On May 4, 5:45 pm, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 5/4/2012 2:18 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:

> > You are right that there are different kinds of understanding (to me
> > they fall along the lines of subjective orientation vs objective
> > orientation) but I wouldn't say that one is inherently easy and the
> > other hard. Religious scholarship was extensive, and really gave birth
> > to academia. Science owes all of its discipline and precision to one
> > form of priestly monasticism or another.
> No, science owes its discipline to rejecting the Scholastics idea that one 
> could learn
> just by thinking and reading Aristotle.  Science added observation, 
> experiment, and
> skepticism to reasoning.

I'm not much of a historian, but my impression is that the transition
from monasticism to pure science in the West was a process lasting
centuries, with no formal sweeping rejection of Aristotle or
Scholasticism. Scholasticism itself was a discipline of argumentation
and reasoning that provided later thinkers with the tools to reject
some of the other aspects of scholasticism itself.

Faith in skepticism and scientific discipline did not suddenly appear
with Martin Luther or even Francis Bacon, it only a branch of the tree
that goes back to neolithic times, probably with several flowerings of
subjective and objective thought in various civilizations. All science
starts with religion, and religion is an anthropological universal.

> > By the same token,
> > overspecialization of the sciences has promoted a culture that makes
> > it extremely easy for scientists to ignore all understandings outside
> > of their narrow range. You can be incredibly intellectually lazy
> > without appealing to religion or gods.
> > I'm not saying that science and religion are on an equal footing, but
> > I think it's a just-so-story to account for it by assuming that
> > religion must be easier to master and therefore more attractive.
> Who has mastered religion?

Priests, shamans, archbishops, alchemists, cult leaders, theologians,
professors, monks, nuns, faith healers, prophets, saints, etc.

>  Are there any 'laws of religion' and theorems,

Of course. That's all religion is. What are sacred books but laws and
commandments, parables, moral equivalences.

> any
> experimental results (well a few which tend to show religion is imaginary).  
> Is the Pope
> an exemplar of clear thinking and knowledge?

The need for experimentation is counter-intuitive. Religion uses
intuitive subjective truths which don't need experimental validation,
and then generates laws and seemingly logical inferences based on
that. The Bible isn't trying to tell us how to grow tomatoes more
profitably. The Pope may not now be an example of scientific thinking,
but I would imagine his career is marked by exceptionally clear
thinking and knowledge, within the specialized context of politics
within the Roman Catholic Church. He was elected CEO of an
international religious corporation with its own nation. If he's a
buffoon, then he is because the men who put him there want him to be.
At one time though, the Pope was the best they had for pre-scientific
authority. Better Pope than hillbilly witchdoctor.

As Evgenii says also, there are in fact clear thinking and
knowledgeable experts who take theological issues very seriously and
use rigorous methods to investigate them. Off the top of my head I
would point to Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung as examples. They were
both much more knowledgeable than you or I on the the subject of
religion, and probably as clear thinking as most modern academics and

> > You
> > can of course go much further in the sophistication of science, but I
> > would say that is actually a selling point for the ego. What science
> > lacks is any satisfactory understanding of ordinary subjectivity, and
> > as long as that is the case, religion and fundamentalism will continue
> > to thrive in all of its forms.
> As well as mysticism about consciousness.

Yes. And pseudoskepticism and mechanemorphism.

> >> people tend to suppose that their empathy
> >> and other feelings are REAL understanding and scientific understanding is 
> >> ersatz, that
> >> computations can't produce REAL understanding.
> > No, computations can't produce real understanding because they aren't
> > computing for themselves, they are just doing what they are programmed
> > to do. It is us who produce understanding through their computation.
> When I'm doing the computation the feeling of understanding is generated by 
> the computation.

No, the feeling of understanding is generated by the experience of
using your mind to compute. There is a difference. If you were to wake
up one morning having computed something in your sleep but then
forgotten it, there is no feeling of understanding.


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