RE: MD Science vs. Theism: Where's The Beef?

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat May 07 2005 - 22:11:12 BST

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    Howdy MOQers:

    Some of this comes from the "Scientific beliefs and religious faith" thread:

    Sam said to Mark:
    Now, beyond that, are you familiar with the notion that 'there are no
    uninterpreted facts'? And if so, would you agree? In other words, for any
    particular given phenomenon, there are a multitude of explanations, and the
    choice between the explanations is not driven by the nature of the 'facts'
    themselves - there is, instead, a dialectic between fact and interpretation
    which is continuously evolving. So there are no naked facts waiting to be
    assessed, there is always 'fact + interpretation', which fits in with the
    wider understandings how they may.

    dmb says:
    Sure, we have to take into account the interpretive nature of language and,
    sure, a multitude of explanations are possible. But you, Matt and others are
    letting this insight lead you to absurd conclusions. You're taking a rather
    extreme position that seems to allow any interpretation now matter how
    unjustified or unfounded. I mean, you seem to think that we can each simply
    choose to interpret the world any way we like, but that's just not how it
    works, fellas. Even if we assume for the moment that interpretation is the
    only reality, it still has a structure and a shape and a certain solidity to
    its existence that we cannot simply wish away. And then there are basic
    standards that help us sort out valid interpretations from the hair-brained
    ones. As Ken Wilber puts it, a diamond will cut glass no matter what words
    we use to describe "diamond", "cut" and "glass" and no matter what culture
    does the cutting.

    And I should add that one of the points in presenting you with the idea of
    transubstantiation was to show how the various interpretations work
    together, to show that there is a core meaning behind those variations and
    that a side by side analysis helps to reveal that meaning. It could be that
    I've missed something, but I have seen no real response to that yet. As I
    see it, your position is entirely defeated by it. Maybe that's why the
    replies have been zip, zero, nada. I mean, why interpret it through faith
    when there is such a vast and rich body of evidence? Makes no sense to me.

    Sam also said:
    ...................................... The belief in the divinity of Jesus
    is not something that can be established to the satisfaction of an
    empirically-based world-view. But to say there is no 'evidence' of it is
    automatically to discount any and all 'evidence' given through the lives of
    Christians. In other words, it is part and parcel of how a Christian will
    *interpret* their experience.

    dmb says:
    You really don't see the circularity here? The Christian will interpret
    their experience through their belief in the divinity and that decision to
    believe is evidence of the truth of that belief? Sorry, but I find it
    impossible to muster any respect for that kind of argument. As Pirsig put
    it, if it weren't for the fact that so many people believed it, Christianity
    would be considered a form of insanity.

    msh asked Sam:
    But we have to agree on word definitions if we hope to engage in meaningful
    conversation, no?

    Sam replied:
    I think the agreement on word definitions is sometimes the outcome of
    meaningful conversation, not the presupposition for it. But more
    importantly, the OED is secular, and I won't (automatically) accept its

    dmb says:
    The dictionary is secular? Again, you're going too far. The dictionary only
    describes how people use words and you simply don't get to re-write
    etymological history just because you don't like it. Again, the
    intersubjective reality we share has a shape and a structure and a reality
    that does not alter by whims and wishes. It creates us, not the other way
    around. The dictionary is just one small way to get at that collective

    msh said to Sam:
    ....................................., DMB said that this is how
    theologians protect themselves from scientific criticism, claiming,
    basically, for example in this case (TS), there is a substantial
    change that is not measurable by science, but is nevertheless real.

    sam said back:
    ........................ But also there wasn't much of a 'scientific'
    problem when TS began. The 'evidence' is perceived through faith, however
    you want to define 'nevertheless real'. Or is the argument that only what is

    scientific is real? (does anyone who accepts the MoQ believe that?)

    dmb says:
    As I understand it, truth is a species of the Good. It is a high quality
    intellectual description and high quality has to include agreement with
    experience and logical consistancy. The position that the host transforms in
    a way that is undetectable only to those who believe it does is a position
    that meets neither of those basic standards.

    Again, it seems that you're straining and twisting to defend a doctrine
    about a ritual and in that effort you've utterly failed to say anything
    meaningful or even intelligible about the meaning of that ritual. This is
    the problem with doctrines and dogmas; they block out the light and prevent
    the rituals from expressing the DQ that they were originally intended to
    convey. There is no beef on that burger, gents. Its been rendered empty and
    meaningless by all the theological gobble-dee-gook. And even worse, it seems
    that none of you mind that you're doing damage to valuable intellectual
    explanations along the way. Let's see if you can guess who said this. And
    more importantly, let's see if you can guess which of your points are under
    attack here...

    "The DEMAND FOR EVIDENCE - or validity claims - which has always anchored
    genuine and progressive science, simply means that one's own ego cannot
    impose on the universe a view of reality that finds no support from the
    universe itself. The validity claims and evidence are the ways in which we
    attune ourselves to the Kosmos. The validity claims force us to confront
    reality; they curb or egoic fantasies and self-centered ways; they demand
    evidence from the rest of the Kosmos; they force us outside ourselves! They
    are the checks and balances in the Kosmis Constitution.
    But it was exaclty these checks and balances, these curbs on narcissim, that
    the mis-Kuhnisn 'new-paradigm' thinkers of almost every variety implicitly
    or explicitly attempted to erase. And behind it all lay, in part, 'the
    culture of narcissism'. Professor David Couzens Hoy points out that 'freeing
    theory from its object' - that is, erasing the demand for evidence - 'may
    open it up to all the possibilities of rich imaginations; yet if there is
    now no truth of the matter,, then nothing keeps it from succumbing to the
    sickness of the modern imagination's obsessive self-consciousness.' Theory
    thus becomes 'only the critic's own ego-gratification'. The culture of
    narcissism. 'The sheer struggle for power ensues, and criticism becomes not
    latent but blatant aggression,' part of 'the emergent nihilism of recent


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