Re: the religion of science (was:virus: Sexuality)

Patricia & John Crooks (
Thu, 19 Sep 1996 16:05:02 -0500

>Does religion answer why some rocks float?

Well, the stock answer for any question is, "To reflect the glory of God".
> Can it find the grand
>scheme and tell us something about it in a non-trivial way?

JudeoChristianity has taught us alot about community and social
responsibility. Buddhism has taught us a great deal about the mind.
Hinduiism has taught us about the body. Nature religions have taught us
about our connectedness with each other and the planet. The problem is not
that religion induces triviality it is that it induces power and passion.
Christianity also gave us the Inquisition. Buddhism produced the Kamikazi .
Hinduiism brought about the caste system and native spirituality seems to
frequently lead to acts of sacrificial killing. I am by no means merely an
apologist for religion I recognize that it, like science, has its shadow side.

>it is not objective in its attempt, how do i know whether to
>accept the answer or not? (I presume some religions disagree about
>the answers, frequently in a mutually exclusive fashion? When this
>happens, how do we arbitrate between the two?)

There are at least two truths of any given question-the subjective and the
objective. You are asking for the objective truth of subjectivity. There
is no single answer to the question, "God?", each of us must find our own
answer to that question. Ideally, religion is the training which teaches us
how to frame the question, "God?", how to ask it, and how to perceive and
understand the answer. It is usually in this last part, perceiving and
understanding the answer, where religion falls down, or more accurately, the
religious fall down. Too often we chose the most reassuring answer. The
result of doing this really sucks.

>What is experiential validation? How is it to be distinguished
>from hallucinations or dreams?

I recommend the classic, "The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William
James. His conclusion is basically that the two are not mutually exclusive.
God works through secondary causation due to the necessity of working within
the contextual limitations resulting from human free will.

> Is the fact that several religions
>are mentioned indicative of more than one divine being causing this
>to happen or one divine being taking different forms? (I have never
>undergone any religious experience - please excuse my total
>lack of understanding - but i am curious to know what is behind all
>this, like you say it is relatively common.)

Remember the old story about the blindfolded people examining the elephant?
I BELIEVE it is a result of many different cultures looking at One God, or
to be more accurate, One God trying to get through to many different cultures.

>Just as a matter of curiosity - what has religion given us?
Just off the top of my head, schools-in fact the whole concept of formal
education, hospitals, science, art.
> Has it
>advanced ever - as opposed to just modifying itself for survival

I'm not exactly sure what you mean.

> Is there any objective measure of what it provides?
I suspect there is, where there is a willingness to measure objectively. Is
there an objective way to measure whether the balance of religion has been
constructive or destructive of humanity, probably not, just the same as
there is none for science. The limitation, however is in neither religion
or science, it is in the impossibility of the task. In order to answer it
we would have to be able to step outside of history.

>Has the religious experience been continually improving over the years?
>(Note that these questions are sinecure and not meant to offend -
>i just wanted to ask them starkly in order to get a good answer.)
Same answer.

>I guess this clashes with my understanding of Christianity. From what
>i can tell, Christianity hinges on the divinity of Jesus and to a
>lesser extent, the infallibility of the bible. But maybe i am just
>biased by life in the south.

I think its as much time as geography. Protestant Christianity in America
(again, a small part of religion) is in major upheaval right now, has been
for the past 30 years, (personally I think its Protestantism resituating
itself in opposition to Catholicism since Vatican II but I imagine your
average Assembly of God member would disagree with that). In times of
stress people have a tendency to let their best and worst attributes out.
There are alot of people out there having a hard time dealing with
uncertainty and they are grabbing whatever semblence of stability they can
find. These are good days for false prophets.

Christianity doesn't hinge on the divinity of Jesus, it hinges on the
divinity of Christ's message, which was "God loves you". In other words,
that there is a why behind floating rocks, even if we can't discern it, and
that the answer to that why is ultimately good.

Those who cling steadfastly to the infallibility of the Bible (or the
infallibility of anything that is the result of human endeavor) are
actuality clinging to the desire to have their own interpretation deemed
infallible. It is their ego they are talking about, not the Bible. The
Bible is one really good anthology of stories. There are others. I happen
to believe that it is the fact that we work together trying to examine a
common source to come to a common understanding is the holy part of it, not
the book. This is referred to as the communion of saints, its not unlike
Jung's notion of the collective unconscious.

John Crooks