking skills decline sharply with industrialization, despite better-equipped kitchens.

And religion fades as a focal factor in their lives once they start medical school here. I see this pretty clearly because I teach in one of those schools and always, for example, offer special test-taking options during Ramadan, which will be used by maybe one out of ten Moslem students. And they stay here and get jobs in our hospitals instead of returning to India and Pakistan because it's more comfortable to live here than it is to live there, not least because of the absence of mullahs or a caste system determining the intimate details of one's life. I don't think the difference in living standards is the main motivation because those who come from families wealthy enough to send them to school in the US are at the top of the heap back home, and live there in equal absolute luxury and much greater relative luxury than they can have here. If you ask them why they chose to stay, they pretty much all give the same answer: here you are free to live the way you want to live. When people have the option to escape, they overwhelmingly do it because it is hideously oppressive to live under religiously authoritarian regimes.

Well yes and no. They will not necessarily be on top of the heap back home, because doctors in India and doctors in the USA do not earn the same, and wealthy families might not see the need to finance a fully-fledged offspring . The "equal absolute luxury" claim is quite questionable. The freedom of choice, of course, matters, because even the devout people prefer living as they choose to live to living as they are forced to live. (Moreover, many religious people emigrate to the West specifically because their societies are less tolerant of religious expression; Turkish immigrants in Germany are, on average, more devout Muslims than the Turkish population as a whole, because a large share of them left the country due to laws prohibiting Muslim women from wearing face veils).

The "special test-taking options during Ramadan" are poor indication of anything because Ramadan is not exactly Sabbath; a fasting person may feel perfectly capable of passing an exam. But more generally, I would say that one's behavior during student years does not necessarily indicate that they will stick to that behavior from that moment onwards. It's no secret that a great many religious people "experiment" with the forbidden at some point, but it doesn't stick.

The very reason that religion despises science is because science does not say anything about religion. If you want to believe that god picked some ape along the way and infused it with a soul, fine with us. Think whatever you like about invisible realms; it's not my business. It is our total indifference to invisible realms that religious people hate so much because they can't stand the idea that anyone can offer explanations of anything without referring back to god and submitting to the authority of religion.

And it is a lie that science attacks religion. Science ignores religion and that is what those who crave power by means of religion despise so much. It is religion that belligerently seeks quarrel with science and tries to suppress science and even prosecutes and imprisons scientists going back not hundreds but thousands of years. The very existence of people who dare to seek efficacy without reference to a god is an affront to religious authorities, and what they want to wipe out is not merely our theories but our very existence. We are the ones who don't give a flying frog what they do with their lives, but for sure, if I know that I am under attack and in a battle for my existence I am going to defend myself.

It's peculiar, I guess, that I feel so strongly about the need to defend science against casual equivalence with the mindset of religion because religious people don't generally object to things in economic theory.

It's not peculiar at all. It's an indication that the animosity was not promoted by science or scientists, but rather science and scientists were and are exploited as a primary weapon for attacks on religion by a certain sociopolitical class with a historical grudge against religion from centuries past.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:27 pm

Once again I was not stating that Christians were not or were not scientists I was simply stating that they believe they're faith is not blind.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby hamlet » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:14 am

You spectacularly missed my point and in so doing illustrated it so much better than I could have hoped to have done.

Thank you, JN, that was extraordinarily satisfying in a shameful sort of way.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:45 am

Christianity will only fade if the world enjoys a peace so lasting and so complete that everyone thinks/realizes (depending on your worldview) that they don't need religion that it was a thing of the past. But like I said before as soon as trouble comes around there will be a revival of religion.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Jnyusa » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:00 pm

Storyteller wrote:A causal connection has never been established to begin with.


Quite right. Correlations between standard of living and religious adherence might be entirely spurious.

Otherwise, though, I feel our conversation is turning into dueling anecdotes, so we've probably said all there is that can be said knowledgeably about this.

Storyteller wrote:...but rather science and scientists were and are exploited as a primary weapon for attacks on religion by a certain sociopolitical class with a historical grudge against religion from centuries past.


I'm stuck for an example of this. It is my impression rather that the sociopolitical classes who attacked religion during the 20th century had other reasons for doing it and had articulated those reasons well.

Established churches have consistently allied themselves with dictatorships and monarchies and economic systems that disadvantage large chunks of the population. The fact that a society, having got rid of an atavistic government and waged social war against the received religion, would then also pursue development of its sciences to promote its standing in the world is (I think) better described as a parallel evolution.

billobob wrote:Once again I was not stating that Christians were not or were not scientists I was simply stating that they believe they're faith is not blind.


Allow me to quote your words again, since you don't seem to understand what I was answering:
I would also like to point out that there are several Christian scientists who say that the creation of the world is feasible according to science ...


[My underline] You began by saying there are such scientists and I'm telling you that there are not. I don't care whether they are Christians or what they say as Christians or how many other Christians believe them or why. As Christians they can believe and say whatever they want. It's not my business.

But I have a right to say that they are not scientists because we have accepted ways of determining whether or not someone is a scientist. Being a scientist is not a matter of faith; it's not something you can just assert and have people believe you.

As I understood you, you were trying to say that Christian faith in Creationism is not blind if there are scientists who support it. But there are not scientists who support it so these people are being misled about the support for their belief. If people want to persist in an unsupported belief, that's their privilege. But I can insist that we not attribute to science things that no scientist has said.

Hamlet wrote:You spectacularly missed my point.


Really? I decided what your point was on the basis of this:
Anyway, that's a long winded way of getting around to my actual point ...

followed by a paragraph. And I think I responded fairly succinctly (for me) to this clause within that paragraph which I quoted and even bolded to avoid confusion:
both "sides" decided that the other was out to get them.


Do not attribute to me, please, the excuses for deceit and aggression that the religious right is currently using to eliminate scientific theory from scientific textbooks and scientific classrooms, or tell me that I should be ashamed of refusing to be misrepresented by you.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Storyteller » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:43 pm

Jnyusa wrote:I'm stuck for an example of this. It is my impression rather that the sociopolitical classes who attacked religion during the 20th century had other reasons for doing it and had articulated those reasons well.

Established churches have consistently allied themselves with dictatorships and monarchies and economic systems that disadvantage large chunks of the population. The fact that a society, having got rid of an atavistic government and waged social war against the received religion, would then also pursue development of its sciences to promote its standing in the world is (I think) better described as a parallel evolution.

That's now the Marxist myth goes.

The truth is, of course, that organized religion stood in opposition to dictatorships and monarchies at least as often as it's been exploited by them. Examples range from medieval wars between the Popes of Rome and the Holy Roman emperors over the limits of imperial power, to religion serving as rallying motivation for countless rebellions throughout history, to Catholic Church playing the role of main opposition to the fascist dictatorship of Stroessner in Paraguay.

As for "economic systems that disadvantage large chunks of the population", I think the answer ought to to begin with a request to name an economic system which doesn't.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:28 am

Storyteller wrote:That's now the Marxist myth goes.


Is that any relation to the Smithian myth?

Examples range from medieval wars between the Popes of Rome and the Holy Roman emperors over the limits of imperial power,


Your original assertion was that there are socioeconomic classes (or sociopolitical classes, I forget now which you said) that use science to ding religion. This is hardly an example of that. Nor is the excommunication of Stroessner. If you wish to defend your point could you please offer an example of a sociopolitical or socioeconomic class that used science as its rationale for forbidding religion, at some point in time, please, after scientific method actually existed.

As for "economic systems that disadvantage large chunks of the population", I think the answer ought to begin with a request to name an economic system which doesn't.


But of course, ALL economic systems MUST be overthrown! There's no justification for any of them.

Storyteller, you can run off down a perpendicular garden path faster than anyone else on this board. I'm not going to follow you there.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Storyteller » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:28 am

Jnyusa wrote:Is that any relation to the Smithian myth?

No idea what you mean.

Your original assertion was that there are socioeconomic classes (or sociopolitical classes, I forget now which you said) that use science to ding religion. This is hardly an example of that. Nor is the excommunication of Stroessner. If you wish to defend your point could you please offer an example of a sociopolitical or socioeconomic class that used science as its rationale for forbidding religion, at some point in time, please, after scientific method actually existed.

I was commenting on your assertion that "Established churches have consistently allied themselves with dictatorships and monarchies". Since you're beginning to misdirect, I assume you concede that particular point.

The so-called Enlightenment correlated with the religious wars and rebellions of 15th-17th century, when centralized Catholicism - which up until then presented credible opposition to European monarchies - was mostly defeated by the rise of Calvinists, Martin Luther and other radical reformers. The worship of rationalism that arose in the 19th century had its roots in the need to undermine the concept of "divine rights of kings" which had always had more to do with kings than with religion. The awe inspired by the Industrial Revolution brought science into the mix; the secular upper class, for whom religion was an unwanted limitation, claimed science as the foundation of their ideologies. I suppose this was especially obvious in the case of Karl Marx and Marxism-derived ideas. The good old USSR actually taught "scientific Communism" in universities as an obligatory subject.

But of course, ALL economic systems MUST be overthrown! There's no justification for any of them.

Storyteller, you can run off down a perpendicular garden path faster than anyone else on this board. I'm not going to follow you there.

Feel free to clarify yourself, then. Which economic systems did you mean, why should they be disapproved of and how did "organized churches allied themselves" with them?
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:36 am

Talking about how economic systems affect religion is good but let's keep it to how economic systems will affect religion.

To add another angle to this conversation:
In which country do you think religion will fade first? In my opinion it I'll probably be in either Europe or in the U.S.A.
I know Storyteller gave us that pew study which predicted religion's decline but I'd like to see new sources and new results. I'll start looking myself.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Apr 17, 2015 11:43 am

Storyteller,

This piece of our conversation started because you defended religious hatred of science by citing the fact that science is used by socioeconomic classes to oppose religion. (I have to paraphrase now. Feel free to correct my interpretation of what you said.)

I assumed you were referring to those communist revolutions of the 20th century which, when they succeeded, outlawed religious practice. Why don't we start over by you telling me exactly what socioeconomic class you were thinking about when you made that statement, since I seem to have guessed wrong.

billobob wrote:I know Storyteller gave us that pew study which predicted religion's decline ...


The study that Storyteller cited concluded that religion is on the rise worldwide. (Per Storyteller. I haven't read it myself.)
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:01 pm

The study that Storyteller cited concluded that religion is on the rise worldwide. (Per Storyteller. I haven't read it myself.)

Sorry for not being specific I meant in the U.S./Europe.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:40 pm

I couldn't begin to guess. It depends on too many things. And it might not happen at all.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Storyteller » Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:24 am

Jnyusa wrote:Storyteller,

This piece of our conversation started because you defended religious hatred of science by citing the fact that science is used by socioeconomic classes to oppose religion. (I have to paraphrase now. Feel free to correct my interpretation of what you said.)

I much prefer challenging you to defend your accusations. In which post of mine have I "defended religious hatred of science"?

And why do you have to paraphrase when you can scroll back and quote?

What I actually said was that "the animosity (between science and religion) was not promoted by science or scientists, but rather science and scientists were and are exploited as a primary weapon for attacks on religion by a certain sociopolitical class with a historical grudge against religion from centuries past". Feel free to explain what allows you to interpret it as defending "religious hatred of science" (which is itself a claim in need of proof).

I assumed you were referring to those communist revolutions of the 20th century which, when they succeeded, outlawed religious practice. Why don't we start over by you telling me exactly what socioeconomic class you were thinking about when you made that statement, since I seem to have guessed wrong.

The wealthy upper class, of course. Even the Communist revolutions grew out of ideas produced by wealthy aristocracy and were oftentimes initiated and led by wealthy aristocrats.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:51 am

Storyteller wrote:And why do you have to paraphrase when you can scroll back and quote?


Because I have a job and your capacity for diversionary pilpul is endless.

What I actually said was that "the animosity (between science and religion) was not promoted by science or scientists, but rather science and scientists were and are exploited as a primary weapon for attacks on religion by a certain sociopolitical class with a historical grudge against religion from centuries past" ...<snip> ...The wealthy upper class, of course. Even the Communist revolutions grew out of ideas produced by wealthy aristocracy and were oftentimes initiated and led by wealthy aristocrats.


Thank you, but ... wealthy upper classes over centuries past ...? No, I'm sorry, this is still too vague for me to be willing to guess at who you mean. What aristocracy from what country has held a centuries-old grudge against religion?

It was not the Czarist aristocracy of Russia who made the October Revolution and closed the churches. I don't get who you are trying to point the finger at.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Storyteller » Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:38 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote:And why do you have to paraphrase when you can scroll back and quote?


Because I have a job and your capacity for diversionary pilpul is endless.

I'm sure scrolling a handful of posts back would cut intolerably into your precious free time.

Thank you, but ... wealthy upper classes over centuries past ...? No, I'm sorry, this is still too vague for me to be willing to guess at who you mean. What aristocracy from what country has held a centuries-old grudge against religion?

Why, all of them!

Every upper class in every society hated religion, because religion imposes limits and wealth and power abhor limits. The Bible is full of stories about that, and so is history.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:13 am

Storyteller wrote:Every upper class in every society hated religion, because religion imposes limits and wealth and power abhor limits. The Bible is full of stories about that, and so is history.


Wow. Your history book is really different from mine. I don't even know where to begin with that one.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:44 am

Story teller said:
Every upper class in every society hated religion, because religion imposes limits and wealth and power abhor limits. The Bible is full of stories about that, and so is history.


I would not say every society because countries like Rome and then countries that were dominated by Christianity in the Middle Ages used religion for their purposes(I.E selling salvation) so Upper classes don't always hate religion but they almost always hate morality.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Jnyusa » Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:58 pm

billobob wrote: ... so Upper classes don't always hate religion but they almost always hate morality.


What?!!

Between you and Storyteller these are some of the most sweeping and prejudicial generalizations about a social class that I've ever read. They don't even have the virtue of being stereotypes. For crying out loud.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby hamlet » Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:38 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Hamlet wrote:You spectacularly missed my point.


Really? I decided what your point was on the basis of this:
Anyway, that's a long winded way of getting around to my actual point ...

followed by a paragraph. And I think I responded fairly succinctly (for me) to this clause within that paragraph which I quoted and even bolded to avoid confusion:
both "sides" decided that the other was out to get them.


Do not attribute to me, please, the excuses for deceit and aggression that the religious right is currently using to eliminate scientific theory from scientific textbooks and scientific classrooms, or tell me that I should be ashamed of refusing to be misrepresented by you.


I read your post, and I still maintain that you utterly missed - whether unintentionally or willfully I cannot determine - the basic point and, at the same time, your paragraphs read like a parody or propaganda. All the hate comes from one direction and not the other? Really? You do not perceive the utter visceral loathing that oozes out of your own prose? I suppose not, actually, which is really directly to my point.

Not to mention that you still conflate the extreme minority, but admittedly vocal, group as if it were the whole of religious thought and practice, which is patently absurd historically, empirically, and rationally. But this isn't actually a surprise.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:02 am

What?!!

Between you and Storyteller these are some of the most sweeping and prejudicial generalizations about a social class that I've ever read. They don't even have the virtue of being stereotypes. For crying out loud.


Okay I could have phrased that a lot better. What I mean is that the a good chunk of the rich hate when people try to restrict them because of morality. Sorry for the confusion :lol:.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Storyteller » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:57 am

Jnyusa wrote:
billobob wrote: ... so Upper classes don't always hate religion but they almost always hate morality.


What?!!

Between you and Storyteller these are some of the most sweeping and prejudicial generalizations about a social class that I've ever read. They don't even have the virtue of being stereotypes. For crying out loud.

Do you sometimes read your own posts? If yes, do you not notice that your previous posts in this thread qualify as sweeping and prejudicial generalizations?
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:27 am

Well I think we should get off this topic since we're starting to just condemn each other :|. And we have been off topic for quite awhile.
Last edited by Billobob on Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Jnyusa » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:58 pm

Storyteller wrote: .. do you not notice that your previous posts in this thread qualify as sweeping and prejudicial generalizations?


Yes, there's merit in this criticism, because there is one established religious community that is waging such literal war on science right now, and it's here in the US, and it's the only group that is so pervasive within our public life and so noxious that it compels me to defend science against any kind of misrepresentation.

The vocal religious groups that are waging war against modernity (e.g.the Taliban) have not propagandized against science per se, though it is easy to extend to them this faulty logic of equivalence because it's hard to imagine the Taliban being in favor of science when they are opposed to ... educating women, for example. But in fact I've never heard Moslem propaganda (or Orthodox Jewish propaganda) that singled out science as the evil of the modern world, and we should not attach to them views that they don't espouse, in the same way that we should not attach to science claims that it does not make.

Christian Fundamentalist groups in the US do hold these views, though, and when I speak of religion's hatred for science in our current era I am referring mainly to them. They are engaged in an organized, well-funded, and vitriolic campaign that has no match in the behavior of science toward religion.

What makes my statements about organized religion in general be not sweeping and prejudicial in quite the egregious manner that statements about the morality of the upper classes are prejudicial is the fact that US Christian Fundamentalism does stand at the end of a long and demonstrable tradition of organized religious antagonism toward scientific inquiry and toward specific ideas whenever these contradicted received dogma. When religious institutions have had governmental power they have used it to imprison scientists. And you cannot point to a parallel historical trend where organized communities of scientists have exercised their governmental influence to imprison religious people for contradicting scientific views. The behavior of organized science and the behavior of organized religion is not historically equivalent.

The Royal Academy does not have the power that the Catholic Church had during the Middle Ages, of course, but scientific institutions have quite a lot of power right now - in determining what is taught in schools, in the direction of government funding, in the way businesses are managed - and that power has not been used to discriminate against religion. On the contrary, the outcome of the empirical method has been to make religion irrelevant as a measure of merit or a criterion for advancement, along with gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other attributes that have historically been grounds for discrimination. The outcome of rationalist influence has been to make it easier to be religious, to reduce the prejudicial consequences that once attached to specific religious affiliations like being Catholic in the US South or being Jewish anywhere. The rationalist foundations of the US constitution that disestablished religion as a criterion for public office are a good example of this.

Many scientists believe in a god and actively practice a religion. This has been mentioned in the thread to demonstrate that religion is not antagonistic toward science but it is better proof of the lack of antagonism of science toward religion. No Ph.D. or tenure committee at a secular university will ask you what your religion is. But the reverse is not necessarily true, not in Catholic universities at least where the institution is required to enforce Canon Law, and might go much farther than that in pursuit of religious purity. The other night I happened to be skimming the career of Norman Finkelstein (somewhat infamous) who was granted tenure by the relevant committees at DePaul University and then denied tenure by intervention of the Dean and the university president because his research was not consistent with the religious values of the university. (This was their stated rationale.) Finkelstein sued and the university settled, but he had to leave the university. I took my undergraduate degree at a Catholic University and a few years prior to my enrollment the University had been subjected to a Canon Law review that resulted in the dismissal of multiple faculty. (Canon Law review happens every decade or something like this - I forget now the time frame but it's not an arbitrary inquisition. Also, this was late 1960s, before the 1973 revision of Canon Law.) Anyway, the issue then was evolution, surprise, surprise. You could teach natural selection but you had to teach alongside it the special creation of Man by God. Faculty in the biology department who refused to do this had to leave.

This is why I objected at such length to Hamlet's statement that religion and science are both out to get one another. You simply can't demonstrate developments of that nature on the part of scientists except by resorting to the logic and language of equivalence that Storyteller has used ... well, the aristocracy supports science and is antagonistic toward religion so science is justly viewed as being antagonistic toward religion. This is horrid paralogism (besides being historically bass ackwards).

Hamlet wrote: All the hate comes from one direction and not the other? Really? You do not perceive the utter visceral loathing that oozes out of your own prose? I suppose not, actually, which is really directly to my point.


The utter visceral loathing ... for what, Hamlet? You are so careful not to say. For religion?

:nono: You have no idea what I think personally about religious belief, Hamlet. I have not made one statement about the rightness or wrongness or value of any other person's religious belief. The loathing I've expressed is for sloppy thinking, for imprecise language (by scientists), for gross historical misrepresentations, for campaigns of deceit by organized religious groups, and for this ubiquitous 'meh' logic that equates emotion with content so that any passion is automatically labelled a religion ... communism, anti-communism, liberalism, conservatism, science, and of course any actual religion. I really do object most strenuously to this kind of thinking.

Believers should thank me for this because I do not equate religious belief with every other enthusiasm of the moment. Our near-universal human perception of connectedness to supernatural agency is not anything at all like communism or like science. It is a fascinating and very real phenomenon, grievously exploited (in my opinion) by scalawags who will indeed (in my opinion) be put out of business eventually. We are somewhat defenseless in this realm because the explanation for these experiences which nearly all of us have is taught to us when we are very young and it is not contradicted (in most cases) until we are well into our adulthood when beliefs are changed only at significant emotional expense. But the continued exposure of the corruption of religious celebrities will cause people to desert them over time and seek other outlets for their religious feelings. That is my opinion about where social evolution is taking us; and since it is a prediction about the future it can easily be wrong.

The fact that I personally do not attribute the cause of spirituality to invisible human-like personalities who inhabit some other dimension does not mean I deny the experience of it or consider it valueless. Unlike the Dawkins-Harris team I consider the Bible to be a valuable document, though not for the same reasons given by Fundamentalist Christians or Orthodox Jews. No one in this thread bothers to acknowledge such distinctions but I think I was pretty exact in my very first post that religion in its current manifestation is what will not persist and that people will continue to seek explanation for their spiritual experiences.

billobob wrote:What I mean is that the a good chunk of the rich hate when people try to restrict them because of morality.


I accept "good chunk" as a better approximation of recent truth. Given our experience with the banking and brokerage communities during the last three decades, absence of moral feeling among the 1% would seem to be pretty widespread.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Storyteller » Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:21 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote: .. do you not notice that your previous posts in this thread qualify as sweeping and prejudicial generalizations?


Yes, there's merit in this criticism, because there is one established religious community that is waging such literal war on science right now, and it's here in the US, and it's the only group that is so pervasive within our public life and so noxious that it compels me to defend science against any kind of misrepresentation.

The vocal religious groups that are waging war against modernity (e.g.the Taliban) have not propagandized against science per se, though it is easy to extend to them this faulty logic of equivalence because it's hard to imagine the Taliban being in favor of science when they are opposed to ... educating women, for example. But in fact I've never heard Moslem propaganda (or Orthodox Jewish propaganda) that singled out science as the evil of the modern world, and we should not attach to them views that they don't espouse, in the same way that we should not attach to science claims that it does not make.

"Views they don't espouse" and "I've never heard" are different things, scientifically speaking. Care to hazard a guess at the share of population in Egypt or Turkey who believe in evolution? There are polls.

Christian Fundamentalist groups in the US do hold these views, though, and when I speak of religion's hatred for science in our current era I am referring mainly to them. They are engaged in an organized, well-funded, and vitriolic campaign that has no match in the behavior of science toward religion.

What makes my statements about organized religion in general be not sweeping and prejudicial in quite the egregious manner that statements about the morality of the upper classes are prejudicial is the fact that US Christian Fundamentalism does stand at the end of a long and demonstrable tradition of organized religious antagonism toward scientific inquiry and toward specific ideas whenever these contradicted received dogma. When religious institutions have had governmental power they have used it to imprison scientists. And you cannot point to a parallel historical trend where organized communities of scientists have exercised their governmental influence to imprison religious people for contradicting scientific views. The behavior of organized science and the behavior of organized religion is not historically equivalent.

Organized communities of scientists have not exercised direct governmental power - yet. I have a feeling it's a matter of time. However, examples of a government which was founded on an economic theory with a claim to being scientific - the Communist ones - spent considerable time attempting to exterminate religion.

I also sense a definitional problem here. At what point can one accuse "organized science" of a political action? Science, by definition, is not a set of ideas but an occupation, an activity. Politics is an occupation distinct from science. A scientist dabbling in politics is doing it as a politician, not as a scientist, and science cannot by definition be blamed for such a scientist's action.

Rationalism, on the other hand, is an ideology. And can be held culpable if its application in policy results in tyranny or other disaster.

The Royal Academy does not have the power that the Catholic Church had during the Middle Ages, of course, but scientific institutions have quite a lot of power right now - in determining what is taught in schools, in the direction of government funding, in the way businesses are managed - and that power has not been used to discriminate against religion. On the contrary, the outcome of the empirical method has been to make religion irrelevant as a measure of merit or a criterion for advancement.

And to inject into the school curriculum a considerable degree of anti-religious slant.

Many scientists believe in a god and actively practice a religion. This has been mentioned in the thread to demonstrate that religion is not antagonistic toward science but it is better proof of the lack of antagonism of science toward religion. No Ph.D. or tenure committee at a secular university will ask you what your religion is. But the reverse is not necessarily true, not in Catholic universities at least where the institution is required to enforce Canon Law, and might go much farther than that in pursuit of religious purity. The other night I happened to be skimming the career of Norman Finkelstein (somewhat infamous) who was granted tenure by the relevant committees at DePaul University and then denied tenure by intervention of the Dean and the university president because his research was not consistent with the religious values of the university. (This was their stated rationale.)

Funny example, and interesting sleight of hand.

Finkelnstein was not denied tenure because his research - to the extent that one such as Finkelstein can be accused of doing actual research - undermined religion, or was not consistent with DePaul's religious values. DePaul university's "Vincentian values" are broader than religion alone and include, as it happens, things such as respect for the views of others, which was one of the named reasons for Finkelstein's tenure termination.

This is why I objected at such length to Hamlet's statement that religion and science are both out to get one another. You simply can't demonstrate developments of that nature on the part of scientists except by resorting to the logic and language of equivalence that Storyteller has used ... well, the aristocracy supports science and is antagonistic toward religion so science is justly viewed as being antagonistic toward religion. This is horrid paralogism (besides being historically bass ackwards).

The aristocracy does not support science per se, usually, but seeks to gain political advantage by appealing to science's authority. When science produces findings that are politically unfavorable, the love ends.

The immediate result of the rise of rationalist thinking, as I recall from my history books that are so different from yours, was the emergence of the concept of "enlightened absolutism" - in other words, first order of business for the aristocratic intellectuals of that time was replacing the "divine rights of kings" with a rationalist justification for autocracy. Divine rights of kings were dangerous to monarchs, after all, as they could be revoked by people outside of the monarchy itself. The Investiture wars - which are rarely taught in schools these days due to the aforementioned anti-religious slant - were a fine example of the degree to which the "divine rights of kings" were a point of constant tension between religion and monarchy. Enlightened absolutism was an attempt to root monarchy in science of the day. You can say, with the benefit of centuries of hindsight, that it was bad science and should not be cited as an example of science serving tyranny, but Voltaire, who spent much of his life praising Catherine the Great, would certainly disagree. The enlightened absolutists initiated the Europe-wide persecution of the Jesuits is the 1770s, among other examples of early suppression of religion by secular authorities; the persecution was global enough in its reach that Jesuits were expelled from Spanish and Portugese overseas colonies (if you weren't taught about it, recall my comment about anti-religious slant in education). Later on, rationalists such as Sartre became admirers of the Stalinist Soviet Union which appeared to embody the ideal of enlightened tyranny. Today, the fashionable tyranny to wish for is that of the experts - if only scientists could govern, and all that...
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby hamlet » Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:46 am

This is why I objected at such length to Hamlet's statement that religion and science are both out to get one another. You simply can't demonstrate developments of that nature on the part of scientists except by resorting to the logic and language of equivalence that Storyteller has used ... well, the aristocracy supports science and is antagonistic toward religion so science is justly viewed as being antagonistic toward religion. This is horrid paralogism (besides being historically bass ackwards).


And right here is where you're absolutely pissing me off and STILL missing my point. At no time did I say that Science (as if it were some overarching group of governance) was "out to get" religion. At no point did I say that Religion (as if you could lump all of religious thought and practice under one umbrella and call it a whole) was out to get Science (as if it were a legitimate target in the first place).

What I did say is that the PERCEPTION of both sides was that "the other side" was out to get them. I even qualified it saying that claiming there were "sides" was a misnomer in the first damn place.

And yes, I was talking about your demonstrated visceral hatred of a group which you lumped in semantically and rhetorically with ALL religious thought. Storyteller pointed out that the thread is having trouble with terminal definition, and you are a good example of it. You're lumping all of religious thought in with an overall small group that is, admittedly, vocal and in whatever way it can be, out to confront science in the public sphere.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:41 am

Okay this is really starting to get kind of hateful. Maybe the mods should check the site :!:. Let's calm down, I know this is a hot subject but it won't do any good to start bickering and get this thread closed.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Jnyusa » Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:57 am

Hamlet wrote:What I did say is that the PERCEPTION of both sides was that "the other side" was out to get them.


You're right, Hamlet. I did misunderstand you and I apologize.

It is very helpful when you state which point I missed instead of just screaming at me and calling me names.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:17 pm

Jynusa said:
It is very helpful when you state which point I missed instead of just screaming at me and calling me names.


That's what I have been trying to say :roll:. We need to keep calm and explain, the rest will take care of itself.
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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby White Shadow » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:33 pm

Never fear, the mods are keeping an eye on things.

Right now, just a friendly reminder to keep things as civil as possible, please.

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Re: Will religion fade in the near future?

Postby Billobob » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:51 pm

Thank you White Shadow.
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