Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Justice must be blind - progress must be scientific


Bias kills any attempt at good reporting, good presiding over a court case, and good decision making in general. If we are to progress as a people into the future, far too many will want to use their religious “values" to steer the way. What a bad idea.

Nothing is worse than consigning to believe something despite all evidence to the contrary, which is what religion does, and science sets out not to do. Even when  scientific minds try to hold to what is outdated, eventually the evidence must cave in on them. Try Newtonian physics versus Quantum, which laughingly shows that God does indeed play dice with the universe, only God isn’t actually involved, and we’re the dice.

Let’s pretend for a second that the world is forced to make a move… and that my observations matter in the way that it moves. Just as a thought experiment. It's what I had to do when I chose to move forward from my church.

As much as I tried to hold on to some semblance of the religion I once called dear, I found absolutely no ability to communicate with any of the practitioners of that religion when I declared where I stand with it now, and how I hope to move on without the old weight of outdated beliefs. The attacks on my decision, ad hominum, and pseudo-intellectual in nature (though they accused ME of such things simply for making the decision in the first place) showed me that I cannot hold onto anything from there. Not that I didn’t want to, but that they will not let me. Mere conversation brought out their fangs. I could not stand the way they began to speak to me. It's like I must be eliminated. I was told either I gather people to Christ, or I scatter them. If that's so, then let me scatter them as far from their way of acting as I can, I said. Why be lukewarm? God hates lukewarm people, I was told. Well I guess I understand that now. I do too.

I’m always told that’s the way it is with humans… why there are no more homo habilis or homo erectus left in existence. I don’t want to believe that’s the way it must be. But if it is, I’ll fight to the death for it to be reason, not religion, that wins. I didn’t declare the war. They did. All I’ve done is accept their own declaration that it’s the way it must be.

I have in my corner, however, the words of so many believers. John Shelby Spong admits that “Appeals for Peace Must Move Beyond Religion". Although his statement is based on dealings with the Middle East, the statement is telling in so many more areas: “If there is a way forward the pain of all must be faced, alternatives proposed and the appeal be made beyond the religious systems that divide us to our common humanity that alone unites us." Our common humanity, and in fact commonality with all living organisms, is something that science has respected, and fundamentalists of all major religions no longer do. If they ever did.

Dennis Overbye says this: “Science is not a monument of received Truth but something that people do to look for truth. That endeavor, which has transformed the world in the last few centuries, does indeed teach values. Those values, among others, are honesty, doubt, respect for evidence, openness, accountability and tolerance and indeed hunger for opposing points of view. These are the unabashedly pragmatic working principles that guide the buzzing, testing, poking, probing, argumentative, gossiping, gadgety, joking, dreaming and tendentious cloud of activity… Nobody appeared in a cloud of smoke and taught scientists these virtues. This behavior simply evolved because it worked."

In other words, science has values too. Ones I feel I can trust most. It didn’t make it into the film, but the Carl Sagan's novel, Contact, had a scene where Ellie proves her faith to Palmer Joss by use of a pendulum. She held it steady to her head, released it, and didn’t flinch when it came back toward her, because she knew scientifically that it could not touch her on the upswing. He did flinch, however. It was quite telling.

Evolution as it has existed for millions of years works the same way. What Darwin happened upon, one of my favorite authors, Daniel Quinn, calls a powerful source of nonbiased wisdom, not perfect, but “damned difficult to improve upon." What millions of years of evolution proves tested and true can hardly be destroyed because some nitwit wrote a book a couple of thousand years ago that your feeble mind refuses to question in any way. It’s proven a disaster for masses of people to think otherwise, but in a strange way, the most animist ways of life proved to be quiet in line with such evolutionary ways. At least a lot moreso than anything we’ve come up with in our written religions. Life exists all around even when we can't see it. And all life is related in one giant family. This is what animism taught. It may have often gone to odd conclusion, but it taught respect for life, and evolution does the same.

Evolution’s most beautiful value, which religion keeps abandoning, is the value of diversity. Without diversity, everything would die in a living kingdom too fragile, too easily destroyed. In a round-about way, in my book and in my discussions, it also teaches beyond this over-simplified notion of Survival of the Fittest, since the fittest may win in a competition between two individuals, but the fittest species often destroys themselves in the longer-run. In a longer-run, a more sustainable way, it is more like Survival of the Creature that attains balance, or Survival of the Mediocre. Yes, mediocrity is much more sustainable. Such a notion releases humanity from feeling it has to reach some imagined goals of greatness. Thank god, you people are making me sick with your constant competition and destruction of each other! It’s unnecessary and it’s fatal. But will people listen? No. Because religion and its so-called values will not let them, and accepting enough isn't as sexy.

Obama invoked Paul’s words about “letting go of childish things" in regards to religious ideals running our country. I think it’s wise to listen. I know religious people are anything but wise, and will do anything but listen.

Einstein was known to have said: “I have never obtained any ethical values from my scientific work." But thankfully science allows me to question Einstein. If this were St. John who said it, religion would not let me question John. And I say science shows us when values don’t work, and thus help us create more realistic values.

NY Times said: “The knock on science from its cultural and religious critics is that it is arrogant and materialistic. It tells us wondrous things about nature and how to manipulate it, but not what we should do with this knowledge and power. The Big Bang doesn’t tell us how to live, or whether God loves us, or whether there is any God at all."

Thank god (I say to be ironic) … I mean look what people do with this “knowledge" that God supposedly loves us. If you think you’re chosen by God, you have a right to treat others less, with violence and disdain. Science doesn’t give that permission. Science doesn’t leave you with the delusion that you’re allowed to kill others in spite, so that when you do, you have only yourself to blame. And no, that whole eugenics thing wasn't science giving permission to kill lesser races, because there was no science in that concept. It was merely an asshole trying to justify their hate using science, just like when anti-gay Christians try to refer to ridiculous so-called scientific reasons why if all people were gay the species couldn't survive (as though anybody wants everybody to be gay). Anyone educated in the scientific method would call them out on starting with a bias and then trying to work it into the premise, rather than starting on a null hypothesis and seeing where it would take them.

"It provides scant counsel on same-sex marriage or eating meat. It is silent on the desirability of mutual assured destruction as a strategy for deterring nuclear war."

I’ll trust Science then. It doesn't start off with a hatred of gays or blacks or the environment and then begin trying to prove the hate using whatever evidence it can that agrees, while ignoring what doesn't. Too bad science has never been the values of our American leaders. Why? Because people could never dare choose someone who was as “arroant and materialistic" to believe what’s in front of them. They’d rather have a “righteous" leader who’ll takes us to heaven.

So this is where religious people are to be tested. Look at the leaders you’ve chosen. Damned near none of them have been atheists or nonbelievers. So let me ask you, what part of human history shows that religious leaders have led us to any kind of heaven at all? I see failures, hatred, and pain... and then religious justification, of course.

Religion. It fails. Period.