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Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth - Religion - Nairaland

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Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by PastorAIO: 9:10am On Mar 02, 2009
It's always a pleasure to tell people about a wonderful book, especially when the subject of the book is of universal and critical importance. Evolutionary geneticist Jerry A. Coyne has given us such a book (Why Evolution Is True. New York: Viking, 2009)

Many biologists (and I'm one of them), when they find themselves in the midst of a debate about the validity of evolution, feel as though they're on the Moon. The question that pounds in their heads is why are these people so obstinate about knowing the real world? Isn't it better to know the real world rather than some concocted fantasy about the world?

The answer, of course, is that when the fantasy has been an important part of your world-view since childhood, you don't dump it so easily no matter how many clamoring scientists surround you and chant: "Look! Look! Look!"

Yes, it's not easy. Even just looking at the evidence is not easy. It's not easy now, and it wasn't easy when Galileo held out his telescope and said, "Look!"

Galileo is the man whose very name has come to signify the perpetual battle between dogma and science, a battle in Galileo's time won by dogma, a defeat now recognized as a disaster for human society.

The story of the Church against Galileo has been repeated (and often distorted) over and over again in history and literature. But what was the crux of it? Some say that the officials of the Church of that time were aware of the truth of Galileo's assertions that the Earth revolved around the Sun, but were incapable of publicly admitting this because of fear of demolishing the philosophical structure upon which the Church rested -- the theological position, originating with the ancient Greeks, that a mechanistic interpretation of nature could never be more than a model, an intellectual artifact, since between theory and reality there would always be a gap that could not be bridged by human reason. The Church had received from the ancients a fundamental view of the Cosmos that the Church had preached since the beginning of Christianity, and that view could not be denied without demolishing the foundations of the religion itself. At least, according to this interpretation of the crux of the conflict, that was the view of Church officials of the 17th century. Of course, eventually, after two hundred years, the Church did accept the Galilean/Copernican view of the Solar System, and without destruction of its theological foundations. (Some may argue that if anything the foundations were strengthened.)

The other view of the crux of the matter is simpler and focuses on the elemental battle between dogma and reality, the refusal of the dogmatists to acknowledge reality, the stubborn efforts of the dogmatists to contrive and deny even when one is handed a telescope and told to look at the moons of Jupiter and see whether or not they are real. So goes the story of the Church and Jupiter's moons, although if officials of the Church refused to look, many academics, the so-called philosophers of Pisa, also refused to look.

Why not look? Because to look and see what Galileo (and others) said could be seen would demolish the foundations of one's reality. The dogma was that the Earth did not move. And even of those who accepted the Copernican idea that the planets (other than Earth) revolved around the Sun, many would not accept the idea that the Earth itself revolved around the Sun -- because they believed the Earth would then lose its moon. Thus, to see the moons of Jupiter was to understand that a planet could revolve around the Sun without losing its moons, and that the Earth could do this also.

So the story of Galileo is about looking, and similarly the story of the refusal to accept the biological evolution of humanity is about looking. It's all about looking at evidence.

Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter in the year 1610. On 22 June 1633, he received the final sentence of the Church, with the following words read out to him:

"You have rendered yourself vehemently suspect of heresy, namely of having held and believed a doctrine which is false and contrary to the Sacred and Divine Scriptures, that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west, and that the Earth moves and is not the center of the world; and that one may hold and defend as probable an opinion after it has been declared and defined contrary to Holy Scripture."

Had the Church had the same absolute power everywhere in the Western world in the 19th century that it had in the 17th century, you can bet Charles Darwin would have faced the Church and the rack and possible execution by burning for his heresy of proposing the biological evolution of humanity by natural selection.

So it goes. When Harvard University was founded in the year 1636, the assembled university scholars did not accept Galileo's work and they remained firmly committed to the Ptolemaic theory of the Universe. Were they too busy to look at Jupiter's moons?

Galileo's major work on the Solar System, Dialogue On the Two Chief World Systems, was not removed from the Roman Catholic Index of prohibited books until 1835, two hundred years after the Church forced his recantation.

Dogma is not easily melted. People don't want to look at the real world when looking turns their personal world upside down.

Meanwhile Jerry Coyne's book on evolution should be read by any anti-evolution hold-out with even a glimmer of an open mind. It's a book that may change the way you look at things -- if you dare.

from here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-agin/book-review-why-evolution_b_166531.html
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by NegroNtns(m): 12:16am On Mar 03, 2009
Nice read!
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by PastorAIO: 12:08pm On Mar 04, 2009
That websites has got some really great write ups from all kinds of perspectives.

What many people won't admit is that the resistance to change happens amongst scientists as much as amongst religionists. It is an innate human characteristic and is not something caused by religion as some would like us to believe.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by Bastage: 12:13pm On Mar 04, 2009
Good post.

But,
What many people won't admit is that the resistance to change happens amongst scientists as much as amongst religionists.

Whilst I agree that scientists can be dogmatic, in general, they are no way as closed-minded as the extremists who inhabit religion. The nature of science is that is open-ended and dogma is seen by the vast majority as it's worst enemy.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by huxley(m): 12:55pm On Mar 04, 2009
Bastage:

Good post.

But,
Whilst I agree that scientists can be dogmatic, in general, they are no way as closed-minded as the extremists who inhabit religion. The nature of science is that is open-ended and dogma is seen by the vast majority as it's worst enemy.

I agree. Dogmatism is a human quality, just like selfishness, bravery and cruelty. And like all (most) human qualities, dogmatism can be learned and unlearned. The difference is that some cultural institutions deliberately promote and cultivate dogmatism.

Individual scientist may be dogmatic but I doubt the scientific institution as a whole is dogmatic. Scientists may have strong opinion about their ideas/views/hypothesis but I am sure they will all be willing to move their position should their position be contradicted by the evidence. In fact, it is important that scientist strongly fight for their ideas, otherwise who else would fight for them.

A case is point is Wagener who proposed plate tectonic. He was opposed by every geologist at the time. There was a measure of bulldoggedness on both sides, until he was able to provide the evidence to support his hypothesis.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by PastorAIO: 1:29pm On Mar 04, 2009
huxley:

I agree. Dogmatism is a human quality, just like selfishness, bravery and cruelty. And like all (most) human qualities, dogmatism can be learned and unlearned. The difference is that some cultural institutions deliberately promote and cultivate dogmatism.

Individual scientist may be dogmatic but I doubt the scientific institution as a whole is dogmatic. Scientists may have strong opinion about their ideas/views/hypothesis but I am sure they will all be willing to move their position should their position be contradicted by the evidence. In fact, it is important that scientist strongly fight for their ideas, otherwise who else would fight for them.

A case is point is Wagener who proposed plate tectonic. He was opposed by every geologist at the time. There was a measure of bulldoggedness on both sides, until he was able to provide the evidence to support his hypothesis.

Yes, but the advantage that many scientists have is that Science is not often that political. Religionists too have their views peer reviewed. What else is all those Church Councils about? However the consequences of a shift in religious doctrine has grievous political repercussions for those who hold the former doctrine. Check out nestorius here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestorius

Nestorius (in Greek: Νεστόριος; c. 386–c. 451) was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to 22 June 431. He was accused by his political enemy Cyril of Alexandria of a heresy that later bore his name, Nestorianism, because he objected to the popular practice of calling the Virgin Mary the "Mother of God" theotokos; he instead preached that "Mother of Christ" would be more fitting.[1] He was condemned at the Council of Ephesus before his supporters could arrive and he was then dethroned. His views were widely held in the East, and the consequence was the separation of the Assyrian Church of the East from the Byzantine Church[citation needed].

Smear science with a little bit of politics though . . . , for instance making the mind boggling leap (which we all do) from science to ideology, eg Big Bang theory to Atheism, or Evolution Theory to Eugenics or Racial ideologies as is found in Nazism . . . and you'll find the same resistance to evidence.
Also if your job is based on a certain scientific theory and that theory is about to be disproved that will give you impetus to resist the challenge. That too is political.

If there was to be a new discovery that would require a large enough number of scientists to go back to school, I dare say that you find the scientific institution as a whole become dogmatic.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by huxley(m): 2:23pm On Mar 04, 2009
Pastor AIO:

Yes, but the advantage that many scientists have is that Science is not often that political. Religionists too have their views peer reviewed. What else is all those Church Councils about? However the consequences of a shift in religious doctrine has grievous political repercussions for those who hold the former doctrine. Check out nestorius here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestorius

Smear science with a little bit of politics though . . . , for instance making the mind boggling leap (which we all do) from science to ideology, eg Big Bang theory to Atheism, or Evolution Theory to Eugenics or Racial ideologies as is found in Nazism . . . and you'll find the same resistance to evidence.
Also if your job is based on a certain scientific theory and that theory is about to be disproved that will give you impetus to resist the challenge. That too is political.

If there was to be a new discovery that would require a large enough number of scientists to go back to school, I dare say that you find the scientific institution as a whole become dogmatic.

The council of Nicea comes to mind. This was the first council of the church, which basically split and already divided church. Am sure you are aware of the Arian affair and the controversy about the nature of Jesus. Basically, at Nicea, it was decided by a show of hands whether Jesus was fully God or not and the christian church lives with that decision today.

Wholesale paradigm shifts in science are rare and far between. Why is this so? Because the scientific institution meticulously and painstakingly checks and rechecks its work before anything is held out as an accepted "scientific fact". Look at most of the major scientific theories of the last 200 years - few, if any have undergone drastic revisions. That is not to say that they may not be changed, but the chances of major change are pretty small.

In fact, I have started to study such idea in more details in the areas of philosophy called metaphysics (ontology) and philosophy of science and I remember many years ago (about 20 years in fact) when I started having questions about the nature of reality. One of the questions that haunted be was;


Is it possible that there could be some other reality, distinct from our present reality, but available to us, that has not been captured by our current epistemologies?


Or simply put - Is it conceivable that water is NOT H2O?

Basically, science should be used to inform our philosophies if you agree that the scientific method is the ONLY way of determining objective truths about reality. This is my position and am aware that many people take objection to this position. Well, for such people, the onus lies on them to show what others means there may be for determining objectives truths. To my knowledge this has never been done.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by PastorAIO: 4:47pm On Mar 04, 2009
huxley:


Wholesale paradigm shifts in science are rare and far between. Why is this so? Because the scientific institution meticulously and painstakingly checks and rechecks its work before anything is held out as an accepted "scientific fact". Look at most of the major scientific theories of the last 200 years - few, if any have undergone drastic revisions. That is not to say that they may not be changed, but the chances of major change are pretty small.


When you say science what do you mean? How old is this science you talk about? Thousands of years, or just a couple of centuries. I'm asking because there have been numerous scientific traditions and when you say paradigm shifts are rare and far between I'm confused. Once there's been a paradigm shift can we say it is the same tradition. Can we say that The Germ theory of disease belongs to the same tradition as the theories of Galen? If the tradition you are talking about is only 200 years old can we say that there has been enough time for a major paradigmatic shift.


In fact, I have started to study such idea in more details in the areas of philosophy called metaphysics (ontology) and philosophy of science and I remember many years ago (about 20 years in fact) when I started having questions about the nature of reality. One of the questions that haunted be was;


Is it possible that there could be some other reality, distinct from our present reality, but available to us, that has not been captured by our current epistemologies?


I'm glad to see that you ask questions like that. What do you think of the image here?

http://delicategeniusblog.com/?p=552

What direction do you see it spinning and can you get it to spin the other way? Make this little experiment with yourself and then we'll talk more about it.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by huxley(m): 6:08pm On Mar 04, 2009
Pastor AIO:

When you say science what do you mean? How old is this science you talk about? Thousands of years, or just a couple of centuries. I'm asking because there have been numerous scientific traditions and when you say paradigm shifts are rare and far between I'm confused. Once there's been a paradigm shift can we say it is the same tradition. Can we say that The Germ theory of disease belongs to the same tradition as the theories of Galen? If the tradition you are talking about is only 200 years old can we say that there has been enough time for a major paradigmatic shift.


I'm glad to see that you ask questions like that. What do you think of the image here?

http://delicategeniusblog.com/?p=552

What direction do you see it spinning and can you get it to spin the other way? Make this little experiment with yourself and then we'll talk more about it.




On a general level, science is a quest to knowledge about nature or reality. On this definition, humans have been practising science since time immemorial. However, there was a paradigm shift itself in the search for reliable accurate knowledge about 400 years ago. This gave birth to what is generally called The Modern Scientific Method. Two of the main aspects of the modern scientific methods are:

1) The development and testing of a hypothesis
2) The development of an explanatory mechanism that explains the observed data

Of course, there are other aspects to modern science, but these are key to the way science is practiced today. Science at the time of Aristotle lacked these features.

Einsteinian mechanics was a shift of the paradigm from the Newtonian view, although it did not invalidate it, but simply modified it.

I first was the dancer going anticlockwise, then clockwise. I wonder what that means.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by PastorAIO: 6:19pm On Mar 04, 2009
I'm not really interested in what that site says about left brain or right brain. What I get out of the experiment is that fact that Interpretation occurs at the most basic levels of perception. So . . . Is it conceivable that water is not H2O? I say that whatever water really is, one interpretation of the experience of water is as H2O.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by huxley(m): 7:13pm On Mar 04, 2009
Pastor AIO:

I'm not really interested in what that site says about left brain or right brain. What I get out of the experiment is that fact that Interpretation occurs at the most basic levels of perception. So . . . Is it conceivable that water is not H2O? I say that whatever water really is, one interpretation of the experience of water is as H2O.

Interesting. You experience water by experiencings its properties. OK, is it possible for something to have ALL the properties of water and yet not be water?
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by Bastage: 9:44pm On Mar 04, 2009
OK, is it possible for something to have ALL the properties of water and yet not be water?

I would say improbable. We are limited by our own perceptions.
Anything we view as water is water.

Incidentally, that link is cool. It went clockwise for me and then anti-clockwise. Then I found that I could change direction at will.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by huxley(m): 10:00pm On Mar 04, 2009
Bastage:

I would say improbable. We are limited by our own perceptions.
Anything we view as water is water.

Incidentally, that link is cool. It went clockwise for me and then anti-clockwise. Then I found that I could change direction at will.

Of all the properties of water is one is the most intrinsic to its waterness? Is it the fact that it is a clear liquid? Is it the fact that it taste a certain way? Is it the fact that it has a certain density, viscosity, etc, etc.

Do you need all of these properties acting together to make it water? What if you modifiy one or more of its properies, say by heating it or subjecting it under some pressure, thus changeing some properties. Is it still water?
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by Bastage: 10:10pm On Mar 04, 2009
What if you modifiy one or more of its properies, say by heating it or subjecting it under some pressure, thus changeing some properties. Is it still water?

Water is generally classified as being the liquid form of H2O. Change the properties and you get ice, steam, etc. We say that it is still water but recognise it as being so in a different form. In reality, in those instances, we are just interpreting it to be so because we know that it's chemical form hasn't changed - it's still H2O but under a different condition.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by KunleOshob(m): 9:38am On Mar 05, 2009
huxley:

On a general level, science is a quest to knowledge about nature or reality. On this definition, humans have been practising science since time immemorial. However, t[b]here was a paradigm shift itself in the search for reliable accurate knowledge about 400 years ago.[/b] This gave birth to what is generally called The Modern Scientific Method. Two of the main aspects of the modern scientific methods are:
You are wrong here bros, the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians were already advanced in Mathematics and geometry as far back as 4,000 years ago. It was with this knowledge they were able to construct the great pyramids of Giza which still defies scientific knowledge today. I think it was western science that became established 400 years ago, even then they are yet to match some of the scientic marvels of the ancients.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by PastorAIO: 10:27am On Mar 05, 2009
huxley:

Interesting. You experience water by experiencings its properties. OK, is it possible for something to have ALL the properties of water and yet not be water?

This is interesting. The way I would approach this question is like this. The properties I experience as water are actually my Interpretation of a deeper Substance. When I use the term Substance I mean it in a sense closer to that Locke meant it as that which lies underneath - Sub Stantia (Stands beneath). So I divide the world into two, The Ostensible part (ie my perceptions) and the Substantial part (that which has been interpreted into my perceptions). One has to be careful with that term in philosophy because it has had numerous uses over the centuries.
http://www.formalontology.it/substance.htm

http://books.google.com/books?id=vCWIVryXXbEC&pg=PA480&lpg=PA480&dq=sub+stantia+substance&source=bl&ots=alXKC0GRUd&sig=lBvbd8_mbUF-XzJ7_dmuCZAW8xQ&hl=en&ei=rZSvSeT8Mc3dtgfVzYjmBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result#PPA480,M1

So my perceptions are the product of my senses interacting with substances. The properties of water that I experience are not the substance of water. Yet they have been derived from the substance of water.

The question now is 'What can we say about substances, if anything?' How many substances are there? Is it possible for two different substance to effect the ostensible properties of water? Is it possible for a single substance to effect the properties of both water and, say, Fire?

If a different substance can effect the ostensible properties of water then yes, it is possible for something to show the properties of water yet deep down not be water.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by PastorAIO: 10:41am On Mar 05, 2009
huxley:

Of all the properties of water is one is the most intrinsic to its waterness? Is it the fact that it is a clear liquid? Is it the fact that it taste a certain way? Is it the fact that it has a certain density, viscosity, etc, etc.

Do you need all of these properties acting together to make it water? What if you modifiy one or more of its properies, say by heating it or subjecting it under some pressure, thus changeing some properties. Is it still water?

The thing about ostensible reality is that it is conditional. Everything depends on the conditions. The description of water's properties include what it does under various conditions. If it didn't boil at 100 degrees, standard atmospheric pressure then it doesn't fit the description of water. Heating or subjecting to pressure is merely changing the conditions and it should be expected that water should do whatever it is that water does under the change of condition.

Bastage:

I would say improbable. We are limited by our own perceptions.
Anything we view as water is water.

Incidentally, that link is cool. It went clockwise for me and then anti-clockwise. Then I found that I could change direction at will.

We are indeed limited to our perceptions . . . apparently. Can we ever experience the substance of things? Or are we limited to perceptions. Are our senses the only faculties we have for perceiving reality?

I would further streamline what you said above and say, 'Whatever we view to ostensibly be water is ostensibly water'.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by Bastage: 11:37am On Mar 05, 2009
Ostensible or what we consider to be relative to us all?


Can we ever experience the substance of things?  Or are we limited to perceptions.  Are our senses the only faculties we have for perceiving reality?

What you are basically talking about is a sixth sense. Unfortunately, as you know, there is no evidence that it exists (although I don't discount it and neither do a lot of scientists).

This is an interesting subject though because it ties in nicely with religion.
If you look at people who are religious, there is a sense of spirituality. In fundamentalism, that spirituality is considered to be infallible and therefore looked upon as a sixth sense. The problem is that spirituality is pertinent only to the individual and therefore it offers no conclusions to anyone else but the person who experiences it. Some may claim that spirituality is a shared human trait but there is absolutely no evidence to to prove this. There is a "cult" syndrome but it's not based on spirituality - more a shared feeling of personal and physical identification.

A person who believes that they hold an infallible sense of spirituality can, in effect, claim to perceive anything. They can say that water is not water if they believe it to be so. Obviously, to the rest of us, it is still water but to that individual, it can be anything he wants it to be. Although this is an extreme scenario, we do see the same sort of thing occuring all of the time and this is where dogma steps in. People base their sense of spirituality on what they've been taught about religion. They then apply that spirituality and refuse to budge as to them it is infallible. The Earth was created in seven days, Adam and Eve were the first people and so on. In cases like these, spirituality even seems to over-ride everything else.
I believe that where these people fall down is that they don't understand that in the spiritual, perception is relative. Dogma is it's worst enemy and doggedly holding to ideals that were formed by others in their realms of spirituality is not always the best way to go about things.

Taking that further, the five senses that we do have are relative. For example, my perception of the colour yellow may be totally different to yours or when I feel something soft, I may get a totally different sensation to the one that you have. Sure, we understand through a basic ability of communication what yellow is and what soft is but there is no way of knowing if we actually perceive it in the same way. So if the basic five sense are relative, what does this mean for spirituality when not only is it's relativity not understood but when it also includes dogma?
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by Nobody: 6:52pm On Aug 08, 2012
:-)
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by MrAnony1(m): 9:04am On Aug 09, 2012
musKeeto: :-)
Thanks muskeeto this site really has some gems. I like this thread.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by Nobody: 9:14am On Aug 09, 2012
Mr_Anony:
Thanks muskeeto this site really has some gems. I like this thread.
Na, all thanks should go to Pastor Aio...
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by MrAnony1(m): 9:21am On Aug 09, 2012
musKeeto:
Na, all thanks should go to Pastor Aio...
Thanks to you for bumping it up. It is quality.
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by Nobody: 10:56am On Aug 09, 2012
Awesome, musKeeto, I'm glad you bumped this thread up. It's actually educating, dude smiley
Re: Dogma, Recalcitrance And The Fear Of Truth by Nobody: 12:00pm On Aug 09, 2012
..... wey AIO dey sef? Make im come knee don, make una bless am... grin

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