Tag Archives: Metaphjysics
We last did a version of this topic in 2014, led by Carl and Jim Z. If I recall correctly, we talked about the “New Atheism.” This is a moniker given to a group of scientists and public intellectuals that, starting in the late 1990s I think, took a very hard line in opposition to all religious faith. In books like The God Delusion and The End of Faith, New Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and others declared that science and religion are simply incompatible.
The New Atheists – and most atheists I know – say that religion is irrational and un-empirical, a remnant from a pre-scientific time and the source of way too many human miseries. I think the conventional wisdom is that this movement was spurred to action by Islamic extremism and/or the U.S. religious Right. I have included in this week’s optional readings an article by Harris (“Science Must Destroy Religion” – Tell us what you really think), and a debate between Dawkins and another scientist who is a Christian and advocates mutual respect.
I’m not so sure that faith and science are incompatible. But, I’m also not sure how best for Civilized Conversation to approach the matter. Not my area of expertise. I’ve got lots of questions though. Do science and religion inhabit two different realms? Are they answering different types of questions – or is there only one type of question or evidence, that of materialism and natural phenomena? Is religion inherently magical; i.e., supernatural and thus only accessible by faith? Is science the only way to truly know the world – or our fellow humans? Really? If faith is irrelevant, why has it lasted long past the emergence of a scientific age?
Deep. I’ll skip the opening lecture thing on Monday evening and just ask for people to open our discussion with whatever is on their minds. Just remember the “Civilized” part.
SUGGESTED BACKGROUND READING –
- Some good links at our 2014 mtg on this subject (none are repeated below).
Are Religion and Science Compatible, Y/N?
- No, they are not. No, because religious faith is unsupportable in the modern world.
- New Atheist Sam Harris: Science must destroy religion.
- Wrong. Religion and science can coexist, says this Catholic POV. The two have more in common than you think.
- Let’s move beyond this stale debate.
- Or, let’s wallow in it: Richard Dawkins debates Francis Collins in Time Magazine. .
- Are humans hard-wired to prefer either religious or scientific explanations of the natural world but not both?
- Are we all predisposed to believe in God because of our childhood?
- [I may add more links in defense of faith later this weekend.]
Next Week (Sept 19): Raise/Don’t Raise the Minimum Wage.
It was good to see attendance climbing again, to 14 people, including some returnees and several new people. Jeannie (sp?) saw our notice in the Reader. Anne and boyfriend Jason showed up for a while, and an old friend of mine and Carl’s named Jeff was sitting next to me.
I thought it was interesting that we kind of divided into “sides” a little bit. About 4-5 people were dismissive of the idea of human energy fields and similar notions, notably Rich and Richard; and others were believers, such as Debbie, Sharon, and Dean. Anyway, a good, respectful discussion.
Here are links to a few of the books Debbie and Sharon had with them.
- Healing and The Mind, by Bill Moyers, from 1995: Debbie says this is not really about energy medicine, but is more generally on the healing power of the mind.
- Vibrational Medicine, by Gerber.
- The Relaxation Response, by Benson. Sharon referred to this. I read it years ago and it’s kind of cool. It says that many cultures, calling it by different names, have arrived at the same concept: Through emptying the mind and controlled calming, people can go to a super-relaxing place of rest. Think meditation. The book is an ABC of how to do it.
Next week: Privacy and the Constitution.