"Mark Peaty wrote: [amongst other things] ...
What scientific method has brought to the human species is the clear
demonstration that ALL beliefs and assumptions are open to question."
Brent M: '
They *should* be, but religious dogma of the Abrahamic theisms is, according
those who believe it, not open to question. Faith trumps reason.*'*
MP: Faith trumps reason when leaders lie to their followers, or the
leaders are so ignorant they don't know that what they believe in is
JUST opinion passed down from the generations before. A society with
leaders that ignorant is doomed to failures of a different sort maybe
than societies dominated by more cynical autocrats, but doomed to
failures they are.
'The difficult question seems to be whether all beliefs are to be respected
equally. There are religious cultures which make faith, belief without
evidence, unquestioning belief, a virtue. I think this unethical and that is
not just a matter of opinion - it is a matter of what kind of society is most
conducive to satisfying the values of it's members.'
MP: Agreed. We have to respect the right of others to entertain what
beliefs they will, but ultimately it is what we and they do which
counts. We are under no compulsion to remain silent when people say
things we believe to be wrong, particularly if our silence might be
construed as agreement with the promotion of unethical activity, or
agreement with misinformation put about in public - or in our presence -
which if left unchallenged would reduce the ability of others to make
properly informed decisions.
'Isn't the suffering due to AIDS, tsunamis, drought, leukemia, etc. also evil.
And isn't it good, the opposite of evil,
that we've eliminated smallpox, polio, pertussis, etc.'
MP: Well, I tend to make a bit of a distinction between bad things which
are basically SH*T HAPPENS and sometimes it's real bad, compared to evil
which is perpetrated by people either with conscious deliberation or
through deliberate neglect and failing to take clearly evident
opportunities to prevent harm or ameliorate the suffering of others. I
mean a tsunami is not evil, but of course it can be utterly terrible for
those directly involved and very distressing, mind-numbing and
unspeakably saddening for everyone affected. The same with plagues,
famines and other natural disasters. I think our proper stance towards
these things must be to recognise that there will always be terrible
things like this happening or threatening to happen and we human beings
must work together to educate, prepare and empower each other so as to
minimise people's exposure to these dangers, to try and predict and
avoid disasters where possible and to be able to respond with aid and
all necessary support as fast as reasonably possible when they happen.
I think there is most definitely a degree of evil behind the continued
suffering and deaths from disease, starvation, physical abuse and other
forms of oppression occurring right now in so many places around the
world. The cynical manipulation of others as pawns in political games
and strategies is evil and sometimes this occurs pretty close to home.
In Australia we have politicians lying to us and powerful bureaucrats
[it is an abuse of the language to call some of them 'public servants']
acting as though economic models are more real than the people the
models purport to represent. As I say, the essence of evil is the act of
treating other persons as things.
On another tack: it seems to me the extent and scope of suffering in the
world is one of the most powerful arguments in favour of the total
irrelevance of the concept of G/god/s. However it is not for me to go
around telling those who believe in some G/god/s that they are deluded.
My sacred duty is to speak the truth as far as I can discover it. As far
as I can see it, what that entails is for me to point out to people that
an enduring civilisation has at least four  essential ingredients:
* ethics, and
* scientific method.
In my view, the growing global civilisation on Earth today, will be the
last human civilisation on this planet. Our task it to make it a LASTING
civilisation. The four practices I listed are prerequisites for this.
And it is achievable because none of it is 'rocket science', but is does
require that whenever possible we point out that there is only one
planet Earth, with one atmosphere, one ocean, one human species and
basically one big chance to get things right.
The Tertullian quote is very saddening really.
Mark Peaty CDES
Brent Meeker wrote:
> Mark Peaty wrote:
>> The writer and theoretician of, ummm, comparative beliefs and spiritual
>> practices, Ken Wilbur wrote a book many years ago titled A Sociable God.
>> It was quite a slim book if I remember rightly, in which he examined the
>> uses in English or the word 'religion'. He analysed and teased out nine
>> (9) distinct usages which I can't remember in any detail now, which was
>> interesting at the time. What has stuck with me though is the major
>> distinction he exposed between authentication and legitimation.
>> Authentication is the way in which belief and action in accord with
>> one's beliefs affirms one's personal identity and the value of one's
>> existence and achievements.
>> Legitimation is the way in which beliefs bolster the authority and
>> socio-political standing of priests and other officials.
>> What scientific method has brought to the human species is the clear
>> demonstration that ALL beliefs and assumptions are open to question.
> They *should* be, but religious dogma of the Abrahamic theisms is, according
> those who believe it, not open to question. Faith trumps reason.
>> Knowledge is only knowledge to the extent that it has not yet been
>> falsified. If a belief or customary assumption about the universe cannot
>> in principle be falsified then acceptance of that belief is a matter of
>> choice and opinion. People who understand the basis of scientific method
>> are forced to question their own beliefs in order to retain their
>> personal integrity and authenticity. People who have not yet understood
>> the full implications of scientific method do not yet know that they are
>> living in denial, but the very nature and power of the sceptical method
>> is perceived as threatening.** This I believe is one of the major
>> motivating influences in the divide between extremism and moderation
>> manifesting in just about all traditional social and cultural
>> organisations in the world.
> The difficult question seems to be whether all beliefs are to be respected
> equally. There are religious cultures which make faith, belief without
> evidence, unquestioning belief, a virtue. I think this unethical and that
> is not just a matter of opinion - it is a matter of what kind of society is
> most conducive to satisfying the values of it's members.
>> I take the ritual murder of Giordano Bruno in Rome in 1600 as emblematic
>> of this divide, and personally take that event as the start of the
>> modern era.
>> ** I think that by default my view leans more towards Brent's than
>> John's here. Possibly the biggest problem is that religious [wide sense]
>> believers think they really are going to lose something by relinquishing
>> Faith as the basis of thought and action. I respond that the human
>> universe is always potentially infinite, so long as it exists and we
>> believe it to be so.
>> And 'Evil'? It is the deliberate treatment of another human as a thing.
>> For a 'machine' to act in an evil manner it would have to be capable of
>> taking responsibility for its actions otherwise it is only the evil tool
>> of an evil person.
> Isn't the suffering due to AIDS, tsunamis, drought, leukemia, etc. also evil.
> And isn't it good, the opposite of evil, that we've eliminated smallpox,
> polio, pertussis, etc.
> Brent Meeker
> “When we come to believe, we have no desire to believe anything else, for we
> begin by believing that there is nothing else which we have to believe…. I
> warn people not to seek for anything beyond what they came to believe, for
> that was all they needed to seek for. In the last resort, however, it is
> better for you to remain ignorant, for fear that you come to know what you
> should not know…. Let curiosity give place to faith, and glory to
> salvation. Let them at least be no hindrance, or let them keep quiet. To
> know nothing against the Rule [of faith] is to know everything.”
> --- Tertullian
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