Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Survival of the Godliest

Image source: here


I don't often cite articles, especially ones that are about religion, but this one I find fascinating. For those of us who pay attention to future possibilities, this could be a harbinger of a coming sea-change in the centuries-long tensions between science and religion. And in this scenario science doesn't win.

This blog article caught my eye because if we were living in a rational world one might imagine that support for the scientific study of unusual human experiences, including psi and mystical epiphanies, would be strongest among secular humanists, whose faith is in science (sort of). Unfortunately this is not the case, at least not among those who most vigorously wave the banner of secular humanism and proudly call themselves as "skeptics." They tend to view parapsychology as an illegitimate use of science to support religious beliefs. This is not true and never has been. But that's what they believe.

Religious people, by contrast, seem to split into two major groups. The ultra fundamentalists don't care about science at all, and they regard psi research as "testing" God. So they would like parapsychology, as well as many other things of the modern world, to just go away. More moderate theists are interested in seeing whether science can validate some of the tenets of their faith.

If the trend identified by the article continues, what will the world of the future look like? Mad Max? Logan's Run? The New Inquisition?

13 comments:

Jeff Burton said...

Interesting to me personally. I am an evangelical Christian, whose interest in parapsychology makes me a bizarre outlier in the circles I travel. My earliest recollection of Christian teaching on the subject is "It's of the devil." Odd, given the repeated list of "gifts" in the New Testament, many of which map to psi abilities. I think a theology of psi is actually not that hard to produce, and eventually a prominent Christian will do so.

For the record, I have five children.

alex.tsakiris said...

The Time article misses the point. Religious beliefs aren't passed on as a Darwinian survival mechanism.

Me thinks we're looking for a way of resolving the woefully incomplete model of the world materialism/science has presented. Religion may not offer much more, but at least it tries to tackle some of the phenomena we observe but are asked deny.

IMO Parapsychology needs a much closer (and explicit) exploration of spiritual traditions if it's ever going to get over the hump.

Alex
www.skeptiko.com

muzuzuzus said...

Of late I have been deeply immersed in research into UFOs and the highly strange encoounters many people have had over the years with them and their occupants--a real weird case I may remind you of--The Brooklyn Bridge Abduction of Linda Napolitano

Asd well as this reading the Eugene Mallove, and how he said how current science has BECOME itself rather fundamentalist and will not suffer questions which threaten its major stalwart theories of Einstein's and the Big Bang Theory

I mean how many time do you hear people from both persuasion--religious and scientific say eg 'but HOW could these ETs travel those distances 'faster than light'?'

So i think this interesting--that Theory can become Dogma, that very thing that was so rebelled against by scientists

what does this mean? is intriguing me, and I thought I would share it :)

Elias said...

Neither science nor religion will "win". They will merge!

shiningwhiffle said...

My own speculation for the resurgence of religion is that secularists — and the cultural left in general — failed to present a compelling alternative to fundamentalism. The Marxist dream went sour in the hands of Stalin and Mao, while the Enlightenment dream just kind of imploded from internal contradictions.

As a cultural leftist (though neither a secular humanist nor Marxist), I think this a damn shame, but it's our own fault for being so arrogant: we tried to force our conservative brethren to give up a way of life that was good for them (though bad for outsiders) in the name of values they didn't share, without providing a suitable replacement.

Lawrence said...

One can't with a few quips sum up a complex and contradictory cultural conundrum, but I have always been bemused by the irony that religious fundamentalists and secular atheists share a deep-seated aversion to psi. The reasons are different (at least on the surface), to the atheist psi threatens his scientific materialism, to the fundamentalist it is the work of the Devil, unless it has the sanction of his church. There are reasons many (not all) fundamentalists are so averse to psi, rationalised as the Devil's work, that is not addressed above.

Psi's open-ended implications threaten the rigid and narrow belief systems of fundamentalists. Psi does have clear spiritual or supernatural implications, no matter how the parapsychologist may try to sift that out of his data and conclusions. It will always boomerang back! Yet parapsychology's spiritual implications go beyond the narrow confines of religious fundamentalist exclusivity, in fact they shatter the latter entirely, hence psi is deeply threatening to them. In fact it is deeply threatening to all of us (as a fair few parapyschologists have pointed out), to our egos, our sense of self and identity. The taboo of psi in our culture is evident in the woeful lack of funding for it and its desperate dismissal or marginilisation within the halls of respectable academia.

Let me add, if scientists are not pursuing truths (and in the main, depending on their field of research [obviously I do not mean computer science or astronomy and mathematics here and that kind of thing], they are ensnared in scientific materialism, careerism, following the money), then they are pursuing lies in the name of science and truth. There is no sitting on the fence here. This is most evident in the perverse and inverted magical thinking of materialist theories of natural evolution.

shiningwhiffle said...

@Lawrence:

I'm also really interested in how psi research and religion and spirituality are going to interact as both go forward.

I was rather surprised when I found out that Gerald B. Gardner in "Witchcraft Today" (the book that introduced the public to Wicca) explicitly said that he believed witchcraft is psi.

muzuzuzus said...

I also was about a post about that, but didn't at the last minute. To simply state how BOTH orthodox religion and orthodox religion both reject what ---whall we call it??? Daimonic reality? For want of a better term! Like you say the Church demonized 'it' the world of fairies, (and included now UFOs and aliens), of telepthy, and entities that appear, and communing with them and acquiring powers oneself, etc.
Whilst orthodox science poo poos it. Its adherents often use the derogotary term of ridicule 'woo woo' if you try and discuss this. I once asked what it means and was told the 'eerie' soundtrack when telling a ghost story---errr yeah

But what is ironical as people like Eugene Mallove pointed out, Breaking Through Editorial: The Implications of the "Big Bang" about orthodox 'science', is that their 'theories' become the new dogma which 'cannot' be questioned, and if you do you will be 'excommunicated'---No funding, ridiculed, ignored, and so on.

yourfriendrick said...

I don't think fundamentalist religion is incompatible with psi research. Suppose your religion is Spiritualism and you believe you have a duty to meet in a darkened room once a week in order to talk with the spirits of the discarnate, and you also have a duty to have lots of similarly-inclined babies.

In a few generations, lots of people are doing afterlife research. This possible future does not look like Mad Max, Logan's Run, etc.

But, speaking as one who regards the existence of spirit influence on everyday life as an established fact, I don't worry too much. If the spirits want us to keep talking to them, they can keep influencing us to develop towards medium talent!

My attitude is that we can only perform our duties to the extent that we have ability. Zero ability to change the situation means zero responsibility for failure.

If psi is caused by a monistic universe that wants us to know about it, then that monistic universe has the ability to awaken psi powers within us. In plainer language, if God wants us to be parapsychologists, God will send us the talent we need!

Matthew Fuller said...

Sorry but that article is all most all wrong.

There isn't any need to suppose god designed evolution.

That doesn't mean a god hasn't.

Most birth statistics in america show a trend of assimilation for immigrants which usually includes a trend towards lower birth rate.

matthewx78 said...

One of the first convergences of science and what might be considered spiritual that I studied was intelligent design. I noticed that these ID guys had some great ideas but because they always put "God" at the end of their books they were deemed unscientific. They also always say ID is a theory but it is really more like a hypothesis. I am hearing "the design hypothesis" more than "intelligent design theory" among the recently.

I still listen to the discovery institutes pod casts on a regular basis but I just wish they would more often say "a design agent of an unknown origin" rather than "GOD" because we really do not know much about the designing agent.

I do think they have some great ideas, basically that there exists biological phenomena which defies random chance mutations filtered by natural selection and that a designing factor might better explain this than natural circumstances.

But they sometimes say "GOD" at some point, which is why they are viewed as religious or philosophical more than scientific because God could exist in the way that many religions believe but its more of Ontologically based than evidence based.

But I still keep listening to those guys because I know they are right in some aspects!

matthewx78 said...

* Matthew Fuller

Stephen Meyer is worth looking into, so its William Demsky.

Also there is a book called

"an atheist supports intelligent design"

Its written by an athiest that states that the ID guys have some very interesting points that make him question his belief.

Like PSI research most that are against ID don't know the nuts and bolts of it. Also, with ID, or PSI research or any field, The Wheat and Chaff need seperating.

Keep an open mind I think that the ID guys make some interesting points I just am not sure what the designing agent is. There are indeed some good cases where random chance mutations which become selected or discarded by natural selection does not account for the phenomena.

Look into it if you have an interest.

Alexi said...

Dean Radin writes: If the trend identified by the article continues, what will the world of the future look like? Mad Max? Logan's Run? The New Inquisition?

And the answer is: All of the above - and (fortunately) a lot more! The nature of physical reality is such that multiple (some say countless) "versions" of the world exist. The Sept. 2001 cover article in Discover magazine does a good job of explaining this idea: http://discovermagazine.com/2001/sep/cover

Personally I don't believe a parallel world is created every time we choose to have a cup of tea rather than coffee, but I do sense the existence of numerous paths of probability. I've even had dreams about some of them, including a Mad Max-type of world that was precipitated by a catastrophe involving some type of power plant (not sure if it was nuclear, but most of the surviving people – and virtually all the children – had deformities).

So, if one aligns with the belief in parallel universes, the salient question would be, "Which one am I going to experience as my reality?"