Forwarded from Anthony

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Thu Jan 25 07:43:30 MST 2001


Hi Lou:

On Religion and Science

I think Lou Paulsen's remarks are on the money on this subject.

But his remarks bring up the issue of "faith".

When I was a child of 12, I went to my nice liberal Congregationalist
Sunday school teacher, and asked "Why should I believe in God?"

After being told that the bible tells me so, and hearing my retort that his
church teaches that the bible isn't always literally true, but seomtimes
only true as metaphor and allegory. He said yes, but it is true as allegory
and metaphor, and the important point is that the Bible represents the
'word of God.' I said, Bullshit, people wrote it, not god. He said yes, but
they were inspired by god. I said, how do you know? He said, Faith."

Like I said, bullshit.

The problem for every religion is that belief in any God is based on the
fact that much of material reality is unknown - but the unknown is
constantly diminishing. So whatever claim a religion makes about the nature
of God's relation to material reality is subject to future refutation by
science.

The growth of human knowledge about reality - now known as science - has
caused the constant retreat into more and more extreme abstraction by
religion in general.

However, this trend has created a reaction within religions and among the
religous. A strong defence of the clearly false factual claims made by
various religions. That defense is possible because of the huge gulf
between the knowledge of scientists, and scientifically educated people,
and the vast majority of humanity.

That defense is politically important because it defends the status quo of
social relations. Ideological traditionalism supports social
traditionalism. People who are struggling for stability in their personal
lives are attracted to the traditions that hold together family networks, etc.

It creates very odd things, like my 12 year old neice - whose mother has
become a Protestant fundamentalist (Four Square variety) being told she can
no longer read books about dinosaurs and fossils (except the creationist
variety.) Of course, she avidly seeks them out whenever she gets out from
under my sister in laws thumb.

Anthony


Louis Proyect
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