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Aug 21, 2007

My very good friend Dale Husband commented

"if you rely only on scientific methods for knowledge, without any input from any religious dogmas, then the idea of a Supreme Creator might occur to you as a hypothesis, but an untested, unfalsified, and therefore unscientific hypothesis is all that it would ever be."

Which gave me reason to say:

"Correct. Which is why it’s both bad science and bad religion to mix them with each other. But it is equally bad science and bad religion to claim either redundant.

To me this is where Philosophy enters the scene - it is apparently possible to arrive at the hypothesis of a Prime Cause through experience, as well as it is to arrive at the hypothesis of a Non-Prime Cause through experience - but both are dependent on further elaboration of the experiential evidence from a personal stand point to have any meaning. From a philosophical point of view both are equally valid. It is when we elevate unfalsified hypothesis’ to doctrine that we enter the realm of bad theology and bad science."

I then had the idea that:

"One of these days I am going to give the justifications behind my personal beliefs, I seem to be running into the issue a lot these days."

So I'll have a go at it...

I agree that there is no scientific evidence either to prove or disprove the existence of G-d, and in fact such evidence is not needed. Why is that? Because when we enter the realm of theology we also enter the realm of Belief, where there is nothing to guide the human mind but circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is defined as 'evidence providing only a basis for inference about the fact in dispute'. Basically what it means is that there is no hard, physical - scientific - evidence for the hypothesis of G-d being a reality in the Universe, but that it is possible to understand experiential evidence in such a manner. Circumstantial evidence is a weak form of evidence, but it is nevertheless a valid form of evidence. In matters of Law and Science it needs physical evidence to back it up, but for the purpose of personal meaning it works just fine.

When the Author of Tehillim/Psalm 8 says:

“When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established, 5. what is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him? 6. Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty. 7. You give him dominion over the work of Your hands; You have placed everything beneath his feet. 8. Flocks and cattle, all of them, and also the beasts of the field; 9. the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, he traverses the ways of the seas. 10. O L-rd, our Master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth!”

he is looking at the Universe and all the wonders it holds and from this experiential evidence he concludes that SomeOne is ultimately responsible for this abundance of wonders. That is my personal position. To me the existence of all those wonders, from the microscopic one-celled organism to the Planet Itself and the Space beyond it is inference enough to spark a Belief in G-d as the Ultimate Cause of it all.

I find it difficult to accept the idea that the Universe as it appears to me on a daily basis is the result of chemical and physical laws, without any form of Ultimate Source.

Carl Sagan wrote:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’

I feel that he was mistaken on one point - what the Hebrew Scriptures actually convey in terms of the Magnificence of our Universe and its Creator and what we are told it means are not the same thing. What is the basic dogma of a religion and what is what its Scriptures actually say is rather divergent matters. The seeming limits of experiences in the times when those Scriptures were presented to the world are just that SEEMING. We assume that because there is no detectable preserved Scientific understanding of the Universe among the authors of the Hebrew Bible that such Scientific understanding didn't exist. The arrogance of such assumptions is staggering, in my opinion.

I would also like to disagree with the assertion he makes about what people of Faith say about G-d. I disagree simply because as one of those People of Faith I do not describe my G-d as little, nor do I disregard what Science says about the Universe and it's intricate and magnificent mechanisms and laws, on the contrary I accept Science's assertions of these matters, and in my mind it only increases the Magnificence of what I believe to be the Ultimate Source.

As I have said in other posts:

Many years ago I resolved the seeming conflict between Science and Religion by looking at what questions they answer respectively on the matter. I think perhaps I intuitively knew that the conflict lies not between the two Disciplines, but between the Disciples of both, because the answer to the conundrum of Science vs Religion I found looks as follows:

Torah/The Bible/Religion answers the Questions “Who and Why?“ Science/Evolutionary Theory answers the Questions “How, When and Where?“

in my opinion Science as such doesn't give MEANING to human existence. It provides us with a basic idea of what we are in terms of biological, chemical and physical set-up, but it doesn't explain the ontological aspects of human existence. It doesn't explain why we, as a cultural species seem to be on the constant look-out for something beyond ourselves. It doesn't answer the existential questions of human reality.

Correctly or incorrectly, Faith does explain and answer these queries to an extent that to most people seems satifactory, or at least enough to keep us looking.

Belief or non-belief in an Ultimate Source is a matter of personal preferences.

Ultimately I believe in G-d because I want to, because I need to and because I have found no reason not to. Belief in G-d as a statement is extremely personal and while the theological workings of such belief can be questioned and should be, ultimately it all boils down to very personal and very fundamental reasons, that cannot be questioned other than by the individual.

This is from Trekking Torah

This article, including artworks and photos are © Henric C. Jensen aka Shadow Bear/Silly Old Bear and are NOT public domain.

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Posted: Aug 21, 2007 4:29am
Aug 5, 2006
In response to a Friend I wrote:

"I assume you are speaking about Haim Harari's Undeclared WWIII.Yes, it might sound like that, but in fact he is claiming that there's a war going on, and then he explains how this is. I agree that he is drawing it to it's extremes, when he claims that it is the Islamic world against the rest of the World. But I do think he has a point about the method, structure and underlying reasons for Terror Actions as such.Instruments of terror used to be Assassinations, Revolutions, and Up-Risings - they were traditionally aimed at Governments. Even the IRA did not target the public, although they used modern methods of Terrorism (bombings, hostage taking etc) - the Islamic militants have changed the targeting and excecution of Terrorism.I agree that not all Islamists are Terrorists - I suspect, but it is only a suspicion, that it has to do with culture. The Muslims of Indonesisa are Peaceful, but it seems to me that Muslims in the Middle East are not, and even that is a generalization, because not all Muslims in the Middle East are it's a specific Group, not necessarily tied to their Islamic Faith. Then what is it? I think Haim Harari gives a pretty good picture.

[a side note:]I am now going to say something that might sound like I am saying that Islam is a Barbaric Religion - it's hard for me to explain this, mostly because English is not my native tongue, so please keep this in mind. Put Islam into a historica/cultural perspective and it becomes pretty clear that the Middle East is a Tribal Society, based in Tribal Religion - Yes, Judaism is a Tribal Religion too - the only real difference between Judaism and Islam in this context is TIME - Judaism has been around for some 2000 years longer than Islam, which means that if you give Islam in the Middle East and it's adherents another 1500 years (at most) it will have "evolved" beyond explicit Tribal culture.No, this is not intended as an expression value or judgement. Let's not forget that Saladin the Great founded one of the most advanced and enlightened Civilizations the world has ever seen.I don't intend to insult Islam or Muslims, and if I have done so, I apologize. [end side note]

I think that what Haim Harari is aiming at is not Islam or even Muslims, but this Tribal Culture that is using Islam as a pretext for it's craziness. It could just as well have been Xianism or Shintoism or for that matter Judaism, the Religion is just a Coat in which these militants are covering themselves.Trying to force Nations to adopt Political Systems that they have not yet aquired the readiness for, through Political Evolution, such as is now being done in Iraq, is only going to make matters worse. Each Nation has to arrive at their own brand of democracy - unfortunately, we in the West are trying to force OUR brand of democracy on the Nations of the Middle/Near East, and like it or not but that is not going to work, because, fast or slow, they have to work out what democracy is within their context. Some often point to the fact that Israel is a functioning democratic State, yet it is situated in the Middle and Near east...well they forget that Israel was founded by Jews raised within the European Sphere, for at least the last 1000 years, and Jews from out-side the Middle/Near East are constantly immigrating to Israel - this gives Israel a different angle of approach.

And again, if I have said anything that is offending or insulting to Muslims or Islam - please tell me, because that was never my intention, and I did so unwittingly."

Another Friend then commented:

"How does the tribal religion context mix in with violence? I do not see the absolute connection."

Not Tribal RELIGION - Tribal CULTURE. I pointed out that Islam and Judaism are both Tribal Religions, because it was in Religion that TRIBE originated once upon a time. Most Societies have managed to transition from Tribal to National Culture often through significant adaptations of Religious Belief - the appearance of Islam is one such adaptation - not of the Torah or the Bible, but of Tribal Religion(s) indigenous to the Near and Middle East. If we "clean out" the religious aspect from the Prophet Muhammad, what we have is a Political Leader with a vision. A vision of all Arab Tribes UNITED into ONE PEOPLE. The best way to unite and solidify a Society is through Religion - The Jews did it, The Egyptians did it...That is why I say that if we give Islam another 1500 years (at most) we will most likely see another Ottoman Empire as it was when it was at it's High. Political Evolution.

Tribal Culture and violence mix if you think of yourself as part of a Tribe that has to defend the tribal territory from competing tribes. If you look at any Terror organization you will see that they are all individually operating "cells". What holds the tribe together is either a common cause or a strong emotional common bond, if there are no such direct causes or emotional bonds, religion is a very strong replacement/connector - the best analogy I can give is the gang-culture in most larger cities or the example of religious/political cults - William Golding actually describes this very well in Lord of the Flies - what is it that drive the boys in Lord of the Flies? Fear. Fear that is being used/manipulated by the one with either the most resources or the most genial ways of inflict pain. Haim Harari suggests that the terror organizations' low-rank members are being manipulated and used by Leaders with genial ways of inflicting pain - what greater pain can there be than being ostracized from the only community you are being told you belong in? Or from G-d Himself?

We all know that Islam doesn't prescribe FGM [Female Genital Mutilation] Yet it is basically only known to Islamic Countries in North and North Central Africa - and it is being enforced/taught to people using distortions of Islam, - why do you think that is? Because of Islam? No, because of a strong tribal culture. Women/girls who manage to escape undergoing FGM are without exception expelled/shunned in some way or other - because they, through no conforming to the customs of the "tribe", have, in the eyes of the "tribe", denounced the "tribe". Humans are social beings, we will do pretty much anything to avoid being alone and on the out-side.

In most tribal societies, the one with the most resources, thankfully, is the one that acts as the Leader, so violence doesn't come into play unless there's a competing tribe moving in on the territory. Two small tribes may even work together for a short period of time to vanquish a larger tribe - and when the goal is achieved the two small tribes will go their separate ways, only to next day be fighting each other again for the disputed hill-top or fishing water - or simply to achieve honor, either for the Tribe or for Head of the Tribe.

If the Head of the Tribe is G-d or something that replaces G-d, like strong emotions like anger, joy or grief, then you have a really good incentive, especially if you are told by Leaders of the tribe that G-d expects you to die for the Tribe, preferably taking a couple of guys from the other tribe with you as you exit from this world. Add to this fiery rallies, giant meetings, demonstrations - those are nothing but replacements for spiritual experiences. Just look at Germany during the Third Reich - ordinary, good, moral and ethical Germans were gathering en masse for the privilige to chant "Heil H-tler" and "Sieg H-eil" and sing "Horst Wessel" - even those who did not believe in Nazism, who went to one or two of those rallies would find themselves chanting along, salute and all. And what was Nazi Germany's basic chant? "Us, we the tribe, against Them, the other Tribe. And what was it Hitler used to drive that home? An injustice - a moment in history that most Germans thought of with feelings of being humiliated - the Versaille Peace Treaty.

Guess what - the Arabs of the Near/Middle East have their own Versaille Peace treaty, only it was signed at Sevres 1920. Most came from that Peace Treaty feeling scr-ewed, royally scr-ewed. The anger many Arab Nations have towards the West is actually well-based in history. When the Ottoman Empire fell, many Arabs felt that they had really, really lost something. They had lost what made them ARABS. Oh they were still Arabs, and they were still Muslims, but their sense of self had been shattered.

Now, most went on, picking up the pieces, without much ado - but within the fabric of the Arab Nations in the Near and Middle East, there were those for whom there were no pieces to pick up, no alternative other than trying to either get it back or at least get even. Those were easy prey for the power hungry and the unscrupulous. What is it most of these Groups/Nations are saying they want? An Islamic/Muslim IDENTITY. They want to become ARABS again,
like they were under Muhammad, and under Saladin the Great - and we are telling them, from their perspective that they can't ever be allowed to be ARABS. No wonder they hate us.

So when someone comes along and tell these Lost Arabs that he can give them this back, and more even, they grab it.

Not all - as I said above, not all Arabs feel this way, but the ones with just a little too much hopelessness do. Along the way I believe they have lost sense of what is really, really driving them. Now it has just become hatred aimed at the "Other Tribe".


This article, including artworks and photos are © Henric C. Jensen aka Shadow Bear and are NOT public domain, unless otherwise specified.

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Posted: Aug 5, 2006 2:08pm


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