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Re: bamboozled

Posted by Perry on July 14, 2005 at 14:17:15

In Reply to: Re: bamboozled posted by Dallas Travel Club on July 14, 2005 at 09:35:06:

I too am extremely cautious now when it comes to affiliating with authoritarian organizations. Skepticism is my constant and necessary companion, because having been seriously bamboozled twice (I joined the COG/TF twice) I feel I need the natural protection it and critical thinking provide.

It's interesting that where I'm at in Sagan's book happens to coincide with this discussion here. In relation to the issue of how difficult it is to examine one's long-held beliefs and admit that they are wrong, I read the following passage this morning:

[Coordinators, this is a natural continuation of the discussion in this thread, particularly some of porceleindoll's thoughts, but if this is more appropriate for Journeys please repost there]

"Of course many religions--devoted to reverence, awe, ethics, ritual, community, family, charity, and political and economic justice--are in no way challenged, but rather uplifted, by the findings of science. There is no necessary conflict between science and religion. On one level, they share similar and consonant roles, and each needs the other. Open and vigorous debate, even the consecration of doubt, is a Christian tradition going back to John Milton's "Areopagitica" (1644.) Some of mainstream Christianity and Judaism embraces and even anticipated at least a portion of the humility, self-criticism, reasoned debate, and questioning of received wisdom that the best of science offers. But other sects, sometimes called conservative or fundamentalist--and today they seem to be in the ascendant, with the mainstream religions almost inaudible and invisible--have chosen to make a stand on matters subject to disproof, and thus have something to fear from science."

"The religious traditions are often so rich and mulitvariate that they offer ample opportunity for renewal and revision, again especially when their sacred books can be interpreted metaphorically and allegorically. There is thus a middle ground of confessing past errors--as the Roman Catholic Church did in its 1992 acknowledgement that Galileo was right after all, that the Earth does revolve around the Sun: three centuries late, but courageous and most welcome nonetheless."

"In theological discussion with religious leaders, I often ask what their response would be if a central tenet of their faith were disproved by science. When I put this question to the current, Fourteenth, Dalai Lama, he unhesitatingly replied as no conservative or fundamentalist religious leaders do: In such a case, he said, Tibetan Buddhism would have to change."

"Even, I asked, if it's a really central tenet, like (I searched for an example) reincarnation?"

"Even then, he answered. However--he added with a twinkle--it's going to be hard to disprove reincarnation."

"Plainly, the Dalai Lama is right. Religious doctrine that is insulated from disproof has little reason to worry about the advance of science. The grand idea, common to many faiths, of a Creator of the Universe is one such doctrine--difficult alike to demonstrate or to dismiss."