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How To Overcome Human Suffering

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Maybe I'm wrong. I think Pinker seems to not be a scientismist but I don't get that impression from the article I mentioned above. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't care either way because I have more pressing things in my life to be existential over.

 

Can you give an example of someone who practises scientism and an example of where they have been authoritarian?

 

What was issue with Pinker's scientism?

 

If I were to say out aloud children should not be taught that Earth is six thousand years old give or take a few thousand, am I being authoritarian. Or am I simply being passionate my vocation?

Edited by romansh

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What comes to mind immediately is Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values which I am looking at on my book shelf as I write this, as well as Dennett's work on the shelf below and Dawkin's work before Dennett's. They all seem to believes that science is the only measure of anything - not just the natural world but human values - specifically morality. Now, as I have clearly stated before, I agree a lot of their ideas on certain issues, but I don't believe that science is the final authority on everything. Sorry, just don't. There is more to being a human being. What concerns me is the scientismist notion that some things will not even be considered for inquiry. Rational skepticism I am all for, but cynicism is something else. As an example, I will bed my paycheck that Pinker, Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris will not even consider seriously what is termed "paranormal investigations." I am not talking the bs that is on the mainstream media, but real scientific inquiry that is done on the subject. That is just one example.

 

I don't know if you can access the Terence McKenna podcast, or if you have ever read his work, as well as the work of Huston Smith and other philosophers, but according to scientism - science is all there is and should be to determine any value no matter how poetic Pinker or Dawkins can be in their writing. Here are some opinions I agree with:

 

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/viewpdf/default.aspx?article-title=Scientism--The_Bedrock_of_the_Modern_Worldview_by_Huston_Smith.pdf

http://www.popmatters.comht/review/cult-of-personaliy--bad link JM 404 error

 

 

As far as you expressing your opinion if you were a creationist, more power to you, baby. I am not sure what your point is. You're implying that I think that if you express a different opinion then you're authoritarian? I don't care what people think about what I say or what opinion I express. I have absolutely no desire to tell people how to behave.

Edited by JosephM
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They all seem to believes that science is the only measure of anything - not just the natural world but human values - specifically morality

I don't remember reading that science is the only measure in The Moral Landscape .. Do you have a quote for this. I think Harris's position is that it is a really good one. Frankly I happen to disagree with him. Primarily because in the middle of his book he argues against free will. If we don't have free will then, morality cannot be what it seems. Secondly, science is relativistic in nature.

 

Now the question becomes is science a useful guiding us in our wants and desires? This I think is a bit of a trick question. Wants and desires are effectively synonymous with will in free will. So I think we have to rephrase the question to can science help us implementing our wants and desires? To me it is trivially obvious it can.

 

Think of the "worst" political regimes that mind kind has experienced? Do we actually think anyone was actually striving for a worse©world? I don't. I am fairly convinced that most heinous of leaders wanted something better©. Just they had not thought through what better and worse are and how to get there.

 

The same way that some people start demonizing other people's scientific approach to what we perceive the problems of the world. And I agree Dawkins (and Hitchens in particular) can come across as vitriolic, they might not of thought it through either.

 

My final point is Dawkins et al. take a phycalist view (as I do), and argue forcefully (and I find convicingly) against a young Earth. And if I were to insist kids should be taught evolution ad a four billion year earth am I being authoritarian? Similary if I insist that science should apply to NOMA as much as anything else, am I practicing scientism?

 

Science, I find, ultimately points to re-connection (religion) ... without the supernatural.

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Does Gould's NOMA claim that "the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other views." That is fundamentalism. That is scientism.

 

I agree with Dawkins that religion and science overlap despite what Gould thought. I don't see because both are conceptual tools used by human beings despite Gould's opinion. I agree with Dawkins about his polemics on fundamentalism. I agree with Dawkins that we don't acquire a moral compass from religion. But we don't acquire it by science either.

 

Scientism is not a new buzzword. It's been around for quite some time to explain a view that the material universe is all there is. I don't presume that religions knows anything about alternate realms etc but I also cannot discount the experience if many many many many many people about other experience which cannot be simply dismissed as delusion without a scientific examination. So there are people who won't even use the tools they say prove everything to investigate or attempt to measure empirically something. That to me is an element of scientism. It is not a straw man argument it is not a pejorative term. It is an accurate description of a form of cynicism gone awry. A true scientific inquiry of anything would be to not just show what something is not but to accept what something could possibly be after a thorough inquiry. Dawkins is so critical of anyone even atheists who want to show the least but if humility when being in the comps y if someone who is religious. Why all the negativity bro? Is what I have to say. Lighten up is say to him. Why not just accept that the concept if the spiritual is a part if being human (not that it us a necessary part but a part nonetheless).

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Does Gould's NOMA claim that "the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other views." That is fundamentalism. That is scientism.

 

I am really confused here. Is Gould really saying this? I thought he was saying the opposite with NOMA? To me this seems in contradiction to the next paragraph.

I agree with Dawkins that religion and science overlap despite what Gould thought. I don't see because both are conceptual tools used by human beings despite Gould's opinion. I agree with Dawkins about his polemics on fundamentalism. I agree with Dawkins that we don't acquire a moral compass from religion. But we don't acquire it by science either.

 

Well I would say we get our sense of morality from all over the place. Our initial predisposition to a sense of morality is almost certainly a result of evolution. This predisposition gets filled with our experience. If our experience is significantly religious then that is not an unexpected source for our moral values. Whether we get it from science, can i ask you to reread my last post? Thanks.

... a view that the material universe is all there is. I don't presume that religions knows anything about alternate realms etc but I also cannot discount the experience if many many many many many people about other experience which cannot be simply dismissed as delusion without a scientific examination. So there are people who won't even use the tools they say prove everything to investigate or attempt to measure empirically something.

 

This is materialism or physcalism, I have not worked out the subtle differences yet. And for those who speak of alternative realms ... cannot be dismissed as delusion ... how about can be understood as illsusions? If any of these alternative realms do show up, the materialist will simply adjust her model of the universe.

It is not a straw man argument it is not a pejorative term. It is an accurate description of a form of cynicism gone awry.

 

The links that you posted would suggest that scientism is, or at least caan be, a pejorative. Is it an accurate description or is it an opinion?

Lighten up is say to him. Why not just accept that the concept if the spiritual is a part if being human (not that it us a necessary part but a part nonetheless).

 

Again what I have read of Dawkins, he has no problem with spiritual. In his way he is quite spiritual. it is (I think) many people don't recognize his spirituality. Hence my microscope and dinosaur footprint observation.

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I have no problem with Dawkins being referred to as a spiritual atheist. But his religion is Science. His criticism of atheists who are willing to engage those who are religious - namely his criticism of the Templeton Prize - displays an arrogance that contributes very litlle if anything to civil dialogue in the public square and demonstrates a fundamentalist (scientismist) attitude that unfortunately is endemic of our times,

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Not sure if anything needs to be added to this conversation. My bottle line thought is that when proponents of science think science is the only tool to measure wverything and attribute value to it then that is scientism. It is also materialist monism but maybe my understanding of that philosophic discipline is not complete. It is a misinterpretation of science which from little I know of its history led to social Darwinism, which I presume to be a very very very big distortion of Darwin's theories. I just don't think that science has anything to say about metaphysics, the humanities, and spirituality. These are disciplines that cannot be measured or determined empirically. They are the arena of a human faculty of the imagination and volition. But whatever people think whatever the hell they want. I don't really care. Just don't impose your opinions on me as genuine authority.

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Something I think I failed to affirm in the video clip is the sense of hope. I don't think one can ever overcome human suffering so long as we remain human. We can endure it with hope. To me I don't care what anyone has "hope in" (meaning a God or the human ability to reason and overcome obstacles). I hope that human beings can come together to get along to the extent that they can put aside their differences and eccentricities and do what needs to be done (to the extent that it will fail as all human endeavors do) to deal with suffering at its root or the expressions or attributes. I hope that rational monists and scientismists are as good and reasonable and hopeful in the human endeavor as they claim to be. I hope that they are not as affected by the virus of cynicism to the extent that they compromise their own ethics, values and morals. I hope they do not reduce humanity to the extent that they enter the threshold of nihilism. Same goes for those on the other side of the argument of course.

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I have no problem with Dawkins being referred to as a spiritual atheist. But his religion is Science. His criticism of atheists who are willing to engage those who are religious - namely his criticism of the Templeton Prize - displays an arrogance that contributes very litlle if anything to civil dialogue in the public square and demonstrates a fundamentalist (scientismist) attitude that unfortunately is endemic of our times,

 

I have reservations about the Templeton foundation as well. does that make a follower of scientism?

 

... when proponents of science think science is the only tool to measure very thing and attribute value to it then that is scientism.

This for me does not ring true. I am not aware of any scientist who thinks it is the only way ... this is pure rhetoric. I did not choose my wife of 37 years scientifically and I doubt any of your so called scientismists would have done so either. But studying how we choose our wives can be done scientifically.

 

regarding metaphysics ... I suspect that is a non-subject befitting of study with Templeton Foundation monies.

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I have to agree with Rom.

 

I've stayed silent until this point, but your view Matteoam, that seems to be that scientism is the act of refusing to believe that which can't be proved or scientifically accounted for, seems questionable to me. The example you raise - paranormal investigations - even seems to suggest that people are applying scientific principles to get to the bottom of paranormal 'experiences'.

 

I'm, not sure how you can determine which scientists are actually scientismists, but it would seem to be that most scientists should in fact fall under such a definition. The fact that something doesn't have a scientific rationale is a very good reasons for believing that a) it doesn't exists, or B) we don't scientifically understand it. The latter to me would seem to be a trademark of historical discoveries where things were once regarded as 'of God' or without scientific explanation, only to be scientifically explained, and clearly, years later.

 

I actually doubt there are more than a few, if any, scientists that don't leave the door open to some things and simply say we don't understand it yet, rather than dismissing it outright. In those cases I would say you are dealing with some pretty ordinary scientists. In my mind, the fact that most scientists have an open and questioning mind seems to be why we as humans have progressed as we have.

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I love this conversation. I agree with both of them on many points. My feet are firmly grounded planted in both views. I can't say either is completely wrong or completely right. The conversation goes deeper than religion too. It involves all aspects of politics, economics, and cultures.

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Here's the thing which continues my last post. Feeding my newborn at off hours gives me to log on and comment because that's the time I have to interact.

 

So Dawkins and Chopra comment on religion at the end and I agree with both. I agree that Dawkins resorts to ad hominen arguments which to me is sign that you have no real argument. I think Dawkins is wrong when he criticizes people who are religious as having "blind faith". Some probably do. But I think he makes generalizations that have no validity. Likewise Chopr's views are a distillation of views for today's consumer culture about philosophies that have been around for thousands of years. This to me points so whiny that needs to addressed and not dismissed by the "scientific" community if they are as empirical and objective as they claim to be.

 

I have yet to see a truly unbiased scientific study not critique a study of issues related to spiritusl or religious beliefs. A simple application of "scientific empirical study" to various disciplines simply for its own sake like guys like Pinker recommends to me is a reflection of that philosophical scientism which is rooted in materialistic monism and honestly is reminiscent of Democritus. So I guess its nothing new. That being said the science that Dawkins is an advocate of is valid in its true discoveries or explanations but he doesn't seem to be willing to really use what he rejects in Chopras philosophy as a hypothesis and investigate it dying his own (Dawkins' own) methods.

 

Maybe he can't but I sense too that people like Dawkins and Dennett and Harris DO NOT WANT to. That being said with all THAT I AGREE WITH THEM on they limit themselves.

 

They're observations about the brain and consciousness are valid. But they don't know if that is all there is. They appeal to their own authority as the final authority. They go against their own claims if being scientific by their own definitions.

 

If they were honest they would be open to ALL possibilities no matter how absurd. And they are not. I am not talking about their perceived results (their critique of religious fundamentalism) either. I refer to the nature if the perenniel philosophy (Huxley and others) and the material results from having these beliefs.

 

They don't seem to be willing to walk the walk.

Edited by matteoam

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matteoam, I feel you summed it up very well. I like your line, "If they were honest they would be open to ALL posibilities no matter how absurd." It would have been nice if they used their intellect to take each other's claims a bit further and stretched the truth instead of destroying the other appealing to their followings. Thanks for putting it all in perspective.

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Matteoam,

 

What kind of empirical study would you like to see, Matteoam? There's been plenty of science that has looked at spiritually-related subjects such as meditation and which acknowledges it provides a health benefit to the user, but how does anyone 'prove' anything perhaps 'supernatural' or metaphysical about it?

 

Similarly there have been scholarly studies concerning the power of prayer which show no discernible intervention from God. These scientific findings don't get an awful lot of publicity or recognition in the US.

 

Me thinks that many scientists in the US would be hesitant to undertake experiments that risk shaking religious foundations out of fear of having their funding cut off or their reputations smeared. It seems to me that many in the US have in the past hysterically defended their faith from scientific scrutiny, whatever the cost to the scientist.

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Hi Paul,

I’m not quite clear on why you think scientists in the States would hesitate to study the effects of meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other religious practices. I seriously doubt if they would have any government, or public university funding curtailed. It’s not as though this country is nothing but fundamentalist, religious wing nuts. If that’s the perception abroad, it just ain’t so.

 

As you say, some studies with regard to meditation have shown benefits to the cardiovascular and immune systems. There may be many more yet undetected. I suspect medical science would be extremely interested in findings like these. Many major hospitals in this country include certain “spiritual” practices, like the ones I’ve stated above, as part of a holistic program of treatment for various diseases.

 

Over the many years I’ve practiced meditation, I have never thought that I was conjuring up the supernatural. These days, I’m not even sure what people mean by that. I am quite certain that whatever goes on as a result of meditation is all very natural. Nor have I given a thought to any health “benefits” that may have accrued to me. A spiritual practice is a spiritual practice, plain and simple; such practices have been accepted for centuries, because they produce results. I welcome scientific study of such things, and one day we may very well find out how it works. But, since that could be long after I’m gone, I will continue to practice without explanation.

 

Peace.

Steve

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I do think the majority of scientists would hesitate to study what is termed the "paranormal". I for one don't think that "the data" which "proves" NDEs, and psychic phenomena prove anything, but I also think that a more involved interdisciplinary study is needed. I have personally been in the company of people who have experienced things which I cannot explain, but I am still a skeptic. If I don't have a personal experience of it, I cannot say whether it exists or not. I am completely open to the possibility of it. I also don't know what the experience of it means. I have seen the value it has given those people. I also know there are crackpots and charlatans out there which need to be exposed for their delusions and for their dishonesty.

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Studies that we could find include:

effect of spirituality/religion on longevity (positive correlation)

prayer and recovery after hospital procedures (negative correlation)

religiousity and educational attainment (negative correlation) well generally speaking

Are three that come to mind

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In the sixties the group I was meditating with were studied at Stanford. They put us in a chamber with electrodes attached everywhere and had us meditate. When I was a student at the Unversity of Nevada I had a special class with a professor where I did the research on fasting, meditation, yoga, prayer ect. and then we would meet once a week and go over it. Both the research and the experiment pointed to benefits mentally and physically.

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Steve,

 

Maybe I wasn't clear enough. In response to Matteoam's claims I was pointing out that indeed science has carried out scientific experiments for the likes of meditation. But that wasn't the type of experiments which I was alluding to which may rock religious foundations.

 

I certainly don't think the entire US is beholden to fundamentalists, but certainly a fair share of your politicians and those with political clout on the likes of schoolboards and such, do influence. I won't accept that in a State such as Kansas, where year after year the Education Board swings between creationism and evolution, that any career teacher/scientists could feel safe challenging fundamental religious claims.

 

I mean just imagine the reception a scientist would get in the 'bible-belt' if he said he was going to carry out an empirical experiment to once and for all determine the existence of God. Do you really think that he would be accepted without qualm? I mean really, the US is a country which has to take to court whether evolution could be taught in school or not!

 

I only make this point to demonstrate that it is not open slather for scientists, particularly in the US but elsewhere also, to

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Paul

 

That's a good point. It's also hardcore materialists who don't want to explore the possibility that spirituality is "true" or "real". I don't know what type of empirical study could be done to prove God. That personally doesn't interest me. Science cannot prove nor disprove religious beliefs. It's what is restricted in their study that is the issue. Paranormal activity is not proof of God.

 

But I think a serious study of these topics would or should address types of experience: Cognitive Experience (which would include Sense Experience, Discursive Reasoning, Intuitive Apprehension); Psychic Experience; Aesthetic Experience; Ethical Experience; Religious Experience.

 

How a collective interdisciplinary body of thinkers from Dawkins-types to Chopra-types get over themselves and be humble and willing enough to work together and agree on some extensive and detailed and harmonious hypothesis to start from is beyond me.

 

I wonder if anyone really cares. Too many people have too much invested (economically and in their self-identity) to pursue this as they have too much to lose if they are perceived to stray from their pack or if they are proven wrong.

 

Aldo what evidence will be expected? It's a nice idea but will always be marginalized. Groups will do what work they do but the divides will always remain.

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In the sixties the group I was meditating with were studied at Stanford. They put us in a chamber with electrodes attached everywhere and had us meditate. When I was a student at the Unversity of Nevada I had a special class with a professor where I did the research on fasting, meditation, yoga, prayer ect. and then we would meet once a week and go over it. Both the research and the experiment pointed to benefits mentally and physically.

 

So you disagree that studies on religiousity etc have not been done? I don't doubt for a minute that meditation statistically speaking can be beneficial.

 

Regarding the paranormal, to say it has not been scientifically studied is nonsense. there are journals on the subjects.

I think Blackmore's position more or less sums up my position.

 

Here is another example from Blackmore. She used to be a devout believer in the paranormal, but over time studying the evidence she is critical of the subject.

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Fair enough, Paul. There are certainly parts of the States where those kinds of debates grab headlines. Out here in California, we mostly just shake our heads and wonder why these people are so headstrong.

 

If one takes as axiomatic that there is a God, who is creator and sustainer of the universe, then no amount of rational argument or experimental evidence will change their minds. These ideas are in large part culturally and geographically determined which ironically, are also a product of (cultural) evolution.

 

As you point out, the real problem here is the intersection between religion and politics. Do we really want to live in a society where unsubstantiated beliefs are passed off as “truth”? My personal view is that in the States, we are witnessing the death throes of fundamentalist Christianity, so that a minority becomes more and more vocal toward the end. Something which has had great survival value requires a suitable replacement not yet found.

 

Peace.

Steve

Edited by SteveS55

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I do think the majority of scientists would hesitate to study what is termed the "paranormal". I for one don't think that "the data" which "proves" NDEs, and psychic phenomena prove anything, but I also think that a more involved interdisciplinary study is needed. I have personally been in the company of people who have experienced things which I cannot explain, but I am still a skeptic. If I don't have a personal experience of it, I cannot say whether it exists or not. I am completely open to the possibility of it. I also don't know what the experience of it means. I have seen the value it has given those people. I also know there are crackpots and charlatans out there which need to be exposed for their delusions and for their dishonesty.

 

I think NDEs have more than enough examples to say they exist. That some claim they are a reflection of an ADE is somewhat problematic for me.

 

Again science does not prove anything ... it just provides us with predictive descriptions of phenomena we observe.Things like parapsychology are simply at the stage of counting coloured pebbles on the beach. Unfortunately it is not clear whether sampling method has statistical bias or not.

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matteoam, I feel you summed it up very well. I like your line, "If they were honest they would be open to ALL posibilities no matter how absurd." It would have been nice if they used their intellect to take each other's claims a bit further and stretched the truth instead of destroying the other appealing to their followings. Thanks for putting it all in perspective.

 

Are you really suggesting scientists should invest their precious resources in developing models of the universe by throwing those chicken bones or reading tea leaves? No matter how absurd indeed.

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