FALL, 2003

Back to Religion ... and Exercise

Subject:  Transcending Science and God
Date:  2003-12-03 22:42:14
Message Id:  7454
Contra Nomi!

The question of science and the existence of God continually plagues me. Personally, I do not believe in "A God"--that is, that we are one nation under GOD, and that some sort of Judeo-Christian God shines down upon Americans. I think it's rubbish, but the question of religion (NOT FAITH) is something I believe science should play a vital role in "unpacking" so to speak.

First of all, I never understood why the ancient Greek and Norse Gods (which certainly preclude Christianity) have, over time, been demoted to the category of "Mythology." What caused Zeus to take a backseat to the Christian "God?" How can someone say that their God (which, might I remind you, is an intangible being, with no more substance than a shadow) is the "right God." To me, it is utterly ridiculous
that people can posess so much faith in nothing more than an antique story of creation. Why not put the power of your destiny into your own hands, make YOU the center of your being, worship yourself! At least it's something you can feel and touch. I understand that God speaks to people through prayer, He touches you in a way that only you know and understand--but to base your life around the teachings of a book, to make decisions based on ancient scripture that dictates what is right and wrong (remember, sodomy= sin, foreplay= sin, abortion=sin) is utterly ignorant.

I think the role science plays is multifaceted: firstly, people need to know that with time comes change, and in order to meet that change you must adapt. So, why not take the good from what religion has to offer: a sense of place amongst the world and in the community, and read the Bible for its scholarly merit, use the Golden Rule, apply it to your life not because it is "God's word" but dammit, because YOU SHOULD TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED. Why not think of yourself as You, not a Christian, or a Jew, or a Catholic.

I do not see the merit of organized religion today. People are killing in the name of religion! We violently try to prove a point to others that war is done in the name of saving people from evil. We shove "saving yourself" down the throats of people, brainwashing them into believing that if they for a second think or act for themselves, or have the brazen idea to make themselves master of their destiny--they are trespassing against Him. This is extremism at its best. Science has a DUTY to try to uncover the mystery of life, where we came from, how the world was created, and I believe, to try and shed light on whether or not Noah's Ark, or the parting of the seas ever happened, or if it is even plausible (I have already answered that question for myself). In ancient times, and still today, organized religion and the existence of God has its roots in the act of storytelling. What does it give to humans that is so damn necessary? An explanation for our existence, and will to believe that there is a higher power OTHER than man that controls our actions, moving us toward an ultimate destiny. I cannot help but wonder if there is no God, what it might do to humanity. Would people start looting and raping and killing eachother because the threat of the Divine Hand no longer exists? Would it rhender life meaningless? Or, would people do what they have continued to do in the face of the conflict between science and God: keep the faith and believe with even more certainty that He exists. If anything, you have nothing to lose, it's all about faith, but faith is different than religious extremism.

With what is going on in the world today, especially in America, the issue of religion is like an open wound. If you dare speak agaist the existence of Him, you are an athiest, a feminist, a left wing nutso who has no morals. This treatment is abominable--people have lost their voices. My boyfriend's mother (a fundamentalist Christian who hates me) told me that when I meditate and do yoga, I not only open up my mind to the good in the world, but to Satan and all the evil that exists. Therefor, I shouldn't open up my mind to that extent for fear of being overcome by evil. This is the same woman who described me as "nothing but a boarding school brat cocooned into a left wing dyke." This, mind you, is coming from a woman who considers herself a Christian.....yeah...what was that part about "dyke?"

It is science's duty to see that the separation of Church and State is CLEARLY DRAWN, to illuminate the relevancy and "proof" of biblical stories, and to show that the space of the world is a mystical place-- it allows for the possibility of anything. I believe that in the space of the theater, humans can communicate through a gestural telepathy of sorts simply through the molecules, atoms, brain waves, and energy exerted through the channel of communicato. Certainly, if I can throw my energy onto another person, then energy in space (from wherever, or whomever) can be exerted on me. It takes a special understanding and the desire to see and feel the connection though, and this is something science will never be able to fully explain.

Name:  annannannanna
Date:  2003-12-03 22:56:48
Message Id:  7455
The Zen Master said

"There is no answer; seek it lovingly."

Name:  Brittany
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Whoa...
Date:  2003-12-04 00:59:12
Message Id:  7458
To Anna: I'm sorry religion has made you so bitter... understandably though, considering the abuse you've put up with from your boyfriend's mom. Jeez. Kudos for putting up with that.

I don't think Nomi was supporting the "existence" of God in a religious sense, or at least, in a sense you need to contradict so vehemently. She was simply saying that if the universe is infinite, and if all of those sci-fi writers are right and parallel universes *do* exist, and those universes *do* represent the breadth of reality, then somewhere, on some alternate universe, in some remote nook or cranny of the dimensional plane, a God (or Gods) do(es) exist.

Perhaps, on this alternate plane, people are not so violent in support of their faith. We can only hope so.

For more on this idea, in a format that's bearable, I highly recommend to you any of Roger Zelazny's work... his fiction (yes, I do read sci-fi/fantasy) explores the idea of parallel, slightly-differing universes, in a fun way. He's also very irreverent, which you might also enjoy. ^_^

Additionally, as others (Nomi and Su-Lyn, I believe?) have pointed out, a lot of the evidence coming out right now *does* suggest a deeper "order" to the chaos we've always placed at the beginning of the universe. This may indicate a "God," per se---however, it's not as if this "order" is stamped with "Made in Heaven, copyright Jesus Christ." It's just suspiciously ordered chaos.

Name:  Nomi
Subject:  apologies
Date:  2003-12-04 14:06:21
Message Id:  7462
I hope Brittany has cleared things up for us a bit. I know she has for me. Thanks, Brittany.

I don't claim to understand religion. I suppose I ought to preface my thoughts about god or gods with that. My hope, in my last posting, was not to make any kind of definitive statement about god but rather to assert the uselessness of "not believing" in something, as "nonexistence" can never be proven and may not even BE. It's just as useless as -- as sure to curtail exploration as -- believing, something Prof. Grobstein has talked about.

More later, but I apologize for stirring up negative emotions. It's fine to think of me as ignorant and fumbling -- I am, in this area -- but the confrontational aspect was not intentional, so I hope no one takes it as such.

Now I'm off to think about sheep ...

Name:  Nomi
Subject:  Exercise: right or wrong?
Date:  2003-12-04 14:23:23
Message Id:  7463

I wanted to briefly respond to your ponderings ...

All of life is a cost-benefit analysis, a balancing act, an exercise in getting the lesser of two "evils" / sources of harm. Sure, exercise wears down your joints. But the dangers of joint wear -- arthritis, perhaps a broken bone -- are much less extreme (and far less lethal) than the dangers associated with not exercising at all -- heart disease, diabetes, and so on. So, yes, it is good to exercise, "good" taken as the relative term that it is.

If you think about it, for goodness' sakes, life wears down your joints --simply by living, moving, resting, BEING. The beating heart tires itself out, speeds itself along toward the day when it will inevitably stop beating. Birth is lethal; there is no greater guarantee of death than life. In this world, we have so many things to fear, so many forms of sickness decay and breakdown. What's more, when you're in "perfect" health -- when you are most absolutely alive -- you have the most to lose; you can move in no other direction than that of death. Such is life! LIFE is about getting it less bad, less wrong (as Prof. Grobstein says); you can never do the "right" thing. That's why I always say, You have to choose your worries. There are just too many available!

In short: exercising is a less harmful or "less wrong" choice than not exercising (I think, as of right now).

Okay ... so it wasn't so brief!

Name:  Flicka
Username:  fmichael
Subject:  Exercise...
Date:  2003-12-04 15:58:38
Message Id:  7466
I agree with Nomi. Exercise is ultimately very useful for the body. Sure, it can put stress on your joints if you run or do track, but so can cracking your knuckles. Any form of exercising (running, walking, bicycling) is beneficial to the body. It burns off calories and fat, and it also builds up stamina. In addition, it helps the circulation of blood in the heart, and can reduce the risk of heart problems later in life.
Name:  Anna Anna Fabulous Anna
Subject:  Let's clear things up a bit
Date:  2003-12-04 17:45:43
Message Id:  7468
To articulte: I didn't mean to come off as so vehement in my assertions, which, unfortunately, kind of made me lose sight of what I was actually saying.

I absolutely agreed with Nomi (no, I do not think you are a fumbling bumbling person), I cannot see how one wouldn't allow for parallel universes or spheres of understanding.

I meant to make it more of a point that fanatacism, or extremism at any level--especially with regard to the question of religion and God's existence, is a very dangerous thing, and I see that happening in the world right now. The boyfriend's mom comment was just to show that even the most religiously pious of people can be mean and cruel and seem to have no firm grounding in how one interacts with others in the world *who do not share their same belief system*

I think it is part of the wonderous nature of science to not disprove or prove the *existence* of God, but more so, to add some sort of *factual* grounding from which people can spring from in understanding and interpreting stories within themselves.

I think people have had maybe *a little too much faith* in stories and in repressing the part of your mind that desires to explore the nature of evil, terror, and chaos of the world--they have consciously formed a sort of *alternate reality*. This is kind of a wonderful thing to think about, it means people have the imagination and the ability to fantasize to the entent of *a constant and unwavering* belief in the spectacle of the past. However, *loosing* yourself to be blinded by the *story* causes an abandonment of rationality, and an internal conflict between your conscious and unconscious, (which, if not exersised) can result in mental disorders, hysteria, and phobia of *the unknown.* Our developmental processes have their grounding in being able to explore the *sublime* (not become l, ost inside its deths) and take from it a mystical awareness.

In turn, I feel like people have *lost* themselves in a psychic modality that is quite different our surroundings. This loss of self into the world of myth and image is certainly a *plane of understanding* but it is also important to maintain a Brechtian point of view of the spectacle. Separation is necessary in order to maintain a rational understanding, to be able to see past *what the text of the story dictates* to delve into the language of symbols and reconnect with the self's individuality, and it's projected involvements in the *external* world.

I hope this cleared things up a bit....

Name:  Patricia Palermo
Subject:  Dear Fabulous Anna
Date:  2003-12-04 18:56:12
Message Id:  7470
I sympathize and agree. I have struggled with a very close friend of mine who is very Christian, while I am very much a believer of this life. She finds that discouraging and utterly wrong. I find her views to be offensive to intellectual diversity and just anti-people and pro-Christians. I figure God would be bigger than that. We go back and forth. And the road is long. And we love each other very much. It all applies to science and biology in the way that it applies to humanity. How do we all co-exist with these core beliefs that are the antithesis of one another. I agree with your beliefs on life, and I also applaud people for hanging to whatever branch of hope gives them purpose to life. But no one has the right to beat anyone over the head with their own beliefs. It's just counter-intuitive. I don't want an institution to tell me I am allowed to ask questions as long as I return to one answer. It's very poetic but disappointing to someone really in search of answers. And yet there is great purpose to what (I also feel) is exquisite and valuable mythology. I applaud people's use of religion to exalt themselves and their purpose on this earth. I question the way in which we have stuck with doctrines that seem far behind our growth as emotional and intellectual beings. As Anna quoted from the Zen Master, which I can't agree with more, "There is no answer. Seek it lovingly." Outward expressions of beliefs, as I have done with my close friend are devastating, and can also be excellent avenues of growth in both individuals' faith. I would not have traded the gut wrenching arguments for anything. And that is why I chose to further them in this forum. It is necessary for people to come clean about what we believe about life. Through that stress and honesty, we evolve, in whichever direction. Although you seemed passionate, Anna, I believe you have every right to be. Missionaries are passionate too. We're all after the same thing. We care. And we may not put together pamphlets or have an organized church, but we just as good odds at being right. And it only helps to share it with people searching. No one needs proof or support. That is not what this is ever about. We all have much to offer. Anyone who feels that they have more to offer than another person needs to be more honest with themselves.
Name:  Maria S-W
Date:  2003-12-06 11:04:07
Message Id:  7477
For some reason our discussion this week of cells and how they work made me think of the conversation we had in class earlier this year about whether of not we could make a dog if we simply put all of the atoms in the correct order. it seems to make so much more sense now when you realize that "putting together" atoms in the correct order is not like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Rather it would mean arranging them to form little ribosomes or the membranes within a chloroplasts. It would mean creating all of these small parts that somehow KNOW how to interact with other that eventually ends up with a dog who wags it's tail becasue little cells made up of atoms are doing thier job.
I thought it was also interesting that nerve cells don't reproduce. It would seem that those of all cells would be the ones that would NEED to be able to heal. I wondered if it was just that the nervous system was such a fine-tuned thing that perhaps it didn't reproduce its cells becasue it had to be arranged in a specific order and reproducing created too many opportunities to mess it up, and it was less problematic to just not let it reproduce at all. Can cells distinguish well enough to ONLY reproduce when injured and the rest of the time remain reproductivly inactive? It seems like everything else they do is so organized and well exectued that if it were adventageous they would have somed mechanism.
In terms of the brief discussion that took place on Friday regarding cancer, someone asked why some cancers tend to develop at certain ages, and I thought it was a good question. Why does it seem that Hodgkins tends to hit teens more than, say, breast cancer? Why does it seem that young women with breast cancer seem to develop more severe cases than some older women? When I think of cancer as just cells dividing out of control (which is obviously not a complete description)it seems so strange that they should go awry at different times. That they malfunction in specific ways that isn't just unique to one person. THe melanoma that one person has is often quite similar to the melanoma of another person etc.
My last question was whether we are really just sort of destined to be wiped out by some virus at some point.It seems like they are much better at figuring out how to survive than we are. The more you learn about them the more you think that it's just a matter of time until something takes out a huge portion of the population. AIDS, for example is already doing a pretty thorough job of infecting huge number of people. And imagine if it were able to move from one person to another like the common cold (not AIDS specifically, but just a deadly virus)? I mean...eventaully, isn't there a decent chance that there will be SOMETHING that that just me being fatalistic or does anyone else out there find it rather anxiety provoking, not as worrisome as getting ALS or Guaine Beret (I spelled that wrong...), but still it is a scary thought.
Name:  Melissa
Date:  2003-12-07 22:03:13
Message Id:  7480
"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."
- Albert Einstein

The topics of religion and science are difficult ones to merge-- if at all possible as one debunks the beliefs of the other. Interestingly, I find that many times one does not attempt to validify their own argument of creation, but instead strives at undermining the other by claiming to reveal that their motives for belief are illusory and fallacious.

I find it diffocult to say that it is science's duty to clearly differentiate between the science necessarily more true than religion? To a degree, both are relatively subjective and offer understanding to those ascertaining to either belief. Understanding and truth, I believe, can be found in both science and religion. Each one lends itself to certain "explanations" more readily than the others.
Perhaps it is best to be agnostic with regards to both science and religion.

Name:  Ramatu Kallon
Date:  2003-12-08 02:15:01
Message Id:  7481
Science to me is an eel-like subject: slippery, difficult to grasp, and almost impossible to get straight.
Name:  stefanie
Subject:  Back to the Exercise Thing
Date:  2003-12-08 02:17:21
Message Id:  7482
after reading the posts re: exercise and whether that is a positive life choice or not, of course it is. exercise, or rather physical exertion, is a key aspect of human existence. there was a time in our "history" when food was not prepackaged and at our fingertips, and when the primary form of transportation was by foot. exercise is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and i might argue that the development of certain diseases/disorders/illnesses etc... are the product of societal opposition, or maybe more appropriately society's lack of focus on exercise as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. fad diets and supplements have taken the spotlight away from a good jog, ride on a bike, or weight lifting.
Name:  enor
Subject:  religion and science
Date:  2003-12-08 02:18:30
Message Id:  7483
Whoa!!! What happened in the forum in the past two days? I thought I had stumbled into some angry Csem conversation -
jk - anyways, I just thought that I would completely agree with Melissa with regards to her comments on the benefits of being agnostic. The way I see it is that we are all just human - can we really make assertions on what is or is not? Personally, I feel that human boundaries (mental, spiritual, and physical) are too restrictive to allow room for judgment any further than an opinion. These boundaries force us to confront our own inadequacy as a capable evaluator of anything beyond our own lives, if that. On that note, I agree with what Fabulous Anna had to say about people's tendency to verbally vomit with their convictions to any ear, willing or not willing to listen. As tiny citizens of a much greater universe, each catering and basing opinions through our own experiences, a tolerance should be reached through this reality. Perhaps some people feel their ideas are more urgent than others for fear of coming to terms with their own worldly insignificance.
Name:  Paul Grobstein
Subject:  On religion plus
Date:  2003-12-08 09:43:13
Message Id:  7484
Interesting conversation. Some perhaps relevant contributions:

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