Science vs Religion

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Andy on Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:56 am

A very talented singer, for sure.
I would advice her - or the character whose part she is singing - to take up the effort to read Levinas.
Levinas said that it was testimony of the glory of God that He created a creature that is fundamentally capable of Atheism.

Notice how the text sits centered around the 'I'-dimension - finally even God MUST exist if only to offer consolation and meaning to the 'I'. This is a state of mind Levinas was probably have categorised under 'atheism', btw.
This is a tendency in Western culture Levinas called egology: the restless recuperation of the Other to the sphere of the Self - the stuctural incapability of Western culture to accept alterity and live with it.

Levinas, like so many other philosophers, was a very technical thinker with a very specific vocabulary.
I haven't read enough about him, let alone by him, to be able to discuss him at length.
But he is a very intruiging thinker which is well worth the effort. His understanding of ethics goes even well beyond Kant and ultimately becomes an ontology.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:30 am

Andy, I have to tell you something.
You were born about one year before I was born. Since you were one you've been existing but your "since you were one" existence haven't been developed without my existence... isn't it going too far assuming your "since you were one" existence could be possible without me? I know there's a higher probability of it... but the proofs of your "since you were one" existence without me are merely statistical... geek

(I'm just disfiguring something Borges said)

Edit: What I'm trying to say is that I don't know if things could have happened in a different way. Then there's a need. And a need for the "I" also.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Andy on Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:59 am

To say that it could certainly isn't taking things too far.
The only form of affection your existence has had on mine 'since I was one' is via this message board, as far as I know.
To the best of my knowledge this message board constitutes in no way what you might call a sufficient ground - a conditione sine qua none - for my existence 'since one'.
And as your own presence in my 'since one' existence is via this medium, it would be sound to conclude that your existence couldn't be more of a sufficient ground than this board.
Thus - theoretically - your existence is irrelevant to mine - as is mine to yours or anyone else's, obviously - and thus is see no problem in theoretical speculation as long was one keeps to using the term 'could'.

Of course my existence 'since one' in a you-less universe is entirely theoretica and purely speculative: it is not part of the facticity of the real world.

I would say that while all elements in our world have the potential to affect other elements, most of those potetial possible relations are never actualised. The notion interdependence makes it of course more complex to fully grasp what this really means.
If you are interested in this type of thinking you might want to explore the metaphysics of Gilles Deleuze, though I would strongly suggest reading about Deleuze rather than reading his own work - at least to start with -, as he's chaotic way of writing makes his thoughts often rather hard to penetrate.
Alfred North Whitehead also developed a metaphysics based on those ideas - a few decades earlier - and unlike Deleuze tries develop a notion of a divine dimension within them: for Whitehead God is a dimension of creativity. I haven't read any firsthand writings from Whitehead, but am told that he's vocabulary is very specific, which usually means that you'll have to study exactly what certain terms are supposed to mean before you'll ever be able to understand even the first phrase. Sadly, this is all too common in the works of philosophers.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Andy on Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:18 am

asdf wrote: And a need for the "I" also.

Well, Levinas never meant to say there wouldn't be a need for an 'I'.
What he did mean, to put it simply, is that this stance has been so dominant throughout Western culture that we have lost our very abilty to recognise, to fully accept an element of alterity.

Maye it helps if I tell you the background of his problem: Levinas had Jewish roots and was as such of course very deeply affected by the industrial horror of the Second World War. The answer he formulated as to how such a completely monstrous event could have taken place in the very heart of the Englighted World (!) states that the very make-up of reason itself holds an explanation - don't read 'THE one and only', that's not what he said.

He builds up a very intruiging theory of ethics which is based upon the recognition of alterity in others.
To be able to do this, one will have to develop a sense of selfness, an 'I'.
And thus in our moral growth we have to go though a self-centered phase during which we are incapable of coming to recognise the fundamental alterity of another individual.
Now, for Levinas it is in the face of the Other that we come to trace the precense of a divine order, for ever more inaccessible to us in its alterity.
So when he says 'it testifies of the glory of God to have created a being that is fundamentally capable of atheism', he isn't speaking of this or that persons personal religious convinction. What he is speaking about is that all humans in their moral growth have to pass through a phase in whch they are by principle atheist.

Boiling stuff like this down to five lines really isn't doing it justice. bounce
Levinas is a very creative and thougt-provoking thinker: check him out!

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:29 am

Yes, I guess it's not fair to sum up things like that. But I really appreciate it, thank you.
Sometimes you make me read things but I must confess I usually give up soon.



I don't remember what was going on in this Simpsons chapter but I remember Lisa saying something like "it's like if I said this stone frightens lions away... well, do you see any lion?" and Homer answered "I buy the stone". I was't saying I'm provoking your "since one" existence, not even that I'm influencing it (in a relevant way). It's just that things happen one way and no other and that makes me think about this. Anyway I was just asking and I wasn't trying to be too serious in my approach to it... I started writing that as a joke (the "isn't it going too far" was part of it).

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Andy on Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:32 am

asdf wrote: Then there's a need.

Syllogistically this isn't really correct: a state of affairs can, by itself, never hold sufficient ground to demonstate that it needs to be thus.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Andy on Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:34 am

asdf wrote:
I don't remember what was going on in this Simpsons chapter but I remember Lisa saying something like "it's like if I said this stone frightens lions away... well, do you see any lion?" and Homer answered "I buy the stone".

This is a great example of what I meant in my previous post! Very Happy

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:51 am

Andy wrote:
asdf wrote: Then there's a need.

Syllogistically this isn't really correct: a state of affairs can, by itself, never hold sufficient ground to demonstate that it needs to be thus.

But is it a syllogism? I am only asking.
I don't see two premises. I just see one premise and one conclusion

things cannot happen other way
then there's a need


and then I said that the need I'm refering to includes the "I"

But I guess that rule would apply my conclusion anyway

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:16 am

now I see the syllogism

Things cannot happen other way
You and I coexist
Our coexistence is necessary

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Andy on Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:38 pm

That's already even more elegant than what I was thinking of! Touché.

I was thinking of a pseudo-syllogism in which the conclusion is basically the same as the major-presmise.
Take the Lisa Simpson - example:

M1: IF there is a stone THAN NO tigers
m2: There IS one stone and there are NO tigers
------------------------------------------------
C: IF there is a stone THAN NO tigers

The simple existence of a state of affairs is being used as sufficient ground to conclude upon it's absolute neccesity.
What ought to be demonstrated is that the major-term is true, but this demonstration is simplified to a single instantiation.

I think we have a similar problem in claiming that we need to coexist - at least if you interpret the term 'need' in a rigid scientific way, as: it could not be any other way.



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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:21 pm

That's what I was thinking. "Things cannot happend other way" could be defined as "there's a need for them to happen that way" or viceversa.

I think one ball falls in one hole and no in other not by chance, there are factors that have provoked that precise direction in the ball. What I don't know is the fragility or strenght of those factors (that I assume where provoked by other factors). My question is: does chance exist at all? If there's no chance I think there would be need, or is there something in between or different?

I was afraid of writing "determinism". I think we talked a bit about it before. But its wikidefinition now that I read it has a lot to do with this: Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen.



Sorry for hijacking the thread

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:27 pm

...I don't know about forum etiquette...so if it's poor form to just jump in and say how much I'm enjoying this thread, then just ignore me.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  pinhedz on Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:59 pm

blue moon wrote:...forum etiquette...
Isn't that an oxymoron?

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Guest on Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:54 am

pinhedz wrote:
blue moon wrote:...forum etiquette...
Isn't that an oxymoron?
...that's a definite possibility.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  pinhedz on Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:39 am

Andy wrote:Levinas said that it was testimony of the glory of God that He created a creature that is fundamentally capable of Atheism.
Which presupposes, of course, that the creature was first capable of religion--the same capability, actually, but you can't have the 2nd without the 1st.

btw--that argument really doesn't work for me, because I would expect religion/atheism to be an inevitable outcome of natural selection.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Andy on Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:41 am

That's what you get when you have an amateur giving a very brief synopsis of what a rather complex thinker had to say.
Your reaction is correct in a regular setting, but barely applies to Levinas at all.

Levinas saw man in various stages of moral growth in which an awareness of the Radical Other - I have no idea what precise term is just in English, it's rather likely that more apt translations are being prefered.
To be able to achieve this one frst has to establish a self, an own identity - which is a process that is fundamentally self-centered and closed to alterity. To some degree you might compare these stages with stages of growth such as are known in (child-)psychology.

I'm not entirely sure, but pretty confident nonetheless that Levinas would call people who sit in church mainly because their parents did and who fail to give into the plea that is shown to us in the figure of others - who fail to open up to alterity - atheists.


Last edited by Andy on Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:07 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Spelling)

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  pinhedz on Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:36 pm

pinhedz wrote:"You must exist, You must!" -- a priori


Is Subo having a crisis of faith right on America's Got Talent? [Heaven help us, so to speak Shocked ]

Or is Subo just stating a fundamental postulate a priori , with emphasis?


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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  eddie on Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:57 am

Jawbone Find Leads To Human History Rethink
By Thomas Moore, science correspondent

Sky News


Jawbone Find Leads To Human History Rethink

Modern humans were living in England as long as 44,000 years ago - far earlier than previously thought, according to new research.

Analysis of a jawbone fragment discovered in a Devon cave suggests our ancestors spread rapidly across Europe during the last Ice Age, and coexisted with Neanderthals for millennia.

The piece of upper jaw, containing three teeth, was unearthed in 1927 in Kent's Cavern in Torquay.

A previous attempt to date the bone indicated that it was 35,000 years old.

But there were doubts about the reliability of that date because of the glue used to conserve the bone after it was excavated.

An international team of scientists has now carbon-dated animal bones found near the jaw, at a similar depth below the cave surface.

They conclude in the journal Nature that the fragment is between 44,000 and 41,000 years old.

Professor Tom Higham, deputy director of Oxford University's radiocarbon accelerator unit said: "We believe this piece of jawbone is the earliest direct evidence we have of modern humans in north western Europe, at a site at the very outermost limits of the initial dispersal of our species."

CT scans confirmed the teeth came from an anatomically modern human, not a Neanderthal.

Homo sapiens are believed to have moved into Europe around 42,000 to 44,000 years ago, after migrating out of Africa.

They left tools and ornaments described as "Aurignacian" but until now none of the human remains associated with them have been older than 39,000 to 41,000 years.

Dr Higham said: "[This] tells us a great deal about the dispersal speed of our species across Europe during the last Ice Age.

"It also means that early humans coexisted with Neanderthals in this part of the world, something that a number of researchers have doubted."

Neanderthals, an anatomically different human sub-species, lived in Europe around from 500,000 years ago but became extinct soon after the appearance of Homo sapiens.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  eddie on Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:02 pm

Christopher Hitchens dies aged 62

Celebrated journalist, writer and unshakeable secularist has died from complications of oesophageal cancer

Richard Lea

guardian.co.uk, Friday 16 December 2011 05.26 GMT


Christopher Hitchens photographed in November 2010 for the Observer New Review. The writer, critic and journalist has died aged 62 after contracting oesophageal cancer. Photograph: Jamie-James Medina for the Observer

The writer, journalist and contrarian Christopher Hitchens has died at the age of 62 after crossing the border into the "land of malady" on being diagnosed with an oesophageal cancer in June 2010. Vanity Fair, for which he had written since 1992 and was made contributing editor, marked his death in a memorial article posted late on Thursday night.

The reactions to Hitchens's illness from his intellectual opponents – which ranged from undisguised glee to offers of prayers – testified to his stature as one of the leading voices of secularism since the publication in 2007 of his anti-religious polemic God is Not Great. The reaction from the author himself, who after a lifetime of "burning the candle of both ends" described his illness as "something so predictable and banal that it bores even me", testified to the sharpness of his wit and the clarity of his thinking under fire, as he dissected the discourse of "struggle" that surrounds cancer, paid tribute to the medical staff who looked after him and resolved to "resist bodily as best I can, even if only passively, and to seek the most advanced advice".

Born in 1949, Hitchens was sent to boarding school at the age of eight, his mother deciding: "If there is going to be an upper class in this country, then Christopher is going to be in it." This resolution pursued him to his time at Oxford, where he confessed to leading a "double life" as both an "ally of the working class" and as a guest at cocktail parties where he could meet "near-legendary members of the establishment's firmament on nearly equal terms".

After he graduated in 1970 with a third-class degree, the doors of Fleet Street opened wide for Hitchens, who followed his friend James Fenton into a job at the New Statesman. He began a lifelong friendship with Martin Amis and quickly gained a reputation as a pugnacious leftwing commentator, excoriating targets such as the Roman Catholic church, the Vietnam war and Henry Kissinger in dazzling essays, news reports and book reviews.

A resolution to spend time at least once a year in "a country less fortunate than [his] own" spurred him to witness the stirrings of revolution in Portugal and Poland, as well as counter-revolution in Argentina. His mother's death in Athens, killing herself in a suicide pact with her lover, saw him reporting on the overthrow of the Greek junta in 1973.

Expeditions followed to Romania, Nicaragua, Malaysia and beyond. Hitchens travelled to post-war Iraq in 2006, Uganda in 2007 and Venezuela in 2008. A report for the New Statesman from Beirut brought rare praise from his father, a former navy officer who telephoned to say the piece was "very good", and that he "thought it rather brave … to go there". This validation was all the sweeter for a son who believed he'd always disappointed his father "by not being good at cricket or rugger".

New York offered an escape from the contradictions of the British class system that Hitchens grabbed with both hands, when the offer of a job on the left-leaning weekly magazine the Nation came in 1981. Columns for Slate.com and Vanity Fair followed, with Hitchens consummating his love affair with American life when he took US citizenship in 2007.

Meanwhile he maintained an intense rivalry with his younger brother Peter, who followed him into journalism but found his place on the opposite side of the political spectrum, working first for the Daily Express and then the Mail on Sunday. Both downplayed talk of a rift, but Peter confessed in 2009 that they were "not close". "If we weren't brothers we wouldn't know each other," he said.

One of the many issues that divided the brothers was the 2003 Iraq war, with Peter arguing that the war was "against Britain's interests", while Christopher supported a war that he suggested would stop Saddam Hussein using the country as "his own personal torture chamber".

His advocacy for the Iraq war was only the latest of Hitchens's positions that many on the left found uncomfortable, and led to a chill in his relations with Gore Vidal, who had once nominated him a "successor, an inheritor, a dauphin or delphino". But Hitchens's opposition to what he called "fascism with an Islamic face" began long before 9/11, with the fatwa on his friend Salman Rushdie, imposed by the Ayatollah Khomeini, whom Hitchens accused of "using religion to mount a contract killing", after the publication of The Satanic Verses.

Religion, or at least a fierce aversion to it, fuelled Hitchens's ascent towards celebrity, particularly in his adopted homeland, after the publication of God is Not Great in 2007. In it he argued that religion is "violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry", notching up sales of more than 500,000 copies.

Hitchens gave short shrift to the "insulting" suggestion that cancer might persuade him to change his position where reason had not, arguing that to ditch principles "held for a lifetime, in the hope of gaining favour at the last minute" would be a "hucksterish choice", and urging those who had taken it upon themselves to pray for him not to "trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries".

Writing in his 2010 memoir, Hitch-22, Hitchens said that he hoped and believed his "advancing age has not quite shamed my youth", disavowing the "'simple' ordinary propositions" of his younger days in favour of the maxim that "it is an absolute certainty that there are no certainties".

"One reason, then, that I would not relive my life," he continued, "is that one cannot be born knowing such things, but must find them out, even when they then seem bloody obvious, for oneself."

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  pinhedz on Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:10 pm

I realize now that SuBo was singing to the Higgs Boson on behalf of the physicists. Laughing

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  eddie on Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:00 pm


Martin Rowson on Christopher Hitchens.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:42 am

Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton - review

A banal and impudent argument for the uses of religion

Terry Eagleton

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 January 2012 10.00 GMT


The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem during Holy Week. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

The novels of Graham Greene are full of reluctant Christians, men and women who would like to be rid of God but find themselves stuck with him like some lethal addiction. There are, however, reluctant atheists as well, people who long to dunk themselves in the baptismal font but can't quite bring themselves to believe. George Steiner and Roger Scruton have both been among this company at various stages of their careers. The agnostic philosopher Simon Critchley, who currently has a book in the press entitled The Faith of the Faithless, is one of a whole set of leftist thinkers today (Slavoj Žižek, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben) whose work draws deeply on Christian theology. In this respect, the only thing that distinguishes them from the Pope is that they don't believe in God. It is rather like coming across a banker who doesn't believe in profit.


Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion
by Alain de Botton

Such reluctant non-belief goes back a long way. Machiavelli thought religious ideas, however vacuous, were a useful way of terrorising the mob. Voltaire rejected the God of Christianity, but was anxious not to infect his servants with his own scepticism. Atheism was fine for the elite, but might breed dissent among the masses. The 18th-century Irish philosopher John Toland, who was rumoured to be the bastard son of a prostitute and a spoilt priest, clung to a "rational" religion himself, but thought the rabble should stick with their superstitions. There was one God for the rich and another for the poor. Edward Gibbon, one of the most notorious sceptics of all time, held that the religious doctrines he despised could still be socially useful. So does the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas today.

Diderot, a doyen of the French Enlightenment, wrote that the Christian gospel might have been a less gloomy affair if Jesus had fondled the breasts of the bridesmaids at Cana and caressed the buttocks of St John. Yet he, too, believed that religion was essential for social unity. Matthew Arnold feared the spread of godlessness among the Victorian working class. It could be countered, he thought, with a poeticised form of a Christianity in which he himself had long ceased to believe. The 19th-century French philosopher Auguste Comte, an out-and-out materialist, designed an ideal society complete with secular versions of God, priests, sacraments, prayer and feast days.

There is something deeply disingenuous about this whole tradition. "I don't believe myself, but it is politically prudent that you should" is the slogan of thinkers supposedly devoted to the integrity of the intellect. If the Almighty goes out of the window, how are social order and moral self-discipline to be maintained? It took the barefaced audacity of Friedrich Nietzsche to point out that if God was dead, then so was Man – or at least the conception of humanity favoured by the guardians of social order. The problem was not so much that God had inconveniently expired; it was that men and women were cravenly pretending that he was still alive, and thus refusing to revolutionise their idea of themselves.

God may be dead, but Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheists is a sign that the tradition from Voltaire to Arnold lives on. The book assumes that religious beliefs are a lot of nonsense, but that they remain indispensible to civilised existence. One wonders how this impeccably liberal author would react to being told that free speech and civil rights were all bunkum, but that they had their social uses and so shouldn't be knocked. Perhaps he might have the faintest sense of being patronised. De Botton claims that one can be an atheist while still finding religion "sporadically useful, interesting and consoling", which makes it sound rather like knocking up a bookcase when you are feeling a bit low. Since Christianity requires one, if need be, to lay down one's life for a stranger, he must have a strange idea of consolation. Like many an atheist, his theology is rather conservative and old-fashioned.

De Botton does not want people literally to believe, but he remains a latter-day Matthew Arnold, as his high Victorian language makes plain. Religion "teaches us to be polite, to honour one another, to be faithful and sober", as well as instructing us in "the charms of community". It all sounds tediously neat and civilised. This is not quite the gospel of a preacher who was tortured and executed for speaking up for justice, and who warned his comrades that if they followed his example they would meet with the same fate. In De Botton's well-manicured hands, this bloody business becomes a soothing form of spiritual therapy, able to "promote morality (and) engender a spirit of community". It is really a version of the Big Society.

Like Comte, De Botton believes in the need for a host of "consoling, subtle or just charming rituals" to restore a sense of community in a fractured society. He even envisages a new kind of restaurant in which strangers would be forced to sit together and open up their hearts to one another. There would be a Book of Agape on hand, which would instruct diners to speak to each other for prescribed lengths of time on prescribed topics. Quite how this will prevent looting and rioting is not entirely clear.

In Comtist style, De Botton also advocates secular versions of such sacred events as the Jewish Day of Atonement, the Catholic Mass and the Zen Buddhist tea ceremony. It is surprising he does not add Celtic versus Rangers. He is also keen on erecting billboards that carry moral or spiritual rather than commercial messages, perhaps (one speculates) in the style of "Leave Young Ladies Alone" or "Tortoises Have Feelings As Well". It is an oddly Orwellian vision for a self-proclaimed libertarian. Religious faith is reduced to a set of banal moral tags. We are invited to contemplate St Joseph in order to learn "how to face the trials of the workplace with a modest and uncomplaining temper". Not even the Walmart management have thought of that one. As a role model for resplendent virtue, we are offered not St Francis of Assisi but Warren Buffett.

What the book does, in short, is hijack other people's beliefs, empty them of content and redeploy them in the name of moral order, social consensus and aesthetic pleasure. It is an astonishingly impudent enterprise. It is also strikingly unoriginal. Liberal-capitalist societies, being by their nature divided, contentious places, are forever in search of a judicious dose of communitarianism to pin themselves together, and a secularised religion has long been one bogus solution on offer. The late Christopher Hitchens, who some people think is now discovering that his broadside God Is Not Great was slightly off the mark, would have scorned any such project. He did not consider that religion was a convenient fiction. He thought it was disgusting. Now there's something believers can get their teeth into …

• Terry Eagleton's Why Marx Was Right is published by Yale.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:26 am

Here I come clown

I have a new theory.

Unamuno said we are God's dream: "God is dreaming you"

I say we, mortals (with no afterlife), are the dream of the immortals. Immortals live exactly like us but they survive death. I'm not sure what kind of life is that life after life but after life (in their living death) they dream of us, of our mortal existence. It is when they dream us that we are.... we are so brief from their eyes.

I don't find the exact quote but Unamuno said something like Don Quixote is more real than Cervantes.
But I'm probably just mixing things.

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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  eddie on Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:24 pm

The Stephen Collins cartoon

God only knows

guardian.co.uk, Friday 2 March 2012 22.59 GMT


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Re: Science vs Religion

Post  pinhedz on Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:27 am

Not really vs, just a person with different priorities for use of his time and attention:


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Re: Science vs Religion

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