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 Religion in SciFi, spinoff from Kerra's B5 philosophy topic
Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 15 2007, 09:46 AM
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I tried to respond to Kerra's B5 topic, but found myself referring mostly to other series . . . so . . . here goes . . .

Science IS my religion! (Christian Hyugens - believed to be the first person to have seen the rings of Saturn.)

I have to BUH-LEAVE in my science! (one of my favorite - if not THE favorite - line from X-Files, Scully)

Resolving the terminology in these two quotes helps me lead into JMS and B5 . . .

What is "religion"?

(at the risk of sounding - or even BEING - pedantic) Religion is a 7-letter, 3-syllable word.

The term is often confused with doctrine.

But, to be totally logical, religion is religion, and doctrine is doctrine.

Religion is not doctrine - and doctrine is not religion.

Religion is an individual's response to life.

Religious doctrine is aimed at guiding the believer's response to typical situations in life - and may even work in atypical situations. Of course, religious doctrine may fail in both areas, too.

Scientific doctrine is aimed at guiding the believer's actions in exploring the physical world. In school, I was taught about a concept called "THE Scientific Method". There is more than one. Almost any "organized" investigation can be considered scientific if results are documented and verifiable - usually by repeatability - or with modern technology - reviewing recordings of rare events.

The results of applying any doctrine (scientific or religious) is as much a reflection of the disciple as of the doctrine itself. As a knife in the hands of a skilled surgeon contrasted with the same knife in the hands of a street fighter . . .

In religious doctrine, important principals are often conveyed in stories, which may or may not be based in fact.

In science fiction, the author conveys important (or maybe simply exciting or entertaining) ideas in stories that are usually fiction, with more or less factual detail, but which still require at least some "suspension of disbelief" on the part of the audience.

(Suspension of disbelief should not be confused with faith.)

To the extent that humans naturally tend to explore their world, that innate "response" is a natural "religion" according to the definition of religion I opened with.

To the extent that one tends to organize that exploration (investigation), that is a furtherance of that natural response, that natural religion.

I would apply the preceding statement to religious doctrine as well as scientific doctrine.

Humans create both.

Humans follow both.

I suppose one philosophical conundrum is pre-determinism versus free will.

Yoda said, "The future is always changing." (which tends toward free will)

But the cycle of events in Star Wars is not unlike the cycle of events in B5.

And the cycle of events in B5 tends toward determinism. (in my view)

In B5, it was pre-ordained that the First Ones would eventually travel "beyond the rim" and be replaced by the mortals who followed them . . .

Many of the Minbarian prophecies support pre-determinism. (The very idea/fact that the future can be seen and foretold events be recognized and acted upon by "believers" rests upon pre-determinism.)

The more "science" uncovers about how our universe works, the more events are reduced to "phenomenon" - pre-determined.

In B5, the "River of Souls" idea parallels the journey of the First Ones beyond the rim.

The universe is a river of souls - according to my "reading" of JMS B5 storyline . . .

In SG1 we have religion in SciFi as resistance to false gods. (a recurring Star Trek theme - was it not?)

In "Wizard of Oz" or "Tin Man", we have the idea of "courage."

Etc.

Before writing a novella - I'll stop here and await response . . .
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MadAmosMalone
Posted: Dec 15 2007, 10:10 AM
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I didn't install the Quick Reply feature in this particular forum because I wanted to discourage people from posting without putting a great deal of thought into their replies. Alas, though, I have to get this day started so I don't have a lot of time for a well thought out reply.

Having said that, let me just respond with this.

Yes the events in B5 tend toward determinism, however, the glimpses we got of the "future" in the series were often out of context. The best example of this is the vision of Londo and G'Kar dying with their hands at each others' throats. This would connote an adversarial relationship yet, as we saw over the course of the series, this is not the case. So, if we extend the analogy of the "writer-as-'god'" to real life then it could be argued that "where we go" is predetermined but "how we get there" is free will.


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Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 15 2007, 10:58 AM
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QUOTE (MadAmosMalone @ Dec 15 2007, 10:10 AM)

Yes the events in B5 tend toward determinism, however, the glimpses we got of the "future" in the series were often out of context. The best example of this is the vision of Londo and G'Kar dying with their hands at each others' throats. This would connote an adversarial relationship yet, as we saw over the course of the series, this is not the case. So, if we extend the analogy of the "writer-as-'god'" to real life then it could be argued that "where we go" is predetermined but "how we get there" is free will.

Then there's the "elevator scene"!
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Kerra
Posted: Dec 16 2007, 11:48 PM
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My pea-brain says: Yes! String Theory is alive and well in JMS's B5. If I read you correctly Dennis, "The more "science" uncovers about how our universe works, the more events are reduced to "phenomenon" - pre-determined." My favorite scifi series and my favorite quantum physics theory jive. The smaller we go with our science to uncover whatever it is that we can uncover, the more it looks as if everything, everyone, every ounce of matter/energy/antimatter/or whatever is connected to everything else, no matter how minutely.
And of that is true, and if we humans do consider ourselves free, then Amos is right in that our free-will is determined by our own personal journey. Can we then call our journey our own religion?


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horselover fat
Posted: Dec 17 2007, 04:42 PM
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Dennis!

I thought I would respond to your original post!

Many years ago, on the old SF Channel's Dominion post, they had a sub-section called SF & Philosophy. That was my haunt for many years, and I want to thank you for reminding me why I love these type of bulleitin boards in the first place!

My background is in theology and philosophy, so I'll assess your post using particularly a philosophical background.

You use an Aristotilian approach in your definition of religion/doctrine.

"Religion is a individual's response to life"..."Doctrine is aimed at guiding the believer's response to life..."

I would disagree at this demarcation....the Philosophical view is that "belief systems" include the following elements...this comes from the studies of English philosophers Carnap & Quine...

1): A belief system begins with an unprovable statement, that the individual wants answered or proven to his/her standards (whatever that may be)...
2): The second component of a belief system is written/oral supposition which the individual takes to internally support his/her position.
3): Thirdly, the internal support inherently is in need of external support...ie: other individuals willing to discuss and agree with a majority of the individual's supposition.
4): With the addition of this external support, the socialization of this belief is inherent through various means of communication--oral, written, radio, television, and in effect the internet.

Basically, what the four standards above imply, is that a belief starts as a personal quest to answer the unanswerable...this quest includes a type of "non-scientific" method, since "There is a God" can't be proven scientifically, the individual "invents" his/her own personal method of proof. By doing that, other similar belief systems are enveloped, people are added to the equation, and the belief sociologically explodes into a well-known (or at least identifiable) penomonon.

When man was first on this earth, and langauge (communication) was evident, mythologies were invented to explain what wes (then) unexplainable. Once scientific thought prevailed, many of those mythologies were shown to be just that, myths...(Roman & Greek, Egyptian, etc...)

But still, to this day the simple questions of "Why do I exist?" and "Is there a God" cannot be proven or disproven by scientific or any other means.

Add to this that all "religions" include as part of their structure an ethical/moral component- ( I take it this is what you mean by doctrine--the actual theological definition of doctrine is "Church law"-which is not exactly a moral component), and religions also include a "reward"---if one lives a moral life, one will be rewarded in the next. This is not completely true on all levels, but as a general rule, it works.
Therefore as theology, I would disagree with your delineation between religion and moral components (doctrine).

And another quick thought...do you consider Econmics and Psychology sciences? Certainly scientific methods are used in both, but because each has parts that can't (or aren't at this time) provable, the question remains that if something can;t be proven by an organized verifiable method, is it science?

I have to cut this short for now, but I'll continue tomorrow!

Dennis, it's a pleasure to have you on the board!!! I haven't had this much fun in a long time!!

Horselover Fat


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Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 17 2007, 07:02 PM
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First, I want to respond further to MAM and also to Kerra . . . then to horselover_fat . . .

After thanking each of you for jumping in . . .

MAM:
QUOTE
So, if we extend the analogy of the "writer-as-'god'" to real life then it could be argued that "where we go" is predetermined but "how we get there" is free will.


Kerra:
QUOTE
And of that is true, and if we humans do consider ourselves free, then Amos is right in that our free-will is determined by our own personal journey. Can we then call our journey our own religion?


If you leave Memphis on a steamboat headed to New Orleans on the Mississippi river, nearly all of what awaits you on that journey is already there before you get on the boat. While you're on your trip, you can stay in your cabin, walk on the port side, walk on the starboard side, head to the bow, head to the stern, or get on the top deck. Your choice will affect what you see, but will not change what is there. That choice is one aspect of your "response".

Another aspect of your response is your attitude - how you feel about what you see.

I use this metaphor to preface the next part . . .

On one's journey through life, one part of the "response" (loosely religion) is the action . . .

Another part - equally important - is how one perceives one's action -

Two alternatives to attaining/achieving aims in life are to make it or to find it.

If one describes/perceive's one's action as a Journey or quest, that is finding it.

If one describes one's action as making it - well that's creativity . . .

I wonder how JMS described/perceived his writing efforts - did he sort of pull this stuff out of himself (find it) or does he view it as making it (creating).

The response is the thing!

HF(!!!!) Wow . . . your post gives me at least a dozen places to start in response - let me choose carefully - you and I may have to start off in email or pm . . .
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MadAmosMalone
Posted: Dec 17 2007, 07:24 PM
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QUOTE (Dennis10458 @ Dec 17 2007, 07:02 PM)
If you leave Memphis on a steamboat headed to New Orleans on the Mississippi river, nearly all of what awaits you on that journey is already there before you get on the boat.  While you're on your trip, you can stay in your cabin, walk on the port side, walk on the starboard side, head to the bow, head to the stern, or get on the top deck.  Your choice will affect what you see, but will not change what is there.  That choice is one aspect of your "response".


Masterful analogy. Lemme plagiarize! smile.gif I've often thought that all truth is subjective. This allows for different perceptions to be equally accurate, determinism and free will.

QUOTE (Dennis10458 @ Dec 17 2007, 07:02 PM)
I wonder how JMS described/perceived his writing efforts - did he sort of pull this stuff out of himself (find it) or does he view it as making it (creating).


I can answer that. I've read that JMS basically setup the arc beforehand but how it played out was more a case of "reporting" on what was happening in that "world" rather than driving events toward a predetermined conclusion. Now the rational part of our minds knows that JMS was, in fact, driving events himself since the entire realm of B5 came from his mind. In his mind, however, he had to view (the perception) the process of creating that world as merely having his characters tell him what to do. Could be said the world had become "real" to him.

So in that way both are true.

QUOTE (Dennis10458 @ Dec 17 2007, 07:02 PM)
The response is the thing!


To paraphrase Sheridan, "It's the thought that counts." Likewise, to quote G'Kar, "Our thoughts form the universe. They always matter."


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Kerra
Posted: Dec 17 2007, 08:54 PM
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Wow, gentlemen, bravo! Superior in all ways... but the pea brain must dip her toes in. rolleyes.gif

First Amos:I've often thought that all truth is subjective. This allows for different perceptions to be equally accurate, determinism and free will.

Long ago, while acquiring that Philosophy minor, it was brought to my understanding that since every single perception we have is ultimately subjective; that everyone's view on who or what our lives are all about, and whether or not there is a God, comes down to agreement and compromise, and a strong belief in oneself. Therefore truth, outside of mathematics, is subject to everyone's arbitrary perception of life. So sad for the truth seekers because they seem to always be seeking outward when in reality they must search inward and honestly for truthful comprehension.

QUOTE (Dennis10458 @ Dec 17 2007, 07:02 PM)
I wonder how JMS described/perceived his writing efforts - did he sort of pull this stuff out of himself (find it) or does he view it as making it (creating).


Dennis, instead of getting into JMS's head I would like to answer with this truth of which I have experienced over and over: when I am writing fiction, when I am so into characterization or setting that the play is running through my mind so strong that I can no longer hear the ring of a phone or the cry of a baby, I honestly can say I do not know who is creating what. It is such a surreal experience, better than anything I have ever experienced, that all I can say, is that again I am agreeing with Amos in that I believe it is both (find & create).

HF: Add to this that all "religions" include as part of their structure an ethical/moral component ... definition of doctrine is "Church law"-... and religions also include a "reward"---if one lives a moral life, one will be rewarded in the next. This is not completely true on all levels, but as a general rule, it works.

I believe that Satanism is considered a religion and I believe it is a religion of amorality that has no ethical structure. Where does this fit into your conclusion? And your last sentence is not considered by myself as your disclaimer. wink.gif

This post has been edited by Kerra on Dec 17 2007, 08:56 PM


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Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 17 2007, 09:04 PM
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QUOTE (Kerra @ Dec 17 2007, 08:54 PM)
Therefore truth, outside of mathematics, is subject to everyone's arbitrary perception of life.

Then there's Rheimann Geometry and Euclidian Geometry.

Both geometries have axioms . . . statements necessary for further discussions, but unprovable . . .

One Euclidian axiom is:

Parallel lines do NOT intersect.

Rheimann's Geometry has an axiom which states:

Parallel lines DO intersect.

If you're squaring a foundation for a house, Euclid's geometry works fine. However, if you're laying out the foundation for a pyramid or trying to navigate a ship on the Earth, Euclid will get you in trouble - but Rheimann works fine . . .

All that having been said - even inside mathematics . . . truth has a subjective, arbitrary potential/aspect to it . . . this is because mathemeticians, like scientists and priests, are human too.
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Kerra
Posted: Dec 17 2007, 09:12 PM
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QUOTE (Dennis10458 @ Dec 17 2007, 08:04 PM)
QUOTE (Kerra @ Dec 17 2007, 08:54 PM)
Therefore truth, outside of mathematics, is subject to everyone's arbitrary perception of life.

Then there's Rheimann Geometry and Euclidian Geometry.

Both geometries have axioms . . . statements necessary for further discussions, but unprovable . . .

One Euclidian axiom is:

Parallel lines do NOT intersect.

Rheimann's Geometry has an axiom which states:

Parallel lines DO intersect.

If you're squaring a foundation for a house, Euclid's geometry works fine. However, if you're laying out the foundation for a pyramid or trying to navigate a ship on the Earth, Euclid will get you in trouble - but Rheimann works fine . . .

All that having been said - even inside mathematics . . . truth has a subjective, arbitrary potential/aspect to it . . . this is because mathemeticians, like scientists and priests, are human too.

I wonder Dennis if it is subjective or simply a matter of what scale you use.

I believe space is curved therefore Rheimann's Geometry is correct, and this is on the scale of the size of the Universe.

However, when my house is finally built I want that contractor to be a firm believer in Euclidian Geometry. biggrin.gif

Now, can't Euclidian Geometry fit nicely into Rheimann's Geometry as long as one scale is much smaller than the other?


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horselover fat
Posted: Dec 18 2007, 10:18 AM
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Kerra!

In response: "I believe that Satanism is considered a religion and I believe that it is a religion that has no ethical/moral standard. Where does this fit into your conclusion?"

I knew you would use this Kerra! This is exactly why I put the disclaimer in!

About 15 years ago, I read an interview with Anton LeVey, the "founder" of the Church of Satan. In the interview, he referenced that he started his church to be the exact opposite of the Catholic Church.

This would be an example of the "Mirror Syndrome", sort of the philosophical version of Newton's Third Law of motion..."For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

The lack of morals is in direct contrast to the Ten Commandments. I have never read the Satanic Bible...however I do know that the structure is the same...there is a chapter concerning the creation in Satan's image, the fall of man from Satan's perspective, etc....this is the influence of Alastair Crowley, who was Levey's mentor. Therefore, the Mirror Syndrome would state that the lack of morals is in direct contrast to the original's (Catholic) set of morals...therefore the lack of moral/etichal standards in Satanism IS the same as the Catholic/Christian moral/etical standards...only mirrored in the opposite direction.

I hope this clarifies your question!

HF


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"Emilio Lizardo? Wasn't he on TV once?"
"You're thinking of Mr. Wizard."
"Emilio Lizardo is a top scientist, you dumbkopf!"
"So was Mr. Wizard!"

Dialogue snippet from "The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai"
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Kerra
  Posted: Dec 18 2007, 11:14 AM
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Thanks for all that HF, but my point really is this: the criteria must change if you include "all" religions. You stated that morals and ethics were a criteria for religion. But as you also showed, Satanism uses the exact opposite of morals and ethics in their "doctrine" therefore your criteria must change to include such. ohmy.gif


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horselover fat
Posted: Dec 18 2007, 12:41 PM
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Miss Kerra!

Basically by stating the "Mirror Syndrome", i was trying to explain that the Church of Satan's 12 directives-which are written down as statutes in their Satanic Bible- are for the exact same purpose as the 10 Commandments in the Bible- just because they are not moral doesn't mean that they serve the same structural purpose as the 10 commandments, which they do!

So I stand by my previous post!

HF


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"Emilio Lizardo? Wasn't he on TV once?"
"You're thinking of Mr. Wizard."
"Emilio Lizardo is a top scientist, you dumbkopf!"
"So was Mr. Wizard!"

Dialogue snippet from "The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai"
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horselover fat
Posted: Dec 18 2007, 04:23 PM
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Dennis,

Consider this a continuation of my response to your original post, part deux!!

"The results of applying any doctrine (scientific or religious) is as much a reflection of the discipe as of the doctrine itself. A knife in the hands of a skilled surgeon contrasted with the same knife in the hands of a street fighter..."

I couldn't agree more! Knowledge only codifies the assumption...if we're talking science here....a hypothesis is asserted, then by scientific method (testing the hypothesis and getting a realized statistical result) only codifies, or strengtrhens the hypothesis.

Most christians are afraid of different viewpoints...either theoogical or social, and I disagree vehemently with that viewpoint. It has been my experience that by looking at different viewpoints or information, that I can strengthen my own personal viewpoint about theology...I have always believed that everyone has the right to believe what they may...the true believer will listen assimilate and use the information to buttress their own personal belief.

Information is not harmful, but helpful...enough said!

You also state later in your original post..."To the extent that humans naturally tend to organize that exploration (investigation), that is a futherance of that natural response, that natural religion"....

Doesn't that statement coincide with the Carnap-Quine statues for belief theory? To put it in other terms....People make assumptions (hypotheses), people find information to support their assumptions, people interact with others to prove their assumptions, the socialization of the idea begins with the core group extolling their ideas in the press and media.

The organizing of the exploration would then by set in the second rule...finding information to support their assumptions.

And yes....humans create doctrine and follow doctrine because of the socialization of the species....it is inherent in our natures!

I'll get into the pre-destination vrs. free will in my next post!

Again Dennis, it's great to have you here!

HF


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"Emilio Lizardo? Wasn't he on TV once?"
"You're thinking of Mr. Wizard."
"Emilio Lizardo is a top scientist, you dumbkopf!"
"So was Mr. Wizard!"

Dialogue snippet from "The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai"
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Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 18 2007, 06:48 PM
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QUOTE (horselover fat @ Dec 18 2007, 04:23 PM)

Most christians are afraid of different viewpoints...either theoogical or social, and I disagree vehemently with that viewpoint.  It has been my experience that by looking at different viewpoints or information, that I can strengthen my own personal viewpoint about theology...I have always believed that everyone has the right to believe what they may...the true believer will listen assimilate and use the information to buttress their own personal belief.


I am reminded of a quote from the movie "Ghandi"

At one point Ghandi (Ben Kingsley) says (gistquote), "Buddhism is the left eye of India, Islam is the right eye"

At another point (perhaps the same scene, perhaps another) he says (again, gistquote) "When I was young and went into the temple, the priest would pick up first the holy book of one religion and read from it, put it down, pick up the holy book from another religion, and begin reading from it - and you could scarcely tell where the thought in one book left off and the thought in the other continued - AND, what did it matter?! As long as the word of God was being read . . ."
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Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 18 2007, 07:10 PM
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I want to comment on the discussion surrounding Satanism in a way that brings us back to "Religion in SciFi"

In Stargate, the G'oauld presented themselves as poweful personna (not unlike the original wizard of Oz), often as royalty or deity. In one episode, Bratac is held prisoner on a moon by a G'ouald who presents himself as Satan!

If the branch of Satanism is, as you describe, based simply on the assumption that Catholicism is wrong, and by being opposite/different from Catholicism, it will be right - well, that's a pretty weak premise - because there are many many many many many (ad nauseum) ways to be "wrong", and relatively few ways to be "right".

If religion is response (as I am proposing in this topic), then the religious aspect of Satanism would be it is a response (reaction) to Catholicism . . . To that extent it is a religion.

I define morality as a proposition to the effect that life has value. The value that life has for me is the value I give it. The value that life has for others is the value they give it.

If the Satanists did not value life, why then would they bother to find a different/better path than someone else? In the act of putting for this much effort, the Satanists demonstrate they value life - they want to make the most of it . . .

Are they misguided? "By their fruits shall ye know them . . ." One will have to await the results of them observing/practicing their doctrine to see . . .

Ethical behaviour is behaviour that is acceptable to (some person or persons).

To the Satanists, apparently, it is acceptable - even virtuous - to be different from Catholics . . .
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Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 18 2007, 07:18 PM
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Horselover_fat . . .

At one point you asked me if I viewed economics as a science. If it can be studied in an organized manner, I could offer a qualified "yes".

Economy is the distribution of wealth.

Keynes proposed that economy is driven by individual appetites which are insatiable.

Keynesian economics was in vogue for awhile and may still be. In the above "axiom", he attempt to include subjective wants in his equation. I wonder how he handled that.

I see some here have studied comparative religion, theology, etc . . . so yes, there's even such a thing as "religious science" - religion itself can be studied in a methodical manner.

The very attempt to connect actions with consequenses (By their fruits . . .) is a scientific effort in and of itself . . .

Those of you who know me from other boards have seen this before, but here it is again . . . as yet another way to support the idea that religion can be studied methodically:

Reading from "Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science", page 282, by Carl Sagan

In the history of the world there have been, probably, tens of thousands of different religions. There is a well-intentioned pious belief that they are all fundamentally identical. In terms of an underlying psychological resonance, there may indeed be important similarities at the cores of many religions, but in the details of ritual and doctrine, and the *apologias* considered to be authenticating, the diversity of organized religions is striking. Human religions are mutually exclusive on such fundamental issues as:
  1. one god versus many;
  2. the origin of evil; reincarnation;
  3. idolatry;
  4. magic and witchcraft;
  5. the role of women;
  6. dietary proscriptions;
  7. rites of passage;
  8. ritual sacrifice;
  9. direct or mediated access to deities;
  10. slavery;
  11. intolerance of other religions; and
  12. the community of beings to whom special ethical considerations are due.

We do no service to religion in general or to any doctrine in particular if we paper over these differences. Instead, I believe we should understand the world views from which differing religions derive and seek to understand what human needs are fulfilled by those differences.
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Kerra
  Posted: Dec 18 2007, 07:46 PM
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"The results of applying any doctrine (scientific or religious) is as much a reflection of the discipe as of the doctrine itself. A knife in the hands of a skilled surgeon contrasted with the same knife in the hands of a street fighter..."

I have to say this, both the surgeon and the street fighter are skilled with the knife, the difference only being that one uses the knife to save life whereas the other uses it to take life. Both are agruably experts in their own "field." Is this not the same as a difference in perception?

Is this the analogy being used here?


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Posted: Dec 19 2007, 04:49 PM
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Dennis etal....

The whole Satanism detour was because I am looking at the "structure" of Satanism, not the moral/immoral question. Carnap & Quine are only interested in what a belief system entails in it's structure....

I would agree that there is a way to study religion logically, but that it is not scientific in nature, but more attuned to philosophical logic studies.

I asked the question of economics (and it can be applied to both psychology and sociology) simply because these sciences include both "scientific/proveable" and philosophical/logical assumptions. There are some that call these sciences "voodoo sciences".

Theology and philosophy are "sisters" as far as I'm concerned. Both deal with ethcal/moral issues, on how to react to the world, and on those eternal questions I alluded to in my first post on this board..."Why are we here?" & "Is there a God?"

I have a Masters degree in Church Music, a minor in Philosophy, and I have read several texts on both subjects for my own "enjoyment". I also am a huge fan of Philip K. Dick, who is the SF author most identified with using religious thought in Science Fiction.

As far as the free will/pre-determinism argument, I can only give my opinion. I think this is one of those "moot" points which we will never figure out until we die, and unfortunately, none of us will be able to come back to tell the rest of us which argument is right!

My first question is this...."Why can't both of these things co-exist?"...and if they do co-exist, are they equal or are they unbalanced?

We all have free will....we can eat what we want, say what we want.act how we want to act, etc, etc, etc.....

But we are products of our environment and what happens to us. The world can be cruel, and it depends on how we react to this cruelty, and why we react to this cruelty the way we do. There are many facets that shape who we are, and this is a continual process.

If we as human beings are consistent in our behaviour, and we CHOOSE (capitals needed to emphasize...I'm not shouting here!) to act in an ethical way, and we believe in a higher power, then we believe we are working to God's benefit. If there is a God, then he/she has it planned that way, for God is all knowing, and God KNEW (again emphasizing, not shouting!) all along we would do what we did.

This is the co-existence idea that abounds in the Episcopal church...we are asked to make an attempt to be Christ-like...to act as if Christ is in us. Another thing that puts the Episcopal church apart from other denominations is the idea that God created our minds...and that knowledge and information is important. We're not the gently baaing sheep that most religions want their parishioners to be.

Anyway, this seems like a good time to stop and let you guys respond!

HF


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"Emilio Lizardo? Wasn't he on TV once?"
"You're thinking of Mr. Wizard."
"Emilio Lizardo is a top scientist, you dumbkopf!"
"So was Mr. Wizard!"

Dialogue snippet from "The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai"
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nova
Posted: Dec 19 2007, 05:57 PM
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QUOTE (MadAmosMalone @ Dec 15 2007, 10:10 AM)
So, if we extend the analogy of the "writer-as-'god'" to real life then it could be argued that "where we go" is predetermined but "how we get there" is free will.

That statement reminds me of a passage in Isaiah 10:5-7 (NIV)

QUOTE
Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger,
      in whose hand is the club of my wrath!
  I send him against a godless nation,
      I dispatch him against a people who anger me,
      to seize loot and snatch plunder,
      and to trample them down like mud in the streets.
  But this is not what he intends,
      this is not what he has in mind;
      his purpose is to destroy,
      to put an end to many nations.

My thoughts on predestination vs. free will are more-or-less summed up by this: all things are predetermined, but at a level so far beyond the human frame of reference that as far as individuals are concerned, everyone has free will - aka, no one wakes up in the morning and says "Ah, it's predetermined that I get run over by a truck today, I really hate that but I can't do anything about it." From our point of view, we have real choices! We can say, "I did this, and this is what happened," and "if I do this, this is going to happen; but if I do that instead, something else will happen." Of course, there's still uncertainty whenever we start looking at future events, but if I drop an apple, I'm fairly certain it will hit the floor, whereas if I catch it before it rolls off the counter, it won't.

However, I also define "free will" as "one is free to do anything within the bounds of one's nature." This means that yes, I can freely will to breathe water or jump off the top of the building, since doing stupid things is obviously a part of human nature, but respiration through dissolved oxygen and the unassisted power of flight are not part of my physical nature, so I'd better be prepared to suffer the consequences. ohmy.gif
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Kerra
Posted: Dec 19 2007, 07:35 PM
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I believe we have strayed from the orginal idea of this thread which was stated by Dennis as religion in scifi, using B5 as a foundation (I am as guilty or more so in this divergence).

If we wish to debate religion, doctrine, structure, morals, free will, etc. then perhaps we should start a new thread with a specific topic question. This thread is meandering all over the place. I would like us to stay focused on the topic of the thread.

And in response to that, as soon as the X-files are ended I will watch the newest B5 DVD and get back to JMS's religious viewpoints from the B5/scifi p.o.v.


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Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 19 2007, 09:00 PM
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QUOTE (nova @ Dec 19 2007, 05:57 PM)

My thoughts on predestination vs. free will are more-or-less summed up by this: all things are predetermined, but at a level so far beyond the human frame of reference that as far as individuals are concerned, everyone has free will - aka, no one wakes up in the morning and says "Ah, it's predetermined that I get run over by a truck today, I really hate that but I can't do anything about it."


The underscored part of your post brought to mind the portion of the move "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre". They show scenes of the victims going about their usual routine, and in each case, the narrator opens by saying, "At 9 o'clock in the morning on the last day of his life, Joe Blow is shaving . . . "

etc.

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Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 19 2007, 09:14 PM
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QUOTE (horselover fat @ Dec 19 2007, 04:49 PM)

As far as the free will/pre-determinism argument, I can only give my opinion.  I think this is one of those "moot" points which we will never figure out until we die, and unfortunately, none of us will be able to come back to tell the rest of us which argument is right!

My first question is this...."Why can't both of these things co-exist?"...and if they do co-exist, are they equal or are they unbalanced?

We all have free will....we can eat what we want, say what we want.act how we want to act, etc, etc, etc.....


Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons evrywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
Its life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

This song is one of my all time favorites. I cite the lyrics in response to the exerpt from your post just to say it helps me to look at events from both the perspective of free will vs pre-determinism. By comparing the different perceptions evoked by considering the same event(s) from more than one point of view, I think I sometimes deepen my understanding of myself and the world I live in . . .
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Dennis10458
Posted: Dec 19 2007, 09:22 PM
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When a mortally wounded Jaffa warrior utters the "I die free" line, is this a religious utterance?
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Kerra
  Posted: Dec 19 2007, 11:26 PM
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QUOTE (Dennis10458 @ Dec 19 2007, 08:22 PM)
When a mortally wounded Jaffa warrior utters the "I die free" line, is this a religious utterance?

My son, who is an expert on Jaffa Warriors believes rather than a religious utterance, its really a statement of independence.


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