Matt Young posted Entry 2565 on August 30, 2006 12:01 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2559

This is a report on the summer institute, “Exploring the Borderlands: Science and Religion in the 21st Century,” held by the Jefferson Center for Science and Religion. In the words of the Center, the conference featured workshops on “such ‛hot’ issues as the stem cell controversy, the evolution vs. Intelligent Design squabble, whether homosexuality is a ‛chosen lifestyle,’ … whether Buddhism speaks to neuroscience, how does a Muslim scientist look at religion and freedom, [and] is our universe simply ‛accidental’ ….”

The Jefferson Center, www.thejeffcenter.org, was founded a few years ago in Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. According to its Website, the Center is concerned with, among other things, “dogmatic and tyrannical religious groups opposed to change, freedom, and human rights.” Thus, they “seek a humanistic and naturalistic alternative to dogmatic, supernatural, and fundamentalist religious thought and the values that come with them” and promote “progressive, rational, and critical thinking, … caring for our planet and all humanity, … [and] working to end all forms of oppression and discrimination in both society and especially in religion.”

To further some or all of these ends, the Center organized its second summer institute, a 2.5-day affair held over the weekend of August 4-6 at the Unitarian Center in Ashland. For a summary by Nigel Leaves, go to their Website and click on “Current Newsletter,” or “Newsletter Archive,” as appropriate.

The conference opened Friday evening with one of three keynote lectures, “Can Science and Religion Live Together without Driving Us Crazy?” by the journalist Margaret Wertheim. Ms. Wertheim argued that science and religion are indeed driving us crazy but for deeper reasons than meet the eye. Specifically, she was concerned with the manner in which science has expanded to include psychology and human behavior, and even religion itself. She decried the “physicalizing” of psychology; it seemed almost as if she was censuring psychologists for applying quantitative tools to their discipline.

Ms. Wertheim blamed materialism for alienating religious believers who argue that we are not reducible to wholly material entities and claimed (I suspect correctly) that materialism is more important to literalist religious believers than “Darwinism.” I thought she went a bit overboard in describing scientists as “intellectual fascists” who claim that there is only one way of knowing. I would argue that there are many ways of thinking, but there is only one way of knowing for certain: by empirical observation. Instead of defending science against those who believe whatever they think, Ms. Wertheim blames science for revealing what I would say are unpleasant truths. Though surely not a postmodernist who thinks that you may believe anything you want to believe as long as it is congenial to you, Ms. Wertheim came across as a fellow traveler.

The following morning, Munawar Anees presented an interesting talk on “Science and Religion: The Muslim Context.” He argued that the debate over science and religion is nonexistent in Islam. Seeking knowledge is an obligation, a gateway to the divine. Knowledge changes, whereas the Koran is constant, so the correlation between the Koran and science is always changing. I know little about Islam, but I had the impression that Mr. Anees was describing a liberal view of Islam and conflating it with Islam as a whole. My suspicion was confirmed when he brushed off a question about the Muslim creationist Harun Yahya, who has great influence in Turkey, if nowhere else. Nevertheless, the talk was a fascinating overview of Islamic thought and the history of Islam from the Golden Age through the colonial period to the present. Mercifully, Mr. Anees did not wholly blame colonialism for the intellectual condition of much of the Muslim world today.

Following a break, Alan Sanders and Tim Murphy discussed “Genes vs. Choices: The Example of Sexual Orientation.” Mr. Sanders explained clearly if perhaps in too much detail how traits such as homosexuality have complex contributions: genetic, psychosocial, and biological. To those who claim that homosexuality is a choice, he asks, “Precisely when did you decide to be heterosexual?” What I found most interesting about the talk, however, was the older-brother effect. Specifically, the more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to become homosexual. Sisters do not matter, stepbrothers do not matter, half-brothers by the same father do not matter, growing up in the same household does not matter. What matters is having the same biological mother. The older-brother effect makes crystal clear that male homosexuality has, at the very least, a strong biological component.

The point is important, because, in his portion of the talk, Mr. Murphy noted that people are more inclined to accept homosexuality when they think it is a biological trait, inasmuch as a biological explanation undercuts claims of moral or religious transgression. Still, Mr. Murphy was at pains to point out that biology is not the same as moral defensibility and noted that things get sticky when we ask whether science can “cure” homosexuality or predict it.

After lunch, Taner Edis discussed “The Accidental Universe.” Defending naturalism, Mr. Edis argued that all we discover can be explained without recourse to “spiritual realities over and above what is realized in the physical world.” He is impressed, however, by liberal religion and deemed it good for science, even though it depends on transcendent entities and is maddeningly evasive about the relation between science and religious belief. He showed how naturalism explains what we observe from the bottom up, for example, by self-organization, and that life and mind are assembled from the “lifeless substrate” of inanimate objects. He is not impressed by the liberal theistic view that evolution is God’s way of creating, a view that he calls ID (intelligent design) Lite. Novelty, he argued, can be injected by chance events operating within a framework of physical law.

If there was a low point to this otherwise splendid conference, it was the keynote address, “Buddhism and Science Today,” by Alan Wallace. After an interesting start concerning the history of science, Mr. Wallace burdened us with an overlong (well over his allotted 1.5 hours), rambling plea for a new science of consciousness based on introspection. He argued that William James had pioneered such a program but claimed it was scuttled by the behaviorists. He castigated present neuroscientists for assuming without evidence that the mind is nothing but the functioning of the brain, yet provided no evidence whatsoever that introspection can lead to anything as scientifically useful as, say, functional magnetic resonance imaging. Like an intelligent-design creationist, Mr. Wallace seemed to think that he supported his own position by poking holes in someone else’s. I thought he was searching in vain for a sort of “consciousness of the gaps.” Indeed, perhaps the very lowest point of the conference came when Mr. Wallace discussed seriously the question, “Do electrons have consciousness?” though to be fair he admitted that panpsychism was not very likely. Near the end of his talk, Mr. Wallace gave some quotations by the Buddha, but it was a considerable exaggeration to claim that his presentation was in any way about Buddhism and science.

Sunday morning began with a short interfaith service, which I could have happily survived without. But, then, we were in a Unitarian Church, and there was nothing offensive in it. Following the service, the ethicist and theologian Ted Peters presented the third keynote lecture, “The Stem Cell Controversy: Science, Theology, Ethics.” I thought it was a splendid talk, in some ways the high point of the conference, and a welcome relief from the previous evening’s affair (even counting the poor contrast of his visual aids; why, oh why do some speakers use blue letters on a violet background?). Mr. Peters began by outlining the possible benefits of stem cell research to fight nasty afflictions such as spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. His comprehensive talk was too wide-ranging to be summarized neatly here. Regarding therapeutic cloning, however, he noted religious claims that God endows a person with a soul at the moment of conception; because a human being is an end, not a means, the Roman Catholic Church and others oppose any therapeutic cloning whatsoever. Mr. Peters has a more nuanced position and argued that beneficence is not morally neutral. He further noted that a cell fertilized in vitro and not implanted into a uterus has absolutely no chance of ever becoming a person. He argued that the embryo stops being a mass of cells and individuates at approximately 14 days after conception, so he favors allowing research on cells derived from younger embryos.

My own talk, “Why (and How) Intelligent Design Fails,” followed lunch. You may see most of my slides here: www.mines.edu/~mmyoung/DesnConf.pdf. I blush to tell you that Mr. Leaves thought that I had “decimated in spectacular fashion the recent argument from Intelligent Design. He [I] argued that it was a sophisticated attempt to restore creationism. However, it lacked credibility and misrepresented both science and religion.”

In his summation, Mr. Leaves noted that the conference “revealed the tensions between the worlds of science and religion.” Yes and no. Several of the speakers referred to a conflict between science and religion, but that does not mean that they necessarily must conflict. We can tolerate ID Lite, as long as it holds views that are consistent with known scientific fact. The conflict is not between science and religion as such but between science and certain dogmatic religions that think they know better than to accept empirical facts they do not like. All rational people, whether religious or not, must oppose such views. As Mr. Edis pointed out, liberal religion is good for science. I will add only that we need liberal religion to help fight off the barbarians at the gates of science. Organizations like the Jefferson Center are crucial, and I was privileged to be a part of their second summer institute.

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Comment #124357

Posted by Warren on August 30, 2006 11:09 AM (e)

The conflict is not between science and religion as such but between science and certain dogmatic religions that think they know better than to accept empirical facts they do not like.

Or, for that matter, that they do not understand.

Comment #124387

Posted by normdoering on August 30, 2006 12:30 PM (e)

Okay, which religions aren’t “dogmatic religions that think they know better than to accept empirical facts they do not like” or do not know about or don’t understand?

Comment #124400

Posted by John Williams on August 30, 2006 1:56 PM (e)

Matt, thanks so much for coming to Ashland for this conference. Hopefully it will continue to grow in size. I’m glad you found the conference useful. As I think I mentioned to you in an email, we had another local coup at Southern Oregon University here in Ashland when they agreed to let me teach a course on the scientific failures of ID and creationism. It took a lot of convincing to get a university science dept. to allow a class that even mentions the word religion, even if it’s in the context of defending evolutionary biology. But I’m looking forward to it. Your book with Taner will be required reading. Cheers, John Williams

Comment #124406

Posted by Tim on August 30, 2006 2:31 PM (e)

Okay, which religions aren’t “dogmatic religions that think they know better than to accept empirical facts they do not like” or do not know about or don’t understand?

Here’s a quote from H.H. the Dalai Lama

“If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.”

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenzin_Gyatso#Quotations

I don’t think, genrally speaking, that Buddhists have any problem at all with the direction and discoveries of science. Which doesn’t mean, however, that some don’t try to engage in form of apologetics. Which is how Wallace sometimes comes across.

Comment #124429

Posted by normdoering on August 30, 2006 4:06 PM (e)

Tim wrote:

Here’s a quote from H.H. the Dalai Lama

“If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.”

Keep in mind that’s a quote from a man who is supposedly the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama and a manifestations of the Buddha of Compassion who chose to take rebirth for the purpose of serving other human beings. While I can’t prove all that wrong, I’m not seeing much scientific evidence to support reincarnation.

Comment #124454

Posted by Tim on August 30, 2006 4:48 PM (e)

Keep in mind that’s a quote from a man who is supposedly the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama and a manifestations of the Buddha of Compassion who chose to take rebirth for the purpose of serving other human beings. While I can’t prove all that wrong, I’m not seeing much scientific evidence to support reincarnation

I’m not sure what your point is here. You asked above about which religion was willing to accept or include a scientific view. I gave you an example. But your reply (and perhaps I’ve misread you) suggests that since H.H. holds a religious worldview, he’s not to be taken seriously when he speaks favorably about the potential influence of science on his worldview. If I’m not misreading you, I’m curious to know what would be an acceptable answer to your question?

Comment #124480

Posted by normdoering on August 30, 2006 5:51 PM (e)

Tim wrote:

I’m not sure what your point is here.

Well, let’s see if you understand this version of the point:

If any of those monks had any real, scientific, proof of reincarnation then they could get a million bucks and the recognition of skeptics by going here:

http://www.randi.org/research/index.html

Belief in reincarnation seems to be a belief that is held irrationally, in spite of science – not because of it.

Comment #124492

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 30, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

While I can’t prove all that wrong, I’m not seeing much scientific evidence to support reincarnation.

Nor will you, since it’s all symbolic.

You probably won’t find any scientific evidence for talking rabbits that race tortoises, either.

Comment #124493

Posted by Tim on August 30, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

Normdoering, you seem to be having a hard time staying on topic. Your first post suggested that all religions put dogma ahead of science. I gave you an example which showed that this was not always the case. But you’ve not acknowledged that.

Instead, you point out that Buddhists believe that people are bound to a chain of birth-death-and-birth. You furthermore acknowledge that while you can’t disprove this there’s no scientific evidence in favor of it either. Then you go on to suggest that it’s up to the monks to prove that rebirth is a scientific fact. This really has nothing to do with your original question, or my answer to it. Really, it just smacks of moving the goal posts.

Leaving that aside, I’m curious why you think they (the monks - and for that matter, the lay practitioners as well) should prove what you yourself cannot disprove? I’m also curious whether you think their inability to prove what you cannot disprove somehow renders the Dalai Lama’s statement an invalid answer to your original question (i.e. the original topic which was about the relationship of science and dogma to relgious worldviews as perceived by the holders of those views).

On the other hand, I’m beginning to think that your original question was mostly flippant, not wholly considered, and that I’ve taken you more seriously than you expected to be taken.

Comment #124496

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 30, 2006 6:33 PM (e)

Belief in reincarnation seems to be a belief that is held irrationally, in spite of science – not because of it.

It’s not a “belief” – it’s a symbol.

Indeed, the very POINT of Buddhism is that there is no individual ego that is not a part of the larger universe and vice versa. Hence, no individual to BE “reincarnated”.

I don’t expect you to understand that, however. So I won’t interrupt your latest anti-religon rant.

Have at them theists, and enjoy.

(yawn)

Comment #124523

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 30, 2006 8:19 PM (e)

Okay, which religions aren’t “dogmatic religions that think they know better than to accept empirical facts they do not like” or do not know about or don’t understand?

Tim gave an excellent example and refutation, Buddhism.

Keep in mind that’s a quote from a man… While I can’t prove all that wrong, I’m not seeing much scientific evidence to support reincarnation.

Moved the goalpost. What does having support for a religious belief have to do with dogmatism? Tim showed that Buddhism is not dogmatic when it comes to scientific evidence.

Belief in reincarnation seems to be a belief that is held irrationally, in spite of science – not because of it.

Incorrect. Science has nothing to say on the matter of reincarnation, which means that beliefs in reincarnation are not in spite of science.

Comment #124525

Posted by normdoering on August 30, 2006 8:26 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Nor will you, since it’s all symbolic.

So, this Dali is only symbolically the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama? This Dali was only chosen randomly as a child?

I don’t think you know as much about Buddhism as you pretend to.

Comment #124526

Posted by normdoering on August 30, 2006 8:32 PM (e)

Tim wrote:

Normdoering, you seem to be having a hard time staying on topic. Your first post suggested that all religions put dogma ahead of science. I gave you an example which showed that this was not always the case.

No, you gave me an example of a claim that isn’t supported by the facts.

Are you familiar with the term “burden of proof”?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burden_of_proof_%28logical_fallacy%29

Comment #124544

Posted by hooligans on August 30, 2006 9:33 PM (e)

I am surprised that no members of the Bahai faith showd up to present their views. My wife is a Bahai, so I am familiar with the ideas. It is interesting in that the founder, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, expressed forcefully this idea in the following passage:

“If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science, they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition. Unquestionably there must be agreement between true religion and science. If a question be found contrary to reason, faith and belief in it are impossible, and there is no outcome but wavering and vacillation.”

One of the few religions that explicitly states that science and religion should agree.

Comment #124547

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 30, 2006 9:44 PM (e)

Ms. Wertheim argued that science and religion are indeed driving us crazy but for deeper reasons than meet the eye. Specifically, she was concerned with the manner in which science has expanded to include psychology and human behavior, and even religion itself. She decried the “physicalizing” of psychology; it seemed almost as if she was censuring psychologists for applying quantitative tools to their discipline.

ah yes, the quintessential sociobiology haters that now target evo psych.

as if no human behavior ever has been demonstrated to have any genetic components to it.

will the nature/nuture dichotomy NEVER die?

Comment #124549

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 30, 2006 9:59 PM (e)

I will add only that we need liberal religion to help fight off the barbarians at the gates of science.

please keep repeating that in private to PZ. eventually, it might start to sink in.

Comment #124550

Posted by Tim on August 30, 2006 10:02 PM (e)

No, you gave me an example of a claim that isn’t’t supported by the facts.

Oh Norm, that’s really, really sad.

Do you really mean to say that it’s not a fact that, the Dalai Lama, a religious leader and spokesperson for millions (but not all) Buddhists said “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change”? Do you really mean to say that this factoid does not speak directly to your question?

Do you really mean to say that an opinion expressed in the form of “if X happens , then Y” is the equivalent of a truth claim?, or of an assertion about some fact of the world? Can you explain to me the truth claim embedded in the phrase “Buddhism will have to change”? Can you show me what fact is asserted in that statement? Can you show me why the statement is anything more than just the Dalai Lama’s opinion (one that seems to have dashed your preconceptions about religious worldviews)?

But I know what you want, Kippy. You want to be able to say that if the Dalai Lama really meant what he said, he wouldn’t believe the things he does. But there are two problems with that. The first has already been pointed out to you - as science has nothing to say about multiple lifetimes, it is a nonsequitur to hold these beliefs as contradictory to the Dalai Lama’s statement. The second and even bigger problem is that you really have no idea (1) what the Dalai Lama thinks, and (2) what Buddhist tenets or practices have to say at all. As such you really have no idea the extent to which the Dalai Lama and all the other Buddhists in the world have accepted scientific facts about the world and about people which contradict ancient tenets. In other words, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

Now I’m going to bow out here as I really have nothing else to say.

Comment #124552

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 30, 2006 10:11 PM (e)

It took a lot of convincing to get a university science dept. to allow a class that even mentions the word religion, even if it’s in the context of defending evolutionary biology.

John, it would be worthwhile explaining the exact nature of the hurdles you ran into in trying to make a convincing case to teach a course of this subject material.

Especially in light of the other thread on PT where Allen MacNeill attempts to justify the structure and results of his ID course at cornell.

If you get a chance, I think an elucidation of the details would be most useful in parsing the value of such a course.

from my own perspective, I still have yet to see how a course that directly attacks the nonsense in the “design inference” is more appropriate or effective than simply a well taught course on evolutionary theory to begin with.

Who is your target audience for such a course?

Comment #124553

Posted by normdoering on August 30, 2006 10:45 PM (e)

Tim wrote:

Do you really mean to say that it’s not a fact that, the Dalai Lama, a religious leader and spokesperson for millions (but not all) Buddhists said “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change”?

No, I don’t mean he didn’t say it. It’s easy to say things. What I’m saying is he doesn’t live it, he doesn’t do what he says.

If he is going to let science judge, then he should take the evidence for reincarnation to people who can investigate it skeptically and scientifically. He should doubt it.

If he does doubt it, then he must also doubt that he is the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama and thus no more deserving of that title than a child chosen at random.

Do you really mean to say that this factoid does not speak directly to your question?

That’s right, it doesn’t speak to the question. Even loonies can say the right thing and then go off and live according to a superstition.

You are in fact an illustration of the failure of rational thought in the face of superstitious claims. If there is no proof against a rabbits foot being lucky, then you think it is rational to call the rabbit’s foot lucky.

You never bothered to find out what “burden of proof” meant.

…as science has nothing to say about multiple lifetimes, it is a nonsequitur …

Actually the question has been explored by skeptics who have found the evidence for it so lacking and often mistaken that the belief should fall into the realm of a cultural delusion.

…The second and even bigger problem is that you really have no idea (1) what the Dalai Lama thinks,…

Up to a point, that’s true. But he hasn’t renounced the title of Dali Lama which requires him to the reincarnation of the previous one.

As such you really have no idea the extent to which the Dalai Lama and all the other Buddhists in the world have accepted scientific facts about the world and about people which contradict ancient tenets. In other words, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

Up to a point, I don’t know. “Is the pope Catholic?” - probably, but maybe not really. “Is the Dali Lama a Buddhist?” I’m a little less sure of that.

You appartently don’t know what you’re talking about either.

Now I’m going to bow out here as I really have nothing else to say.

Or any ability to learn.

Comment #124556

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 30, 2006 11:02 PM (e)

just curious, how would one go about testing scientifically whether one is a reincarnated entity or not, give the Buddhist definition of what is supposedly transfered from one entity to another through reincarnation to begin with?

It does seem akin to the “trying to prove whether there is a soul” issue.

If we say “spirit” or “essential essence” is transfered, how can one possibly quantify that?

IOW, the Dalai Lama is perfectly safe in saying he would change if science proves him wrong, as the very tenets of most religion (inlcuding Buddhism) are really untestable to begin with.

as to “walk the walk”, if nobody changed their religions based on scientific evidence, all religions would still proclaim we are living on a flat, geocentric earth, would they not?

there is definetly an aspect of psychology involved in some sects that is lacking in others. It is demonstrably the case that even within xian sects, not all sects reject evidence out of hand, and many incorporate the evidence into their teachings. the ELCA is a good example; in fact the history of the split between the ELCA and the Misouri synod is a great example of how the very sects withing religion itself can come from acceptance of scientific evidence.

Not recognizing the difference between sects is just as bad as religious sects not recognizing the difference between “science” and “religion” to begin with.

Comment #124562

Posted by normdoering on August 30, 2006 11:35 PM (e)

Bahai founder, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, expressed:

“If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science, they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition. Unquestionably there must be agreement between true religion and science. If a question be found contrary to reason, faith and belief in it are impossible, and there is no outcome but wavering and vacillation.”

I know less about Bahai than Buddhism, but such statements as presented above or the one by the Dali Lama are not enough in themselves. Does this guy really know what the “standards of science” are? If they really do contradict his beliefs will he back off of his beliefs or try to redefine science? IDers will tell you they know science standards even while they want to redefine them.

It could be true.

Or it could be a con job by a cult leader.

It’s just not enough by itself.

Comment #124566

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 12:18 AM (e)

Sir_Toejam asked:

just curious, how would one go about testing scientifically whether one is a reincarnated entity or not, give the Buddhist definition of what is supposedly transfered from one entity to another through reincarnation to begin with?

It does seem akin to the “trying to prove whether there is a soul” issue.

Remember the concept of “burden of proof.” Who has it here? And is this even evidence:
http://www.skepticreport.com/print/reincarnation29-p.htm

You might want to check out this book, Reincarnation: A Critical Examination - by Paul Edwards:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1573920053/ref=ase_roberttoddcarrolA/102-0772255-1353704?s=books&v=glance&n=283155&tagActionCode=roberttoddcarrolA

Is it possible to prove there isn’t a soul? What if we can make an AI that passes the Turing test? What if we can scan the neural connections in our brains and copy our personalities into robots and virtual reality avatars? If we can account for what we are through neural nets, then there is no room left for speculating about souls. It would be like speculating about invisible hamsters on invisible wheels that make your car go.

I think most religions that have some base in non-material souls (which ones don’t?) are going to have a problem with those new technological abilities. Indeed, remember what Matt Young wrote about Buddhist Alan Wallace:

… Mr. Wallace burdened us with an overlong (well over his allotted 1.5 hours), rambling plea for a new science of consciousness based on introspection. He argued that William James had pioneered such a program but claimed it was scuttled by the behaviorists. He castigated present neuroscientists for assuming without evidence that the mind is nothing but the functioning of the brain, yet provided no evidence whatsoever that introspection can lead to anything as scientifically useful as, say, functional magnetic resonance imaging. Like an intelligent-design creationist, Mr. Wallace seemed to think that he supported his own position by poking holes in someone else’s. I thought he was searching in vain for a sort of “consciousness of the gaps.” ….

That anticipates the problem of what Ray Kurzweil calls “Spiritual Machines.”

Sometimes it’s good to doubt supernaturalism not because of the weakness of supernaturalism, but because the incredible strength of naturalism and materialism which are providing us with the scientific progress now exploding around us.

Comment #124567

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 31, 2006 12:30 AM (e)

good references, but I think you miss my point when speaking of the issue of the Dali Lama.

all they have to do is redefine “soul” such that if intelligence/cognition can be passed to an artificial entity that can pass the Turing test, they will simply move the goalposts and say that the sould encompases more than what can be determined by the turing test.

all I’m saying is that you can claim they “aren’t walkin’ the walk”, but they can always just move the goalposts into the next gap, thereby claiming that their ideology has NOT been refuted by science.

I hope that’s a bit clearer way of expressing what I meant.

on the more uh, “concrete” side, you do agree that various sects have actually accepted a varying amount of scientific evidence, and that their ideologies have changed as result, yes?

Comment #124574

Posted by Anton Mates on August 31, 2006 1:46 AM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

just curious, how would one go about testing scientifically whether one is a reincarnated entity or not, give the Buddhist definition of what is supposedly transfered from one entity to another through reincarnation to begin with?

Well, if you go to the Dalai Lama’s official website–and let me just say how utterly awesome it is that the URL www.dalailama.com exists–you can read here and here about what was taken as evidence for his reincarnation. Memories and attitudes inherited from earlier DLs, a corpse’s head turning, and an affinity for crows. That stuff’s quite testable in theory. (And has been, in other cases of claimed reincarnation–well, except probably for the crow thing. I doubt anyone’s experimented with that.)

Of course a Tibetan Buddhist might well say none of that’s required for reincarnation; nonetheless, that’s what they used to make the call here. Which goes to show why you and norm are both right–even though most religious claims can be redefined to the point of scientific meaninglessness when challenged, that doesn’t mean the believer doesn’t use a more meaningful (and falsifiable) version in practice.

Comment #124579

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 2:15 AM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

all they have to do is redefine “soul” such that if intelligence/cognition can be passed to an artificial entity that can pass the Turing test, they will simply move the goalposts and say that the soul encompases more than what can be determined by the turing test.

Well, the term in Buddhism is “atman” and it’s not exactly like Western ideas about the soul:
http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/a/atman.html

It’s already vague. It already suffers from that “it depends on transcendent entities and is maddeningly evasive about the relation between science and religious belief” syndrome Matt Young identified with “liberal” religions through Taner Edis’s comment.

The atman concept originally conected to a kind of vitalism and supernaturalism that theories like Darwinian evolution have undermined.

You say:

… they can always just move the goalposts into the next gap, thereby claiming that their ideology has NOT been refuted by science.

And I agree, that’s why I said: “…not because of the weakness of supernaturalism, but because the incredible strength of naturalism and materialism which are providing us with the scientific progress now exploding around us.”

It’s not just that concepts like atman are weak and explain little, it’s that science already has better concepts, naturalistic and materialistic concepts, with richer and more technologically useful explanations. Religion can not compete with that.

… you do agree that various sects have actually accepted a varying amount of scientific evidence, and that their ideologies have changed as result, yes?

Yes, I agree. But accepting science costs – sometimes what’s left of such a “liberal” religion looks like a hollow shell, vague, evasive, full of holy words and concepts that have not really become symbolic, but just meaningless.

Comment #124581

Posted by BWE on August 31, 2006 2:26 AM (e)

Comment #124553

Posted by normdoering on August 30, 2006 10:45 PM (e)

Tim wrote:

Do you really mean to say that it’s not a fact that, the Dalai Lama, a religious leader and spokesperson for millions (but not all) Buddhists said “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change”?

No, I don’t mean he didn’t say it. It’s easy to say things. What I’m saying is he doesn’t live it, he doesn’t do what he says.

If he is going to let science judge, then he should take the evidence for reincarnation to people who can investigate it skeptically and scientifically. He should doubt it.

If he does doubt it, then he must also doubt that he is the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama and thus no more deserving of that title than a child chosen at random.

Do you really mean to say that this factoid does not speak directly to your question?

That’s right, it doesn’t speak to the question. Even loonies can say the right thing and then go off and live according to a superstition.

You are in fact an illustration of the failure of rational thought in the face of superstitious claims. If there is no proof against a rabbits foot being lucky, then you think it is rational to call the rabbit’s foot lucky.

You never bothered to find out what “burden of proof” meant.

…as science has nothing to say about multiple lifetimes, it is a nonsequitur …

Actually the question has been explored by skeptics who have found the evidence for it so lacking and often mistaken that the belief should fall into the realm of a cultural delusion.

…The second and even bigger problem is that you really have no idea (1) what the Dalai Lama thinks,…

Up to a point, that’s true. But he hasn’t renounced the title of Dali Lama which requires him to the reincarnation of the previous one.

As such you really have no idea the extent to which the Dalai Lama and all the other Buddhists in the world have accepted scientific facts about the world and about people which contradict ancient tenets. In other words, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

Up to a point, I don’t know. “Is the pope Catholic?” - probably, but maybe not really. “Is the Dali Lama a Buddhist?” I’m a little less sure of that.

You appartently don’t know what you’re talking about either.

Now I’m going to bow out here as I really have nothing else to say.

Or any ability to learn.

[soapbox]

Norm,

You are very bright and probably good looking but you are making some misdirected statements. It may very well prove (At this point it is probably a safe working assumption) that we are simply a product of our chemistry. Science can tell us lots about that. Religion admittedly can’t tell jack about it. But you are equating a couple of dissimilar items. Buddism is essentially a practice, not a religion. Yes, you can perfectly well demonstrate otherwise by pointing to (especially tibetan)some buddist texts but you would be missing the point.

The Dali Lama is both a practitioner and a political figure. China. Problems. He is the guy the poor bastards look to. His politics do enter the fray.

THat said, you do not understand the practice of meditation and conditioning the mind in the buddist fashion. There is a well understood concept to folks who are advanced meditators that the mind is simply an organ. You can shape it. More importantly, you can observe it. You can watch it work. Until you learn the practice, you will not understand completely. It makes intuitive sense but when you become comfortable with it it is completely different than the initial intuitive understanding. It is not brainwashing. There is no presupposition. You discover the same thing as everyone else all by yourself. Now Budda, he took it a little farther and made this whole damn suffering bit into kind of a main cornerstone of the practice but what he figured out was really real. It is a repeatable experiment. It is not doctrine. The Dali Lama is human though and fallable and subject to foibles himself so perfection isn’t really necessary. He does a better job than most people who are born into religion. And he is an honest politician who works actually for his people.

To claim that his understanding of reincarnation is wrong though, because we can make a robot with emotions, is to utterly misunderstand the point. Lots of folks go round burning incense and mumbling prayers and so on because they like it. But this is not a case where they then try to rope you into ponying up your share to the church upon pain of death or flogging or whatever. It is certainly laughable when your friendly neighborhood psycic tells you that you were Marie Antoinette in a past life but that really isn’t what they are getting at. Yes I know that they can trace all their past lives through the Dali Lamas but, just think of it this way, at least you won’t pay $5 to hear you were the dali lama in a past life. Or either learn the practice or believe people who have. The point of past lives is generic, not specific.
[/soapbox]

Comment #124583

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 31, 2006 2:51 AM (e)

Yes, I agree. But accepting science costs – sometimes what’s left of such a “liberal” religion looks like a hollow shell, vague, evasive, full of holy words and concepts that have not really become symbolic, but just meaningless.

lesser of two evils.

Comment #124588

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 3:42 AM (e)

BWE wrote:

… you do not understand the practice of meditation and conditioning the mind in the buddist fashion.

Maybe not. But I once did meditate – not Buddhist, TM, transcendental meditation, a few decades ago. I gave them sixty bucks and a basket of fruit and flowers and they gave me this mantra – “eye-ing.”

The promises got a little too weird (floating during meditation, bringing peace to the world through meditation effecting other, non-meditator thoughts). The kind of stuff you should be able to really prove to James Randi, but never was.

The meditation didn’t seem to do much for me, I gradually stopped because I seemed to be wasting my time.

It is not brainwashing.

And you know this how? Because you don’t feel brainwashed?

I would say it’s a form of self-imposed sensory deprivation and sensory deprivation is a technique used in brainwashing.

There is no presupposition.

Bullshit.

You discover the same thing as everyone else all by yourself.

That’s a presupposition right there, what others tell you they’ve discovered, what made it seem worth meditating in the first place.

Now Budda, he … figured out was really real.

That’s another presupposition and a doctrine.

The Dali Lama is human though and fallable and subject to foibles himself so perfection isn’t really necessary. He does a better job than most people who are born into religion. And he is an honest politician who works actually for his people.

I’m not saying he’s a bad guy. And as “religions” go, Buddhism seems better than any religion I know of. But, from where I sit, it does not appear to be free of all supernaturalism and superstition.

This to me, sounds like superstitious behavior:

When Lhamo Thondup was barely three years old, a search party that had been sent out by the Tibetan government to find the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama arrived at Kumbum monastery. It had been led there by a number of signs. One of these concerned the embalmed body of his predecessor, Thupten Gyatso, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who had died aged fifty-seven in 1933. During its period of sitting in state, the head was discovered to have turned from facing south to northeast. Shortly after that the Regent, himself a senior lama, had a vision. Looking into the waters of the sacred lake, Lhamo Lhatso, in southern Tibet, he clearly saw the Tibetan letters Ah, Ka and Ma float into view. These were followed by the image of a three-storied monastery with a turquoise and gold roof and a path running from it to a hill. Finally, he saw a small house with strangely shaped guttering. He was sure that the letter Ah referred to Amdo, the northeastern province, so it was there that the search party was sent.

It’s from the site Anton Mates linked.

Comment #124616

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2006 7:24 AM (e)

So, this Dali is only symbolically the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama? This Dali was only chosen randomly as a child?

Yes.

I don’t think you know as much about Buddhism as you pretend to.

I studied it for several years and have a license to teach it. My knowledge of it, unlike yours, doesn’t come from doing Google searches. (shrug)

Comment #124617

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2006 7:28 AM (e)

Up to a point, that’s true. But he hasn’t renounced the title of Dali Lama which requires him to the reincarnation of the previous one.

The Japanese Emperors all claim descent from the Sun God Amaterasu Omikami. It is a symbol of their political authority.

Just like the Dalai Lama (who, you seem quite unaware, is the titular head of the Tibetan state).

Comment #124619

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2006 7:34 AM (e)

Well, the term in Buddhism is “atman” and it’s not exactly like Western ideas about the soul:
http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/a/atm…

Indeed, it’s not the same at all. As noted before, there simply is nothing supernatural in Buddhism. Nothing at all whatsoever. You’d know that, if your knowledge of it came from more than Google searches. It would also help if you knew the difference between “esoteric” and “exoteric”. (shrug)

But I suppose that when one’s mission in life is to stamp out religion, such subtleties are a side issue.

It already suffers from that “it depends on transcendent entities and is maddeningly evasive about the relation between science and religious belief

Let’s repeat once more:

Here’s a quote from H.H. the Dalai Lama

“If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. ”

Seems, uh, pretty clear to me ….

Comment #124620

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2006 7:37 AM (e)

The meditation didn’t seem to do much for me

That’s because it involves letting go of one’s self. Something you seem singularly unwilling to do.

Comment #124627

Posted by k.e. on August 31, 2006 8:40 AM (e)

It might help to reconsider the problem of reading ancient sacred texts as if they are newspaper reports…that is to say literally.

The language looks similar but the use is quiet different. Sacred texts can only be read figuratively and speak to subjective truths …..in Buddhism the so called “Noble Truths”.

Do subjective truths have less value than objective truths?
Rather than answering that question I would ask “Does everything have to be factualised?”

Do some people in Buddhist Cultures take those sacred texts literally? You bet…they’re only human.

One of the aims of Buddhist practice is to reach a state of so called ‘Nirvana’ which itself may be mythical, however the description of that state is the loss of ego where one becomes …er….. ‘one with everything or the Buddha nature’ BY breaking the birth re-birth cycles of less than ideal states of mind. Remember imagination is required here. WHAT that really means is in the here and now, in ones own lifetime not in the past or the future, no mystery, it refers to the continual re-birth of ego , identity, the loss of personae or the masks one wears. Don’t believe me? …ask the Dali Lama, want it to be something else? Go for it, it’s a free world

The business of finding a talented child as the next leader of course is clouded in obscurantism …er that is one of the functions of a church, they are hardly going to say you can all go home now we were only pulling your leg.

For a Westerner the loss of ego is a truly bewildering concept, the hilarious examples of westerners going to a guru in India to ‘seek enlightenment’ who are confronted by someone who only has a teaspoon to crack ego’s when he really needs a steam hammer!

Yes it does make societies that have a constructed reality, how else can one make war and build monuments?
All societies have a constructed reality the more magical the better, particularly if you want to wage war…cannon fodder is better served without inconvenient truths.

Comment #124648

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 31, 2006 10:29 AM (e)

I have deleted this offensive comment, and I will delete all such offensive comments. Please keep the discussion civil and on task. –Matt

Comment #124658

Posted by hooligans on August 31, 2006 11:19 AM (e)

Norm,

You are right to say that any religion, or for that matter, any group can talk the talk, but not walk the walk. However, in my opinion, one tenet of the Bahai faith makes it, in some ways, a unique religion.

Having attended many Bahai events (I am not a Bahai, I’m a skeptic) I can say, in my opion, it is no cult, and there is no con job.

To be clear, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles–and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God.”

Comment #124660

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 31, 2006 11:27 AM (e)

Whatever, Matt. Norm’s posturing is pointless and I would hate to see him destroy yet another good thread. Is that inoffensive enough for you?

Comment #124661

Posted by Keith Douglas on August 31, 2006 11:40 AM (e)

This is useful, because it does show the coming (well, to some extent already there) conflict between neuroscience and religions. People are somewhat willing to pay lip service to evolutionary biology, but when it comes to neuroscience, all bets are off. As I’ve stressed repeatedly, that’s where effectively all of the world’s religions become antiscience.

hooligans: Fine as far as it goes; however it is important to take their actions seriously too. For example, in the case of (Tibetan) Buddhism, the claims are similar, but they have refused to give up the psychoneural dualism, as we see in the original posting. Actions speak louder than words.

Comment #124663

Posted by Robin Lee-Thorp on August 31, 2006 11:51 AM (e)

Norm, I’m comfused about something. Here you indicate that you question specifically whether there are religions that are not

“dogmatic religions that think they know better than to accept empirical facts they do not like”

and then you seem to move the goal posts to accepting any belief as an automatic contradition to empirical evidence.

It seems to me that there’s nothing in empiricism that suggests that beliefs in and of themselves are automatically invalid. But that doesn’t even strike me as being the point of your original question. It seems to me that any religion willing to accept evidence contrary to a belief and then drop the belief qualifies as being a non-dogmatic religion. It also seems to me that there is no burden of proof on a belief and that religions that adhere to such are not being dogmatic (or even irrational per se) in subscribing to such and teaching such so long as said belief does not contradict known empirical evidence.

Does this follow your point or did I miss something?

Comment #124665

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 31, 2006 11:58 AM (e)

…you seem to move the goal posts…… did I miss something?

No, you pretty much have it.

Comment #124666

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 31, 2006 11:58 AM (e)

Reincarnation is not a traditional Buddhist belief, though many people think it is because Buddhists do have a doctrine of rebirth, which sounds similar but is actually quite distinct. Instead of imagining that some sort of substantial soul transmigrates from life to life, the Buddhists hold that there is a causal sequence that links one existence to another like fire travelling down a fuse. Somebody mentioned “atman,” which is the Sanskrit word for self. Buddhism denies the atman. Indeed, in India Buddhism is always defined as one of the anatman (no self) doctrines. That the self is an illusion is precisely what Buddha figured out in his 40 days of meditation and what everybody learns in the Buddhist equivalent to Sunday school.

Comment #124678

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 12:39 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

As noted before, there simply is nothing supernatural in Buddhism.

The Dali Lama’s website has this:

When Lhamo Thondup was barely three years old, a search party that had been sent out by the Tibetan government to find the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama arrived at Kumbum monastery. It had been led there by a number of signs. One of these concerned the embalmed body of his predecessor, Thupten Gyatso, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who had died aged fifty-seven in 1933. During its period of sitting in state, the head was discovered to have turned from facing south to northeast. Shortly after that the Regent, himself a senior lama, had a vision. Looking into the waters of the sacred lake, Lhamo Lhatso, in southern Tibet, he clearly saw the Tibetan letters Ah, Ka and Ma float into view. These were followed by the image of a three-storied monastery with a turquoise and gold roof and a path running from it to a hill. Finally, he saw a small house with strangely shaped guttering. He was sure that the letter Ah referred to Amdo, the northeastern province, so it was there that the search party was sent.

Why isn’t that “supernatural”?

What does “supernatural” mean?

Sounds like they are talking about some paranormal abilities no one has demonstrated for James Randi.

Comment #124684

Posted by k.e. on August 31, 2006 1:04 PM (e)

Why waste your breath on us Norm, hop on the nearest plane fly up to Tibet and just freaking tell them their cultural beliefs are wrong and you have the facts to prove it.

When the Dali Lama went to see the Pope a few years ago the Italian press asked him afterwards “Did he and the Pope talk about God” The Dali Lama cleverly answered “God is your business Dharma is my Business”

Do you understand why he said that?

Do you understand HOW mythology works?

Humans love a good tale, otherwise TV would just be a museum curiosity.

Comment #124693

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 31, 2006 1:51 PM (e)

Why isn’t that “supernatural”?

Because nothing in that tale contradicts science in any shape or form. That story doesn’t even claim that anything extra-ordinary happened.

I think you missed the entire point of that little parable. The trouble I think is that you may be conflating cause and effect.

Comment #124711

Posted by BWE on August 31, 2006 3:16 PM (e)

Norm,

I’m sorry but in this case, it’s not exactly that you are wrong but more like you are missing the point. Levitation etc. is was and continues to be majik. Like Houdini. k.e. hit the point exactly. Western indoctrination and individualism is sort of the antithesis of buddist practice. We spend most of our educational energy on creating and bolstering the myth of the ego. It get’s next to impossible to undo. I have studied and attempted to practice a kind of zen buddism (which is not exactly like tibetan) for over twenty years. I have developed a capacity to take myself less seriously. On the outside that would seem to be about it. But that is also wildly oversimplification. But it is an experience not an idea. Actions and words that define them are not equivocal. It is actually true that you can’t describe the nature of impermanence but you can experience it. And it is not as easy as 123.

Sorry, you just don’t and kind of can’t know what you are talking about without doing the experiment. If folks come up and say, “god makes the weather” you can say, well, then god is simply a word that means “the way things are”. We can test and design experiments and etc to figure it out. But that is simply not what the Dali Lama is about. Truth is truth to a very large degree. Subjectiveness can be minimized to a very large degree. We can figure out con-men (aka religion, marketing and politics) but it’s just different.

[temporarily suspend soapboxing]

Comment #124717

Posted by Flint on August 31, 2006 3:29 PM (e)

Perhaps interestingly, In Sagan’s book The Demon Haunted World, Sagan talks of a conversation he had with the Dalai Lama, whom Sagan found very impressive. Sagan challenged him directly: If science can prove that reincarnation does not happen, would Buddhism abandon this belief? And the Dalai Lama said, yes, even reincarnation would be discarded if science should disprove it. But (said the D.L.), that’s going to be very difficult for science to disprove.

The point seems very simple, even if some here can’t quite grasp it. Buddhism is willing to change in order not to conflict with what science learns. This is something entirely different from making truth claims inaccessible to scientific investigation. Apparently normdoering is unwilling to grant to religions the scope to make any statement UNLESS science has already blessed it as probably correct (and in principle verifiable). But limiting religion to only what science can learn and has learned pretty well means science is the only religion he’ll accept as meaningful or valid.

The D.L.’s claim is that Buddhism cannot conflict with science, because it is not dogmatic, and is willing to accept empirical facts EVEN IF this means discarding central tenets of the faith. This is a direct, unambiguous response to normdoering’s question “which religions aren’t “dogmatic religions that think they know better than to accept empirical facts they do not like” or do not know about or don’t understand?” The answer is Buddhism, perhaps among others. No doubt about it.

Comment #124719

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 31, 2006 3:48 PM (e)

Not to lend credence to Norm’s mental gyrations, but for the very reasons mentioned (and valid they were), and Norm’s objections (as invalid as they are), Buddhism maybe ought to not count as a religion, since it makes no claims about the super-natural. Similarly “undogmatic” belief systems, including Daoism, flavors of Christianity (such as held by Ken Miller), Bahai, and probably the faith of anyone reasonable, maybe aren’t really religions at all.

Reason being, they don’t make any strong claims about the super-natural. A strong claim (IMHO) is falsifiable. Reincarnation, as the DL suggested, is probably not falsifiable; therefore, Buddhism doesn’t make a strong claim.

Creationism, on the other hand, is falsifiable and therefore makes strong claims. They happen to be wrong, that’s where the religious dogmatism comes in to save the day (and your soul).

Comment #124756

Posted by stevaroni on August 31, 2006 4:43 PM (e)

Here’s a quote from H.H. the Dalai Lama

“If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change…”

Keep in mind that’s a quote from a man who is supposedly the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama

Hmm. Apparently you get pretty smart after you’ve been around for 900 years or so.

Comment #124799

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 6:18 PM (e)

Flint wrote:

In Sagan’s book The Demon Haunted World, … Sagan challenged him directly: If science can prove that reincarnation does not happen, would Buddhism abandon this belief? And the Dalai Lama said, yes, even reincarnation would be discarded if science should disprove it.

Okay, that’s more specific than Tim’s quote. If the Dali Lama is really willing to define and abandon a belief in reincarnation because of a scientific investigation that’s more significant than the vague phrase “some belief” used in Tim’s quote. You have to be specific to be meaningful.

This also seems to contradict Lenny Flank’s claim that it is merely symbolic because that is also a confession that the Dali Lama does believe in reincarnation and that it is potentially falsifiable, not symbolic.

Of course, the escape clause is still there:

But (said the D.L.), that’s going to be very difficult for science to disprove.

And that modifies the meaning here:

The point seems very simple, even if some here can’t quite grasp it. Buddhism is willing to change in order not to conflict with what science learns. This is something entirely different from making truth claims inaccessible to scientific investigation.

There is a question here to ask: How meaningful can a claim about reincarnation be if it is inaccessible to scientific investigation.

Apparently normdoering is unwilling to grant to religions the scope to make any statement UNLESS science has already blessed it as probably correct (and in principle verifiable).

That’s not a fair assesment. I do consider naturalism and Occam’s razor to be a part of the scientific world view. I don’t think most versions of reincarnation can be supported as naturalistic and Occam’s razor cuts away at this unknown substance that gets recycled via reincarnation by an unknown mechanism – both so far undetected by science.

But limiting religion to only what science can learn and has learned pretty well means science is the only religion he’ll accept as meaningful or valid.

That distorts your assesment of my view considerably. Science is not a religion. That’s an IDer’s rhetoric.

The D.L.’s claim is that Buddhism cannot conflict with science, because it is not dogmatic, and is willing to accept empirical facts EVEN IF this means discarding central tenets of the faith. This is a direct, unambiguous response to normdoering’s question “which religions aren’t “dogmatic religions that think they know better than to accept empirical facts they do not like” or do not know about or don’t understand?” The answer is Buddhism, perhaps among others. No doubt about it.

I agree, that was a direct, unambiguous response to my question.

This does indicate a partial embrace of science’s conclusions, but not it’s foundations in naturalism.

Comment #124816

Posted by BWE on August 31, 2006 6:30 PM (e)

Norm,

You are actually misunderstanding. Buddism is a practice. Or more appropriately a process of experience. It is in and of itself a way of experiencing not a dogma. You have to know the methods but it isn’t about what science can or can’t disprove. I have met dozens of people who are exceedingly good at the practice of buddism but I have never met a buddist who thinks that dogma trumps reality.

Er… Since I am grossly oversimplifying anyway, buddism uses the scientific method to explore consciousness through meditation and reflection. More to the point, the 2 are on the same path.

Science could in fact prove the fundy god and it wouldn’t really affect the practice of buddism. Well, actually, the practice of buddism is a sort of a negative proof for the fundy god.

Anyway, you are equating dis-similar items.

Mmmmm… Bacon

Comment #124817

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 31, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

Let’s repeat once more:

Here’s a quote from H.H. the Dalai Lama

“If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. ”

Seems, uh, pretty clear to me ….

well, how about this then.

If this statement is correct, surely we could point to adjustments that have been made in deference to increasing knowledge, yes?

Is there nothing within the entire scope and history of tibetan buddhism that has been adjusted as a result of new information resulting from scientific pursuit?

we can clearly see the effects of evidence on the creation of sects within many religions, including Xianity, of course.

should be at least some history of similar happening withing Tibetan buddhism as well, yes?

so, for those who claim to be knowledgeable of tibetan buddhism, can you tell us if any such adjustments have been documented?

wouldn’t this be a quick way to demonstrate the veracity of the Lama’s comment?

Comment #124818

Posted by AC on August 31, 2006 6:35 PM (e)

Flint wrote:

Perhaps interestingly, In Sagan’s book The Demon Haunted World, Sagan talks of a conversation he had with the Dalai Lama, whom Sagan found very impressive. Sagan challenged him directly: If science can prove that reincarnation does not happen, would Buddhism abandon this belief? And the Dalai Lama said, yes, even reincarnation would be discarded if science should disprove it. But (said the D.L.), that’s going to be very difficult for science to disprove.

The point seems very simple, even if some here can’t quite grasp it. Buddhism is willing to change in order not to conflict with what science learns. This is something entirely different from making truth claims inaccessible to scientific investigation.

I think that’s splitting a pretty fine hair. Saying that Buddhism would abandon reincarnation if science disproves it but “[it’s] going to be very difficult for science to disprove” is a truth claim believed by the claimer to be inaccessible to scientific investigation. Even if he turns out to be wrong, and it is accessible, doesn’t that claim share a certain kinship with the more crude “well, God is beyond science, so there” mentality?

Comment #124821

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2006 6:49 PM (e)

Sounds like they are talking about some paranormal abilities no one has demonstrated for James Randi.

Ever read Aesop’s fables, Norm? Ever notice all the paranormal abilities there, such as, oh, talking rabbits who race tortoises?

Ever wonder why they’re there?

It’s sad to say, but Norm is more literalist when it comes to religions than even the fundies are.

But then, Norm is indeed just as fundamentalist in his views as they are in theirs. Under the feathers, they are the same bird. (sigh)

Comment #124822

Posted by BWE on August 31, 2006 6:50 PM (e)

An analogy:

Is a point in a stream reincarnated continuously? You are not the same as you were when you started reading this post. But, you probably believe in a universal you-ness. Possibly that there is some innate, relatively unchanging quality which makes you, well, you?

If you are not the same as you were 5 minutes ago, what is the universal you-ness? When you learn to watch your mind, that question becomes a little different.

The idea of reincarnation is nearly impossible to explain until you learn a few other things. There is an analogy to that in science:
link here

Samsara.

Comment #124826

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 6:57 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #124830

Posted by BWE on August 31, 2006 7:02 PM (e)

STJ:
If this statement is correct, surely we could point to adjustments that have been made in deference to increasing knowledge, yes?

Is there nothing within the entire scope and history of Tibetan Buddhism that has been adjusted as a result of new information resulting from scientific pursuit?

we can clearly see the effects of evidence on the creation of sects within many religions, including Xianity, of course.

should be at least some history of similar happening withing Tibetan Buddhism as well, yes?

so, for those who claim to be knowledgeable of Tibetan Buddhism, can you tell us if any such adjustments have been documented?

wouldn’t this be a quick way to demonstrate the veracity of the Lama’s comment?

The Tibetan branch isn’t my forte exactly but Bud dist sects are hardly similar to Xian sects. Buddhist sects are different ways to practice basically. There is some infighting as to who has the best way to do it but it’s more like a mac/pc debate than an “I’m god’s chosen one therefore I should rule the world” like xian sects do.

What information has been learned that would force a readjustment in Buddhist practice? In fact, quantum physics turned out to be quite similar as Fritjof Kapra or whatever his name is in “The Tao of Physics” argues.

Comment #124838

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 7:11 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

Buddism is a practice. Or more appropriately a process of experience.

Meditation is a practice, perhaps a process of experience, but the Buddhism that the Dali Lama talks about on his website is a religion. Perhaps your Buddhism is not the same as the Dali Lama’s.

It is in and of itself a way of experiencing not a dogma.

The various forms of belief in reincarnation, those cycles of birth, life, and death. And how after many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana – that is religious dogma. It is not scientifically proved, it speaks to a kind of “after life” and it requires some supernatural substance getting recycled.

Perhaps you reject those beliefs, but the Dali Lama does not.

I have met dozens of people who are exceedingly good at the practice of buddism but I have never met a buddist who thinks that dogma trumps reality.

Perhaps because they think their dogma is reality.

… buddism uses the scientific method to explore consciousness through meditation and reflection.

Really? Care to explain how Buddhism uses the scientific method?

As far as I know, “consciousness” isn’t even a scientific term, it lacks definition. Marvin Minsky calls consciousness a “suitcase” term; it’s packed with a confusing jumble of ideas and mental capabilities that have yet to be unpacked.

Comment #124854

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 31, 2006 7:20 PM (e)

buddism uses the scientific method to explore consciousness through meditation and reflection.

Meditation and reflection are not elements of the scientific method. Let us know when you figure out what are.

quantum physics turned out to be quite similar as Fritjof Kapra or whatever his name is in “The Tao of Physics” argues.

The Tao of Physics contributed nothing to QM.

Comment #124863

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 31, 2006 7:34 PM (e)

Because nothing in that tale contradicts science in any shape or form. That story doesn’t even claim that anything extra-ordinary happened.

My neighbors sincerely believe that that their apartment is inhabited by a ghost (sort of like mine, heh heh). Their reasons for thinking so are no more “extra-ordinary” than the senior lama’s.

Give it up, Norm; the layers of intellectual dishonesty are too thick to penetrate.

Comment #124867

Posted by BWE on August 31, 2006 7:37 PM (e)

Comment #124838

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 07:11 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

Buddism is a practice. Or more appropriately a process of experience.

Meditation is a practice, perhaps a process of experience, but the Buddhism that the Dali Lama talks about on his website is a religion. Perhaps your Buddhism is not the same as the Dali Lama’s.

It is in and of itself a way of experiencing not a dogma.

The various forms of belief in reincarnation, those cycles of birth, life, and death. And how after many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana – that is religious dogma. It is not scientifically proved, it speaks to a kind of “after life” and it requires some supernatural substance getting recycled.

Perhaps you reject those beliefs, but the Dali Lama does not.

You are incomplete Norm. You need more info.

I have met dozens of people who are exceedingly good at the practice of buddism but I have never met a buddist who thinks that dogma trumps reality.

Perhaps because they think their dogma is reality.

Well, that is certainly a possibility but I am not sure what the dogma is. I’m not sure that Buddism really holds very many things as absolute truth. There are the “Noble Truths” of suffering, desire, impermanence and “right” practice, but they are insights into the human condition and related to the practice rather than a dogmatic structure of whow reality should be categorized. And once again, if you read a mountain, you won’t really understand. Sorry, they are more like directions for baking. You can read a million recipe books but if you are unfamiliar with the ingredients, you won’t be able to imagine the product very well.

… buddism uses the scientific method to explore consciousness through meditation and reflection.

Really? Care to explain how Buddhism uses the scientific method?

Well, since I oversimplified before, I should be a little more specific.
It is essentially an experiment. If you conduct the experiment, you will get the same results. If you don’t, you are subjected to what is basically a peer revue process. If your results show a discrepancy, others will take up the experiment. The results are discussed among experts and the better or more accurate (in line with observed reality)truth wins.

Granted, there are many dis-similarities too. :/

As far as I know, “consciousness” isn’t even a scientific term, it lacks definition. Marvin Minsky calls consciousness a “suitcase” term; it’s packed with a confusing jumble of ideas and mental capabilities that have yet to be unpacked.

The ability of particles of the universe to gather and look upon itself. There is my definition. But, feel free to disagree. It’s not hard science.

Comment #124869

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 31, 2006 7:41 PM (e)

In response to the nonsense about “The Tao of Physics”, I offer this statement from Murray Gell-mann:

One project I worked on at Caltech involved trying to understand the approximate symmetries of the elementary particle system — particularly the hadrons or strongly interacting particles (including the neutron and proton and their brothers and sisters and the pi mesons and their brothers and sisters). I tried various higher symmetry schemes and then finally hit upon what I called the eightfold way, with the group SU(3) as an approximate symmetry. That worked very nicely. At the time I was interested in India and in the various religious traditions of India — not that I would embrace any religion — my interest was merely academic. I thought it would be a good joke to call the scheme the eightfold way, since the particles tended in many cases to come in sets of eight. Some silly people wrote books trying to connect my work on particle physics with oriental mysticism, whereas the connection was only a joke.

Comment #124870

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 31, 2006 7:42 PM (e)

Unlike Collin DaMaroon, the inimitable BWE sertainly does pass the Turing test.

And with this statement, I can but wholeheartedly agree:

whow reality

Comment #124871

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 7:46 PM (e)

Popper’s ghost wrote:

Give it up, Norm; the layers of intellectual dishonesty are too thick to penetrate.

Levels of ignorance, maybe – but I’m not yet sure about dishonesty. Let’s find out with more questions:

GuyeFaux wrote:

Because nothing in that tale contradicts science in any shape or form.

Okay. So, in your mind, an embalmed corpse that turns from facing south to northeast doesn’t necessarily contradict science? And what about following vague visions and dreams to a reincarnated Dali Lama?

Can you tell me how you explain such things?

That story doesn’t even claim that anything extra-ordinary happened.

So, in your mind, an embalmed corpse that turns from facing south to northeast isn’t necessarily “anything extra-ordinary”? It is after all just something they report happening (like water being turned to wine) – and then they assume it has a meaning and seek out that meaning. They don’t act surprised or ask “how is it a corpse could move it’s head?” Looks like they’re assuming something supernatural and, at least to me, extraordinary, happened. Perhaps in your life experience you’ve seen more corpses change position.

Maybe someone sneaked in and physically turned the corpses head? Do you think that’s what they meant? They were taking clues from some sneak clue giver who wanted to lead them to the Dali he wanted as Lama?

Comment #124872

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 7:52 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

The ability of particles of the universe to gather and look upon itself. There is my definition. But, feel free to disagree. It’s not hard science.

I’ll have to pick up on that tomorrow, after I’ve stopped rolling on the floor laughing.

Till later.

Comment #124873

Posted by BWE on August 31, 2006 7:52 PM (e)

Popper,

I do understand where you’re coming from but you’re just plain equating different things.

The concept of reincarnation is not even an allegory, it is a point of view. It isn’t the same as a psycic telling you that you were marie antoinette in a past life. Or a bug or a dog or a virus. It means that you are new but similar.

When you burn a log and it turns to ash, is the quality of log there? Is there a quality of ash in the log? At any point in time you look at something and determine it to be something. But it has other potentials and when they are realized, you change it’s quality in your mind. You classify. But when you view yourself as a child, and an old man, even though they are very different, you see them as having each qualities that are fixed. But they don’t have those. The cells are made of new material and the ideas and emotions that you have are new. You create the past and future etc. oh hell, whatever.

It’s all gobblety gook. But DL isn’t asking anyone to believe. And, actually, neither am I. It’s not denseness, it’s simply preferences. What do you do to pass the time kind of stuff.

Comment #124874

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 31, 2006 7:55 PM (e)

if you read a mountain, you won’t really understand. Sorry, they are more like directions for baking. You can read a million recipe books but if you are unfamiliar with the ingredients, you won’t be able to imagine the product very well.

Something similar is said of “seeing God”, “speaking in tongues”, and so on. Scientologists too; you can’t understand the “tech” until you become “clear”.

Comment #124876

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 31, 2006 8:05 PM (e)

It isn’t the same as a psycic telling you that you were marie antoinette in a past life.

No, of course, the senior lama saying that the “skandha” of the Dalai Lama is reborn in an infant born nine months after the death of the Dalai Lama is nothing like that.

Comment #124877

Posted by BWE on August 31, 2006 8:08 PM (e)

Oh norm, my feelings are hurt.

Carl Sagan your type?
http://www.marijuana-uses.com/essays/002.html

Similar concept.

Comment #124882

Posted by BWE on August 31, 2006 8:24 PM (e)

Well, if that’s what they really think, then I have to agree that they are probably wrong.

Like I said earlier, I don’t know much about Tibetan Buddhism. I do know that they have all these gods and stuff that are regarded as allegorical. I guess I assumed that they also regarded the rest the same way.

I can see that this isn’t going to be one of my good days. So all I can say is “Wow! they really believe stuff that flies so much in the face of logic? I’ve never been exposed to that before. It seems so hard to believe given my experiences with a similar practice.”

But, given the cold hard facts, I suppose I have to agree. They do seem to take themselves a mite seriously.
Cheerio :)

Comment #124893

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 31, 2006 9:19 PM (e)

Okay. So, in your mind, an embalmed corpse that turns from facing south to northeast doesn’t necessarily contradict science? And what about following vague visions and dreams to a reincarnated Dali Lama?

Can you tell me how you explain such things?

What exactly needs explanation?

Comment #124930

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 31, 2006 11:51 PM (e)

Well, if that’s what they really think, then I have to agree that they are probably wrong.

Why? Can you prove it? Can you prove that I’m not the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette? I remember the terror of having the blade fall, but it was such a shock to my psyche that everything that preceded that is rather hazy. I was then reincarnated as Karl Popper, who died, and I am now his disembodied spirit, occupying the body of some poor geek and making him type these messages. Can you prove otherwise?

Catholicism too is willing to change if science (or rather, the empirical observation that science makes possible) proves it wrong. The Bible is truly the word of God, but only “symbolically”; it was written by real men inspired by God. The Eucharist is really and truly the body and blood of Christ, despite lacking his DNA. Mary was immaculately conceived, though she had flesh-and-blood parents, and then gave birth to Jesus without the involvement of a biological father – hey, science can’t prove otherwise. Jesus died, then was resurrected – hey, science can’t prove otherwise. Despite a fairly strong historical case that no such person as Jesus existed, it’s not a proof. If it were possible to build a machine that could view the past, it would at first be resisted, perhaps by arguing that it viewed an alternate universe, but if all the observations exactly coincided with historical records, yet there were no observations of Jesus, he would likely be recast the Catholic church – or perhaps the New Modern Catholic Church – as allegorical: the ideal human that God wants us to aspire to.

Science can’t prove that humans never rode on the backs of dinosaurs, and it can’t prove that the flagellum evolved. But science isn’t in the business of proof, only inference to the best explanation. Religion, including Buddhism with its dharma, are based on a different epistemological principle – authoritative assertion, aka dogma, aka “revealed truth”. But everyone, of any religion or no religion, uses the same epistemological principle as that of science – though less rigorously – in everyday life to determine whether it’s true, say, that their spouse is cheating on them, that the pedestrian is going to step off the curb into their path, that they have time to run a quick errand before the kids get home, etc. I think everyone knows down deep that authoritative assertion is not a reliable source of truth.

Comment #124931

Posted by normdoering on August 31, 2006 11:57 PM (e)

GuyeFaux asked:

What exactly needs explanation?

Well, for starters, what caused the embalmed corpse of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, sitting in state, to turn its head from facing south to northeast? If in fact, it did turn its head. If someone snuck in and turned the corpse’s head, then it’s not a supernatural sign, they were tricked. If it’s just some twitch of dead, emembalmed muscles or the effect of gravity as the corpse slumps, then that is not necessarily a supernatural sign either. What is and isn’t a sign? Are they just following some gut intuition about signs? Or are their omen rules?

The Dali Lama is said to be the reincarnation of each of the previous
Dalai Lamas of Tibet, so what exactly is recycled? Is it some substance science can measure?

Are you saying such questions don’t flood your mind when you read that stuff?

Comment #124934

Posted by k.e. on September 1, 2006 12:05 AM (e)

I think everyone knows down deep that authoritative assertion is not a reliable source of truth.

Well said PG.

Popper is dead; long live popper.

Comment #124935

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 12:10 AM (e)

Popper’s ghost wrote:

Catholicism too is willing to change if science (or rather, the empirical observation that science makes possible) proves it wrong. The Bible is truly the word of God, but only “symbolically”; it was written by real men inspired by God. The Eucharist is really and truly the body and blood of Christ, despite lacking his DNA.

Speaking of Catholicism, PZ Myers has some links:

The chief exorcist for the Vatican thought Hitler was possessed by a demon and according to secret Vatican documents recently released wartime pontiff Pope Pius XII attempted a “long distance” exorcism of Hitler which failed to have any effect.:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=402602&in_page_id=1770
And he warned us against Harry Potter because Rowling’s books contain innumerable positive references to magic, “the satanic art”. And the books make a false distinction between black and white magic, when in fact, the distinction “does not exist, because magic is always a turn to the devil.” :
http://www.cathtelecom.com/news/201/17.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriele_Amorth

Nothing supernatural or extraordinary about that, is there Mr. Faux?

Comment #124938

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 12:20 AM (e)

… buddism uses the scientific method to explore consciousness through meditation and reflection.

not to be pokin’ holes or nothin’, but IIRC we roundly criticized Apollo for making the same argument in favor of how to “scientifically” test ID.

This discussion is going in unexpected directions.

I never studied Tibetan budhism, but I did study Zen buddhism for a few years (mostly as an intellectual pursuit, not as a “practice”)

I liked a lot of the ideas, but it was filled with bits of superstition carried over from shinto as well.

Comment #124939

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 12:29 AM (e)

Well, if that’s what they really think, then I have to agree that they are probably wrong.

Why? Can you prove it? Can you prove that I’m not the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette? I remember the terror of having the blade fall, but it was such a shock to my psyche that everything that preceded that is rather hazy. I was then reincarnated as Karl Popper, who died, and I am now his disembodied spirit, occupying the body of some poor geek and making him type these messages. Can you prove otherwise?

Wow, blood in the water? I make too many assumptions. Ha, If you only knew. You might even be shocked and offended.

Main Entry: prob·a·bly
Pronunciation: ‘prä-b&-blE, ‘prä(b)-blE
Function: adverb
: insofar as seems reasonably true, factual, or to be expected : without much doubt is probably happy> it will probably rain>

What school did you say you were just starting at?

I know one thing for absolute certain fact but it’s a secret that I only tell my friends.

You also have a hole in your head that your brains are leaking out of.

Cheerio!

Comment #124947

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 12:55 AM (e)

STJ,
Hmmm. To me it seems like scientifically testing for “Happy”. I was being exceptionally general and it was a misstatment. I tried to clarify but, as I noted above, I failed. Well, no harm there I hope. I may be simply off my nut. That’s OK with me. I am in many other ways too. ID makes claims of fact. As far as I know, zen does not. Admitted, I am a bit hedonistic to be a monk or even to make a claim to be really living the whole practice, but things being what they are is pretty much ok with me.

In the interest of my deep caring for Norm and popper’s immortal souls, I do feel that I should use the whole quote rather than just the tail end.

Er… Since I am grossly oversimplifying anyway, buddism uses the scientific method to explore consciousness through meditation and reflection. More to the point, the 2 are on the same path.

And then went on unsuccessfully to try to explain myself in that it is an open minded process that other’s who understand it can analyze your experience. It is not scientific. It was an abjectly failed analogy.

I am glad that you all are so gracious in helping me walk the straight and narrow.

Comment #124948

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 12:55 AM (e)

“I will add only that we need liberal religion to help fight off the barbarians at the gates of science.”

please keep repeating that in private to PZ. eventually, it might start to sink in.

Liberals like Margaret Wertheim (or Alan Wallace), whose views are rather common among religious liberals, or liberal therapeutic-cloning-opposing Roman Catholics? Does Europe need to reverse its trend and start turning the dance halls back into churches? If we woke up tomorrow and every single religious liberal were an atheist, would science be worse off? We need religious liberals – as they exist today – to help scientists, religious or not, fight off the barbarians at the gate, and I’ve never seen PZ say otherwise. But that doesn’t mean that “liberal religion is good for science”, and I don’t see an argument for that claim.

Comment #124950

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 12:59 AM (e)

BWE, I can’t make much sense of your drivel, but it seems personnally directed and offensive. That you give me a definition of “probable” suggests that you didn’t read my post or didn’t comprehend what I wrote about inference to the best explanation.

Comment #124952

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 1:03 AM (e)

Ah, I grasp that you gave a definition of “probably” because that’s the word you used. But you seem to have completely and utterly missed the point that this whole discussion has been about proof, and that you can’t even begin to provide any evidence to support your “probably” claim. Just what is the probability? 50% 75% 99%? Try to defend your claim; I don’t think you can.

Comment #124953

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 1:25 AM (e)

Admitted, I am a bit hedonistic to be a monk

here’s to hedonism!

[tosses back the last of a gin and tonic]

an interesting question would be…

what makes you think you are too hedonistic to be a monk?

what specifically is different about being a monk?

I guess my point is, does one need be a monk in order to “correctly” practice either Zen, mahayan, or tibetan buddhism?

why?

Comment #124954

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 1:42 AM (e)

Mercifully, Mr. Anees did not wholly blame colonialism for the intellectual condition of much of the Muslim world today.

What else has changed since the time of the orthodox Muslim Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī?

plea for a new science of consciousness based on introspection. He argued that William James had pioneered such a program but claimed it was scuttled by the behaviorists. He castigated present neuroscientists for assuming without evidence that the mind is nothing but the functioning of the brain

The radical behaviorists – Skinner et. al. – did scuttle William James’s program by demonizing “the mental” as not being a proper subject of scientific study, a view that finally fell due largely to the influence of cybernetics, AI, and the computational model of mind, but James, while feeling that “the mind is nothing but the function of the brain” went beyond the reach of science, held to the methodological naturalistic equivalent (emphasis added):

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/James/Principles/prin6.htm

I confess, therefore, that to posit a soul influenced in some mysterious way by the brain-states and responding to them by conscious affections of its own, seems to me the line of least logical resistance, so far as we yet have attained.

[p.182] If it does not strictly explain anything, it is at any rate less positively objectionable than either mind-stuff or a material-monad creed. The bare PHENOMENON, however, the IMMEDIATELY KNOWN thing which on the mental side is in apposition with the entire brain-process is the state of consciousness and not the soul itself. Many of the stanchest believers in the soul admit that we know it only as an inference from experiencing its states. In Chapter X, accordingly, we must return to its consideration again, and ask ourselves whether, after all, the ascertainment of a blank unmediated correspondence, term for term, of the succession of states of consciousness with the succession of total brain-processes, be not the simplest psycho-physic formula, and the last word of a psychology which contents itself with verifiable laws, and seeks only to be clear, and to avoid unsafe hypotheses. Such a mere admission of the empirical parallelism will there appear the wisest course. By keeping to it, our psychology will remain positivistic and non-metaphysical; and although this is certainly only a provisional halting-place, and things must some day be more thoroughly thought out, we shall abide there in this book, and just as we have rejected mind-dust, we shall take no account of the soul. The spiritualistic reader may nevertheless believe in the soul if he will; whilst the positivistic one who wishes to give a tinge of mystery to the expression of his positivism can continue to say that nature in her unfathomable designs has mixed us of clay and flame, of brain and mind, that the two things hang indubitably together and determine each other’s being, but how or why, no mortal may ever know.

Comment #124955

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 1:56 AM (e)

Well, if that’s what they really think, then I have to agree that they are probably wrong.

Why? Can you prove it? Can you prove that I’m not the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette? I remember the terror of having the blade fall, but it was such a shock to my psyche that everything that preceded that is rather hazy. I was then reincarnated as Karl Popper, who died, and I am now his disembodied spirit, occupying the body of some poor geek and making him type these messages. Can you prove otherwise?

Ah, I grasp that you gave a definition of “probably” because that’s the word you used. But you seem to have completely and utterly missed the point that this whole discussion has been about proof, and that you can’t even begin to provide any evidence to support your “probably” claim. Just what is the probability? 50% 75% 99%? Try to defend your claim; I don’t think you can.

Woo Hoo. Ok, you made a claim that DL believes in supernatural events taking place. You made that claim with very little understanding of what Buddhism even is and with some inaccurate ones. I noticed your misunderstanding and made an assumption of my own. My assumption was also based on very little knowledge of the specific beliefs of DL. But it was based on the reasonably secure knowledge that there is very little mysticism in Buddism. I have been to 9 Zen retreats over the last 20 years and met several asian zen practitioners and learned elements of the practice from them. That was the experience that led to the information on which I based my unwarranted assumption.

My claim of probably, like my other statements which you also managed to misread, no doubt a result of my clumsy articulation of equally clumsy thinking, is easy to defend.

Rocks don’t tend to roll uphill. I can say that rocks, at this point, exhibit a high statistical probability to roll downhill and a low statistical probability to roll uphill. No? Same with Dead folk moving about. No? If someone, without visible evidence, believes aforementioned idea, I can say without fear, that they are probably wrong. No?
Nuff said. No? I bet you encourage more than a few trolls to drop their lines eh?

Posted by Popper’s ghost on September 1, 2006 12:59 AM (e)

BWE, I can’t make much sense of your drivel, but it seems personnally directed and offensive

Seems? dang. You are a stickler aren’t you?

TJ,

what makes you think you are too hedonistic to be a monk?

what specifically is different about being a monk?

I guess my point is, does one need be a monk in order to “correctly” practice either Zen, mahayan, or tibetan buddhism?

why?

monks and monestaries tend to frown on hedonism. No problem for the practice for me though but the 4th noble truth has some wiggle room.
PS, wanna know a secret?

Comment #124958

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 2:07 AM (e)

. Ok, you made a claim that DL believes in supernatural events taking place.

That, which is the clearest part of your string of non sequiturs and nonunderstandings, is simply false. I didn’t even say it of the senior lama, whose beliefs I did refer to.

Same with Dead folk moving about. No? If someone, without visible evidence, believes aforementioned idea, I can say without fear, that they are probably wrong. No?

I said nothing of dead folk moving about. When you develop an ability to read, let me know.

Comment #124959

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 2:11 AM (e)

monks and monestaries tend to frown on hedonism

yes, they do.

why?

PS, wanna know a secret?

better not tell me, I’m not much good at keeping secrets.

Comment #124962

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 2:16 AM (e)

oh, and Popper -

give the attitude a rest already would ya?

you’re among friends; no need for it here.

I damn well know you can communicate disagreement without the additional insult attached.

I’ve personally grown used to it, but it is still tiresome to hear on such a regular basis.

save your invective for those truly deserving.

Comment #124963

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 2:25 AM (e)

BWE, you’ve got me confused with the the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette, otherwise known as Popper’s ghost. I’m not exactly the one making claims about dead Dalais moving around, but I did point to that claim on the Dalai Lama’s website. Ms Antoinette did not.

You should read the Lama’s website:
http://www.dalailama.com/page.4.htm#discovery

In spite of that bit of apparent superstition and supernaturalism, the Dalai Lama, I have to admit, comes off for more rational than the pope.

As religious figures go, he’s one of the better ones.

Comment #124964

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 2:33 AM (e)

give the attitude a rest already would ya?

I am not impressed by patronization, which I can always count on to be hypocritical; tell it to BWE, who admits to being personal and offensive. Insult me again and I will escalate, so it’s in your interest to STFU.

Comment #124965

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 2:38 AM (e)

and I’ve never seen PZ say otherwise.

hmm.

don’t you remember the infamous “lenny flank thread”? the one that went over 2K posts, wherein PZ says over and over that to invite liberal religion into this fight is to weaken science, rather than strengthen it against attack by the fundies? He simply views all religions as essentially anti-science by their very nature, and while i don’t disagree in theory (hence we seem to be having another discussion about this very issue, now looking to religions other than xianity) I do believe the argument as to the overall value of religion to society as a whole is NOT the debate for these particular times, with the “barbarians at the gate”.

no, PZ does NOT feel the strategic need for liberal religion, or ANY relgion in this fight, regardless of any evidence indicating the benefit of doing so.

I tried over and over again over the last 2 years to show him different bits and pieces of evidence to suggest his stance on this was wrong; like the postion of the ELCA, like the “10000 clergy” letter, etc.

I think you might have PZ’s views on this particular matter confused.

suggest you dig up that thread and re-read it when you have an hour or so to pour through it all (or at least the first couple hundred posts).

I am curious though, why you thought PZ was a “big tenter”?

I can’t recall anything he has posted here on PT to give that impression.

this brings up another question:

Dawkins does a nice job of documenting the extremism found within several of the world’s major religions, and how this extremeism leads to disaster.

However, I do wonder where he stands on the immediate strategic value of the more moderate churches. Is the CoE more of a hindrance or a help fighting the nutters?

Have you read his latest book? does he cover this at all?

Comment #124966

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 2:43 AM (e)

PG,
i am but a humble servant of the one true god, exceedingly fallable, and I bow to your superior reading skills. I see that norm is the true author of the original comment and you are but the dogs that yap at the gate. Indeed, it was norm that made the claims which I was, far too exuberantly I admit, questioning. Please excuse the indiscression I displayed.

What was your point then? Regarding proof I believe? All apologies. My scientific naivete shines like a beacon over the waters off Lime Kiln. I do appreciate your help in straightening this mess out. It is making all of our heads spin. I can probably speak for everyone else here I suppose. Maybe.

Science can’t prove that humans never rode on the backs of dinosaurs, and it can’t prove that the flagellum evolved. But science isn’t in the business of proof, only inference to the best explanation. Religion, including Buddhism with its dharma, are based on a different epistemological principle – authoritative assertion, aka dogma, aka “revealed truth”. But everyone, of any religion or no religion, uses the same epistemological principle as that of science – though less rigorously – in everyday life to determine whether it’s true, say, that their spouse is cheating on them, that the pedestrian is going to step off the curb into their path, that they have time to run a quick errand before the kids get home, etc. I think everyone knows down deep that authoritative assertion is not a reliable source of truth.

Do you shop at wallmart or something? My original point, misfired towards you but intended at Norm turned your way because of your misunderstanding, so eloquently displayed here, of what Buddism is.

Dharma (sound of ghost noises and faint gonging of bell. Also sound of fog).

Of course that too is way oversimplified but that’s ok, it could give us two or three more go rounds. Buddism is not making any claims about the physical world. yet you equate it with Catholocism or Islam or Santaria (my personal favorite among the authoritative assertion crowd.) In fact, Buddism is nearly the exact opposite of an authoritative assertion.

But you have to go through the steps to be saved.
1)Admit you are nearly powerless against Dharma.
2)Admit you’re a friend of Bill.
3)Wear a silly hat.

That’s it.

Back to the whiskey.

Comment #124968

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 2:47 AM (e)

wherein PZ says over and over that to invite liberal religion into this fight is to weaken science

Kindly provide a direct quote; what I remember is that his views were repeatedly misrepresented there, and I don’t trust you or anyone else (including myself) to characterize them accurately. And I made a distinction between religious liberals and liberal religion; he may have made a similar distinction.

He simply views all religions as essentially anti-science by their very nature

As do I, but I still think that we need religious liberals to help us defend science, and as I said, I’ve never seen him say otherwise – more accurately, I don’t recall him saying otherwise, but my memory is of course imperfect.

BWE: I don’t think further discussion between us is fruitful. Enjoy your whiskey.

Comment #124969

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 2:48 AM (e)

Insult me again and I will escalate, so it’s in your interest to STFU

sorry, it doesn’t wash, all of us here have seen your attitude for months and months now.

do you suffer from asperger’s syndrome or what?

it must be terribly difficult being you, which is both true and patronizing at the same time.

feel free to escalate if you wish, but you aren’t gaining anything by doing so. you really need to get that shit under control. that’s not patronization, that’s simply a fact.

You made a lot of excellent observations in Pim’s thread, but a lot of your impact was dulled by unnecessary invective. I mean, gees, I’m one to often fly off the handle, but you make me look like Mr. Rogers!

MANY people pointed it out to you. You obviously have a problem with this.

friggin deal with it, rather than saying we are “patronizing you”.

grow the fuck up already.

Comment #124972

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 2:53 AM (e)

Kindly provide a direct quote; what I remember is that his views were repeatedly misrepresented there, and I don’t trust you or anyone else (including myself) to characterize them accurately. And I made a distinction between religious liberals and liberal religion; he may have made a similar distinction.

I’ll meet you halfway.

find and post a link to the thread, since I don’t feel like looking it up right now, and tommorrow i will grab at least one PZ quote that relates directly to his opinion on this issue, and also post the quote i made in direct response to it, where I cited the ELCA in defense of being inclusive from a strategic standpoint.

we can see what’s what from there, I suppose.

Comment #124973

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 2:53 AM (e)

PG, are you confusing escalation with erection?

Comment #124974

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 2:56 AM (e)

STJ, a quick reading led me to
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/06/ron_numbers_int.html#comment-107895

Here’s what will blow your mind: I’d rather have open-minded, rational Christians on my side than dismissive anti-science types like yourself, who defend evolution as a political game rather than because of any appreciation of the evidence.

PZ’s position in that thread was not at all that he “does NOT feel the strategic need for liberal religion, or ANY relgion in this fight, regardless of any evidence indicating the benefit of doing so”, and I question whether he has ever taken that position; I certainly don’t take your word for it, because I know that you readily misconstrue arguments. Rather, he was complaining about the demonization of atheists.

Comment #124975

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 2:57 AM (e)

I’ll meet you halfway.

find and post a link to the thread

I’m way ahead of you.

since I don’t feel like looking it up right now

How nice.

Comment #124976

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:02 AM (e)

Another quote from PZ Myers; I’m sure there are many more like it. Do you have a hat handy that you can eat? Perhaps you can send him a bottle of fine monk-made Benedictine Brandy.

That adaptable religion that willingly steps aside when science comes forward is very nice, and I have no complaints with it; I will endorse it wholeheartedly, and tell everyone uncomfortable with godlessness to join it.

Comment #124979

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:12 AM (e)

Here’s another quote from PZ, which makes the same point I did, that there’s no reason to think that religion – as opposed to religious people – is “good for science”.

Yes, I know Einstein did good work. I’m saying that his oft-quoted platitudes are often selected for their simplistic moralism rather than any insight or truth. I objected specifically to that one because no one ever bothers to provide any evidence that religion contributes to science in any useful way. Einstein didn’t. Neither did you.

I suspect that any quotes you provide will make the same point.

Another quote (emphasis added):

I do not:
1. threaten to shoot all the Christians,
2. call all religious people idiots,
3. suggest that we need to convert all the religious people to atheism, or
4. deny that religious people contribute to science.

I know. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Must have been an off day at Chez Pharyngula.

Oh, and here’s a quote from a stupid hypocrital jackass, which applies very much to its author:

do you suffer from asperger’s syndrome or what?

it must be terribly difficult being you, which is both true and patronizing at the same time.

feel free to escalate if you wish, but you aren’t gaining anything by doing so. you really need to get that shit under control. that’s not patronization, that’s simply a fact.

You made a lot of excellent observations in Pim’s thread, but a lot of your impact was dulled by unnecessary invective. I mean, gees, I’m one to often fly off the handle, but you make me look like Mr. Rogers!

MANY people pointed it out to you. You obviously have a problem with this.

friggin deal with it, rather than saying we are “patronizing you”.

grow the fuck up already.

Comment #124980

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 3:13 AM (e)

that thread has hundreds of relevant posts in it.

some of us have to sleep, you know.

I said i would pick out the posts i was referring to tommorrow, and I meant it.

and while the quote you picked out does complicate the issue, he has said things that directly support what I was saying as well, and in the very same thread.

like i said, I’m happy to sort it all out tommorrow. do recall it was your statement originally that:

“I’ve never seen him say otherwise “ which is more accurately stated as a matter of recall, later, and I agree for my part as well.

only a sifting of all the PZ posts in that thread will tell, i suppose.

and that is not something I want to do right now.

see you manyana.

PG, are you confusing escalation with erection?

are you sure you want to find out?

One thing i do know from prior experience is that starting a flame war with PG is usually a losing prospect.

make sure you’re in a mood to enjoy it before you proceed further. I know PG will, regardless.

Comment #124981

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:16 AM (e)

you’re among friends; no need for it here.

You’re not my friend, you hypocritical twit.

I damn well know you can communicate disagreement without the additional insult attached.

I can, and I did, until some hypocritical nitwit insulted me with his stupid patronizing BS.

I’ve personally grown used to it

An obvious lie.

save your invective for those truly deserving.

Dumb hypocrite.

Comment #124982

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:17 AM (e)

One thing i do know from prior experience is that starting a flame war with PG is usually a losing prospect.

Then why did you, moron?

Comment #124983

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 3:17 AM (e)

Oh, and here’s a quote from a stupid hypocrital jackass, which applies very much to its author:

like i said, grow the fuck up already. Your act doesn’t play well with others.

Comment #124984

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:20 AM (e)

and while the quote you picked out does complicate the issue, he has said things that directly support what I was saying as well, and in the very same thread.

Repeating it doesn’t make it true. If you weren’t such a arrogant moronic twit, you would withhold such claims until you had the evidence in hand.

Comment #124985

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:21 AM (e)

like i said, grow the fuck up already. Your act doesn’t play well with others.

Moronic hypocritical twit.

Comment #124987

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 3:29 AM (e)

… there are more meanings to “losing prospect” than a simple victory scenario. ever think why i chose to answer your call with a few minor lines of flame?

do show any of us where I am wrong in accusing you of being overly combative, and I’ll glady STFU.

Heck, folks have been pointing out to you on this forum for months now, even before your current incarnation.

It was pointed out by three or four people in Pims thread, even those who mostly agreed with what you had to say. Shall we go back and examine those in detail? see who was on your side from a substantive standpoint and who defended you? Who were the folks who graciously took the time to summarize what you had to say of substance that was on point (compared to the rest of your posts there), and STILL called you an asshole, even though they agreed with a lot of what you had to say?

so… if you want to continue, ask yourself:

why is it that everybody keeps pointing out what an asshole you are?

you don’t want to be sociable, that’s fine, but don’t pretend you don’t WANT to be belligerant. You don’t want “friends” that’s fine, but remember that i meant that in the context of those involved in the discussion being putatively on the side of teaching good science, and fighting against religious nutjobs who want to change the definition of science.

You do apparently have some issues, that is plain as day. If you don’t want to admit that, then perhaps you shouldn’t flaunt the obvious symptoms out there so often?

and that is the last I will say until manyana.

sleep well.

Comment #124988

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:32 AM (e)

Here’s the money quote:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/06/ron_numbers_int.html#comment-108052

PZ Myers wrote:

sir_toejam wrote:

before i create a strawman of my own; I have to ask: is it realistic at this point in time to boot all those folks out of the tent, until after we’ve marginalized the fundies?

Before you create a strawman? This has gotten beyond annoying: nowhere in my article did I suggest booting the religious out of the tent, or otherwise stomping on their delicate little toes. You really have to stop believing the BS Lenny spews. Did you bother to read what I wrote, or are you just going by the fact that any statement of the atheist disbelief in the supernatural sends certain people here into spastic shrieks of, “you’re planning to send the Baptists to death camps!”

It’s not surprising that STJ remembers the strawman version of PZ that he created as actually being PZ.

So STFU.

Comment #124989

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 3:32 AM (e)

PG,

I can run faster, jump higher, screw better and enjoy it more than you. And I owe it all to Buddha.

I talk to Buddha you know. And he tells me that your mother dresses you. And that you can’t figure out what you are talking about or what others are talking about. He also tells me what the very best issues of playboy are. And that you don’t read em cause you like guys.

:)
Night

Comment #124990

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:35 AM (e)

ever think why i chose to answer your call with a few minor lines of flame?

Of course; it’s because you’re a pathetic intellectually dishonest hypocrite with a highly inflated view of your own intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge. You should read Steviepinhead’s posts; he’s much brighter than you are.

Comment #124991

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 1, 2006 3:40 AM (e)

oh, i just can’t resist:

Of course; it’s because you’re a pathetic intellectually dishonest hypocrite with a highly inflated view of your own intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge. You should read Steviepinhead’s posts; he’s much brighter than you are.

ahh, yes, like the one where he points out what an asshole you are.

yes, he’s intelligent alrighty, but no more so than the dozens of others that have pointed out the same.

do try to keep the issue of your “assholiness” separate from whether I am right or wrong about PZ, as I personally am more than happy to admit i could be wrong about that, but I still don’t think you have finished plumbing all the posts on that thread.

keep going.

Comment #124992

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:45 AM (e)

ahh, yes, like the one where he points out what an asshole you are

He did no such thing, you stupid senile fool; that was Coin. You got this wrong like you get just about everything wrong, but you’re so arrogant that you feel no need to verify your garbage claims. So STFU, or continue to demonstrate what a moron you are with every word you write.

Comment #124995

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:49 AM (e)

Here’s another quote from PZ:

Don’t be a condescending ass and tell me that I am screaming in a thread where Lenny is pulling his “dick swinging” act.

All the smart people know what you are.

Comment #124997

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 3:57 AM (e)

More PZ:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/06/ron_numbers_int.html#comment-108109

Sir_Toejam wrote:

I’ve gotten the distinct impression that your position is that religion has no value at all, moral or otherwise. Is this a correct assesment? If not, why don’t you spell it out more clearly, because obviously you haven’t done so yet.

You say you’ve read a lot of what I’ve written. Of course. Religion is morally neutral, conferring no benefit on anyone. To think otherwise is to claim that those who have no religion are morally weaker, and that’s patently false. You’ll also see me argue that atheism is similarly morally neutral.

As I mentioned in passing above, the answer I like is modeled after Europe. We don’t need to ‘punish’ or otherwise get rid of the religious — we just need a more secular society in which people are free to practice whatever religion they want. They just don’t get to expect that religiosity confers special privileges in public policy.

Comment #124999

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 4:15 AM (e)

And this is precious:

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Well, PZ, maybe you can hunt me down and drag me before the Inquisition, or whatever the evangelical atheist version of the Inquisition is.

PZ Myers wrote:

Lenny jumped in, claiming I’m planning to hunt him down and bring him before the evangelical atheist inquisition

Sir_Toejam wrote:

Lenny jumped in, claiming I’m planning to hunt him down and bring him before the evangelical atheist inquisition,

in case you wanted to argue you weren’t using hyperbole, that’s hyperbole.

PZ Myers wrote:

I don’t care what Wes’s views of religion are. Whatever they are, apparently my goal is to “hunt [him] down and drag [him] before the Inquisition, or whatever the evangelical atheist version of the Inquisition is.” You say I’m guilty of hyperbole, but that is a direct quote from Lenny, you know.

Sir_Toejam wrote:

I’m gettin pretty sick of the contributors deciding they want to air their dirty laundry out on PT itself, rather than taking it to an OT rant on ATBC, where it belongs.

Popper's ghost wrote:

This was a legitimate post about the interview with Ron Numbers, intentionally derailed by Lenny. You should be more sick about never apologizing for your claim that PZ was being hyperbolic when in fact he simply quoted Lenny’s inanity.

Once a condescending hypocritical ass and nitwit, always one.

Comment #125000

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 4:29 AM (e)

As seen here with this exchange:

BWE wrote:

What school did you say you were just starting at?

You also have a hole in your head that your brains are leaking out of.

Popper's ghost wrote:

BWE, I can’t make much sense of your drivel, but it seems personnally directed and offensive.

BWE wrote:

Seems? dang. You are a stickler aren’t you?

Sir_Jackass wrote:

oh, and Popper -

give the attitude a rest already would ya?

you’re among friends; no need for it here.

I damn well know you can communicate disagreement without the additional insult attached.

I’ve personally grown used to it, but it is still tiresome to hear on such a regular basis.

save your invective for those truly deserving.

My “attitude” is that I don’t suffer fools gladly.

Comment #125082

Posted by Matt Young on September 1, 2006 11:40 AM (e)

I am sorry, but I have to sleep, so I didn’t catch the “debate” between Popper’s Ghost and Sir Toejam. I can’t be bothered going back and sending them to the bathroom wall right now, but I will firmly request that you both and everyone else refrain from such invective and personal insults. I will not allow wholesale name calling on any thread of which I am the moderator. If anyone has anything of substance to add to the discussion, please do so. If not, I will cut off comments this afternoon. I may at my option delete the irrelevant comments later today.

Comment #125092

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:15 PM (e)

Perhaps your Buddhism is not the same as the Dali Lama’s.

Is there, um, some reason why it NEEDS to be … ?

Like I said, Norm, you’re more fundie than the fundies.

(sigh)

Comment #125093

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 12:18 PM (e)

I am sorry matt. PG jumped on me unnessesarily and ridiculously so I spent a little time frustrating him. All in good fun. He has some issues to work out and I thought maybe I could help.

The tensions between Dogma and information opposed to it are one of the biggest social issues in America at the moment and deserve to be explored. But it is a slippery slope because there is quite a bit of “Taking oneself overly seriously-ness” generated by the polarizing nature of the issue. I guess if the other side starts a war, we will need warriors like PG too, but that feels in some strange way like legitimizing the other side. Like when the cops mount a full scale swat team raid for a kids prank.

There is a corresponding issue involved with political correctness and decency which confounds the issue a little more. It’s hard to respect Pat Robertson but in the spirit of inclusiveness, we say that we should include all viewpoints and respect his will to be wierd, then the next day we have to repair damage done by the viewpoint.

It is a very different thing to say “this is what I have learned” than to say “this is what I know.”

Comment #125094

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:18 PM (e)

I’m not sure that Buddism really holds very many things as absolute truth.

Indeed, there simply is no ‘absolute truth’ in Buddhism.

The entire *point* of Buddhism is to give up any and all ‘absolute truths’. Including Buddhism.

If you meed the Buddha on the road, do’t worship him — kill him instead.

You determine your own path. No one else can do that for you. Not even the Dalai Lama.

Comment #125095

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:23 PM (e)

Like I said earlier, I don’t know much about Tibetan Buddhism. I do know that they have all these gods and stuff that are regarded as allegorical. I guess I assumed that they also regarded the rest the same way.

They do.

The major difference in Tibetan Buddhism is that unlike Buddhism in other places, Tibetan Buddhism is also a political system – Tibet is a theocracy, and the Dalai Lama is the titular head of state. And as such, there must be some social/ideological reason to justify his succession and his religious/secular atuhority. Hence, like so many political rulers in history, they claim divinity. The Pharoahs claimed to be the descendents of the god Ra. The Japanese emperors claimed descent from Amaterasu Omikami. And the Dalai Lama claims descent (of a sort) from the previous ruler.

All for the same reasons.

Comment #125097

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:25 PM (e)

The Dali Lama is said to be the reincarnation of each of the previous
Dalai Lamas of Tibet, so what exactly is recycled?

Political and religious authority.

Comment #125098

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:28 PM (e)

Are you saying such questions don’t flood your mind when you read that stuff?

Ever read “Aesop’s Fables”, Norm? Ya know, the tortoise racing the hare, the talking animals …

Do scientific questions flood your mind when you read that stuff? Do you say indignantly to yourself, “This is all crap — rabbits can’t talk”?

Does the entire point of it go right over your scientific head?

Comment #125099

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:32 PM (e)

I liked a lot of the ideas, but it was filled with bits of superstition carried over from shinto as well.

They are indeed often conflated in Japan. All of the “zen ceremonies” one sees on TV are shinto, not zen.

But they are not the same. Shinto predates Zen by centuries, and is more or less a political tool of the emperors, who claimed descent from Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess.

Zen, on the other hand, quite literally worships nothing at all. It doesn’t teach anything, either. Anything one learns in Zen, comes only from inside oneself – where it already was all along. Zen is just a method for looking at it. “Know thyself”.

Comment #125101

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:33 PM (e)

Care to explain how Buddhism uses the scientific method?

Um, the same way scientists do.

You do know the difference between “science” and “religion”, right … ?

Comment #125102

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 1, 2006 12:34 PM (e)

Norm, it may be premature, but I think you got the point:

Well, for starters, what caused the embalmed corpse of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, sitting in state, to turn its head from facing south to northeast? If in fact, it did turn its head. If someone snuck in and turned the corpse’s head, then it’s not a supernatural sign, they were tricked. If it’s just some twitch of dead, emembalmed muscles or the effect of gravity as the corpse slumps, then that is not necessarily a supernatural sign either.

It may be premature, but I think you got my point. The dead corpse could’ve turned his head for a number of natural (as opposed to supernatural) reasons: twitching, lies, gravity, fraud, whatever (let’s exclude lies). Similarly, who knows where that guy got his visions from. It’s a scientific fact that meditation can make you hallucinate (once again let’s assume he didn’t make it up after the fact). Now, all of these are “signs”:

What is and isn’t a sign? Are they just following some gut intuition about signs? Or are their omen rules?

To call the rules arbitrary is one technically correct way of looking at it, and I don’t think a Buddhist would strongly disagree. Another way to look at it though is to say that the arbitrary rules are also coincidental and therefore signifficant.

Here’s the emphasis: by saying that these signs are arbitrary, you’re saying that the new Lama was chosen because of the signs. That he was not yet the new Lama until they picked him. A Buddhist would say that the new Lama was found thanks to the signs. That in fact he was the new Lama all the time and therefore caused the coincidence.

There’s no scientific disparity between the viewpoints. There is no scientific way to distinguish them, which means there’s no conflict.

Comment #125103

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:35 PM (e)

I am a bit hedonistic to be a monk

Then you’re in the wrong school. May I suggest Tantric Maithuna?

:)

Comment #125104

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:37 PM (e)

I guess my point is, does one need be a monk in order to “correctly” practice either Zen, mahayan, or tibetan buddhism?

The only thing you need be to “correctly” practice any of them is —–> yourself.

There’s no right or wrong way to be a Buddhist, as long as you are being yourself.

Comment #125105

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:42 PM (e)

Insult me again and I will escalate

Go ahead and escalate. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!

(yawn)

Ever wonder why everyone here thinks you’re an asshole?

Comment #125107

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:46 PM (e)

Hey Popper, when you;re finished with PZ, make sure you wipe your chin off.

Geez.

Comment #125109

Posted by Raging Bee on September 1, 2006 12:52 PM (e)

norm, face the facts: you made a sweeping overgeneralization about all religions, disguised as a question, and you got two answers, about two belief-systems (Buddhist and Bah’ai), that proved your generalization wrong, in plain English. You made yourself look like an idiot, and harping about reincarnation and evidence only digs you in deeper.

norm wrote:

You have to be specific to be meaningful.

Which, norm, is exactly why your repeated, monotonous overgeneralizations about all religions are meaningless.

Also, since you’ve explicitly admitted that you failed and gave up the practice of meditation, perhaps you should not be so quick to brush off the thoughts of those (many) people who have had better experiences or results than yours. Their path may not be yours, or mine, but that fact alone doesn’t make them wrong, stupid, or misguided.

Comment #125114

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

Comment #125094

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 12:18 PM (e)

I’m not sure that Buddism really holds very many things as absolute truth.

Indeed, there simply is no ‘absolute truth’ in Buddhism.

The entire *point* of Buddhism is to give up any and all ‘absolute truths’. Including Buddhism.

If you meed the Buddha on the road, do’t worship him — kill him instead.

You determine your own path. No one else can do that for you. Not even the Dalai Lama.

I was trying to be nice. And, as far as being a monk, I meant in Japan. WHy I would have meant that, I dunno. Interesting.

Norm and PG are ignorant of Buddism and equated it with religion. I was merely tying their tails in a knot. All apologies.

Comment #125115

Posted by Steviepinhead on September 1, 2006 1:19 PM (e)

Wheee!

I think I’ll sit on the sidelines for this one.

Except to note that I didn’t call Popper’s Ghost an ass, um, hat (remember, kiddies, kiddies could be reading…or might be allowed to read, until their parents see us getting all overly chummy). And, no, in “real life,” I’m not that delicate of speech either.

And, needless to say, no one calling himself Stevie “pinhead” is making any claims to any particular degree of intelligence, either.

Well, okay, I do admittedly consider a “pinhead” to be several intellectual steps above a “maroon.”

And, with that, I’ll, er, STFU and get back over to my sideline seat, with its umbrella, hot and cold drink receptacles, and warm plaid blanket…

Comment #125118

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 1:42 PM (e)

You may not have said it, but I’ll bet you thought it.

Comment #125119

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 1:44 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Ever read “Aesop’s Fables”, Norm? Ya know, the tortoise racing the hare, the talking animals

Do scientific questions flood your mind when you read that stuff? Do you say indignantly to yourself, “This is all crap — rabbits can’t talk”?

Does the entire point of it go right over your scientific head?

Lenny, the rabbit and the tortoise do not exist. The Dalai Lama does, he writes books, he has a website, you can read it (which you obviously haven’t) and you see the guy admits that he believes in a very actual, not symbolic, reincarnation.

Look at what he himself says:
http://www.dalailama.com/page.54.htm

If the present situation regarding Tibet remains the same, I will be born outside Tibet away from the control of the Chinese authorities. This is logical. The very purpose of a reincarnation is to continue the unfinished work of the previous incarnation. Thus if the Tibetan situation still remains unsolved it is logical I will be born in exile to continue my unfinished work.

Another thing I didn’t mention in my autobiography is that after my birth, a pair of crows came to roost on the roof of our house. They would arrive each morning, stay for while and then leave. This is of particular interest as similar incidents occurred at the birth of the First, Seventh, Eighth and Twelfth Dalai Lamas. After their births, a pair of crows came and remained. In my own case, in the beginning, nobody paid attention to this. Recently, however, perhaps three years ago, I was talking with my mother, and she recalled it. She had noticed them come in the morning; depart after a time, and then the next morning, come again. Now, the evening the after the birth of the First Dalai Lama, bandits broke into the family’s house. The parents ran away and left the child. The next day when they returned and wondered what had happened to their son, they found the baby in a corner of the house. A crow stood before him, protecting him. Later on, when the First Dalai Lama grew up and developed in his spiritual practice, he made direct contact during meditation with the protective deity, Mahakala. At this time, Mahakala said to him, “Somebody like you who is upholding the Buddhist teaching needs a protector like me. Right on the day of your birth, I helped you.” So we can see, there is definitely a connection between Mahakala, the crows, and the Dalai Lamas….

Another thing that happened, which my mother remembers very clearly, is that soon after I arrived in Lhasa, I said that my teeth were in a box in a certain house in the Norbulinka. When they opened the box, they found a set of dentures which had belonged to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. I pointed to the box, and said that my teeth were in there, but right now I don’t recall this at all. The new memories associated with this body are stronger. The past has become smaller, vaguer. Unless I made a specific attempt to develop such a memory, I don’t recall it….
Children are usually born with their eyes closed. I was born with my eyes open. This may be some slight indication of a clear state of mind in the womb.

Your version of Buddhism is not the same as the Dalai Lama’s. It’s the Dalai Lama who was quoted as evidence, not you.

His writing speaks clearly to a belief in actual, not symbolic, reincarnation – with some memories of a previous life that he “develops.” His writing speaks clearly to a belief in omens and signs.

Stop talking out of your ass and read what the Dalai Lama himself says.

Comment #125121

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 2:05 PM (e)

Norm, you’re alright. I don’t care what everyone else says about you.

Comment #125124

Posted by Matt Young on September 1, 2006 2:21 PM (e)

My thanks to BWE for the gracious apology, which I read only now. I sometimes share your frustration with certain commenters, but if you want to influence anyone, I strongly recommend against hurling insults like Mr. Doering and “Dr.” Flank, who have taken up the cudgels that BWE has wisely dropped. Both seem to me to be knowledgeable people, but neither seems to have figured out that someone can disagree with you, misunderstand you, or even be flatly wrong without necessarily being a fool. May I suggest to them that they try gentle irony and see if that works better?

Comment #125126

Posted by Matt Young on September 1, 2006 2:24 PM (e)

By “apology,” I meant Comment #125093, not the preceding comment to mine. Things evidently go too fast for me here.

Comment #125127

Posted by Corkscrew on September 1, 2006 2:25 PM (e)

I think there’s a distinction to be drawn here between irrational and arational beliefs. Most religions believe stuff that’s unsupported by facts (arational) but many avoid believing stuff that’s actively contradicted by the facts (irrational).

The only question is whether arational beliefs count as dogma. That’s a valid issue - I’d say no, but that’s just my opinion.

Comment #125129

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 2:26 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

Norm and PG are ignorant of Buddism and equated it with religion.

You and Lenny didn’t seem to know that the Dalai Lama believed in omens, actual reincarnation and gods that visit them.

Now, who is really ignorant of Buddism?

GuyeFaux seems to find belief in omens, signs, gods and reincarnation as equally scientific as belief in gravity.

You all, including the Dalai Lama, seem to think science is in the business of “disproof.” But do you understand Popper’s ghosts’s post where he said:

Science can’t prove that humans never rode on the backs of dinosaurs, and it can’t prove that the flagellum evolved. But science isn’t in the business of proof, only inference to the best explanation. Religion, including Buddhism with its dharma, are based on a different epistemological principle – authoritative assertion, aka dogma, aka “revealed truth”.

Comment #125133

Posted by AC on September 1, 2006 2:43 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

He also tells me what the very best issues of playboy are.

That’s easy: the old ones.

Lenny wrote:

If you meet the Buddha on the road, don’t worship him — kill him instead.

And don’t forget to nick his collection of vintage porn!

Comment #125135

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 2:56 PM (e)

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 02:26 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

Norm and PG are ignorant of Buddism and equated it with religion.

You and Lenny didn’t seem to know that the Dalai Lama believed in omens, actual reincarnation and gods that visit them.

Now, who is really ignorant of Buddism?

GuyeFaux seems to find belief in omens, signs, gods and reincarnation as equally scientific as belief in gravity.

You all, including the Dalai Lama, seem to think science is in the business of “disproof.” But do you understand Popper’s ghosts’s post where he said:

Science can’t prove that humans never rode on the backs of dinosaurs, and it can’t prove that the flagellum evolved. But science isn’t in the business of proof, only inference to the best explanation. Religion, including Buddhism with its dharma, are based on a different epistemological principle – authoritative assertion, aka dogma, aka “revealed truth”.

Norm, you are, of course, right. That was what I was getting at a while back. If Dolly Lolly believes supernatural stuff, then I would have to agree he is probably wrong. I have not encountered that aspect of Buddhism anywhere. I do have some experience with many varieties of Buddists. I would say that you are likely more ignorant of Buddhism than I am but that doesn’t mean I know what Ol Dali’s about. I’ve read his books and they seem consistent with what I know but I haven’t read the majik stuff so I must say I know not of what I speak there.

Also, under no illusions about the disproof thing. But PG, in all his magnificent glory actually said much more than this. And he equated Buddism with Authoritative Assertion which is nearly the exact opposite of what buddhism is. The Lama may believe whatever but the reason he says he would have to change in light of evidence is because that is what Buddism is really all about. His practice teaches him to look at evidence. THere is a library worth of philosophy and science to be written on the nature of permanence/ impermanence/ consciousness and we would grow old talking about it so he is probably also right in saying that it isn’t likely to happen. His particular Buddha of the gaps happens to live in a very difficult gap to fill. But in his defense, I would say that it also started there. It hasn’t been shrunken to this particular gap. That is more than can be said for fundies by a heck of a lot.

And my apology was, in fact, sincere. Norm made a good point but didn’t know the context and PG buried a small, obvious point in a barrage of ignorant, arrogant and overexuberant verbosity. I apologized to Norm and poked fun at PG. Both well deserved according to me.

This is an important topic in many ways. There really are forces of truth and forces of lies out there. It’s bizarre and creepy. The fundies have come off as people you don’t want your daughter to go out with y’know? Figuring out what’s up with them is part of making our world fun and peaceful.

Comment #125139

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 3:21 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

But PG, in all his magnificent glory actually said much more than this. And he equated Buddism with Authoritative Assertion which is nearly the exact opposite of what buddhism is.

No, the Dalai Lama and the other institutional figureheads of Buddhism do make Authoritative Assertions based on revealations from gods, crows, visions and reincarnated memories. PG is not wrong, you are. Or, at least I share PG’s view there to put it more open mindedly.

Here’s another question to consider: Is religion an institution or a belief system? I’m defining religion as the institutions, however losely tied together. It’s the institutions where people of like mind get together and drive themselves deeper into their cultural illusions.

The Dalai Lama is part of an institution – not that disimilar from the Vatican.

Comment #125140

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 1, 2006 3:27 PM (e)

GuyeFaux seems to find belief in omens, signs, gods and reincarnation as equally scientific as belief in gravity.

This is dishonest and insulting. Nowhere did I say, imply, or in fact hold that belief in omens, signs, god and reincarnation are equally scientific as belief in gravity.

Don’t make me pull a Popper’s Ghost.

Comment #125143

Posted by Steviepinhead on September 1, 2006 3:37 PM (e)

BWE:

You may not have said it, but I’ll bet you thought it.

Nope. Indeed, I hardly ever think about “it” at all.

Less discursively, I realize that some have found Popper’s Ghost’s style of discourse abrasive (the same was said of “ts” and “mobius,” who may or may not have been previous “incarnations,” heh heh, of PG’s). Nobody, and certainly not PG–who I know only through these pages–has appointed me his defender, any more than anyone appointed me summarizer-in-chief of Pim’s “trainwreck” thread.

But neither am I one of his detractors.

Which doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with everything he says or every way in which he says it.

However, I have found that–on those occasions when I find myself potentially disagreeing with or misunderstanding him (or her; WTF knows, eh?)–that we usually manage to understand each other without quite as much acrimony as others tend to encounter.

Doubtless my ineffable air of nonchalant charm, doncha know…

Cocks eyebrow, twirls mustachio.

Comment #125145

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 3:38 PM (e)

GuyeFaux wrote:

GuyeFaux seems to find belief in omens, signs, gods and reincarnation as equally scientific as belief in gravity.

This is dishonest and insulting. Nowhere did I say, imply, or in fact hold that belief in omens, signs, god and reincarnation are equally scientific as belief in gravity.

Don’t make me pull a Popper’s Ghost.

But in his comment #125102:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/08/summer_institut_1.html#comment-125102

He said:

Another way to look at it though is to say that the arbitrary rules are also coincidental and therefore signifficant.

Here’s the emphasis: by saying that these signs are arbitrary, you’re saying that the new Lama was chosen because of the signs. That he was not yet the new Lama until they picked him. A Buddhist would say that the new Lama was found thanks to the signs. That in fact he was the new Lama all the time and therefore caused the coincidence.

There’s no scientific disparity between the viewpoints. There is no scientific way to distinguish them, which means there’s no conflict.

Actually, there is a scientific disparity.

If Popper doesn’t come back to explain it, I’ll explain that disparity later.

Comment #125146

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 1, 2006 3:49 PM (e)

If Popper doesn’t come back to explain it, I’ll explain that disparity later.

On reflection, replace “scientific disparity” with “material conflict” in my post. As it is it’s wrong.

I should’be written:

There’s no scientif conflict between the viewpoints. There is no scientific way to distinguish them, which means there’s no conflict.

There’s of course disparity between thinking that the Lama caused the omens versus thinking that the omens caused the Lama. Cf Popper’s Ghost referencing Russel’s teapots in space and tooth-fairy agnosticism.

Comment #125147

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 1, 2006 3:50 PM (e)

F–k. I mean replace “scientific disparity” with “scientific conflict”.

Comment #125160

Posted by David B. Benson on September 1, 2006 4:52 PM (e)

At the risk of Lenny Flank disagreeing with me, I will flatly state that Zen is so abstract that it no longer is ‘part of’ Buddism. Yes, it grew out of the Buddist tradition in China and was brought to full flower in Japan. But it is perfectly possible to combine Zen with a variety of religious experiences: I knew a Zen Quaker, who had indeed studied in a Zen monastery. A most impressive individual.

The most important book in Zen is Dogen’s 8th(?) century “Instructions for the Zen Cook”. No it is not a cookbook. At that time the cook was one of the officers in a Zen monastery and Dogun provides instruction in this office. For example, “When you are washing rice, just wash rice. Pay attention to every grain.” Note the ‘pay attention’. The (partial) practitioners of Zen of my acquaintance were extremely alert to their surroundings.

“When you are driving the car, just drive the car. Pay attention to every vehicle.”

Comment #125163

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 5:00 PM (e)

PG jumped on me unnessesarily and ridiculously so I spent a little time frustrating him

What you did was write

What school did you say you were just starting at?

I know one thing for absolute certain fact but it’s a secret that I only tell my friends.

You also have a hole in your head that your brains are leaking out of.

So don’t play the victim here.

Comment #125164

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 5:04 PM (e)

My thanks to BWE for the gracious apology

Are you kidding me? What’s “gracious” about playing the victim and again attacking me?

Comment #125170

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 5:15 PM (e)

But PG, in all his magnificent glory actually said much more than this. And he equated Buddism with Authoritative Assertion which is nearly the exact opposite of what buddhism is.

Youy can say this until you’re blue in the face, but dharma remains authoritative assertion. Anything that might be labeled “truths”, whether they be four or twenty, noble or ignoble, is authoritative assertion. You and talk about being an expert in Buddhism – but what you are expert about is the authoritative assertions of Buddhism. Of course it’s handy if “Buddhism is not based on authoritative assertion” is one of the authoritative assertions of Buddhism, but that doesn’t make it true by scientific epistemological standards.

Comment #125171

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 5:17 PM (e)

And my apology was, in fact, sincere. Norm made a good point but didn’t know the context and PG buried a small, obvious point in a barrage of ignorant, arrogant and overexuberant verbosity.

Yeah, right, all your ad hominems are “sincere”.

Comment #125181

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 5:34 PM (e)

PG

BWE: I don’t think further discussion between us is fruitful. Enjoy your whiskey.

Hmmm. Was the previous discussion?

PG

My “attitude” is that I don’t suffer fools gladly.

Must get frustrating.

Comment #125127

Posted by Corkscrew on September 1, 2006 02:25 PM (e)

I think there’s a distinction to be drawn here between irrational and arational beliefs. Most religions believe stuff that’s unsupported by facts (arational) but many avoid believing stuff that’s actively contradicted by the facts (irrational).

The only question is whether arational beliefs count as dogma. That’s a valid issue - I’d say no, but that’s just my opinion.

I agree. Is it dogma to make claims about subjective interpretations? Especially when there is no right answer? A mite different from telling us we’ll go to hell if we jack off. (Can I just do it till I have to wear glasses?)

I would add that making yourself feel good by excersising is roughly equivelant to making yourself feel good through meditating. Or, possibly put as “learning to enjoy the moment”.

Norm

No, the Dalai Lama and the other institutional figureheads of Buddhism do make Authoritative Assertions based on revealations from gods, crows, visions and reincarnated memories. PG is not wrong, you are. Or, at least I share PG’s view there to put it more open mindedly.

Here’s another question to consider: Is religion an institution or a belief system? I’m defining religion as the institutions, however losely tied together. It’s the institutions where people of like mind get together and drive themselves deeper into their cultural illusions.

The Dalai Lama is part of an institution – not that disimilar from the Vatican.

and that’s where I have to get off the bus. Like I said, I have read his books and seen him speak twice, I see just a man who lives his philosophy. I have not read or heard any authoritative assertions of supernatural events taking place. There is no doubt that he is the head of a theocracy though and this is pretty scary by itself. I’m sure there used to be a lot of nasty things done in the name of gov’t in tibet.

SteviePH

Posted by Steviepinhead on September 1, 2006 03:37 PM (e)

BWE:

-You may not have said it, but I’ll bet you thought it.-

Nope. Indeed, I hardly ever think about “it” at all.

Less discursively, I realize that some have found Popper’s Ghost’s style of discourse abrasive (the same was said of “ts” and “mobius,” who may or may not have been previous “incarnations,” heh heh, of PG’s). Nobody, and certainly not PG–who I know only through these pages–has appointed me his defender, any more than anyone appointed me summarizer-in-chief of Pim’s “trainwreck” thread.

But neither am I one of his detractors.

Man, I’d like a doubleshot of humor please. Extra dry, no olive.

Posted by David B. Benson on September 1, 2006 04:52 PM (e)

At the risk of Lenny Flank disagreeing with me, I will flatly state that Zen is so abstract that it no longer is ‘part of’ Buddism. Yes, it grew out of the Buddist tradition in China and was brought to full flower in Japan. But it is perfectly possible to combine Zen with a variety of religious experiences: I knew a Zen Quaker, who had indeed studied in a Zen monastery. A most impressive individual.

The most important book in Zen is Dogen’s 8th(?) century “Instructions for the Zen Cook”. No it is not a cookbook. At that time the cook was one of the officers in a Zen monastery and Dogun provides instruction in this office. For example, “When you are washing rice, just wash rice. Pay attention to every grain.” Note the ‘pay attention’. The (partial) practitioners of Zen of my acquaintance were extremely alert to their surroundings.

“When you are driving the car, just drive the car. Pay attention to every vehicle.”

That is the essense of Buddism in general too. You can push the envelope however far and zen is not pushing for Nirvana so to speak like other folks might but that’s the beauty. It’s like flavors.

Comment #125163

Posted by Popper’s ghost on September 1, 2006 05:00 PM (e)

PG jumped on me unnessesarily and ridiculously so I spent a little time frustrating him

What you did was write

What school did you say you were just starting at?

I know one thing for absolute certain fact but it’s a secret that I only tell my friends.

You also have a hole in your head that your brains are leaking out of.

So don’t play the victim here.

Don’t forget I said you like guys.

Comment #125182

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 5:38 PM (e)

All apologies.

None needed. No harm, no foul.

:)

Comment #125184

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 5:40 PM (e)

Steviepinhead wrote:

we usually manage to understand each other without quite as much acrimony as others tend to encounter

There is actually only a very small minority of posters at PT who encounter acrimony from me – those who are transparently dishonest, like someone who writes things like “What school did you say you were just starting at?” and “You also have a hole in your head that your brains are leaking out of.”, and then “graciously apologizes” by writing “PG jumped on me unnessesarily and ridiculously so I spent a little time frustrating him”, and continues with “PG buried a small, obvious point in a barrage of ignorant, arrogant and overexuberant verbosity”, or like someone who, after I’ve been told I have a hole in my head, writes “give the attitude a rest already would ya?”, “do you suffer from asperger’s syndrome or what?”, etc. (in addition to making false charges against PZ – someone who thinks his faulty memory is evidence, as when he claimed that you called me an ahole). And one can count on others who’s intellectual dishonesty I’ve called out to join in on the attack; we’ve already seen Lenny do it. Most people here don’t engage in this sort of dishonest behavior, but they also don’t comment on it; I do. And you’re one of the very few people who, when they do comment on it, does not jump in with the dishonest attack-the-messenger chorus, which I appreciate and consider a sign of intelligence.

Comment #125185

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 5:41 PM (e)

Yeah, right, all your ad hominems are “sincere”.

Was it something I said?

Comment #125187

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 5:43 PM (e)

Lenny, the rabbit and the tortoise do not exist. The Dalai Lama does, he writes books, he has a website, you can read it (which you obviously haven’t) and you see the guy admits that he believes in a very actual, not symbolic, reincarnation.

First off, Norm, you need to learn what a “metaphor” is. Like I said before, you’re more literalist than the fundies are.

Second, let’s assume for your sake that the Dalai Lama not only beleives in reincarnation, but also in ghosts, flying saucers, pixies, and the Lost Continent of Atlantis.

So f’ing what? Why on earth is anyone other than the Dalai Lama obligated to believe whatever the heck the Dalai Lama believes?

Buddhism is intensely individual. It simply doesn’t matter what anyone else does or believes. It’s up to each individual to walk their own path. No one else can do that for them. Not even the Dalai Lama. Not even Buddha. If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

I do understand that, being a fundie and all, the very concept of a non-authoritarian religion is utterly beyomnd your understanding. Just like it is beyond Falwell and Kennedy’s.

Like I said before, under the feathers, you’re the very same bird.

Comment #125188

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 5:44 PM (e)

Don’t make me pull a Popper’s Ghost.

In other words, present the evidence … as Norm did, in this case … that supports your claim.

Comment #125189

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 5:46 PM (e)

If Dolly Lolly believes supernatural stuff, then I would have to agree he is probably wrong.

As would I.

And as would the Dalai Lama.

Norm needs to learn what a “metaphor” is.

He also needs to learn the difference between “exoteric” and “esoteric”.

Most of all, Norm needs to stop being more literalist than the f’ing fundies are.

Comment #125190

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 5:49 PM (e)

Is this what you mean by “gracious”, Matt?

You [(Steviepinhead)] may not have said it, but I’ll bet you thought [PG is an ass]”.

Don’t forget I said you like guys.

Comment #125191

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 5:51 PM (e)

At the risk of Lenny Flank disagreeing with me, I will flatly state that Zen is so abstract that it no longer is ‘part of’ Buddism.

No disagreement there. Zen, quite literally, teaches nothing at all. So there is nothing it can or can’t be a “part of”.

Anyone, in any circumstances, of any background, can “know thyself, and be what you are”.

And that’s all Zen is.

Comment #125193

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 5:53 PM (e)

I will firmly request that you both and everyone else refrain from such invective and personal insults.

Does this count as such?

So f’ing what? …
I do understand that, being a fundie and all, the very concept of a non-authoritarian religion is utterly beyomnd your understanding.

Most of all, Norm needs to stop being more literalist than the f’ing fundies are.

Comment #125194

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 5:53 PM (e)

that doesn’t make it true by scientific epistemological standards.

Neither is “blondes are cuter than brunettes”.

So what?

Comment #125196

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2006 5:56 PM (e)

It’s like flavors.

Indeed, the question to eb asked is not “is this right?” but “Is this right FOR ME?”

There’s no wrong way to be a Buddhist, as long as you be yourself.

Comment #125202

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 6:04 PM (e)

So what?

BWE made a truth claim, a claim that I said something false:

he equated Buddism with Authoritative Assertion which is nearly the exact opposite of what buddhism is.

That’s not anything like “PG likes blondes and I like brunettes”. I argued that his statement is false; “so what” if it’s not true is simply that … that it’s false, nothing more than that. Talk about blondes and brunettes is a non sequitur.

Comment #125204

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 6:08 PM (e)

PG

There is actually only a very small minority of posters at PT who encounter acrimony from me –those who are transparently dishonest, like someone who writes things like “What school did you say you were just starting at?” and “You also have a hole in your head that your brains are leaking out of.”, and then “graciously apologizes” by writing “PG jumped on me unnessesarily and ridiculously so I spent a little time frustrating him”, and continues with “PG buried a small, obvious point in a barrage of ignorant, arrogant and overexuberant verbosity ”,

Transparently dishonest? Hmmm. Let me consult with Buddha and see what I’m allowed to say here…

Ok.

See, I told you he likes guys. The only part he disagreed with is the hole in the head business.

But I’m sure that in a past life, I watched the brains leaking out of the hole in your head. And I distincly remember that your Karmic punishment for taking yourself so seriously was to be brains leaking from the hole in your head for several more lifetimes. And when the sun stands still for a day is when your karmic debt will be paid. Isn’t that right? I’m sure if you slaughter a goat and read the entrails you would discover the Noble truth of my words.

Comment #125205

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 6:16 PM (e)

There’s of course disparity between thinking that the Lama caused the omens versus thinking that the omens caused the Lama. Cf Popper’s Ghost referencing Russel’s teapots in space and tooth-fairy agnosticism.

If you think there’s no scientific conflict between “there is a tooth fairy” and “there is no tooth fairy”, or “there’s a teapot orbiting Mars” and “there’s no teapot orbiting Mars”, you are mistaken. Dawkins made the distinction between possibility and probability; it is possible that there’s a tooth fairy or a teapot orbiting Mars, but the “is” and “is not” statements are not at all equally likely, and it is likelihood that science deals with. This is distinct from metaphysical questions, which was my point about not being able to present evidence concerning the probability that the infant Dalai Lama received the “skandha” of his predecessor, or that I am Marie Antoinette’s reincarnation or inhabited by Popper’s ghost. Sadly, rather than having this point responded to, I have been insulted by people who haven’t taken the care to read or understand what I wrote or to distinguish it from what Norm wrote. As I said before, “I said nothing of dead folk moving about”.

Comment #125207

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 6:17 PM (e)

Matt, is this what you mean by “gracious”? It looks very much like a personal insult to me:

But I’m sure that in a past life, I watched the brains leaking out of the hole in your head. And I distincly remember that your Karmic punishment for taking yourself so seriously was to be brains leaking from the hole in your head for several more lifetimes.

Comment #125209

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 6:20 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

First off, Norm, you need to learn what a “metaphor” is.

Really?

Care to explain what the metaphor of the teeth means?

… my mother remembers very clearly, is that soon after I arrived in Lhasa, I said that my teeth were in a box in a certain house in the Norbulinka. When they opened the box, they found a set of dentures which had belonged to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. I pointed to the box, and said that my teeth were in there, but right now I don’t recall this at all. The new memories associated with this body are stronger. The past has become smaller, vaguer. Unless I made a specific attempt to develop such a memory, I don’t recall it….

Does that mean that this new Dalai Lama will have the same bite as the last?

It’s amazing how any superstitious garbage can be attributed to metaphor, but in this case Lenny, I think its clear to those who’ve bothered to actually read the Dalai Lama’s website that you are are still so arrogant in your ignorance and confidence you’ve never actually bothered to look at the evidence that contradicts you.

Comment #125213

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 6:28 PM (e)

First off, Norm, you need to learn what a “metaphor” is.

What a metaphor is not is a concrete statement that is called “metaphor” in a totally ad hoc fashion simply to avoid acknowledging an error in one’s claims or arguments. A metaphor is not a rhetorical tool employed as to make one’s claims impregnable to challenge.

Comment #125216

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 6:33 PM (e)

PG, why don’t you like me? Is it the hole in the head thing? I mean, we can get past that little thing can’t we? I mean, I didn’t bring up any of the really embarrassing stuff. And I won’t. I promise.

Can’t we just be friends again? Like we were in the good old days?
If it’s any help, I like you.

Comment #125217

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 6:34 PM (e)

The new memories associated with this body are stronger. The past has become smaller, vaguer. Unless I made a specific attempt to develop such a memory, I don’t recall it….

I (metaphorically speaking) am having the same trouble (metaphorically speaking) remembering (metaphorically speaking) what happened (metaphorically speaking) before the guillotine (metaphorically speaking) fell (metaphorically speaking).

Comment #125220

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 6:41 PM (e)

Can’t we just be friends again?

Only if you were to post a sincere apology, explaining that your insults were in error and how they reflect your own personal failings. Only if you were to explain to Matt Young how he was wrong to call your insincere “apology” an apology at all, or to refer to it as “gracious”. Only if you were to admit that “PG jumped on me unnessesarily and ridiculously so I spent a little time frustrating him”, and “PG buried a small, obvious point in a barrage of ignorant, arrogant and overexuberant verbosity” are factually incorrect and convince me of your sincerity. Only if you were to convince me that you are a totally different sort of person than you appear to be.

Comment #125221

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

There’s no wrong way to be a Buddhist, as long as you be yourself.

Then they’ll show you that you don’t have a self.

Comment #125222

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 6:48 PM (e)

… my mother remembers very clearly, is that soon after I arrived in Lhasa, I said that my teeth were in a box in a certain house in the Norbulinka. When they opened the box, they found a set of dentures which had belonged to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. I pointed to the box, and said that my teeth were in there, but right now I don’t recall this at all.

Of course, science can’t prove that the Dalai Lama’s mother’s recollection is incorrect or that the Dalai Lama had been cued as to the location of his predecessor’s teeth, but, as BWE noted about rocks rolling uphill, science can apply probabilistic measures, and thus there is a scientific conflict here.

Comment #125223

Posted by BWE on September 1, 2006 6:53 PM (e)

Comment #125220

Posted by Popper’s ghost on September 1, 2006 06:41 PM (e)

-Can’t we just be friends again?-

Only if you were to post a sincere apology, explaining that your insults were in error and how they reflect your own personal failings. Only if you were to explain to Matt Young how he was wrong to call your insincere “apology” an apology at all, or to refer to it as “gracious”. Only if you were to admit that “PG jumped on me unnessesarily and ridiculously so I spent a little time frustrating him”, and “PG buried a small, obvious point in a barrage of ignorant, arrogant and overexuberant verbosity” are factually incorrect and convince me of your sincerity. Only if you were to convince me that you are a totally different sort of person than you appear to be.

My apology to Matt was, in fact sincere and here I am trying to stay on topic and you are making demands I can’t possibly meet. I never did apologize to you so if you are confusing my appology to Matt with one to you then I’m sorry, we should clear up the misunderstanding.

What sort of person do I appear to be? You appear to be a man with brains leaking out of a hole in your head. I could be wrong. If I am, I would be happy to retract my statement.

Being friends is easy. You just type a colon like this :
then you type a close parenthases like this )
and when you put them together, you get this
:)

See? Wasn’t that easy?
:)

Comment #125225

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 7:00 PM (e)

Here’s the emphasis: by saying that these signs are arbitrary, you’re saying that the new Lama was chosen because of the signs. That he was not yet the new Lama until they picked him. A Buddhist would say that the new Lama was found thanks to the signs. That in fact he was the new Lama all the time and therefore caused the coincidence.

There’s no scientific [conflict] between the viewpoints. There is no scientific way to distinguish them, which means there’s no conflict.

This is incorrect; to say that the new Lama was chosen because of the signs is to say something trivially consistent with common well established causal relationships. To say that the new Lama caused the coincidence is to assert an unknown causal mechanism for which there is no evidentiary support. It’s no different from saying that people who win lotteries win them because they are lucky, rather than that they are lucky for having won, or that someone who suffers misfortune after a black cat crosses their path does so because of the black cat.

Comment #125226

Posted by normdoering on September 1, 2006 7:01 PM (e)

Popper’s ghost wrote:

… science can’t prove that the Dalai Lama’s mother’s recollection is incorrect or that the Dalai Lama had been cued as to the location of his predecessor’s teeth, but, as BWE noted about rocks rolling uphill, science can apply probabilistic measures, and thus there is a scientific conflict here.

Those events are water under the bridge now, but what would be interesting is getting some skeptics to follow the choosing of the next Dali Lama with videocameras and see if the things they say can happen, actually happen. To watch and see if an impressionable child is guided and cued by monks who react to the child’s attempts to be such a chosen figure.

If the Dalai Lama is serious about science, he should instruct those who try to find his next incarnation to invite a scientific team to follow and record every step of the process.

Comment #125227

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 7:03 PM (e)

Matt Young wrote:

I will firmly request that you both and everyone else refrain from such invective and personal insults.

BWE wrote:

You appear to be a man with brains leaking out of a hole in your head.

So much for the power of firm requests.