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Why do religious people keep trying to invent a conflict between belief and Science?


Ihcisphysicist
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I was really not expecting to have a serious discussion on a science forum re divine intervention with people that have such strong anthropocentric views. This is turning out to be akin to a god of gaps kind of debate. Obviously every one is free to believe in what ever superstition he/she wants to, but to uphold such superstition while questioning the validity of my reference to our knowledge re the origin of our species in terms of what could possibly set us apart from fellow mammals and other animals when it comes to spirituality seems rather absurd. May I suggest this article as a good starting point to get up to speed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_origin_of_religions

 

 

I am not sure that this is a scientifically accepted fact. Why do you think only humans are sentient? Here is an opinion on this:

Evolution doesn't predict that only humans would be "sentient", whatever that is. Sentience is poorly defined, but whatever it is, there's no reason to expect that precisely one species should have it. Just the opposite: evolution predicts that whatever features arise in one species could arise in another, especially if they're closely related. And even if they're not closely related, there's no reason to expect that the same mechanisms couldn't happen by another route. There are countless examples of convergent evolution out there. So it's not surprising that any property attributed to humans has at least an echo in some other species. "Sentience", in the sense of "having senses", is pretty common all over the animal kingdom. For that matter, even plants and bacteria have at least some notion of detecting the world and responding to it. The notion that humans are special because we talk about what we think is largely just self-centeredness on our part: yes, what we do is distinctive and remarkable, but treating it as if it were some kind of super-power that everybody else should want is no more sensible than bees looking down on us because we can't make honey. We're special primarily in our ability to look down on other species for not being as awesome as us.

(​https://www.quora.com/If-evolution-is-true-can-someone-argue-that-only-humans-are-sentient-and-if-so-then-how)

 

Your statement also touches on consciousness.

Several psychologists and ethologists have argued for the existence of animal consciousness by describing a range of behaviors that appear to show animals holding beliefs about things they cannot directly perceive Donald Griffin's 2001 book Animal Minds reviews a substantial portion of the evidence. (He suggests a gradual evolution of consciousness.)

Consciousness is likely an evolved adaptation since it meets George Williams' criteria of species universality, complexity, and functionality, and it is a trait that apparently increases fitness. Opinions are divided as to where in biological evolution consciousness emerged and about whether or not consciousness has survival value. It has been argued that consciousness emerged (i) exclusively with the first humans, (ii) exclusively with the first mammals, (iii) independently in mammals and birds, or (iv) with the first reptiles.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_consciousness)

 

Oh yeah. What's sentience? I dunno. I saw my dog logically reason the best way to catch the mouse was run head first into the wall.

 

I would personally describe sentience as the ability to use logical reasoning to overcome instinct.

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Oh yeah. What's sentience? I dunno. I saw my dog logically reason the best way to catch the mouse was run head first into the wall.

I would personally describe sentience as the ability to use logical reasoning to overcome instinct.

 

This could get to be a pretty confusing world if people are just going to make up their own definitions, simply to have the last word:

 

Typical definition: "Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Eighteenth-century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (reason) from the ability to feel (sentience)."

 

Of course, one can always look into the derivation of this word to see that it just does not mean using logical reasoning to overcome instinct.

 

Indeed, in philsophical/religious contexts, the word often refers to the ability to consciously experience, to feel, to have sensations, and the like.

 

The fact that there is a pecking order in the animal kingdom in terms of estimated IQ, so that dogs sometimes don't seem too bright too "us humans," contributes, I think to the validity of evolutionary models of brain development in particular and evolution theory in particular.

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This could get to be a pretty confusing world if people are just going to make up their own definitions, simply to have the last word:

 

Typical definition: "Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Eighteenth-century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (reason) from the ability to feel (sentience)."

 

According to memammal there IS no definition. Then he gave his idea of why what people think it is is wrong. I gave my own definition because he seemed to have a flawed idea of it.

 

Also, you understand what sentience is right? Because according to you every living thing is sentient. Except maybe a jellyfish....

As it seems, he's obsessed with evolution in an almost un-natural way. Maybe I'm going out on a limb here, but I still think we're the only species on our planet who are sentient. The link he gave had a 404 not found error, so I couldn't look into it. But from the links name, it seems like evolution says humans aren't sentient, because every other animal should have sentience too then. AM I the ONLY one who thinks that's odd? I mean, maybe I'm missing something, but I always thought that we have traits, including sentience that other animals don't. And other animals have traits that we don't, like the ability to hibernate. Quick question, is sentience a trait or, according to some(memaammals link), something that can't be real becuase all animals are the same. Exactly the same.

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Strange at the beginning of the thread:

 

Why do religious people keep trying to invent a conflict between belief and science?
There is no reason to invent a conflict between them. Science and religion don't really have any connection or grounds for conflict. The things that religion deals with (gods, the supernatural, etc) have nothing to do with science and science has nothing to say about them.
Science investigates the natural world and attempts to understand it.
Unless your beliefs are contradicted by reality (such as people who believe the Earth is flat) then there should be no reason for conflict between your beliefs and science, because science just explores the real world.

 

Strange, your statement regarding "science" is only valid, at most, for the hard sciences, not the soft sciences. This does not seem to be pointed out anywhere in the thread. Maybe your question is answered (for you) with awareness of this difference?
I would like to know, for example, how you would classify depth psychology, such as the theories of Freud or Jung? Both addressed religion, Freud pretty much looking upon it as wonderful, but illusion. Jung considered a religious attitude as central to the healthy operation of the psyche, especially to recognize the "other" in our psyche. Is this science or pseudoscience in your mind?
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Raider 5678, you say "Quick question, is sentience a trait or, according to some(memaammals link), something that can't be real becuase all animals are the same. Exactly the same."

 

In a nutshell, I consider physical evolution to be a fact. I do, however, speculatively entertain, from a scientific rather than religious standpoint, the idea that consciousness may survive physical death, as well as the idea of reincarnation (sans Karma). I say scientifically with reference to the likes of physicists such as Roger Penrose.

 

Bottom line though, is that I observe that modern homo sapiens are vastly superior on an intellectual level than other animals, though of course every animal has its fortes.

 

Given that I embrace evolution, I don't think there is a distinct line, or rather any line at all, between people and the rest of the animal kingdom whatsoever. So no, I think that your are going around in circles with semantics regarding the meaning of "sentient," particularly if one starts making ad hoc definitions of the word as one goes.

 

My main recollection of this word is in connection with my readings of Eastern religions, which, for example, say that eventually all sentient creatures will be saved (i.e., reach a state of Nirvana).

 

Moreover, I think that it is generally conceded in the scientific community that all animals are sentient. It used to be that many if not most people thought that animals, not only did not have souls, but barely experienced consciousness or pain. The following quote is from a webpage that directly addresses the issue:

 

"A strong and rapidly growing database on animal sentience supports the acceptance of the fact that other animals are sentient beings. We know that individuals of a wide variety of species experience emotions ranging from joy and happiness to deep sadness, grief, and PTSD, along with empathy, jealousy and resentment. There is no reason to embellish them because science is showing how fascinating they are (for example, mice, rats, and chickens display empathy) and countless other "surprises" are rapidly emerging....Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors"

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201306/universal-declaration-animal-sentience-no-pretending

So, in terms of evolution, whatever you think humans have, be it free will or consciousness or sentience or emotions or instincts or a soul or whatever, other species in the animal kingdom have it or at least the 'rudiments' of it on some level and to some degree.

........................................................

John L-G: I can't help throwing in my 2 cents on your question about Freud and Jung. Their relationship was indeed one of the great intellectual quarrels in history, with Freud being the atheistic and deterministic scientist (with ironic Jewish background) who objected to Jung's alleged 'contamination' of his version own understanding of human psychology with the sort of "occult mysticism" that Freud thought was perhaps not much better than voodoo.

 

As the question as to whether we have a subconscious in the manner in which Freud outlined it is perhaps still in the "not sure" box as far as the "scientific community" is concerned, though it seems to me that Jung offered, apart from anthropological evidence (much as Frazer had done in his Golden Bough, or J. Campbell in his work on mythology) for the existence of some collective unconscious....which is central to his depth psychology.

 

In recent years, I have read a few articles claiming that neurologists had vindicated the much maligned field of psychoanalysis (and thus Freud himself), by pointing out that many of the mechanisms (e.g., the defense mechanisms) outlined by Freud and his daughter could be matched up with certain neurological functions. I have never read anything suggesting that Jung's ideas could be defended from a scientific standpoint. Indeed, though he expressed reverence for science, he had a great affinity for Eastern Religions. In that regard, here is an interesting Christian website entitled, Carl Jung: Man of Science or Shaman, that concludes that Paul warned against the sort of "deceptive influences" that Jung represented: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/nathan/jung.htm

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disarray: In my opinion your above post deserves full marks (even though I did not read the external links). As a side note, your reference to the likelihood of eternal- or immortal consciousness of all sentient creatures (not only humans) in a way validates my earlier speculative (or in my own words "daft") questions about alternatives to the idea of the "immortal soul".

 

As it seems, he's obsessed with evolution in an almost un-natural way.

It just so happens that this one liner is chock-a-block with irony. Please do me a favour and look at all the sub disciplines listed under the main categories Biology and Medical Science on the main portal of this forum. All of those, at their very basic level, are driven by evolutionary mechanisms that include the hugely influential and far-reaching interaction between genes and the environment (natural selection, for example, is the result of the interactions between genetic variations in a population and the environment). Ditto for most, if not all of the humanistic social sciences, moral sciences and human sciences. Most people, even those who understand and embrace evolution, don't realise just how influential evolution has been and continues to be. It is nature in the making. As such it should always be the first point of reference whenever anything regarding those disciplines are being considered. Let me put it this way, your personality and whatever you think when you read this, whatever you decide next, do next, say or write next are likely determined by a unique interaction between your genetic make-up and your environment.

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In a nutshell, I consider physical evolution to be a fact. I do, however, speculatively entertain, from a scientific rather than religious standpoint, the idea that consciousness may survive physical death, as well as the idea of reincarnation (sans Karma). I say scientifically with reference to the likes of physicists such as Roger Penrose.

 

 

Reincarnation/Karma is a pseudo god, by which I mean it seeks to provide succour to those that don't

understand the benefits of forgiveness but are happy to be told.

Your atoms can survive physical death but you can't.

I do, however, speculatively entertain, from a scientific rather than religious standpoint, the idea that consciousness may survive physical death, as well as the idea of reincarnation (sans Karma).

 

 

 

May I suggest, with all due respect, you revisit our previous correspondence and Nietzsche.

Just a hint, when you understand why god is irrelevant, you understand why it's needed.

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disarray: In my opinion your above post deserves full marks (even though I did not read the external links). As a side note, your reference to the likelihood of eternal- or immortal consciousness of all sentient creatures (not only humans) in a way validates my earlier speculative (or in my own words "daft") questions about alternatives to the idea of the "immortal soul".

 

 

And it STILL doesn't prove anything.

It just so happens that this one liner is chock-a-block with irony. Please do me a favour and look at all the sub disciplines listed under the main categories Biology and Medical Science on the main portal of this forum. All of those, at their very basic level, are driven by evolutionary mechanisms that include the hugely influential and far-reaching interaction between genes and the environment (natural selection, for example, is the result of the interactions between genetic variations in a population and the environment). Ditto for most, if not all of the humanistic social sciences, moral sciences and human sciences. Most people, even those who understand and embrace evolution, don't realise just how influential evolution has been and continues to be. It is nature in the making. As such it should always be the first point of reference whenever anything regarding those disciplines are being considered. Let me put it this way, your personality and whatever you think when you read this, whatever you decide next, do next, say or write next are likely determined by a unique interaction between your genetic make-up and your environment.

And this is where I would like to correct you. Medical science, is science that is used for medical purposes. Not for making sure evolution lines perfectly with what is fact. Since you will absolutely refuse everthing I say, I'll add links and let you read it.

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/05/does_medical_sc096371.html

 

And really, when, is evolution required inside of a medical emergency? Besides bacterial resistance I fail to see much of a connection. Many sciences you mentioned, not all, but many, were used quite effectively without evolution even being known. Now I'm not downing evolution. Its real, its here, and it can teach us stuff. But the giant amount of importance you placed on its head is surreal.

Proof of moral sciences and many more, can be seen by looking at how old civilizations controlled their people. The romans, made their enemies seem like monsters to the people, which made the people a little bit happier to support the army. Inside the army motivational speeches were regularly made to keep the army motivated(moral science). And I dought they thought about evolution much.

I gtg

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Most people, even those who understand and embrace evolution, don't realise just how influential evolution has been and continues to be. It is nature in the making. As such it should always be the first point of reference whenever anything regarding those disciplines are being considered. Let me put it this way, your personality and whatever you think when you read this, whatever you decide next, do next, say or write next are likely determined by a unique interaction between your genetic make-up and your environment.

 

Yes, I think that people instinctively feel that they are making decisions independent of biological influences (e.g., instincts). Pinker has a lot to say about this, but suffice to say that religion, parental upbringing, our legal system, etc. all contribute towards this rather illusory feeling. All the more reason to teach not only evolution, but also evolutionary psychology. The two (obviously generalized) scientific estimates I have heard were 50/50 or 40% environment and 60% genetic with reference to the development of personality. Of course, these are just rough figures presented to make a point, namely, that genetics does indeed have a huge impact on personality

 

Freud may have gone down a lot of dead ends, but his basic vision that people need to be more aware of the influence of biology on their behavior is timeless.

 

 

 

 

Reincarnation/Karma is a pseudo god, by which I mean it seeks to provide succour to those that don't

understand the benefits of forgiveness but are happy to be told.

Your atoms can survive physical death but you can't.

 

May I suggest, with all due respect, you revisit our previous correspondence and Nietzsche.

Just a hint, when you understand why god is irrelevant, you understand why it's needed.

dimreepr: So let me get this straight: On the one hand you are arguing against the (Eastern) religious concept of reincarnation/karma as if it were a "pseudo God, and, in the same breath, hinting about the need for god. Do you see a contradiction here? I don't recall having any dialogue with you regarding Nietzsche as you say, but would prefer that you would just state what is on your mind with regards to him, rather than just beating around some (apparently Mosaic) bush.

 

Secondly, I stated that my view of reincarnation, though originally taken from Eastern religions, was shorn of any religious connotations (much like Jefferson took ideas from Christianity and rejected the religious connotations such as the miracles) . For example, I stated that my view did not include "karma" which is, in my and Weber's opinion, an attempt to keep the masses in line in an ethical sense. Moreover, there is no room for a personal god in my view, and indeed, Buddhism (unlike Hinduism) generally has no personal god per se, and indeed, many would not even classify it as a religion. (And no, I am not a Buddhist apart from endorsing a few of its tenets; nor do I believe in Karma or anything like it).

 

Yes, people are atoms, but the atoms (or, perhaps more specifically, the molecules) do not disappear upon physical death....rather they are more or less recycled. Similarly, it is not scientifically inconceivable that something similar happens to "consciouosness" (I put the word in inverted commas to signify that scientists do not have much of a grasp on what consciousness is or what it entails anyway):

"According to the two scientists [renowned physicists, Roger Penrose and Dr. Stuart Hameroff], our brain is a biological computer and the consciousness is a program run by the quantum computer found in the brain that continues to exist after we die. They argue that what people perceive as consciousness is actually the result of quantum gravity effects inside these microtubules. This process is named by the two scientists "Orchestrated Objective Reduction" (Orch-OR)....the "Orch-OR theory" ...remains a controversial theory among the scientific community."

Although, this is not the exact scientific approach I had in mind as far as what happens with regards to any residual mental activity after physical death, the quote above illustrates that it is not ridiculous to take a scientific approach (e.g., non-religious, non-spiritual) the issue of life after death, especially when one does not invoke faith, God, divinely inspired scriptures, divine rewards and punishments, penance, rituals such as baptism, the supernatural, etc.

I had a look at the link you posted re evolution and supports Intelligent Design, the darling anti-evolution theory of Christians in general and (covert) Creationists in particular. I could engage in a discussion as to the points made in the article, and there are plenty of books on the shelf written by scientists far brighter than me who engage in such discussions far better than I can, but it seems to me that you are rather quick to glibly dismiss anything is not in line with your own religious views, judging from the manner in which you apparently skimmed over my post (as you disagreed with statements that I did not even make or when I had actually said the opposite of what you accused me of saying!). Moreover, the thrust of this thread is why religious people continue to 'invent conflicts' with scientists, not to re hash old arguments.

But since you mentioned it, the 'odd' (pun intended) religious article aside, the theory of evolution is the backbone of biology and related sciences:

"Evolution is so interwoven into the fabric of modern life that it is almost impossible to imagine the world without it....Darwin’s legacy to posterity lies as much in revolutionizing the methodology of the life sciences as in offering particular views about evolution...Historians generally shy away from engaging in “what if” stories, but most would agree that had “On the Origin of Species” not been published, we would still believe in evolution, but the development of modern biology would have unfolded much differently, and with less striking success."

from https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/darwin/textonly/darwin_essay1.jsp

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@ Raider5678: I had a look at the website that you referenced, but since said website clearly argues from a religious and ID perspective and being familiar with their anti-science stance from past experiences with similar websites like creation.com, I have no intention to engage in a debate about their dubious claims. I cringe when I read stuff like that and it is not that I don't want to entertain a different opinion, it is because I know that it is devoid of scientific merit. Perhaps you should post questions in this regard on the relevant sub-directories of this site in order to get a more scientific response to it..? Alternatively try to read, or research more credible sources. Here is one that highlights some of the important applications of evolution in medical science: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/medicine_01 (navigate through the site by means of the "next" buttons)

 

It may be true that most Romans did not know much about evolution, but then neither did Neanderthals. Interestingly enough though, evolutionary thought, the conception that species change over time, has roots in antiquity - in the ideas of the ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese as well as in medieval Islamic science. You can read about this as well as the history of the widespread influence of evolution here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_evolutionary_thought.

 

I previously provided a link to the evolution of morality.

 

You may also find this interesting: Sociocultural evolution & Evolutionary psychology.

 

PS. Please also pay attention to disarray's last post above (#109) and his comments w.r.t. evolution.

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dimreepr: So let me get this straight: On the one hand you are arguing against the (Eastern) religious concept of reincarnation/karma as if it were a "pseudo God, and, in the same breath, hinting about the need for god. Do you see a contradiction here?

 

 

Not at all, I'm an atheist and don't believe in god/s pseudo or otherwise but I do see how it helps some people find peace; the reality of god/s is irrelevant when one is content.

 

 

I don't recall having any dialogue with you regarding Nietzsche as you say, but would prefer that you would just state what is on your mind with regards to him, rather than just beating around some (apparently Mosaic) bush.

 

 

 

I'm not suggesting we've discussed Nietzsche, I assumed you were familiar with him and suggested

you revisit his work along with our previous discourse.

 

Edit: I'm sorry, I should've been more specific "God is dead", not everything he said was gold.

As an aside, I believe in the concept of karma but not reincarnation.

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Not sure that I see the consistency in your remarks:

 

You state on the 24th of June that "Reincarnation/Karma is a pseudo god," but then state rather enigmatically in your last post that you believe in karma, but not in reincarnation.

 

Similarly, you state on the 23rd that "how was Nietzsche wrong when he declared "God is dead"; the idea seems prophetic." but in your last post you state that "God is dead", "not everything he said was gold" as if you did not think much of his claim.

 

I guess I would just suggest that you elaborate a little more rather than making vague allusions, e.g., such as asking if I am familiar with Nietzsche. Similarly, you might elaborate cryptic remarks, e.g., by explaining how it is that you believe in karma, but not in reincarnation, particularly since a rather standard definition of karma is "(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. In short, the concept of karma typically goes hand in hand with the concept of reincarnation as far as I can discern.

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I didn't say Nietzsche was wrong about "God is dead" when I said "not everything he said was gold", I simply meant I don't think he was right about some of the other things he wrote.

 

I said I believe in the concept of Karma, there is a difference; The actions of a person in this life if negative, has negative consequences, but if positive then so are the consequences; Smile and the world smiles back, frown and the world turns it's back.

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...particularly since a rather standard definition of karma is "(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. In short, the concept of karma typically goes hand in hand with the concept of reincarnation as far as I can discern.

 

 

There are so many flavours of Buddhism that you'd be able to find some for which this is the case and others for which it is not.

 

(Buddhism doesn't actually teach reincarnation but rebirth - the difference being there is no permanent self, soul or mind which passes between lives.)

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There are so many flavours of Buddhism that you'd be able to find some for which this is the case and others for which it is not.

 

(Buddhism doesn't actually teach reincarnation but rebirth - the difference being there is no permanent self, soul or mind which passes between lives.)

 

Interesting comments, but not sure I want to just accept them without some sort of evidence or qualification. Can you give me an example of a "flavour" of Buddhism, perhaps as practiced in the East, in which karma does not interface with the concept of reincarnation, if that were your point?

 

I am surprised that, having made your first statement, you then make the second generalized claim that (apparently no flavour of) Buddism does not accept reincarnation.

 

I take your point if you are referring to a certain flavour of Buddhism, of which we can say that,

 

Traditionally, Buddhism teaches the existence of the ten realms of being. At the top is Buddha and the scale descends as follows: Bodhisattva (an enlightened being destined to be a Buddha, but purposely remaining on earth to teach others), Pratyeka Buddha (a Buddha for himself), Sravka (direct disciple of Buddha), heavenly beings (superhuman [angels?]), human beings, Asura (fighting spirits), beasts, Preta (hungry ghosts), and depraved men (hellish beings)." http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/reincarnation.htm

So what we have in this flavour is that there is a sort of nonphysical 'reincarnation'.

 

But again, that is not the only flavour of Buddhism, as you say:

When Buddhism was established 2,500 years ago, it incorporated the Hindu belief in reincarnation. Although Buddhism has two major subdivisions and countless variations in regional practices, most Buddhists believe in samsara or the cycle of rebirth. Samsara is governed by the law of karma: Good conduct produces good karma and bad conduct produces evil karma. Buddhists believe that the soul's karma transmigrates between bodies and becomes a "germ of consciousness" in the womb. Periods of afterlife, sometimes called "the between," punctuate samsara, coming after death and before rebirth We suffer because we desire the transient. Only when we achieve a state of total passiveness and free ourselves from all desire can we escape samsara and achieve nirvana, or salvation.

http://people.howstuffworks.com/reincarnation2.htm

Underlining is mine.

 

However, perhaps you are just agreeing that some nonspecific 'je ne sais quoi' can be in and can pass between different stages of being, but that Buddhism doesn't strictly believe in reincarnation in the same sense as Hindi do because they have a different concept of self. I understand the idea that Buddhism does not think that we survive death in the same sense as, say, a Christian might. I understand that the the Buddhism concept of what exists in Nirvana is not our daily Joe-Blow personality who grumbles, laughs, likes cheeseburgers and beer, etc. I understand that some flavours of Buddhism do not think that we are reborn as a different animal. I understand that the Buddhist concept of a higher Self is more rarefied and ephemeral than usually found in most "religions." Point taken......but nevertheless, there is some ephemeral level of awareness that many flavors of Buddhism, if you like, believe in that needs to follow various paths (e.g., eightfold path), and/or that needs to overcome attachment and desire in order to escape from its present condition in the first place.

 

If our awareness is Completely! extinguished after death, why bother, one might ask, trying to escape. Something must remain:

"no matter which translation you pick, it is understood that to be in a state of Nirvana means to be free from those bonds that enslave us; It is a state of profound peace and great wisdom. It is the ultimate happiness that comes when we are liberated from finding pain or pleasure in impermanent (transitory) objects.

https://www.thebuddhagarden.com/nirvana-meaning.html

So no, we don't eat ice cream, or sing hymns, or play harps, or perhaps even experience either sorrow or pleasure, but there is some residue of consciousness (according to some flavours of Buddhism) that experiences peace and freedom.


I didn't say Nietzsche was wrong about "God is dead" when I said "not everything he said was gold", I simply meant I don't think he was right about some of the other things he wrote.

 

I said I believe in the concept of Karma, there is a difference; The actions of a person in this life if negative, has negative consequences, but if positive then so are the consequences; Smile and the world smiles back, frown and the world turns it's back.

 

Sounds like you were wandering from the discussion then....of course, not everything anyone says is gold.

 

Again, perhaps you can show me how the word "karma" is used by most, if any (substantial number of) practicing Buddhists in a way that only refers to "payback," for lack of another handy word, in this life and not in connection with reincarnation? In terms of "street language," yes, sometimes people use the word karma to suggest that crime does not pay in this lifetime, for example. But even then, most people on the street are aware, as they use this term, that the meaning of the term springs from the spiritual use of the word in connection with reincarnation. Perhaps a Christian would use a phrase such as "you sow what you reap," and a neutral phrase (in terms of "religions") is perhaps "what goes around, comes around," but if I had to choose, I would say that this phrase relates most closely to Hinduism.

 

In any case, I think it is fair that atheists (by definition) do not believe that there is some personal God that ensures that such justice in the world is taken care of by anything or anyone besides people's own fallible judicial system and their own efforts to get even?

 

It is controversial whether Buddhism is even a religion (in the usual sense of the word), but Hinduism generally is considered to be, and it is Hinduism that most fully embraces the word "karma" in terms of the way it is used on the street. So, I would suggest that many if not most atheists would not subscribe to the concept of some supernatural, or even natural, moral justice in the universe that ensures that people 'get what they deserve', even if we are just talking about this life on earth alone.

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Again, perhaps you can show me how the word "karma" is used by most,

 

 

why, I've told you how I think of karma, I don't know (or care) how others think of it or how it relates to my point, the rest is verbiage.

 

 

Sounds like you were wandering from the discussion then....of course, not everything anyone says is gold.

 

 

 

FFS :doh: Try reading and replying to my post in full, there's a phrase for people who employ this tactic

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Interesting comments, but not sure I want to just accept them without some sort of evidence or qualification. Can you give me an example of a "flavour" of Buddhism, perhaps as practiced in the East, in which karma does not interface with the concept of reincarnation, if that were your point?

 

Fair enough, but why the caveat that it needs to be practiced in the east?

 

First lets look at some Buddhist texts. The Kalama Sutta is perhaps the most famous, but from a lesser known section the Buddha says:

 

"'If there is a world after death, if there is the fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then this is the basis by which, with the break-up of the body, after death, I will reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world.' This is the first assurance he acquires.

"'But if there is no world after death, if there is no fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then here in the present life I look after myself with ease — free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble.' This is the second assurance he acquires.

 

 

i.e. it doesn't matter if there is a life beyond this one (rebirth), Buddhism is a method developed to help you out either way - the Buddha is explaining an agnostic position on the afterlife.

 

Here you can also find an argument that some of the earliest Buddhist texts do not teach the doctrine of rebirth:

 

 

The entire collection of teachings found in the Atthakavagga, one of the anthologies in the Sutta Nipata, contains almost no reference to rebirth except for brief, and non-approving reference to people who do believe in this. The Atthakavagga also lacks any mention that the goal of liberation involved freedom from the cycles of birth and death. Instead, the Buddha in this canonical Theravada text consistently and forcefully champions a goal of peace and liberation attainable in this life. He also eloquently teaches a path of not clinging to any views, including, explicitly, “views about becoming or non-becoming,” i.e., any views of existence or non-existence, past, present, or future.

Many scholars of early Buddhism believe the Atthakavagga is among the oldest Buddhist teachings that survive, older than most of the Pali Suttas.[1]Even if the text is not the earliest Buddhist teachings that survive, the consistent message of the Atthakavagga does suggest that at an early date at least part of the Buddhist tradition presented the practice without recourse to notions of rebirth.

 

I hope by appealing straight to the scriptures i have by-passed your need for such non-rebirth believing Buddhists to be from the east. But just in case my anecdote of having met a Buddhist priest who does not believe in literal rebirth (she is Korean, from a Zen school), apparently Shin Buddhism - ironically a branch of pure land Buddhism, and thoroughly eastern - pays no heed to any afterlife.

 

I accept that the majority of Buddhists believe in rebirth, but the key point is that such belief is not necessary and can (if you want) be taken separate from karma.

 

However, perhaps you are just agreeing that some nonspecific 'je ne sais quoi' can be in and can pass between different stages of being, but that Buddhism doesn't strictly believe in reincarnation in the same sense as Hindi do because they have a different concept of self. I understand the idea that Buddhism does not think that we survive death in the same sense as, say, a Christian might. I understand that the the Buddhism concept of what exists in Nirvana is not our daily Joe-Blow personality who grumbles, laughs, likes cheeseburgers and beer, etc. I understand that some flavours of Buddhism do not think that we are reborn as a different animal. I understand that the Buddhist concept of a higher Self is more rarefied and ephemeral than usually found in most "religions." Point taken......but nevertheless, there is some ephemeral level of awareness that many flavors of Buddhism, if you like, believe in that needs to follow various paths (e.g., eightfold path), and/or that needs to overcome attachment and desire in order to escape from its present condition in the first place.

 

 

There is no reincarnation in Buddhism: any reference to reincarnation is a slip of the tongue. Buddhism generally teaches rebirth - the subtle difference being that there is no transmigration of a 'self'. I think this is explained well here, but there's plenty of online resources.

 

It is not just the case that Buddhism has a more rarefied and ephemeral concept of self: the concept of anatta, or no-self, is a core Buddhism belief.

 

 

I understand that the the Buddhism concept of what exists in Nirvana is not our daily Joe-Blow personality who grumbles, laughs, likes cheeseburgers and beer, etc. I understand that some flavours of Buddhism do not think that we are reborn as a different animal. I understand that the Buddhist concept of a higher Self is more rarefied and ephemeral than usually found in most "religions."

So no, we don't eat ice cream, or sing hymns, or play harps, or perhaps even experience either sorrow or pleasure, but there is some residue of consciousness (according to some flavours of Buddhism) that experiences peace and freedom.

 

 

That is my least favourite description of Nirvana i have ever seen (for one it's not a place).

 

My favourite: after enlightenment, the laundry.

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Prometheus

 

You state that "I accept that the majority of Buddhists believe in rebirth, but the key point is that such belief is not necessary and can (if you want) be taken separate from karma."

 

However, in Buddhism, if anything, what goes between stages, be they incarnation or spirits, is typically said to be "karma.

 

However, there is no point arguing what Buddhism exactly means by "self," as Nirvana is, as I mentioned, a state where one is united with the whole, much like the metaphor of a raindrop returning to the ocean. So, no, I don't think that it is a place, and I have no idea what you mean when you state that you don't like my description of it, since I made no particular description. For me, the bottom line, again, is that why would one bother trying to escape from the cycle of rebirth (or reincarnation for that matter) in the first place if there is no self (in the sense of 'consciousness') at all that will escape from the suffering of rebirth and find repose in Nirvana?

 

Indeed, I think that one can get hung up on the idea that Buddhism does not refer to the endurance of a self after death, so I prefer to use the word "consciousness":

 

"If it is not the physical body that is reborn, then what is this “compelling force” that is at the core of rebirth? In Buddhism, the core of rebirth is described as the alaya-vijnana (storehouse consciousness)....When you die, your store consciousness (alayavijnana) is the last to leave your body, and the first to arrive in the next body"

from the same website you gave me on "Reincarnation and Buddhism" http://www.alanpeto.com/buddhism/understanding-reincarnation-rebirth/

 

Yes, one can find selected early texts, or whatever, where Buddhism just refers to this life, but this is not generally what Buddhism refers to today, if it ever generally did, and if one wants to just restrict a definition of Buddhism to referring to one's temporal lifetime on earth, then Buddhism becomes no different than the idea that one should meditate to keep healthy. (Confucianism is also perhaps in this regard even more mundane and down to earth than Buddhism, as in not focusing (very much) on any sort of afterlife. As such, arguably Confucianism is even less of a religion than Buddhism.)

 

But regardless of what one thinks the "Buddha" supposedly meant exactly with reference to what is transferred from one life to another, there is some sort of change of lives, and some transfer of something from one to the next, be it karma, or causality, or whatever. Thus, I too might find remarks about what the Buddha supposedly said about previous lives as well: "In the process of becoming enlightened, the Buddha is said to have recognized all his previous lives."

http://www.alanpeto.com/buddhism/understanding-reincarnation-rebirth/

 

In any case, it is just as absurd to talk about what the Buddha supposedly said as it is to quote what Jesus supposedly said, and indeed, like Jesus, there are no written records about Gautama found from his lifetime or for some time (perhaps) centuries thereafter. So we are really back to the notion that there are many flavors of Buddhism, and to argue about what he said or meant exactly is just trying to make sandcastles in the wind.

 

I am not sure even what your point is. On the one hand you point to the evidence that suggests that Buddhism doesn't believe in rebirth, and then you point to evidence to suggest that Buddhism believes in rebirth, but not reincarnation. I never claimed that Buddhism embraced reincarnation in the same sense that, say, Hinduism does. I do think that there are parallels as well as distinctions between the two terms as used by Buddhism as opposed to Hinduism. A lot of bayoneting of straw men going on here, I think, as well as a lot of semantic splitting of hairs. Unless you have some particular point, I would rather focus on the issue of the discussion, which is why people need to invent a conflict between belief and science.

 

I do think that it is relevant to suggest that Eastern Religions (specifically, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism) are often mentioned as embracing principles that are parallel to those of modern physics. I am under the impression that, broadly speaking, there does not seem to be as much conflict between Eastern "religions" today and science as is the case with Western monotheistic religions (i.e., Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). With this thought in mind, an interesting exercise would be to examine the reasons for this difference:

 

Eastern religions generally put less emphasis upon the idea that there are absolute moral truths

Eastern religions generally put less emphasis upon the idea that one's personal "ego" will be saved

Eastern religions generally put more emphasis upon human's harmonious place in nature

Eastern religions generally don't put as definite a line between human beings and animals

Eastern religions generally put more emphasis on the cyclic aspects of Nature

Eastern religions generally seem to have worldviews that are more compatible with modern physics.

 

With respect to the last point, Dr. Capra, for example, states that ""Eastern thought, and more generally, mystical thought, provide a consistent and relevant philosophical background to the theories of contemporary science." http://www.hinduism.co.za/hinduism.htm

 

Indeed, some historians suggest that Middle Eastern culture did not develop industrially as quickly as it might have because it resisted the discoveries and principles of science over the centuries, even more recalcitrantly than did Christian Europe.

Edited by disarray
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I am not sure even what your point is. On the one hand you point to the evidence that suggests that Buddhism doesn't believe in rebirth, and then you point to evidence to suggest that Buddhism believes in rebirth, but not reincarnation.

 

The only point is that Buddhism is not nearly as homogenous as you seem to think. 'Buddhism' itself doesn't hold beliefs - its adherents do. And it's adherents have a great range of beliefs. The range includes belief, agnosticism and non-belief in rebirth. This range of beliefs is possible while still calling all these people Buddhists. That is all.

 

 

 

Indeed, some historians suggest that Middle Eastern culture did not develop industrially as quickly as it might have because it resisted the discoveries and principles of science over the centuries, even more recalcitrantly than did Christian Europe.

 

Interesting. Source?

 

 

P.S. Your posts touch on so many points i have difficulty staying on one train of thought: would you be able to keep your posts brief to accommodate my waning brain power.

Edited by Prometheus
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The only point is that Buddhism is not nearly as homogenous as you seem to think. 'Buddhism' itself doesn't hold beliefs - its adherents do. And it's adherents have a great range of beliefs. The range includes belief, agnosticism and non-belief in rebirth. This range of beliefs is possible while still calling all these people Buddhists. That is all.

 

I don't think Buddhism is homogeneous any more than you do, and have repeatedly made that point, e.g., with regards to "flavors." Yes, Buddhism is in the eye of the beholder, so when I say that Buddhism maintains some belief or attitude, it is implicitly stated that I refer to certain Buddhists or people who hold beliefs and attitudes consonant with certain flavors of Buddhism (For you to point this out this grammatical nicety seems unnecessarily pedantic, don't you think, given that you ignored the many major points for discussion that I made regarding Eastern religion's conflict with science vs. Western religion's conflict with science?).

.............................

As for the Middle East resisting the tide of modern science (for a variety of factors, many of which were connected to religion):

"In Bernard Lewis's phrasing, "The Renaissance, Reformation, even the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, passed unnoticed in the Muslim World."6 Instead, Muslims relied on religious minorities -- Armenians, Greeks, Jews -- as intermediaries; they served as court physicians, translators, and in other key posts. With their aid, the Muslim world accomplished what is now known as a limited transfer of science and technology....In particular, the great theologian Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali (1059-1111) used the tools of the philosophers to undermine philosophical and scientific inquiry."

http://www.meforum.org/306/why-does-the-muslim-world-lag-in-science

And this,

"the changes that occurred in Western Europe were not able to take hold in the Ottoman Empire as the Islamic belief of superiority suppressed new ideas [with regards to industrialization, ect.] out of Europe due to the thinking that they were inferior and useless. Furthermore, the interest groups such as the Ulama, the guilds, and the Janissaries were able to progress the decline as they feared that change would upset their role in society"

http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=the_ottoman_empires_inability_to_industriali

Edited by disarray
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For you to point this out this grammatical nicety seems unnecessarily pedantic, don't you think, given that you ignored the many major points for discussion that I made regarding Eastern religion's conflict with science vs. Western religion's conflict with science?).

 

I don't understand. You go into great detail during your posts, so i thought you may appreciate a little detail in return, but instead you label it pedantic. Nevermind, nothing more to be said here. See you around.

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I don't mind detail that contributes information as with regards to the distinction between rebirth and reincarnation that you brought up yourself in much detail.

Did you think that I was being captious by pointing out that your entire response to my substantial list of relevant points was merely to say that I had made a grammatical error?

 

I was really just trying to encourage you to focus more on the thrust of the discussion rather than the side issues. And this upsets you....seriously?

Edited by disarray
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Strange, your statement regarding "science" is only valid, at most, for the hard sciences, not the soft sciences.

 

 

I'm not sure I agree. But perhaps you could explain why you think that.

 

 

 

I would like to know, for example, how you would classify depth psychology, such as the theories of Freud or Jung? Both addressed religion, Freud pretty much looking upon it as wonderful, but illusion. Jung considered a religious attitude as central to the healthy operation of the psyche, especially to recognize the "other" in our psyche. Is this science or pseudoscience in your mind?

 

Although modern psychology is (usually) a science, the work of Freud and Jung was definitely not scientific.

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