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The dangers of theology

It’s easy to dismiss theology as harmless nonsense. And it indeed is nonsense: intentionally obfuscatory, utterly meaningless, and filled with circular pseudo-logic.  However, it’s often far from harmless.

Take Catholic natural law, for example. The concept of natural law is derived primarily from Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. The Catholic Church frequently uses natural law to justify their position on moral issues such as abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. This is dangerous both because many Catholics unquestioningly obey the Church’s moral precepts and because the Church and its missionaries wield a great deal of influence in some of the poorest and most disease-stricken areas of the world. Catholic natural law is used to justify the prohibition of condoms and other forms of birth control, the criminalization of abortion, and discrimination against homosexuals, all of which, to varying degrees, put the safety, health, and well-being of countless individuals at risk.

But what is this “natural law”? Well, there’s no clear answer to that. And that’s precisely the point: natural law is not meant to be understood. Its ambiguity is no accident. It is a tool that the Church uses to justify the condemnation of any actions that it believes to be wrong, unnatural, and/or immoral. The Church believes that God imbues all humans with the faculty of reason and with an awareness of what is good/natural and what is evil/unnatural, both of which must be utilized when making a moral choice. Accordingly, in order to be a moral individual, one must perform good/natural actions which result from good/natural motives (motives are good if they reflect cardinal and/or theological virtues such as prudence, justice, faith, and charity). According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “[t]hose actions which conform with [nature’s] tendencies, lead to our destined end, and are thereby constituted right and morally good; those at variance with our nature are wrong and immoral” and “[a]ctions are wrong if, though subserving the satisfaction of some particular need or tendency, they are at the same time incompatible with that rational harmonious subordination of the lower to the higher which reason should maintain among our conflicting tendencies and desires”.

It’s confusing, to say the least. And, if the Catholic Church wasn’t the powerful and influential entity that it is, the concept of natural law would be just another silly but harmless theological claim. However, natural law isn’t harmless. It provides justification for many of the Church’s dangerous policies and it affects the real world in tangible and often devastating ways.

Yes, theology is laughably ridiculous, but its consequences can be deadly serious.

  1. Edward Clint #

    Fortunately your average Christian is neither acquainted with the fine points of theology, nor interested.

    August 15, 2011
  2. Yesss! For too long theology has smirkingly ridden on the back of misguided accommodationists who claim that it is harmless. I think the accommodationist error arises from a notion, acquired in childhood, that religious impulses are at bottom good. That notion is false, and dangerous.

    August 15, 2011
  3. Good post. I like to tell them about the “natural law” of pecking your younger sibling’s brains out so you get more parental resources. Then, I proceed to the parasites …

    August 15, 2011
  4. Oh, Miranda – thank you for this as it fits in quite nicely with something I was dealing with earlier, and on which I wrote a blog post. Sorry for the plug, but it seems relevant, and almost as a byproduct of what you’ve written here. The deathly seriousness of this all isn’t just restricted to those who are currently religious.

    It to some degree infects those who aren’t religious because of the sheer number of religious people who make up a given culture. I don’t have the energy to write anything clever, or biting. I’m just kind of resigned at the moment to taking in the repugnance that is the outcrop of thousands of years of religious bullshit.

    It’s the 21st century and we have secular/atheist/nontheist/whateverismistics around who still think the concept that a husband is able to rape his wife is non-existent.

    Here’s what I’m talking about – my first day being involved in a large atheist community, and this is what is passing as conversation:

    In my next life, I want to be a cute kitten for all eternity.

    August 16, 2011
  5. I really love your articulated way of expressing your thoughts and opinion. And I think you got the capacity to reflect on some quotes that I found on a very interesting book regarding:

    Theology and religions :

    “Religious experience, being essentially spiritual, can never be fully understood by the material mind; hence the function of theology, the psychology of religion. The essential doctrine of the human realization of God creates a paradox in finite comprehension. It is well-nigh impossible for human logic and finite reason to harmonize the concept of divine immanence, God within and a part of every individual, with the idea of God’s transcendence, the divine domination of the universe of universes. These two essential concepts of Deity must be unified in the faith-grasp of the concept of the transcendence of a personal God and in the realization of the indwelling presence of a fragment of that God in order to justify intelligent worship and validate the hope of personality survival. The difficulties and paradoxes of religion are inherent in the fact that the realities of religion are utterly beyond the mortal capacity for intellectual comprehension.”

    When did you theologized for the first time about the existence or not of eternal Life and/or the existence of God?
    For me it was back when I was 10 years old. Back then reason was all I knew. And my reason was limited by lack of experience and knowledge. But I still got this impetuous desire to ‘figure’ out not just eternal Life and the existence or not of God but at the same time to get me an answer to the personal questions that we all ask ourselves at one point or another: “Why?…Why I am here?…What’s my purpose?…” (Philosophers call it ‘Metaphysics’)

    “Sectarianism is a disease of institutional religion, and dogmatism is an enslavement of the spiritual nature. It is far better to have a religion without a church than a church without religion. The religious turmoil of the twentieth century does not, in and of itself, betoken spiritual decadence. Confusion goes before growth as well as before destruction.”

    Today 30 years later, still under limited intelligence, and experience, I understand a bit better the need for those that we understand ‘it’… to promote personal religion (your personal theology), stand up to the corruption within our institutional religions, and more importantly to respect those brothers and sisters that due to their higher believe in faith than reason have chosen to follow the institutional religion.

    The Civilizationalist

    August 16, 2011
  6. This is really interesting. I got involved in a long conversation on with a Catholic woman who insisted that although she bore me no ill-will she really could not approve of homosexuality because it was against natural law. When I tried to point out that our ideas of what natural law had changed over the centuries, and there were plenty of examples of animals having same-sex relationships she seemed to get quite upset, but refused to shift her views in any way. I am really fascinated as to where the justifications for different aspects of ‘natural law’ come from.

    August 16, 2011
  7. Natural Law made sense under classical Greek philosophy because they believed the universe was harmonious with the Earth at its centre surrounded by the Gods. Thus under this theory everything had its place and everyone had a purpose and through reason, mankind could extract moral/ethics from our natural surroundings. The fledging Christian church needed a form of scholarship to support their faith so they incorporated Greek philosophy and their view of natural law into their religion but altered it to become subservient to their faith. Humans are ‘of this world yet not of this world’ – we are both material and partly divine and granted free will (free will is another Greek concept) so it is possible to act unnaturally against the natural law created by God.

    This view completely collapsed during the Scientific Revolution when we realized the universe was anything but harmonious and it became obvious that simply observing the natural world could not form an epistemological basis for morality. This insight led to the infamous aught/is problem. From the Enlightment onwards mankind now imposed a moral code upon the natural world, objectively based upon our humanity towards each other and to our surroundings. We no longer looked at the world or the cosmos and said ‘This is how it is therefore this is how we should act’.

    Unfortunately the roman church has yet to catch up with the rest of the world. As you say, natural law is now a completely vacuous concept, arbitrarily applied to provide pseudo-philosophical support for discriminatory and dangerous political policies.

    Friedrich Nietzsche :-
    “You desire to LIVE “according to Nature”? Oh, you noble Stoics, what fraud of words![..]
    And granted that your imperative, “living according to Nature,” means actually the same as “living according to life”—how could you do DIFFERENTLY?”

    (Nietzsche is being slightly unfair to the Stoics here. While the Stoics counselled to accept the logos (in modern terms think of an ecosystem – the bigger picture of which humans are just a small part), they realized that each human had an individual
    nature (character) and this character could be trained through virtue ethics. Tranquillity could be gained by training your character to accept the logos and your own nature because we are all a tiny part of the overall cosmos.)

    August 16, 2011
  8. John Yates #

    Any objective inquiry into the beliefs and tenets of the Catholic Church invariably reveal them to be based on little more than garbled hearsay. The trinity makes no sense. Natural Law makes no sense. As Jerry Coyne points out in a recent blog post the story of Adam and Eve, upon which the guiding Christian dogma of sin is based, makes no sense. We can now prove that Adam and Eve did not exist, and therefore the reason posited in the Bible for Jesus’s death and resurrection makes no sense. The whole damn exercise of theology and apologetics is, indeed, laughably ridiculous and we atheists must continue to laugh and point at its dangerous and anti-intellectual absurdities.

    August 16, 2011
  9. I wish there was some obvious way that we could deal with this kind of nonsense. It was quite a surprise to me when I found out relatively recently that theology hasn’t even any kind of respectability amongst philosophers. That means it’s an utterly worthless and rather silly pseudo-intellectual exercise, having even less credibility than astrology, because at least with astrology the objects of what it is about actually exist.

    And yet, the label ‘theologian’ has some credibility in our society, and theological arguments influence the lives of billions.

    How do we dispose of this persistent and poisonous practice?

    August 16, 2011
    • ‘nonsense’?
      How do atheist and agnostics explain the existence of ‘faith’? Why is there ‘faith’? Why is there ‘intelligence’? What is the reason of existence of the Universe? Better though, is our existence a fantasy of our ‘imagination’ just like the existence of God/Deities, or is it real?

      Philosophers that price Metaphysics but disregard Theology are as confused as those that disregard the rational of our existence while pricing very highly their faith on higher power to sustain that existence…

      If randomness is the actual cause of the harmonious balance of the Universe, no intelligence, why we humans possess that ‘nonsense’ attribute (intelligence) [Nonsense from the perspective of our inability to explain ‘why’ our species has this attribute]
      Why is there that innate desire to ‘rationalize’ our existence? Why are we aware of ourselves?
      I understand that many of our living souls think that ‘rational’ and ‘faith’; ‘science’ and ‘religion’; ‘evolution’ and ‘creation’ oppose each other…Nothing farther from the truth! It is the unification of both ‘tools’ present innately on all human beings (and other creatures) the only option that our limited and mortal mind has in order to get closer to a better understanding of the Metaphysics of Life.
      The fact that our limited intelligence cannot comprehend something does not prove or disprove its ‘non-sensibility’ (if I may.)
      If your child ask you: “Daddy, what is water?” and you say: “Well, is an essential element for all living creatures here in Earth and perhaps in other planets that is compose of a molecule with two atoms of Oxygen and one of Hydrogen…blabla.” Is this explanation of water a ‘nonsense’ for that child? It is! His limited exercised intelligence and experience cannot allow him to comprehend (yet) that explanation. So it is perfectly normal that he/she may see it as a ‘nonsense’ explanation/view.
      I am not disagreeing that many of our institutionalized religions have created dogmas that have been proven to be ‘nonsense’ due to the evolution and ability of our minds to develop and expand its intelligence and faith…
      Stagnated religions, as it happens with many of our institutionalized religions, and their many ‘nonsense’ dogmatic views, is not a probe that personal religion (your private, unique, theological view of the Evolu-creation (if I may)) is also ‘nonsense’.
      It is in our attempt to impose, lock, and restrain our ability to theologize where it resides the stagnation of religion and development of institutionalized ‘believes’ (dogmas) – In both sides of the spectrum – for those that close the door to ‘faith’ on the ‘unintelligible’, and for those that close the door to ‘rational’ of what is now perfectly ‘intelligible’.
      I think Descartes summarized it better than any other philosopher:
      “I only know that I know nothing.”
      Which I interpret as: “If I believe I know everything then I am limiting my ability to farther expand my learning…”

      August 16, 2011
      • John Yates #

        I have read and re-read the above post and I have very little understanding of what the author is attempting to say. Have a look at this sentence:

        [blockquote]It is in our attempt to impose, lock, and restrain our ability to theologize where it resides the stagnation of religion and development of institutionalized ‘believes’ (dogmas) – In both sides of the spectrum – for those that close the door to ‘faith’ on the ‘unintelligible’, and for those that close the door to ‘rational’ of what is now perfectly ‘intelligible’.[/blockquote]

        The way in which this sentence is constructed seems to follow the now-standard theological routine of purposefully obscuring meaning, presumably fpr the reason that there is no actual reason or meaning to be discerned. It’s just words for the sake of words- a response for the sake of responding. Forgive me- and perhaps English is not your first language- but this post just reads like nonsense to me.

        August 16, 2011
        • Yes, English is not my first language. I am sorry… [You see another evolving aspect of our limited essence.] You also have to be a bit patient; this subject is not the most ‘tangible’ subject to talk about…
          When I write I make one of the biggest ‘no-nos’ in English. My phrase are very long and, in many occasions with a lot of grammatical errors.
          Perhaps, I could use your help to explain better what I am trying to say with that sentence, if you try to explain back to me what you think I am trying to say. Here is my second attempt to explain it:
          “Locked down believes (dogmas) are created by both ‘reason-without-faith’ and ‘faith-without-reason’. In my humble opinion as well as that of many philosophers, it is the evolution of the relationship between faith and reason the best chance that our ‘limited’ and ‘time-space-constricted’ intelligence has in order to mature to higher levels of understanding of our existence.
          If you are building a house would you trying to build it with just a hammer or would you be willing to learn the proper use of other tools…?”
          Essentially and as my main point on my reply to Miranda’s post, what I am trying to say is that there is a clear difference between theology that develops personal religion (unique to each one of us) and believes based on stagnated theology adapted by institutional religions. That the clear ‘nonsense’ of institutionalized religion dogmas does not probe theology and religion as ‘nonsense’ also.

          August 16, 2011
          • jonjermey #

            What are ‘faith-without-reason’ and ‘reason-without-faith’? Are they the same as ‘faith’ and ‘reason’, and if not, how do they differ? And how do you know there ARE ‘higher levels of understanding of our existence’? If I was trying to ‘build’ something I would first want some reason to believe it was possible to ‘build’ it at all.

            How does theology ‘stagnate’? What does non-stagnating theology look like? And since intelligence is a product of space-time-constricted human brains, how can it be anything BUT space-time constricted?

            I appreciate your efforts to explain theology, but so far you have simply introduced several undefined terms, made some confusing claims, and begged a question. I don’t see any reason to believe your theology is any more grounded in facts than anyone else’s.

            August 16, 2011
        • And I am sorry to correct you on this, my ‘rational’ is not based on stagnated ‘believes’ of institutionalized theology. Much to the contrary is based on my ‘faithful’ obsession to bring together ‘faith’ and ‘reason’; ‘science’ and ‘religion’ as I theologized to understand the reality of Metaphysics – to ‘materialized’ a more rational and faithful answer to the ‘Why’s’…

          August 16, 2011
  10. Grania #

    I get the impression that theology enjoys respectability mostly because those who respect it (or at least say they respect it) don’t really have very much idea what it is.

    It tends to be regarded by many as the best argument for the validity of God or Faith, however this is almost always an assumption based on belief rather than on hard research or familiarity with theology. Theologians and their treatises are almost never discussed or read by the normal everyday members of Christian religions. They tend to be a last-ditch attempt to mollify the rare member who actually asks hard and sceptical questions about the more obviously deficient areas of holy books, miracles and saints.

    The reason why this credibility persists is simply that like religion, it enjoys a certain taboo status – you just don’t criticise it in polite society. However, it’s best defence is its obscurity. Almost no-one ever takes it on because almost no-one has ever read any of it.

    It’s a shame because as a body a great deal of it is silly, illogical and, as Miranda points out, occasionally dangerous.

    August 16, 2011
  11. jonjermey #

    Theology seems to be used in three ways in Christian apologetics:

    1. In claims that ‘someone else’ has proved something in a way that the apologist can’t understand or replicate but is nonetheless perfectly sure is valid.

    2. To baffle critics with piles of obfuscatory word salad.

    3. Via the Feser method: claim that nobody can criticise theism until they have read more books and articles on theology than anyone but a theologian would possibly bother with.

    August 16, 2011
    • And speaking of Feser, he makes a very good point on his book “Hayek and Scientism”:

      “Conservatives, more than anyone else, should be wary of the pretensions of scientism, a Procrustean ideology whose pretensions were exposed with particular insight by F. A. Hayek, one of the great heroes of contemporary conservatives (including, perhaps especially, secular conservatives—Hayek himself was an agnostic with no religious ax to grind). In his three-part essay “Scientism and the Study of Society” (reprinted in his book The Counter-Revolution of Science) and his book The Sensory Order, Hayek shows that the project of re-conceiving human nature in particular entirely in terms of the categories of natural science is impossible in principle.

      The reason has to do with what Hayek calls the “objectivism” inherent in scientism. Modern science arose in large part out of a practical, political concern—to make men “masters and possessors of nature” (as Descartes put it), and enhance “human utility and power” through the “mechanical arts” or technology (in the words of Francis Bacon). This goal could be realized only by focusing on those aspects of the natural world susceptible of strict prediction and control, and this in turn required a quantitative methodology, so that mathematics would come to be regarded as the language in which the “book of nature” was written (in Galileo’s well-known phrase). And yet our ordinary, everyday experience of the world is qualitative through and through—we perceive colors, sounds, warmth and coolness, purposes and meanings.

      How are we to reconcile this commonsense “manifest image” of the world with the quantitative “scientific image” (to borrow philosopher Wilfrid Sellars’ famous distinction)? The answer is that they cannot be reconciled …”

      I disagree with Feser only in one thing: I have ‘faith’ that they can be reconciled…
      We cannot faithfully believe in our reason, while rationally attempt to disregard faith.
      Isn’t that a oxymoron?
      What does mathematics use to bridge the areas where if fells short to fully explain reality? That is right, it relays on ‘faith’! Faith that mathematics quantitative made into coefficients and ‘hard-coded’ concepts to match reality. That is nothing more and nothing less that the conjoin effort of ‘faith’ and ‘reason’ to better understand reality.

      August 17, 2011
  12. “What are ‘faith-without-reason’ and ‘reason-without-faith’?”
    faith-without-reason: Individuals that answer to almost every theological question: “God is the answer”. 100%Faith – 0%Reason
    reason-without-faith: Individuals that answer to almost every theological question (initially): There is a rational answer to everything, no need for magic, hocus-pocus, ghosts or any other source of ‘nonsense’ – we just cannot comprehend it with the limited state of our intelligence at the moment… . 0%Faith – 99.9999999%Reason.[to leave room for the ‘Uncertainty principle’]

    ” Are they the same as ‘faith’ and ‘reason’”
    Well not on the context of my point. The point is that stagnated dogma comes from any particular egotistic believe that we have the answer to everything.

    “, and if not, how do they differ?” See above.

    “And how do you know there ARE ‘higher levels of understanding of our existence’?”
    Well, ain’t that what humans have been doing for millions of years – evolving and maturing on their understanding of their existence? Sorry I had to answer with the same question back. I think is clear to all of us – atheist, agnostic and theist – that one either believe that humanity is either advancing toward ‘improvements’ of its Civilization or they are heading for extinction. Is there any other option that you can infer?

    “If I was trying to ‘build’ something I would first want some reason to believe it was possible to ‘build’ it at all.”
    a reason to believe…can we trust or reason so much that we can get to the point of having complete faith on it?

    “How does theology ‘stagnate’?”
    When the freedom of exercising one’s own ‘understanding’ of its own existence is repressed by imposition of archaic and institutionalized theology, or by prohibition of any practices of any believes or by enforcing the idolatry of one individual, usually in high status of power.

    “What does non-stagnating theology look like?”
    Freedom and respect for each others believe in a matter that allows for each one to form its own opinion of its own existence without secular-tactical-fear dogmas or laughs from the agnostic, and atheist institutions. Theology free of secular or scientific regulation.

    “And since intelligence is a product of space-time-constricted human brains, how can it be anything BUT space-time constricted?”
    No, intelligence is transcendental to space-time realms. It is just temporary limited by the time-space constrain that everything including our spirituality, is affected by.

    “I appreciate your efforts to explain theology, but so far you have simply introduced several undefined terms, made some confusing claims, and begged a question. I don’t see any reason to believe your theology is any more grounded in facts than anyone else’s.”
    I have never spoke of my theology; I was just advocating for each one’s right to its own…but since you ask: “I ‘rationally’ have complete faith ‘that all humans are endowed by the ‘First-cause’ with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the freedom of theology”

    We should talk one of this days about my rational-faith on ‘the unification of religions’ for the freedom of theology…

    The Civilizationalist

    August 17, 2011
  13. Sigmund #

    I remember sitting in on a conversation, last year, between my father and his best friend. Both of them are Irish catholics and they were talking about an acquaintance from their younger days whose father was a minister in Ian Paisleys Free Presbyterian church – a rather fundamentalistic protestant congregation. The conversation touched on the question of theology and the differences in interpretations of catholic as opposed to protestant beliefs.
    My father and his friend thought they had a cast iron argument over which interpretation was correct. Their argument was that protestant theological teachings are fragmented and contradictory for the simple reason that it involves individual human beings reading their own personal interpretations into the bible. Obviously people differ in temperament, experience and values and this is bound to result in different interpretations – and that must mean that some interpretations are bound to be incorrect.
    Catholic theology was different for the reason that there is no ‘debate’ about interpretations of scripture. Only one view is permitted at one time (hence no possibility of contradictory teachings) and that one view is that taught by the church leadership who have a direct connection to God Himself who, through the holy spirit, inspires the Pope and his cardinals to understand the correct meaning and teach that to the masses.
    This all makes sense to believing catholics and most rarely give thought to the question of what evidence do we have that the Pope and the cardinals are getting some sort of divine help rather than just making stuff up – the same way that protestant ministers do (believing catholics have no problem thinking that protestants – and members of any other religion – just make stuff up!)
    I suggested to them that if they were really interested in the bible then they would benefit from reading some modern biblical research such as that by Bart Ehrman. My father replied that he wasn’t interested in sciencey stuff! The argument made perfect sense to him as it was – I was only confusing things by trying to being facts into the equation!

    August 17, 2011
  14. Theology, religion, irrational thinking of various kinds are all potentially harmful. Just look at the death sentences for Apostasy in many muslim countries!

    I don’t think (as I say here: that there are many positive arguments for religion. Most arguments put forward are actually either counter-productive or non-sequiters which do nothing to actually provide evidence for beliefs.

    The more of us that stand up against theology, the better.

    August 17, 2011
    • “The more of us that stand up against [‘institutionalized’] theology, the better.”
      The more of us that condemn and tyrannized the natural tendency of people (95% of the world) to exercise true free and idiosyncratic theology, the more power that we are giving to the institutionalized religions. Why?
      Because regardless if the 5% of atheist and agnostic are right or wrong, the reality is that the rest of the population believe on faith; want to theologize; want to find some type of theological comfort and/or answer. And these people will always look up to leaders that either tell them “I understand and I am here to fight for your freedom of theology” or leaders that will tell them “morph your believes to these ones and you’ll be safe, otherwise you’ll spiritually perish!”
      Either way I don’t think anybody on this thread can argue that most people will continue on their search for comfort to their innate desire to ‘comprehend’ their existence. And that my friends can not be change even with the most accurate, logical and mathematically-correct probe of the useless need for theology.

      August 17, 2011
  15. “The Sensory Order, Hayek shows that the project of re-conceiving human nature in particular entirely in terms of the categories of natural science is impossible in principle.”

    This can’t be true. It can’t be true for a very obvious reason. That reason is that human nature is itself a product of nature, nature that is entirely within the scope of natural science. Human bodies are molecular machines build from physics, then chemistry, then biochemistry, then biology. Human bodies are unimaginably complex machines, but they are machines. A part of that machinery is the brain, which again is formed from the quartet of levels: physics, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, but with another layer – the processing and storage of information. Because we know fully the composition of the body and the brain at the lowest level, the level of physics, and because we know because of the precision of sciences that there is no other ingredient, then we can know for sure that human nature must logically be entirely a matter of natural science. Understanding human nature may forever be beyond natural science in terms of practicality, like the predictability of a rainy afternoon in your home town a month ahead, but in principle, there is nothing but nature behind human nature.

    And here is the delicious irony: Because we are nothing but nature, the words: “re-conceiving human nature in particular entirely in terms of the categories of natural science is impossible in principle” are themselves entirely the product of the emergent activity of particles interacting in ways described by natural science.

    Imagine the biggest computer ever. The computer is so amazingly intelligent and conscious it has forgotten what it is. After a long time thinking, the computer prints out a book: “The Algorithmic Order”, in which it says “the project of re-conceiving computer nature in particular entirely in terms of the categories of natural science is impossible in principle.”

    How we would chuckle, especially the engineers who work daily to dust the machine’s circuit boards and polish its diodes. The computer had forgotten about its silicon nature.

    We are no better. We humans come up with statements that forget that we are ultimately creatures of carbon.

    Scientism is simply facing that carbon-truth. The rigours of natural science may be far from the best way to understand much of life, but it’s a fallacy to insist that there is any area of human thought or activity that natural science cannot, in principle, study.

    August 18, 2011
  16. “That reason is that human nature is itself a product of nature, nature that is entirely within the scope of natural science.”
    Within your context is clear that when you talk about ‘human nature’ you are referring to just the mortal, time-space-constricted container of the human creature within the domain of its current realm. As well as when you speak of ‘natural science’ within the same context is clear you are referencing to the time-space-constricted rules of this realm.
    You simplify the format of human beings by pointing out just its physical form, comparing it to a very fast (not intelligent) computer – Remember computers are machines that can repeat/compute pre-set quantification functions at an increasingly speed – as their design evolve…; ignoring completely the unique essence of each one of us; the personality.
    Do you ‘believe’ you have a personality?
    Can that limited format of science of what you speak of, that you believe human creatures can obtain full control and understanding of, explain why we have ‘personalities’ and where they reside within our mortal container?
    Or is personality just a product of our imagination? And if it is how do we explain our ability to imagine things that can not take real form within this realm…?
    What about ‘Love’?
    What about the bond between mother and child?
    Can this time-space-constricted science rationalized the ‘chemistry’, essence, and origin of these ‘values’ that human creatures can ‘feel’ but they cannot explain?

    Also, I already see you in the path to a evolving understanding of your transcendental nature – nature that transcends this realm. This is clear when you speak of that ‘super ‘fast’ computer’. You said:
    “How we would chuckle, especially the engineers [the super-beings] who work daily to dust the machine’s circuit boards and polish its diodes. The computer [the limited creature] had forgotten about its silicon nature [limited nature].”

    Eventually this statement, once you mature within your personal theology, will be amplified to something that will be utterly comprehensible without the need of rationalization to your ‘persona’ only.
    And I apologize for trying to speculate of the format that your theology may evolve into. I am just trying to make a point::
    “Well, if the computer has a creator that sympathizes with the computer’s inability to fully comprehend its nature; Perhaps just perhaps, we human creatures are also the ‘evolucreation’ of some superior being or essence that compassionately watch over us without our understanding of IT being behind our entire existence; humoring at our speculations and debates on the source of our origin…”
    What is the key that will drive to an amplification of your evolving theology?
    The key or switch is that we rationally cannot explain why we are aware of its existence, our free will, and our unique essence and personality.
    It is that inability of our mortal mind and limited intelligence to explain rationally these ‘realities’ that exist parallel to matter, energy, and physical laws within this realm; the driving force of our ever evolving individual theologies.

    August 18, 2011
  17. “Within your context is clear that when you talk about ‘human nature’ you are referring to just the mortal, time-space-constricted container of the human creature within the domain of its current realm”

    Of course. Because that is what we are. We know that is what we are, and we know it to very high precision because of physics.

    We all have a stark choice. To accept the truth of science or to accept the spiritual. There is no half-way, no compromise. The science that the spiritual rejects is all of it; everything back to Galileo.

    I feel sorry for those who cannot see the true beauty of what we are, this intelligent fizzing of atoms. The false path of transcendence is nothing more than the desire for mystery, because those who insist on transcendence would never be satisfied with any explanation of what we are. Transcendence is not being able to face the innards of your soul.

    August 18, 2011
    • pete #

      I disagree, respectfully, but only because I think this “intelligent fizzing of atoms” is transcendent. Anyone that can’t get high over a scientific analysis of our precarious but lovely nature is a cynic, not a skeptic*.
      Could it be that whatever religious part of our minds is there is there FOR us to properly appreciate the nifty ways things fit together** in reality and is just sublimated into what Miranda so rightly calls nonsensical? Wouldn’t it be so much more effective to blame theology for that too rather than denying ourselves the true depth and breadth of our reaction to knowledge? I mean, it’s pretty freaking perverse to hold our minds hostage in that way. And effectively has us doing their dirty work for them yet again.

      *A definitive opinion so probably a stretch.
      **I’m thinking here of brain trauma victims who have a heightened sense of the spiritual but can’t express it as a sort of fuzzy backup to my idea that we’re more wired for it than socially inspired to ridiculous affects of dogmatism.

      August 18, 2011
  18. By the way ‘Love’ these debates…
    I want to thank all of you guys from the deepest of my ‘soul’ for taking time out of your precious Lives to answer, question and appreciate my comments. The mare fact that you take time and effort to comprehend my ‘incorrect’ and convoluted English (sorry for that) deserves my highest appreciation.
    I faithfully believe our conversations are being ‘recorded’ and appreciated as steps toward better evolving creatures that must succeed us within this realm; by those that are in ‘charge’ of monitoring, helping and analyzing the development of human creatures. I am sure they feel like the proudest parents of their children…

    The Civilizationalist

    August 18, 2011
  19. Steve Zara #

    “I disagree, respectfully, but only because I think this “intelligent fizzing of atoms” is transcendent.”

    Of course, if that is your view, but please be clear what you have to reject to have that view. It’s every physics finding and experiment for the past 300 years. You are saying that they are all wrong, because energy isn’t conserved, and atoms don’t behave in the way that scientists have found.

    For there to be transcendence, the atoms in the brain cannot behave like other atoms. Brain carbon can’t behave like normal carbon, brain oxygen, brain nitrogen, brain hydrogen – all must have some extra magic.

    Are you really prepared to accept that?

    August 19, 2011
    • pete #

      There have been physics findings for well over 300 years and counting that don’t even include silly greek atomes. I’m not saying silly to discount you flippantly but to include you. Unwelcome or not.
      Atoms will behave however the hell they want and scientists can watch them like goldfish in a bowl and call them all yellow until they find a brown one and drag off the guy kicking and screaming who says it’s so just like a nun with a penchant for witchcraft in a nunnery for all I care. Same dogma, different wimple.
      My point was questing for the sake of amiability and you go exploiting differences, which is fine, you have every right and I like you lots. After all I did disagree to start out. I’ll still read your comments and love every bit and not care we can’t disagree without you telling me what I accept given such and such.
      Also your hat in the photo of you is awesome. I say that without irony. Sorry to inform you publicly but hats just endear me to a fella. Superficial, I know…

      August 19, 2011
  20. Steve Zara #

    “Atoms will behave however the hell they want and scientists can watch them like goldfish in a bowl and call them all yellow until they find a brown one and drag off the guy kicking and screaming who says it’s so just like a nun with a penchant for witchcraft in a nunnery for all I care. Same dogma, different wimple.”

    It’s not like that. It really isn’t dogma. The accuracy of our knowledge of what atoms do is there in our electronic and electric civilization every day. Every keystroke of your computer relies on the precision with which we know what atoms do. Every turn of the wheel of your car relies on that precision. Every second of flight of a plane relies on that precision.

    You are saying all that is wrong.

    Insistence on transcendence is like this:

    “I believe we can jump to the moon. After all all, science hasn’t found the best athelete yet”

    No matter how many athletes we find, we will never find one who can jump to the moon. To transcend Earth we need to accept science and technology.

    There is no spiritual transcendence. The brain can’t jump to the moon.

    August 19, 2011
    • pete #

      “To transcend Earth we need to accept science and technology.” This was the point I was trying to get at. Transcendence doesn’t mean an abdication of reality to me. I think there might be a problem here, I’ll try to illustrate, but I’ve been up all night, so please bear with me:
      My day job (HA!) is being a visual artist. There’s a very close analogy here between the high fallutin bullshit term, “Art” with a capital “A” that can stand in for the spiritualist term “Transcendence”. Basically a junk term of pretentiousness. Then there’s the lower case (but in my own estimation, more important) term “art” simply meaning the reality of working and doing my thing.
      To me the one bears reality because it’s what I do and the other has some social/political/elitist attachment I don’t much care to even analyze. So I get the distaste over using a term, I just want it clear that I’m not advocating finding some super-reality where Jebus and his seven dwarves make everything all shiney. I’m just saying that scientific experience to me has many qualities that others sublimate into their whackiness, attaching the capital letter and making life miserable for those of us just enjoying the fruits of reason and technogadgets and liking people (like you) who help define the world a little more clearly in terms we plebians can understand. (That’s not overly humble, you just did it, so there.)

      August 19, 2011
  21. I probably misunderstood you! I’m sorry. I think there are exciting new artistic possibilities by throwing away the old language of belief and looking at the world as it really is. Unlike Richard Dawkins, who says he rather likes many of the Christian traditions of his country, such as literature and architecture, I find churches creepy, and the language tiresome.

    How about a new poetry of the material?

    August 19, 2011
    • pete #

      Oh, I actually lost a friend a bit ago over my, “Trying to have an eww experience,” when I submitted myself to a little bit of cathedral happenings. The ironic part in that it broke up the friendship was how hard I was trying to enjoy the aesthetics of the experience. It just ain’t happening no matter how hard I try though. I’ve mentioned before in the comments on this blog the slapdash gawdiness of it. I’d add to that the morbid imagery is like an incentive to run like hell more than inviting rapturous communion with anything.
      And yes, art and science have much to offer each other. So much so that they form a productivity feedback loop which is one of the most sensational experiences that I’ve ever had and sustain me when all else fails. Hence my trying to clear up the transcendence thing. So it’s not so much for me whether I appreciate past forms than that I appreciate more what I’m in it for.
      I don’t always go where Miranda leads (I’m a bit bohemian while she is shiney and hard working and professional) but she has always been a great source of inspiration as well and I sometimes don’t like myself for how I behave here. So if it seemed like I was trolling at first it’s just my weird issues and nothing for you to be sorry about.

      August 19, 2011
  22. “I’d add to that the morbid imagery is like an incentive to run like hell more than inviting rapturous communion with anything.”

    In the hindsight of many, many years, I now look back at my Catholicism and I’m astonished at how much sado-masochistic imagery is presented, even to the youngest children. The blood, the suffering, the wounds of Christ. It’s all rather horrid.

    But just as strange is theology. Even a child can see the absurdity of dogma such as the Trinity. The only way to accept it is to stop asking questions.

    August 19, 2011
  23. Thanks for all the comments! I usually participate in the comment threads, but I was really busy & overwhelmed last week, so I didn’t have a chance to.

    August 21, 2011

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