||[Oct. 6th, 2008|02:39 pm]
1. Bill Maher needs to figure out how groom his hair so it doesn't look like greasy seaweed. Seriously, on the big screen it's really an uncomfortable distraction.
2. All of the interviews were very dishonestly edited. Several times I saw cuts after something Maher said to a reaction shot of the interviewee, where the interviewee wasn't reacting to what Maher said. Any time there's an edit like that, it's just to make the interviewee look like an idiot.
3. You can always have the last word if you're editing the interview. You can also cut out any part where the interviewee makes a reasonable rebuttal to Maher's premise.
4. His whole thesis in this movie -- that religion is bad -- can be refuted thusly:
Everyone from Paul of Tarsus to Gödel has shown that all knowledge is incomplete, that all models of the universe are provisional. Religious people have their imperfect models of the universe, and atheists have theirs. You can make an effective argument (as Maher does, up to a point) that a scientific empericism is closer to describing the 'real world' than religious faith.
But you can't make an effective argument that an atheistic or agnostic world view is 'better' -- for two reasons: 1) Assuming that you can objectively judge the outcomes of decisions, in both the religous and secular can you argue that one is 'better'? 2) Can you even judge anything objectively?
This is a functional argument for religious faith -- even if some of the things you believe are silly, you may in fact be a better person for your faith. The same thing goes for atheists -- you can argue atheism meaning there is no a priori morality. Atheists can choose to be go wild on the world, since nothing has any particular meaning. Or you can work from human tradition, common sense, and come to a human idea of moralty.
But what you can't say, scientifically, is "those people over there are nuts." Which more or less is what Maher's movie is all about. You don't know enough about the universe to make that judgement!
Because 1. Religion is an imperfect model of the universe, which has proven over time, its utility in helping people live their lives. and 2. Science is an imperfect model of the universe, which has proven, over time, it's utility in helping people live their lives.
I don't believe that Jesus Christ is my personal savior, or that there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his profit. I don't believe that God is a physical being that lives on a planet circling the star Kolob. I don't believe in ghosts or reincarnation, or the many armed God Ganesh.
But I do believe that all models of the universe, including science are provisional and subject to revision. To say 'science is better than religion because science is fact' indicates that you have a faith in science as blind as any born-again Christian's faith in Jebus.
Look up 1st Corinthians 13 and meditate on last 5 verses. Paul of Tarsus was the don.
To say 'science is better than religion because science is fact' indicates that you have a faith in science as blind as any born-again Christian's faith in Jebus.
this is the part i am so continually surprised to find that people completely miss.
I have no faith in science, because science defies faith. Uncertainty principle aside, facts are facts. Recordable observation is recordable observation. Data is data. It's pretty straightforward.
My central faith is in skepticism. By extension, I have faith in science, but only when it's done properly, which is to say, when it's practiced rigorously, which mean questioning everything.
But I'm not blind to the spirit of loving-kindness I see in many Xians. I feel like it is accessible without belief in the supernatural.
"But I'm not blind to the spirit of loving-kindness I see in many Xians. I feel like it is accessible without belief in the supernatural."
You pretty much just hit the nail on the head. Loving kindness is indeed acessible without belief in non-existent, unprovable "spirits".
The problem with religion is that it cannot be "practiced rigorously" because it is groundless. To question god is to blaspheme, simple and plain. For example, we know that yellow is the color that the human eye interprets light with wavelengths in the range of 570-590nm. Name one thing in any religion that is testable as such.
I think that 1 Corinthians 13 is perhaps difficult to deconstruct into a series of testable hypotheses, but I think it's definitely consistent with a scientific world view. My interpretation of the last 4 verses is this: We can't know everything, we can't even know what we don't know, but the abiding truth of the human condition is that if we seek to love and care for others we're participating in the only certainty we're ever likely to find in this world.
Except that's not religion pal. See, there's a huge illogical leap from that philosophy to the unerring and direct word of god that christians claim the bible to be.
exactly. as a philosopher, i think jesus was quite an alright dood. as a deity that i should pray to and obey as god, not so much.
i actually think that is the opposite of the scientific world view. science is about TRYING to understand everything, in a way that relies on proof and evidence no matter how abstract the idea. caring for others and science are not directly correlated.
Science has since the last century been continually bumping up against the limits of knowledgte. Google Gödel Incompleteness Theorem.
And think about how many ways that you can correlate caring with science -- the evolutionary advantage of altruism, the physiological response to being nurtured, etc etc.
And you can use your own common sense to see the importance of caring for other people.
you can scientifically examine the advantages of caring, but you can also examine the advantages of NOT caring. science is objective to all of this. that is why it is superior.