WHY SCIENCE AND RELIGION ARE AT OPPOSITE POLES
Below is a comment about one of my blogs which delved into the concept of what people mean when they speak of a “god’s will”. Jeremy is an intelligent and literate believer so I don’t mean any disrespect.
George, for someone as intelligent as you are, I expect a more intelligent critique than this, which essentially strips our English word "will" of its rich semantic range. Truly, and sadly, Christians abuse the concept of God's will terribly, but their abuse doesn't negate the proper use. If you were to do a study of the semantic range of the word "will" in the Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek texts of what we call the Bible, you'd see that what we translate into the one word "will" is actually several different words. Do you mean decretive will, preceptive will, or something else?
I'm not siding with our President, I assure you, but I am saying that not all of us understand these concepts similarly.
Jeremy, I have a very firm and non-philosophical definition of "will" in mind. It is that chemical point which triggers a thought to become conscious in the brain and it is that chemical buildup to a moment of triggering which allows for an action to take place. For will to be exercised, there must occur a necessary buildup of chemical activity to cause a yes/no act to happen. Will, for me, is a purely yes/no chemical triggering in the brain of animals and humans. Sometimes this act of will which causes a thought to appear or an act to happen occurs in a pre-conscious moment too. We are not always aware that a triggering has occurred before it happens. The best book about this isTHE ORGIN OF MINDS by Peggy La Cerra and Roger Bingham. I think they nail it pretty good.
GOD’S MOUTHPIECE’S MOUTHPIECE
So we all learned recently in a NEWSWEEK piece (June 27, 2005) that Billy Graham has a publicity man (Larry Ross) who guards his relations with the press. Since Billy is a publicity man for the idea of a god, Larry is twice removed from the mouth of power. My problem with the whole chain of mouthpieces remains the question, “Why would an all powerful, omniscient, omnipresent supernatural being require two or more mouthpieces to get its message across? Why does Billy need a mouthpiece and why does god need a mouthpiece?
Think, on the other hand, how humble real scientific truth is. With little fanfare and with few supporters, just by the force of the rationality of its arguments, in the modern mind it wins over the informed consent of human intelligence. It doesn’t require hoopla like a crusade or the exhortations of emotional manipulators to get its message across. It appeals to reason and only the irrational fail to get that message. True, if the world would suddenly fill with only the irrational, then, perhaps, what is untrue would seem true in the mouths of the butter-melters. We only have to look as far as Iran or Saudi Arabia to see a world where the likes of Billy and Franklin Graham rule. Is that what we want for America? Truly?
A RACIST STORY FROM THE SOUTHLAND
Back in 1974 I was married for a very brief time to a woman born and bred in the deep South. I had a college degree and she had an 8th grade education. She was a shipboard electrician who worked at the shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi while I was a machinist/alcoholic who was beginning to drift from my roots in southern Ohio who also worked at the Pascagoula shipyard for a time. She claimed to being 1/8th Cherokee blood and her thick, very black hair gave evidence of those roots. We made this marriage while I was living in Mobile, Alabama on the spur of the moment during a break from work caused by a rain storm which made footing difficult for electricians, like my wife, to work on the decks of the warships they build at that shipyard. We were married in our work clothes by a justice of the peace in Pascagoula, Mississippi. During that period in my lifely perambulations, I had the outlandish notion that I was going to forget my education and intellect, drink Budweiser, fish off the pier in Mobile bay, work in the shipyards at Pascagoula and become a “down home man”. This marriage and accompanying notions lasted about six months.
My wife had a four or five year old boy who was due to start school that fall. Then came the order by a federal judge that Mobile, Alabama’s schools must be integrated. I was unaware of the impending situation, but most of Mobile had been on the alert all summer. I came home from work (or school—I was attempting for the second time to complete a master’s degree) to find my wife hurrying around to get her son ready for school, but it turns out that she was not getting him ready for public school. She had to hurry because private schools were springing up all over the city and racists like my wife needed to make sure she could get a slot in one of the private schools in Mobile.
My picture of the situation may not be entirely clear, but it seemed to me that nearly the entire school population of Mobile shifted from public to private overnight. Just like that! Boom! I don’t know anything more about what happened with time, for my marriage was soon ended, and I drifted off to another state in another corner of the USA. But the Katrina, New Orleans situation tells me that not a lot has changed and that the Republican Party’s drive to privatize education might have racist roots as black as my Cherokee wife’s hair.
“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in the air and water that are doing it.” —that’s right! —George Bush