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  #1  
Old 02-24-2007, 10:19 PM
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Default Alan Watts on science and religion

"The scientific way of symbolizing the world is more suited to utilitarian purposes than the religious way but this does not mean that it has any more "truth". Is it truer to classify rabbits according to their meat or according ot their fur? It depends on what you want to do with them. The clash between science and religion has not shown that religion is false and science is true. It has shown that all systems of defintion are relative to vaious purposs and that none of them actually "grasp" reality. And because religion was being misused as a means for actually graspoing and possessing the mystery of life a certian meausre of "debunking' was hkghly neccessary."

Alan Watts, "The Wisdom of Insecurity" page 51

Thoughts on the qoute? Does science tend to show religion is false? Is so what are some examples of this?

footnotes:

http://deoxy.org/watts.htm
http://www.alanwatts.com/
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Old 02-25-2007, 06:35 AM
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i sort of half jokingly made a comment in another thread that it doesn't matter what theory and proof science comes up with, theologians will fit God into is somehow. i actually think that is quite apt here, i think religion, theology, and even the practise of religion will change and adapt to criticism and scientific theories, but religion isn't going away any time soon.
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Old 02-25-2007, 08:15 AM
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Mike that is a good point about theologians fitting God into new scientific discoveries. I think they have alot of flexiablity since at the theological level (as opposed to the lay-level) the primary meathod of understanding God is revelation.

In the qoute itself I want to point out that a rabbit is classified in biology as many aspects as it can be classified so the idea of classifing it by its fur or by its meat is not applicable and thus it sorta a poor analogy.

I think the meathodoly of both crafts is of more important note than the discoveries of each. In science they use the scientific meathod to work on theories and those theories change when new information is brought to light. In religion most, if not all of the founding texts are revelations which are not observed nor can be tested. I would classify the sciences as academic in orientation in that the answers are malleable where as in religion, predominantly the ideas presented are by contrast terribly inflexable.

I think that because religion is largly apt to "how one should live" it is more of a competitor with secular philosophy than with science and that when religion branches out to talk about how the earth was formed or the nature of man or beast instead of focusing more on "how one should live" or "how one should love" it actually does a large dis-service to its followers by engaging in things we can discover as a race that may be in conflict with the idea presented in religion and dimishing philosophical aspects which is likey a much larger attraction of followers than the "science of religion" is.
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Old 02-25-2007, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by robtex
I think that because religion is largly apt to "how one should live" it is more of a competitor with secular philosophy than with science and that when religion branches out to talk about how the earth was formed or the nature of man or beast instead of focusing more on "how one should live" or "how one should love" it actually does a large dis-service to its followers by engaging in things we can discover as a race that may be in conflict with the idea presented in religion and dimishing philosophical aspects which is likey a much larger attraction of followers than the "science of religion" is.
i see where you are coming from, but a lot of theological arguments for morality stem from premises like "God created the universe with certain intentions" - religions start looking at science because of the demand to substantiate such premises.
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Old 02-25-2007, 08:44 AM
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The scientific way of symbolizing the world is more suited to utilitarian purposes than the religious way
True. Science is about observation, recording many events and thereby using the records to formulate a "predictability"

Quote:
The clash between science and religion has not shown that religion is false and science is true
True. Science is about logical application, Religion is about the abstract, the romantic and the etherial.

They do a wonderful job hand in hand. Neither one is sufficient on its own.
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Old 02-25-2007, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike182
i see where you are coming from, but a lot of theological arguments for morality stem from premises like "God created the universe with certain intentions" - religions start looking at science because of the demand to substantiate such premises.
"God created the universe" is a great example. Create is a term with a lot of flexability. When that idea is presented the idea of how it was created, the specifics of it can or cannot be addressed. Some religions, like various denominations (but not all) of Chrsitianty go to great links to talk about the specifics of it whereas paganism in general, doesn't occupy much space on articulating the specifics.

If you take the whole sentence "God created the universe with certain intentions" the question is how much time are you going to allot to the "intentions" --the philosophical ideas, and how much time are you going to spend on "created" and try to qualify and quantify that idea?

I see your point about substanciating premises of creation but wonder if they just left it alone if their faith, would be affected for the worse or better in terms of validity in the eyes of the believer? I think for the most part it would be for the better. Watts, incidently was a large follower of buddhism and taoism. One of the strongest aspects of those two paths in my personal opinion is that they, in their currrent practice, focus solely on the philosophical questions of life without any addressment to organic sciences or earth sciences and I think those two faiths are the better for it for two reasons:

1) The time they save not trying to play scientists is time they can devote the philosophical aspects of their paths

2) They don't have to go back and qualify philosophical points based on ideas dealing with the creation of the earth or origin of man.
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Old 02-25-2007, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robtex
"God created the universe" is a great example. Create is a term with a lot of flexability. When that idea is presented the idea of how it was created, the specifics of it can or cannot be addressed. Some religions, like various denominations (but not all) of Chrsitianty go to great links to talk about the specifics of it whereas paganism in general, doesn't occupy much space on articulating the specifics.

If you take the whole sentence "God created the universe with certain intentions" the question is how much time are you going to allot to the "intentions" --the philosophical ideas, and how much time are you going to spend on "created" and try to qualify and quantify that idea?

I see your point about substanciating premises of creation but wonder if they just left it alone if their faith, would be affected for the worse or better in terms of validity in the eyes of the believer? I think for the most part it would be for the better. Watts, incidently was a large follower of buddhism and taoism. One of the strongest aspects of those two paths in my personal opinion is that they, in their currrent practice, focus solely on the philosophical questions of life without any addressment to organic sciences or earth sciences and I think those two faiths are the better for it for two reasons:

1) The time they save not trying to play scientists is time they can devote the philosophical aspects of their paths

2) They don't have to go back and qualify philosophical points based on ideas dealing with the creation of the earth or origin of man.
actually Rob, i think you're right! if religion put forth the premise that God created the universe, and left that open, the "how did he do it?" almost becomes irrelivant if you seperate it out from the design/intention, which is where the moral arguments come from.

great thread! i hadn't thought about it like that before
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Old 02-25-2007, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike182
actually Rob, i think you're right! if religion put forth the premise that God created the universe, and left that open, the "how did he do it?" almost becomes irrelivant if you seperate it out from the design/intention, which is where the moral arguments come from.

great thread! i hadn't thought about it like that before
I agree; Religion accepts - without proof - God. How, why, what and where God is, what his intentions were - are - is immaterial. It is just human curiosity - and the trap of trying to apply scientific methedology to Religion that causes us to spend hours and hours on absurd speculation.
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Old 02-26-2007, 09:29 AM
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The converstaion so far is missing Watts' point entirely. He was making an ontological distinction between two kinds of knowledge.
Quote:
The great majority of people, including even clergy and theologians of every school confuse the meaning of religion with is form, and when asked to explain the meaning give only a more detailed exposition of the form….The form of [religion] consists of certain doctrines and precepts based on a great extent on historical events. The meaning is God himself, the ultimate Reality, not as an idea conceived but as a reality experienced. Alan Watts (from Behold the Spirit)
Why do critics of religion get away with saying religion is mere “belief”? Do they seriously believe a person's experiential knowledge of, and relationship with, Ultimate Reality is mere belief? Does reality end where the skin begins? Certainly the experience is thinner for some people than others, and clearly conceptual interpretations vary as well as the experiences themselves. What do they expect? We are finite creatures looking to the Infinite. There is no question that many who claim to "know" God exists really do not, but bogus claims of spirituality no more invalidate the field any more than bogus scientific claims invalidate the entire empirical field. For anyone to assume without evidence that another’s religion is mere belief is the epitome of superciliousness and arrogance.

I do not know how it be clearer: the conceptual interpretation is not the knowledge or the knowing. Knowledge of God is experiential, not conceptual or objective. It is not theoretical like string theory or a probability. It is knowledge and evidence to the contrary must be extraordinarily compelling to instill doubt, assuming it is even possible. Concepts of and about God are interpretative beliefs. Failure to distinguish between knowledge and interpretative belief leads to confusion. Someone whose knowledge of God is thin may defend their beliefs as though they were knowledge, and someone without knowledge may assume interpretative beliefs are nothing more than beliefs.

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Old 02-26-2007, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by robtex
"The scientific way of symbolizing the world is more suited to utilitarian purposes than the religious way but this does not mean that it has any more "truth". Is it truer to classify rabbits according to their meat or according ot their fur? It depends on what you want to do with them. The clash between science and religion has not shown that religion is false and science is true. It has shown that all systems of defintion are relative to vaious purposs and that none of them actually "grasp" reality. And because religion was being misused as a means for actually graspoing and possessing the mystery of life a certian meausre of "debunking' was hkghly neccessary."
He places reality as something apart from us, and in a sense it is: it is what is objective to us, the world of objects (symbols, language) that we define.

Both science and religion "grasp" reality. The only difference is that one does so from an objective perspective.

He's bang on about one thing: using religion to "grasp" reality from the objective perspective is a misuse of it.
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