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Reducing Reliance on the Label “Science”

June 15th, 2009 · Posted by Hugo · 18 Comments

On the way home today, riding the bus for 3 minutes due to a downpour, I was running through possible wordings, phrases, ways of expressing myself, for the purpose of the “next” blog post, whenever that would be. Probably titled “The Lie”. During said ponderings, I decided to reduce my use of the word “science” when writing certain kinds of blog posts, for certain audiences.

To some, science seems like “the new Authority”, the new self-sustaining system perpetuated by clergy named “scientists” and to be dogmatically obeyed by the rest of us in the pews. (Heh. Not even church is like that, assuming you choose a nice progressive community.) The problem is “science” is pigeonholed into something it isn’t, and this is helped by the fact that it has such a handy pre-existing label. Develop a pigeonholed understanding of the label, then the job is done!

So instead of saying “I care too much about science”, I’m going to talk about… “I care too much about understanding reality/creation as best I can”, “I’m too interested in the evidence about the past that surrounds us”, or something similar.

And so my quest for maximizing understandability continues down the road of ever-increasing verbosity. *sigh*.

Categories: Religion and Science
Tags: ·

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Johan Swarts // Jun 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    A tad off the topic, but I like the rhyme in your post’s title :)

  • 2 saneman // Jun 24, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I care too much about understanding reality/creation as best I can

    What do u mean by that statement, especially the part about “/creation”

  • 3 Hugo // Jun 25, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Talking about “reality”, I’m talking about the physical universe that can be empirically tested. (I called this Lah in a past philosophical post.) The universe, the cosmos. The post above is about how I’m choosing to express myself when talking to a particular audience about a particular topic. While I am actually talking about “science”, since “that’s what science is”, in their meh, in the way they perceive and talk about the universe, they perceive science as this “separate self-sustaining paradigm” etc. I bet that came across well enough in the post, that you’tre not really asking about that.

    You’re asking about my choice of the word “creation”, and you have reservations about it’s use because you feel it connects too much with the idea of a personified “creator”? I choose that word, included with a slash, for the same reason I’m shying away from simply using “science” without explanation of what I mean by it. “Creation” is the word that best describes what I’m talking about to the audience I’m talking to. “All of creation.” Given that frame, and the overall purpose of communication, I consider it the best way to communicate. I might pick a different word if I were talking to the opposite audience. It seems a potentially imperfect word from a post-theistic perspective, or even a “the answer to why there’s something rather than nothing” perspective. You end up more with an overall timeless principle or process than you do with “an originak cause” (which invokes infinite regression, of course).

    Does that somewhat answer your question?

  • 4 saneman // Jun 25, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    It just sounded like science is actually just the understanding of “creation”.

    Just seems a bit confusing especially if your goal is to reduce mis-understanding

    Definitions of creation on the Web:

    * the human act of creating
    * an artifact that has been brought into existence by someone
    * (theology) God’s act of bringing the universe into existence

    It just give a sense of “intelligent design” to science which I think you know is wrong.

    I do agree that the “label” science has been bandied about, and yes you do get good and bad science.

    I think the “scientific method” is a better way of describing the process of how we come to know all the wonderful things about the universe that we do.

  • 5 Hugo // Jul 3, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Um…

    It just sounded like science is actually just the understanding of “creation”.

    Given the context of what I just explained, isn’t that exactly what science is? An understanding of reality/creation? (What else do you suggest science is?)

    Just seems a bit confusing especially if your goal is to reduce mis-understanding [. . .] It just give a sense of “intelligent design” to science which I think you know is wrong.

    Question… who do you feel will misunderstand? Who will be misled by my choice of words? What harmful misunderstanding might I be creating?

    Here’s my attempt at answering these questions myself: Those with a non-theistic view will think “hrmph, that’s not the word I’d choose, but anyway…” Those with a theistic view will understand what I’m referring to, in the process of explaining what I’m trying to explain. I can’t picture my word choice leading anyone from a better understanding to a worse one.

    The only thing I could think of as “ooh, that could result in a misunderstanding” is in the context of the New Atheist Inquisition. Their witch-hunters could mistake me for an ID supporter then burn me at the stake. Frankly, I don’t care much for witch hunts, they’re just like the fundies hunting pastors for their supposed “heresies”.

    The solution I’m pursuing in that regard is a technical one, getting mechanisms in place to avoid conversations of the common people from being severely disrupted by the inquisition. Equality for all. Anyone interested in having discussions or debates with the inquisition from either side should be able to do so, but those that don’t, should also be able to do so.

    Incidentally, that’s the thing that’s unfortunately delaying Chapter Three.

  • 6 gerhard // Jul 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    yeah , but science lacks a central authority and doesn’t have a monolythic stucture to it . so really , i see this kinda “the church of science” as a selfdefence to science breaking the world views as we discover more of nature. yes, nature, not creation. nature is the very thing causing “creation”, nature in this universe is a ordinary thing. :)

    btw, have you ever looked into this ?
    http://www.codex-sinaiticus.net/en/codex/significance.aspx
    i would argue you aren’t a christain unless you’ve read and believe _that_ version of things otherwise you’d just be a lotr-ist:) [the bible before king james got his grubby little hands on it.]

  • 7 saneman // Jul 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    This what I worry about, instead of setting a standard of interpreting new evidence no matter how it effects our long held beliefs which where passed on to us from our parents.
    When you start stating your personal opinions of how to interpret new evidence. Saying its ok for all conversations to take place, no matter how poorly the starting point or intention of it, surely that just creates the illusion that a conversation on say the “historical jesus” verse the “fossil record” is acceptable, because the historical jesus conversation is going on some hodge podge system of historical documents coming from authority vs a chunk of rock and bone from the earth, which nature put there with out any motive.

    Where as the winners(the christians in this case) write the history books.

    Hugo: I just don’t understand why you invite confusion in to an already mixed up world of myths and legends

  • 8 gerhard // Jul 7, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    [which nature put there with out any motive.]
    but saneman. satan put it there to confuse you.

    [Where as the winners(the christians in this case) write the history books]
    exactly saneman! see my continued argument with hugo about the historicity of jesus … i love this docu by history channel about the historical jesus , it was preceded by a disclaimer saying “this documentary was fimed by devout christains and contains the opinions of christain scientists..”, exactly, declare the historicity based on the _opinions_ of christains :P

    [ I just don’t understand why you invite confusion in to an already mixed up world of myths and legends]
    i think this critisim isn’t what you’re after, he’s doing it to get fundies into the convo of “science isn’t so bad” except he’s trying to do it on _their_ terms. what you should be questioning is wether he should be doing it like that . (its like trying to explain quantum physics to smufs using , “smufieness” .

  • 9 Hugo // Jul 7, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    @gerhard #6, for a moment I wasn’t sure what you were replying to, then I noticed it’s your first comment. A reply to the blog post! Cool! ;-) Good comment. (And now a more verbose version of “good comment”:)

    yeah , but science lacks a central authority and doesn’t have a monolythic stucture to it . so really , i see this kinda “the church of science” as a selfdefence to science breaking the world views as we discover more of nature.

    Cool.

    yes, nature, not creation. nature is the very thing causing “creation”, nature in this universe is a ordinary thing. :)

    I assume you’re going to be more careful about your use of the word “miracle” in the future then, following the previous exchange? ;-)

    btw, have you ever looked into this ?
    http://www.codex-sinaiticus.net/en/codex/significance.aspx

    Looks like a lovely resource, thanks!

    i would argue you aren’t a christain unless you’ve read and believe _that_ version of things otherwise you’d just be a lotr-ist:) [the bible before king james got his grubby little hands on it.]

    Here I don’t follow you. Are you arguing the Bible may not be translated because of the number of things that would get lost in the process, and that anyone reading a translated version isn’t a Christian? … Um, I don’t think you mean that seriously (that definition of Christian), so I will avoid taking the bait. ;)

    And add one more note: I’m sure we all realise how important it was for the Bible to be translated and made accessible, to avoid the abuse of power the clergy had before then. Rationale in your language: an atheist friend feels “that was the beginning of the end, the start of thousands of protestant schisms”, and Penn & Teller say “Read your Bibles! It’s the best book for turning you into atheists!” Heh.

    Well, then there’s the fundies, who have not kept up with the latest Biblical scholarship. Well-trained theologians understand what the Bible is, have an understanding of historical higher criticism… in an ironic twist, I now wish fundies didn’t just read the Bible for themselves, I feel they need the commentary of a good Bible scholar to help them with contextualising the text. (Luckily that knowledge is becoming more and more common, thanks to a number of scholars writing books targeted at the lay person rather than just other scholars.)

  • 10 Hugo // Jul 8, 2009 at 12:38 am

    @saneman #7, I have trouble following you, and I am not completely sure what you are responding to.

    This what I worry about, instead of setting a standard of interpreting new evidence no matter how it effects our long held beliefs which where passed on to us from our parents.

    That is not a complete sentence. It seem you suggest I’m not setting a good standard with regards to interpretation of evidence?

    When you start stating your personal opinions of how to interpret new evidence.

    Another incomplete sentence, maybe it goes with the previous ones. And I’m not sure what you’re responding to. I have personal opinions of how evidence should be interpreted, and that opinion is that it should be interpreted in a scientific manner. Are you saying it is bad for me to share this opinion? (Or what am I misunderstanding now?)

    Saying its ok for all conversations to take place, no matter how poorly the starting point or intention of it, surely that just creates the illusion that a conversation on say the “historical jesus” verse the “fossil record” is acceptable,

    Of course that conversation is acceptable. Firstly all conversations are acceptable if we take the strong stance on free speech, but that’s not the point now. ;) That particular conversation is useful because it allows us to explore the differences between the historical method and the scientific method. In the conversation we can learn what history can and cannot tell us, e.g. Now this I don’t understand:

    because the historical jesus conversation is going on some hodge podge system of historical documents coming from authority vs a chunk of rock and bone from the earth, which nature put there with out any motive.

    I don’t understand how this ties into the discussion.

    Where as the winners(the christians in this case) write the history books.

    Indeed.

    Hugo: I just don’t understand why you invite confusion in to an already mixed up world of myths and legends

    I’m still not sure which confusion you feel I’m inviting in, who am I confusing? And what am I confusing them about?

    Now @gerhard’s #8 response to your comment:

    exactly saneman! see my continued argument with hugo about the historicity of jesus …

    Not completely sure what we’re arguing in that continued argument… which I guess is why it turns into a “continued argument”. ;-) Some hope on the historical angle: I’d like to start a series, similar to the book club series I’m starting, based on a podcast series on early Christianity, and what we can tell from a historical perspective, by the historical method. The series is by a history professor from York University, Toronto. Should be interesting to all parties that are interested in this here blog, methinks?

    i love this docu by history channel about the historical jesus , it was preceded by a disclaimer saying “this documentary was fimed by devout christains and contains the opinions of christain scientists..”, exactly, declare the historicity based on the _opinions_ of christains :P

    I don’t know what the contents of the documentary was, I don’t know what the quality of the scholarship and research was. I do know that “historical Jesus research” is done by a bunch of scholars. Many aren’t Christian. Some call themselves Christians, but depending on your prefered definition of the day, you probably would claim they’re not real Christians, just like the fundies do.

    Now when a documentary is made, who’s the target audience of that documentary? What can be learned? When it comes to something as defensiveness-inducing as religion, a documentary made by “atheists” would not bear any credibility among a conservative Christian audience. When it comes down to presenting and packaging the research for consumption by Christians, it certainly is best (as in most effective from an educational perspective) to have it presented by those not explicitly against their worldview. I don’t see how you can disagree with this paragraph.

    What you can have gripes with, is if their religious views causes significant bias. You probably also have gripes with even slight bias, which is why you mentioned it. I believe we’re not capable of “no bias”, which is why the scientific method, and other scholarly pursuits, requires the input of many people with contrasting viewpoints.

    A documentary could be made by a crew that has such diversity, but I’d still argue a “produced by Christians” one is pedagogically better for the primary audience.

    The Jesus seminar, which is probably the primary body of scholars doing “historical Jesus research”, explicitly decided not to argue about the historicity question. They were working with the historicity of Jesus as an axiom. Their findings remain interesting and valuable, but the knowledge of their axioms should also be known. Sure.

    In the academic world, the historicity question is not settled. I’ve argued before that I think it is arrogant for us here to think we’ll settle the argument, when even scholars have not yet done so. A new project was kicked off recently, The Jesus Project. It involves scientists, academics, secular humanists including Paul Kurtz or “his people” apparently, etc. I meant to blog about that, but I have still not gotten around to it. See my two delicious bookmarks on the Jesus Project. A quick search through the two links make me think I’ve neglected to tag another source correctly, as there’s a particular tidbit/challenge I found interesting and note-worthy. I’ll get back to it.

    i think this critisim isn’t what you’re after, he’s doing it to get fundies into the convo of “science isn’t so bad” except he’s trying to do it on _their_ terms. what you should be questioning is wether he should be doing it like that . (its like trying to explain quantum physics to smufs using , “smufieness” .

    Nice comment to end with. Let me nitpick… on the “on their terms” suggestion. There aren’t only two sets of polar-opposite sets of terms we could have discussions on. There’s a whole world of grey. The most important guideline/term for me is “being friendly”, being what I’ve called relationally open-minded. I’m basically going by the terms I’ve found have worked for all the ex-fundies I’ve communicated with. (There is selection bias certainly: I’d think there are also ex-fundies that escaped fundamentalism by other means. I just don’t seem to get into much contact with such people.)

    What I’m explicitly against (and I suspect this is where I pick up accusations of “being confusing”), is becoming some kind of “authority trying to tell people how to think and what to think”. I want people to think for themselves. I guess people find that confusing, I’d be much clearer if I simply said, with absolute clarity, “this is how it is, that is what and how you should think”, like a pope. That is not how you empower people.

    Richard Lewontin suggests, in Billions and Billions of Demons:

    Conscientious and wholly admirable popularizers of science like Carl Sagan use both rhetoric and expertise to form the mind of masses because they believe, like the Evangelist John, that the truth shall make you free. But they are wrong. It is not the truth that makes you free. It is your possession of the power to discover the truth. Our dilemma is that we do not know how to provide that power.

    What we end up arguing about the most, is different philosophies in providing that power. Or at least, I’m keen on providing that power, if others aren’t, maybe that’s another cause for our greatest arguments. I’d like to emphasize again that we do not know. Once we get beyond a certain point, it becomes senseless to argue about things that we simply do not know.

  • 11 gerhard // Jul 9, 2009 at 12:47 am

    hugo

    I assume you’re going to be more careful about your use of the word “miracle” in the future then, following the previous exchange?

    no such luck, i see “miracles” in ordinary things, ordinary does not always have to mean lack of splendor , bea vast improbability.

    Here I don’t follow you. Are you arguing the Bible may not be translated because of the number of things that would get lost in the process, and that anyone reading a translated version isn’t a Christian? … Um, I don’t think you mean that seriously (that definition of Christian), so I will avoid taking the bait.

    i’m not arguing the value of translation. marin luther all the way. the point was , king james’s version implies exactly that, his version. i think fundamentalists fail and should be bothered by that :) as the bible they learn from and study as the word of god is , well, clearly not , the word of god. as this is the “earliest” complete bible we know of then _it_ would probably be closer. (remember this is about the earliest bible, not the thousands of variation of similar stories stored on scrolls. see where this is going? it wasn’t really “aimed” at you per say.

    [using [textile] from here on, because it’s soooooo much easier than tags. ]

    [@hugo->guy:I’m still not sure which confusion you feel I’m inviting in, who am I confusing? And what am I confusing them about?]
    dude, he’s echoing what i said in an earlier discussion with you, by simply discussing things in _their_ terms means you’re confusing the issue and loosing ground for the _actual_ definition. share your opinion, but don’t do it in a language that is not your own because you may actually end up fucking up all “meaning” in the process.
    you were musing about like that and he told you stop. reread in that tone.

    [ I’d like to start a series, similar to the book club series I’m starting, based on a podcast series on early Christianity, and what we can tell from a historical perspective, by the historical method....Should be interesting to all parties that are interested in this here blog, methinks? ] should be. what i would be interested in is if he is a “devout” christian. say a believer who wanted to devote his life but got sidetracked but lingered by becoming a “scholars” in the subject. i have this perception as they also exhibit a tendency of taking great pride in declaring that fact. sorry no matter what you say i will have to doubt someone who has an self interest in the subject like a believer rationalising his beliefs. note, i’m not dismissing them, i am just adding a pinch of salt.

    [ don’t know what the contents of the documentary was, I don’t know what the quality of the scholarship and research was. I do know that “historical Jesus research” is done by a bunch of scholars. Many aren’t Christian.Some call themselves Christians, but depending on your prefered definition of the day, you probably would claim they’re not real Christians, just like the fundies do.] yes, but the problem isn’t just “christians” , the religions of the brothers dependent on each other for verification. so a balanced opinion is difficult to find none the less. (you know this, islam accepts jesus they just don’t think he was neo)
    most of it is _for_ religious people _by_ religiously motivated people.

    [Now when a documentary is made, who’s the target audience of that documentary? What can be learned?] it was called i think something like “the crucifiction of christ” the new facts , did it even happen ??? was the right nail slightly tilted to the left??? we examine the historical evidence! we’ll present the truth and it will BLOW *dramatic pause* you *dramatic pause* AWAY. !!! which is i guess marketed to who ever history channel markets too.
    (they cover ghosts and ufo too these days so i guess it has become like discovery channel a mens health/ heat magazine. pff no wonder our grandfathers called it “the idiot box”. )

    [ a documentary made by “atheists” would not bear any credibility among a conservative Christian audience.] how about a documentary made by “everyone” so we don’t have to live in this for idiots by idiots type world?

    [I believe we’re not capable of “no bias”, which is why the scientific method, and other scholarly pursuits, requires the input of many people with contrasting viewpoints.]
    so we’re not capable of allowing other viewpoints as much time as we give our own?

    [A documentary could be made by a crew that has such diversity, but I’d still argue a “produced by Christians” one is pedagogically better for the primary audience.]
    wait? you mean dawkins is an authority on atheism and hence theism? the shock , the horror.
    naturally there is a place for “bias” but a bias shouldn’t be _the_ norm. (at least not _these days)

    [They were working with the historicity of Jesus as an axiom. ] are you listening to yourself?

    [In the academic world, the historicity question is not settled. I’ve argued before that I think it is arrogant for us here to think we’ll settle the argument, when even scholars have not yet done so.]
    fine and i find the argument has the cards stacked against it which evens our odds, we’re essentially up against a empty suits. yes, arrogant but justifiable. only recently the possibility of resolving this question. would christains accept if they found something they didn’t like? for instance that jesus is gandalf. i think historically speaking it would be foolish to think they would. i believe however that if they can accept atheism or “christainity as a human need for a collar” then they will probably survive such discoveries. (good lord, imagine being the first person the actually come out and say it in a way that people understand it. he/she would every bible nut unleashed on their ass. abortion doctors will actually pitty them for a change.)

    [...jesus project..] cool.

    [the rest.] very defeatist.

  • 12 Hugo // Jul 9, 2009 at 1:17 am

    @gerhard:

    I assume you’re going to be more careful about your use of the word “miracle” in the future then, following the previous exchange?

    no such luck, i see “miracles” in ordinary things, ordinary does not always have to mean lack of splendor , bea vast improbability.

    Interesting. Miracle has a very definite supernatural meaning to most “fundie rationalists”. Those that complain about my use of words, will often also complain about the use of “miracle”.

    i’m not arguing the value of translation. marin luther all the way. [snip]

    Ack (…acknowledged, @ the whole paragraph).

    [using [textile] from here on, because it’s soooooo much easier than tags. ]

    reStructuredText FTW! ;-)

    [@hugo->guy:I’m still not sure which confusion you feel I’m inviting in, who am I confusing? And what am I confusing them about?]
    dude, he’s echoing what i said in an earlier discussion with you, by simply discussing things in _their_ terms means you’re confusing the issue and loosing ground for the _actual_ definition. share your opinion, but don’t do it in a language that is not your own because you may actually end up fucking up all “meaning” in the process.

    you were musing about like that and he told you stop. reread in that tone.

    Ah, thanks, that makes sense. I see what you mean. What I’ll do is I’ll explain it in the terms I mused about above, and then connect those terms to “the official word”, thereby hopefully not “loosing any ground for the _actual_ definition”. Seems the best course of action: first get the correct idea across, then attach the correct word to the idea, thereby improving the understanding of the word, rather than going by the word only and thereby being a bit misunderstood.

    (you know this, islam accepts jesus they just don’t think he was neo)

    Some argue that Muslims are better Christians than the “liberal Christians” that don’t believe in a virginal birth… since the Muslims do. ;-)

    it was called i think something like “the crucifiction of christ” the new facts , did it even happen ??? was the right nail slightly tilted to the left??? we examine the historical evidence! we’ll present the truth and it will BLOW *dramatic pause* you *dramatic pause* AWAY. !!!

    aka “marketed in tabloidy fashion”. Grrr. Sigh for the moral decay of television producers. :-P

    [ a documentary made by “atheists” would not bear any credibility among a conservative Christian audience.] how about a documentary made by “everyone” so we don’t have to live in this for idiots by idiots type world?

    Ah, you mean wikipedia? ;-) wikipedia ftw!

    [I believe we’re not capable of “no bias”, which is why the scientific method, and other scholarly pursuits, requires the input of many people with contrasting viewpoints.]
    so we’re not capable of allowing other viewpoints as much time as we give our own?

    No, I didn’t say that. I guess I was kinda arguing for scholarly debate, the kind you like so much and I so often argue against (in its harsh-scholarly form) on this blog. ;-) Joy.

    [A documentary could be made by a crew that has such diversity, but I’d still argue a “produced by Christians” one is pedagogically better for the primary audience.]
    wait? you mean dawkins is an authority on atheism and hence theism? the shock , the horror.

    I don’t follow?

    Thoughts around that matter: Dawkins’ works are certainly well targeted at a particular subset of atheists, he’s an authority on that kind of atheism. He is certainly not an authority on theism. Iirc, kinda proudly so: he prefers not to spend much time studying it in great depth. (His rationale: he rejects its basic premise, and I guess he feels he’s got better things to do with his time than understanding the finer nuances of others whose basic premise he rejects? Or maybe he is interested and looking into it now, he just didn’t cover it in his book.)

    [They were working with the historicity of Jesus as an axiom. ] are you listening to yourself?

    Of course. Did you check the links I provided? They specifically didn’t want arguments about historicity derailing the effort to see what they can discover and what conclusions they could reach on “the Historical Jesus”, applying the historical method within the context of assumed historicity.

    Have you ever done a Masters’ degree, or a PhD? Ever looked into that kind of thing? Basically all scholarship builds on a billion assumptions, “if this applies, and we look at that, then we see foo”. All of it. Including science. We’d get nowhere with research if we wanted every assumption to be mathematically-rigorous. We’re not dealing with maths here.

    I could link to a PhD comic that sums up the nature of higher learning.

    [In the academic world, the historicity question is not settled. I’ve argued before that I think it is arrogant for us here to think we’ll settle the argument, when even scholars have not yet done so.]
    fine and i find the argument has the cards stacked against it which evens our odds, we’re essentially up against a empty suits. yes, arrogant but justifiable. only recently the possibility of resolving this question. would christains accept if they found something they didn’t like? for instance that jesus is gandalf. i think historically speaking it would be foolish to think they would.

    Look into “liberal Christianity”. There’s a number of things I’d like to link you to now, but it’s in Afrikaans. “Would Christians accept” is rather too broad to have a discussion about.

    i believe however that if they can accept atheism or “christainity as a human need for a collar” then they will probably survive such discoveries. (good lord, imagine being the first person the actually come out and say it in a way that people understand it. he/she would every bible nut unleashed on their ass. abortion doctors will actually pitty them for a change.)

    Look into the work of Bishop Shelby Spong.

    [...jesus project..] cool.

    ;)

    [the rest.] very defeatist.

    I respectfully, but very strongly, disagree. And we should probably just leave it at that. (I mean, agree to disagree.) I should comment less. ;)

  • 13 Hugo // Jul 10, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Axiom was the wrong word choice, I just double checked its definition. Even just saying “under the assumption of” would have been better.

    Just some thoughts, up in the air, on bias in this matter: the primary historical sources on Christianity are indeed included in the Bible. Now who might decide to dedicate their lives to the study of early Christianity? What is it that could get people interested enough to do that? I can think of a couple of things, but I have great trouble coming up with one that doesn’t flow from some sort of bias to either one side or to the other. I feel the least biased people would probably be ex-Christians (post-Christians), but precisely that group you described above as having a bias you don’t like.

    Hmmm, have you come across Bart Ehrman? How do you feel about his biases?

  • 14 gerhard // Jul 11, 2009 at 12:35 am

    [Interesting. Miracle has a very definite supernatural meaning to most “fundie rationalists”. Those that complain about my use of words, will often also complain about the use of “miracle”.] i feel a repeat of the sect/cult convo comming…

    [Ah, you mean wikipedia? wikipedia ftw!]
    no, i meant it quite literally ..

    [Of course. Did you check the links I provided?]
    yep.

    [They specifically didn’t want arguments about historicity derailing the effort to see what they can discover and what conclusions they could reach on “the Historical Jesus”, applying the historical method within the context of assumed historicity.] *sigh*

    [Have you ever done a Masters’ degree, or a PhD? Ever looked into that kind of thing?] nice. you probably made baby jesus cry.

    [ Basically all scholarship builds on a billion assumptions, “if this applies, and we look at that, then we see foo”.] yes but there are rules to such assumptions. if we have reason to think this applies and we look at it , then we see foo but foo only becomes true if we ‘all’ see it that is the difference between alchemy and science. truth vs assumption. surely you can see the reasoning behind this mr phd but fine, debate how many angles fit on the head of a needle but at some point get beyond this fanatisism and back on to something meaningfull by asking if there is even a point.

    [Look into “liberal Christianity”.]
    … and clearly liberal christanity is currently the norm or capable to standing up to the norm…

    [I respectfully, but very strongly, disagree. And we should probably just leave it at that. (I mean, agree to disagree.)]
    didn’t i just say defeatist?

    [@13]
    fair enough, so we have to resort to “diversification “. look, i didn’t say “no” christains, muslims etc. i just want to see more diversity and less reliance of traditional authoritive sources. bart ehrman. no idea yet. don’t know enough to comment. i fail to see a bigger point comming.

  • 15 Hugo // Jul 12, 2009 at 12:05 am

    [Ah, you mean wikipedia? wikipedia ftw!]
    no, i meant it quite literally ..

    I meant wikipedia metaphorically, as an example in another medium (non-documentary) of a system that’s quite close to that which you mentioned:

    how about a documentary made by “everyone” so we don’t have to live in this for idiots by idiots type world?

    Wikipedia is not a documentary, but it is made by “everyone”.

    [They specifically didn’t want arguments about historicity derailing the effort to see what they can discover and what conclusions they could reach on “the Historical Jesus”, applying the historical method within the context of assumed historicity.] *sigh*

    [Have you ever done a Masters’ degree, or a PhD? Ever looked into that kind of thing?] nice. you probably made baby jesus cry.

    I’m sorry you took that in a way it wasn’t intended. Not that I fault you for it, on re-read, I see that’s the “obvious” way to take it. I didn’t mean it in a snide fashion, I was sincerely wondering if you’ve had exposure to how absurd academia (Masters’ and PhD’s) can be. Let me try digging up the PhD comic…

    Success! Here it is:

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=864

    That’s what I was thinking of. My point was to try and communicate this, my question was about whether you’ve had much exposure to that reality. It was not at all meant to suggest that those that have done Masters’ or PhD’s are any better or smarter. Right now to me, PhD’s seem a total waste of time most of the time unless you’re aiming for academia. My own Masters’ thesis doesn’t feel like it was worth the paper it was printed on. I suppose I did learn *something* in the process, and *maybe* it helped me *a little* with getting this job, but it really has very little to do with anything like that.

    [ Basically all scholarship builds on a billion assumptions, “if this applies, and we look at that, then we see foo”.] yes but there are rules to such assumptions. if we have reason to think this applies and we look at it , then we see foo but foo only becomes true if we ‘all’ see it that is the difference between alchemy and science. truth vs assumption. surely you can see the reasoning behind this

    I don’t follow you here. I don’t see where this connects to the discussion.

    Many historians believe that, via the historical method, there’s very good reason to believe there was a historical Jesus. You don’t. Moving on, you could argue about just that, and never investigate the rest, or you can say “well, suppose we assume it’s a myth, then we can go do research and try to see where it all came from. conversely, suppose we assume it’s historical, then we can go do research to see which parts of the text are most likely authentic/original, and which doctrines and narratives developed later”. The latter research *is* worth a lot, and much of what they studied casts light on the formation of the texts, the development of early Christianity, and even what we can and cannot know about the historicity itself. Without some sort of assumption, the rest of the discoveries won’t have happened.

    All I’m saying is assumptions are not the mother of all evil. Seriously. They’re perfectly fine. (It just remains important to be aware of your assumptions and biases.) They’re common in science too, rewind a couple of centuries to when the basic theories of physics were inaccurate, that didn’t stop them from building on those assumptions to make other discoveries, that also eventually shed light on the original assumptions. Yes, it’s different, but it’s also similar.

    mr phd

    That was unnecessary in the context of how I meant the question, but again I can’t fault you for it.

    but fine, debate how many angles fit on the head of a needle but at some point get beyond this fanatisism and back on to something meaningfull by asking if there is even a point.

    My belief would be: of course there’s a point. This approach has helped many people escape fundamentalism. It has helped many understand what the value of the tradition is, and thereby learn to live better lives. It has caught public interest and raised research funds. It has entertainment and curiosity value. Etc etc.

    I mean, does your life even have a point? I don’t want to go argue about the greyness of nihilism vs non-nihilism. Your comment came across as rather unfriendly. (Of course, most probably spurred on by my comment that looked unfriendly.)

    [Look into “liberal Christianity”.]
    … and clearly liberal christanity is currently the norm or capable to standing up to the norm…

    Is that sarcasm/irony? Hmmm. European religion fell apart, Europe turned secular, and many a fundie blame liberal Christianity for that. Remove liberal Christianity from the equation, and I’m sure we’d have more fundamentalism in Europe as well. (But hey, is there even a point to *not* being fundamentalistic? *sigh*)

    [I respectfully, but very strongly, disagree. And we should probably just leave it at that. (I mean, agree to disagree.)]
    didn’t i just say defeatist?

    Heh, if that’s your definition of defeatist, then I should proudly be defeatist. (I tend to see it more in the light of “better time management”, for example.) SIWOTI! (Someone is Wrong on the Internet! But I can’t go to bed instead, because that’s *defeatist*.) Do you understand how I feel about this defeatism you’re pointing to? You’re still welcome to consider it defeatist, I think I understand how you mean it. If we understand one another, but disagree, I’m very happy with that outcome. (Yay defeatism!)

    [@13]
    fair enough, so we have to resort to “diversification “. look, i didn’t say “no” christains, muslims etc. i just want to see more diversity and less reliance of traditional authoritive sources. bart ehrman. no idea yet. don’t know enough to comment. i fail to see a bigger point comming.

    Bart Ehrman came from a fundie background as well. He is interested in the historicity of Jesus, from what I can tell, it sounds like he leans towards “it’s historical”. His books have been cited by a number of de-conversion.com people. But that was something of a random thought, it doens’t connect particularly well with the discussion, just a quick “I wonder what gerhard would think of him?” thought. So don’t sweat it. ;)

    [Interesting. Miracle has a very definite supernatural meaning to most “fundie rationalists”. Those that complain about my use of words, will often also complain about the use of “miracle”.] i feel a repeat of the sect/cult convo comming…

    Nope, I’m defeatist, remember. ;) I just like that example, a tool for my toolbox, something to cite if you ever give me grief about using theistic words in ways you don’t approve of. ;)

  • 16 Hugo // Jul 12, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Actually, I think I’ve got something significant wrong right here:

    European religion fell apart, Europe turned secular, and many a fundie blame liberal Christianity for that. Remove liberal Christianity from the equation, and I’m sure we’d have more fundamentalism in Europe as well.

    Arguably Fundamentalist Christianity actually came about as a reaction to liberal theology. ;-) Sure, chances are it would have come about in another way anyway, or many an outside observer would consider e.g. puritans to be fundamentalists, even though “fundamentalist Christianity” hadn’t been invented yet. So here we’re talking about a specific kind fundamentalism versus a general kind, causing some miscommunication.

    The other thing: who knows how Europe would have developed, had liberal theology not happened. Another path to secularism might have happened. However, such speculation also seems incorrectly reductionistic – liberal theology of the late 19th century is a part of enlightenment thinking, secularisation is the same, it’s all a part of the same melting pot.

    The points I attempted to make were this:
    – the history of liberal theology should earn it some street cred with e.g. you.
    – value is a construct, something is valuable if someone finds it valuable.

    With the “emerging church” for example, some conservatives are smearing the development by equating it with liberal theology. “Look what happened a hundred years ago when liberal Christianity started wreaking havoc in our churches”. Again, score street cred? If the alarmist conservatives/fundies are right, the emerging church is damaging to “Christian beliefs”. If you’re so against conservative religion, you should thus be celebrating such developments in my opinion. If the emergents themselves are right, it is supposed to be more of a “breathing new life into the community and tradition”, getting updated with what we’ve learned through science and all that, in sync with reality, while maintaining all that’s good, the strength of a good community.

    Anyway, I’m going to try to reduce my verbosity in this conversation, I’ve written way more than is efficient. For anyone else also following: my arguments in the previous comment(s) are written with the target audience of gerhard. This influences the kinds of arguments I can sensibly use, as I’ve got to stick to gerhard’s frame of reference. When writing with a more general audience in mind, I will be getting back to things that are more in line with my views, instead of gerhard’s.

    Just thought I should mention this.

  • 17 Michael // Jul 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Hey Hugo.

    Constructive criticism: I’m not sure I understand the purpose of this blog, but if it is indeed (as I thought it was) a place for open discussion ?criticism? about fundamentalist approaches, then perhaps you should try to write more blog entries and spend less time arguing with Gerhard. :) Your discussions (as you yourself have commented before) often run in circles. More importantly, the discussion often becomes completely unaccessable to the people that really need to be engaged if you want to make a difference. I’m only speaking for myself, but I’m getting bored. Please understand that I see a potential for your blog that is amazing, and so I keep coming back to see what’s happening … and then nothing is happening. Of course, I may completely misunderstand your vision for the sight, in which case, please ignore me.

  • 18 Hugo // Jul 16, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Amen brother! I agree with everything you say. And I highlight this bit:

    More importantly, the discussion often becomes completely unaccessable to the people that really need to be engaged if you want to make a difference.

    Tomorrow (I told myself I’d stop making promises, but here’s another) I write the first blog post on Bones, Rocks and Stars – as an experiment into running a book club.

    If time’s too little, I’ll do only the intro. :-P Otherwise, intro, chapter 1 and chapter 2. (So as to have only half the number of posts as there are chapters, otherwise my blog gets overrun. ;) )

    perhaps you should try to write more blog entries and spend less time arguing with Gerhard

    Consider it done.

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