It is so turned around these days.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I've Thought About It

On December 16th local blogger Knight in Dragonland posted the following quote under the title "Think About It."

"Despise reason and science, humanity’s greatest strengths, indulge in illusions and magical practices that reinforce your self-deception, and you will be unconditionally lost!

Of course being a Christian I feel that this is pointed toward me and other religious people. Fine, be that as it may, I hope that those who choose to have this woven into there mind akin to me having scripture memorized see the fatal flaw. The writer assumes "reason" and "science" to be humanities greatest strengths. I think this is absurd. I would argue that love and compassion are humanities greatest strengths. More good has come from compassion. More aid to fellow humans has come from love. Science, while in itself is innocuous, has brought us the Atom Bomb, guns, hand grenades and Clay Aiken Christmas CDs.

I would caution those who hold phrases like this dear to their heart to consider it's full magnitude. One who places reason and science as paramount, has no room to accept love or compassion as valid since they are only the result of science. You are now constricted to find meaning and value solely in the physical world. By this view, when one feels they have found some meaning in this world, I guarantee that some leap of faith will still need to be made. For if not, they too will be unconditionally lost as well.

My intent is not to humiliate or insult but to foster some discussion. I love deep Theological and Philosophical discussion more than anything blog related. So, if what I have written makes sense or seems completely ridiculous, please leave a comment.


At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love, compassion, and reason are all admirable traits in a person, and I cannot list them in order of preference, for they are all necessary ingredients for a well-rounded personality. Science is not a state of mind, although one might categorize people into those who accept the findings of modern science, and those who accept science only insofar as it does not contradict their religious beliefs. However, this category would fall under the attribute of being "reasonable".

At 6:42 AM, Blogger Vonster said...

Knight is one of those "enlightened" progressives, ya know.

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous knight in dragonland said...

First, something needs to be clarified about the quote. It says that science and reason are mankind's greatest STRENGTH ... not that they are the greatest GOOD. That strength - like physical strength - has no inherent morality. It can be used for good or for ill, depending on the one who wields it.

For the record ... unlike Sam Harris, I do NOT think that ALL religion is an indulgence in "illusions and magical practices that reinforce your self-deception." It certainly CAN become that, especially when the emphasis is on strict & unquestioning adherence to dogma.

I do think that the scientific method is one of the most powerful concepts that the human mind has ever conceived. That method mandates that we question EVERYTHING. Nothing is sacred. Everything can and should be challenged.

While a certain degree of that rigor would greatly benefit the political realm (policy hypotheses should be trialed, carefully observed and documented, tested, reformatted, re-evaluated and discarded if necessary), a society could not function if it ran itself based only on the scientific method. In such as society we would have to question EVERYTHING that people told us and require detailed documentation of EVERY statement we ever heard. That's call paranoia, and there are medications for that! LoL

We have to have some degree of faith in our fellow man in order to maintain a functioning society. I personally don't think that faith in a higher power is similarly necessary, but I certainly don’t want to deny anyone the right to believe in a higher power … nor do I ridicule that idea. My own wife and many dear friends believe in God, and as an agnostic I refuse to deny God’s existence, although I don’t argue for it, either. I do challenge the assertion that morality requires belief in God. There have been many atheists and agnostics with outstanding moral character and integrity that have made fantastic contributions to society.

I do not challenge that faith can have great power and can do great things. In medicine, we observe the placebo effect all the time - simple belief in a treatment sometimes makes it work, even if it's just a sugar pill. Patients who trust their physicians have better outcomes. Miraculous things sometimes happen by shear force of will. Belief is powerful.

However, when faith dies and becomes dogmatism, it is capable of incredible evil. When faith fails it can mutate into just another intolerant, divisive form of tribalism - just a different colored flag to wave in the never-ending battle of "us" vs. "them." When that happens, horrible, awful, EVIL things often follow, especially because the source of authority is supposedly divine and CANNOT be questioned.

I agree with you, BJ. The corruption of science & reason to dark ends has led to much horror … but so has the corruption of faith. Both remain capable of great good, as well.

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Mark B. Durieux said...

Hi BJ: Since you hold compassion in such high regard (as do I), I'd invite you to consider and comment on the thread ("Compassion: The Forgotten Word" or any of the threads on our sociology of compassion blog which is at: . All the best. Mark B. Durieux

At 9:56 AM, Blogger BJ Aberle said...

My whole thing is that if you are going to take the time to put a quote like that up in your blog, then it must at least resonate with how you see the world. I could be wrong. I base that in my own experience though. I try to post things that I believe or agree with. I also try to avoid posting things that I know will come back to haunt me.

I don't think we need to hash over the notion that both science and religion have been used for great good and evil. That is a given.

".... a society could not function if it ran itself based only on the scientific method. In such as society we would have to question EVERYTHING that people told us and require detailed documentation of EVERY statement we ever heard. That's call paranoia, and there are medications for that! LoL"

Exactly. The very book I am currently reading (Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton) makes this very point. Have you read it? That those who soley rely on reason for an explanation for everything are those who are driven to madness. Every act that is directed to them now has to come under great scrutiny.

"Why did that preson smile at me when they passed? Was that a secret signal for my assasination? Why did those people hug? Are they in a cult?"

So we have to live with this tension of not knowing. And there is, and will be, alot that we just won't have the answers to. Which is where, I believe, faith comes in. I do not go to faith to learn about molecular biology. I use faith to learn how to live. And I think science could take a lesson from that. Don't look to science and reason for values becasue they can not be found there. Get your values from faith and your reason from science. But then that means a scientist has to accept that values are worhty of acknowlegement and are more than chemical reactions in the brain. To some this may be too much of a leap. But I think we live in a world that only wants this line of thinkg to be a one way street. Because if we give even a little to the notion that we are spiritual and physical creatures then the absolute certainty of there not being a God flys out the window.

On a personal note, How do you and your wife reconcile what I would consider a siginificant difference in worldviews?

At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Kate said...


I am Knight's wife, and I'd save your breath asking him questions about me. Any direct questions about me or any posts, comments, or questions I have made on his blog he deletes. The man talks about my "beliefs" for me, but won't actually let me state it myself.

"On a personal note, How do you and your wife reconcile what I would consider a siginificant difference in worldviews?"

We don't reconcile our differences.

At 2:03 PM, Blogger BJ Aberle said...

Please tell me that this is a joke. If not, I surely will send help.

At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Kate said...

Why would it be a joke?


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