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  1.  (8121.81)
    I'm noticing this habit of treating religion and science as though they originated in entirely different universes separated by packs of rabid dogs that bark lasers. Religion is a primitive form of Science. They originated from the same thing: the human need to understand the world around us and our purpose in it. Some people stuck with the theories that served them better and started believing them, and worse, tried making other people believe them as well because we seem to have this stupid notion that if a lot of people believe something, it has to be true. Other people went "waaaait a second" and tried finding ways to prove the theories. Simply put, Science goes a step further. But both Science and Religion try to find answers to a world that didn't come with a manual. And throughout the centuries, Science has served us infinitely better than Religion, and even that is giving Religion too much credit.

    SCIENCE, on the other hand ... hoo boy. Reading some of the posts by people who apparently think SCIENCE is this monolithic entity made out of Goodness, puppies and blow jobs kinda gets up my nose. SCIENCE is a business, always has been, always will be. SCIENCE has traditionally been competition, back-biting, stealing other people's ideas, slander and other very HUMAN faults.


    Consider that we are discussing Science as opposed to Religion, and by that perspective and at least in my opinion, Science IS an entity made out of Goodness, puppies and blowjobs. If you examine Science in itself, of course you're going to find a load of shit throughout history, such as Thomas Edison.

    Because as you said, there's the human element. You could argue that this is true for Religion as well and that both Religion and Science are perfectly fine ideas sabotaged by humanity's shit.

    Except I'm defending Science as much more advanced. The very concept of Religion -- to have (often fanatic) faith in something you can't prove -- is problematic.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.82)
    SCIENCE, on the other hand ... hoo boy. Reading some of the posts by people who apparently think SCIENCE is this monolithic entity made out of Goodness, puppies and blow jobs kinda gets up my nose. SCIENCE is a business, always has been, always will be.


    Science is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. But it is a fantastic tool. Sure you can use it to do bad stuff, that's your archetypical evil scientist. However that's not science's fault.

    I don't see where this nonsense of comparing science and religion came from all of a sudden. Atheists don't "believe" in science like theists believe in God, they don't believe in screwdrivers either. It's just there.
  2.  (8121.83)
    @ mister hex.
    I concur.

    Despite growing up with Southern Baptists and despite my architectural education (which was often dismissive of religion), I've always kept an agnostic perspective while maintaining research and interest in religious beliefs (historical and present day) while also studying our architecture and its motivations...functional, formal, metaphorical, etc. For me, I have never considered religion and science to be absolutely severed aspects or paths of my nature or even human nature in general.

    Nor do I think either one compels humanity to behave in any particular manner. Science and religion are merely tools, lenses through which humanity chooses to see, approach, and engage the world. Both are methodologies of thought touching upon contrary aspects of our being ... reason and emotion to name two (and humanity is most definitely a very contrary creature). Others have mentioned the 'internal' and 'external'.

    Both have been used to advance the civilized development of humanity (art, philosophy, architecture, music) and yet both have been used to justify malicious actions due to greed, hatred or ignorance. That's not the fault of either religion or science...that's just the inherent pendulum swing of humanity's motivations and how we use our tools: to grow, learn, and benefit ourselves or each other while destroying one another with equal aplomb. Scientific zealotry is no more or less destructive than religious. Regardless, the sacred and the profane intertwine far more often than tribal zealots on either side will ever care to admit.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.84)
    Both have been used to advance the civilized development of humanity (art, philosophy, architecture, music)


    How has religion advanced art, music and architecture? Philosophy I can see, but religion is wholly separate from art. Just because the Catholic Church had the money to commission the most imposing buildings and buy the finest paintings doesn't mean they necessarily did a lot to advance the arts. It was the artists and the builders wo did all the work, not the bishops.
  3.  (8121.85)
    How has religion advanced art, music and architecture?


    Bach, Beethoven, and Michelangelo?
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.86)
    Yeah what about them?

    They weren't priests, they were two musicians and one painter/sculptor/poet/architect . So how are their accomplishments a score for religion?
    •  
      CommentAuthorcelan
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.87)
    Bach and Michelangelo worked for the church rather explicitly. Not sure about Beethoven...other than having pieces that expressed "spiritual" ideas.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.88)
    Yeah they worked for the Church...the thing is, artists needed to get paid, and back in those days - certainly in Michelangelo's time - the Church was by far the wealthiest patron. Michelangelo didn't work exclusively for the Church, he also worked for the De Medicis, and Beethoven also did a lot of work for patrons from German aristocracy.

    Imagine: if the Church was as powerful today as it was back then, Marvel Comics, Image and Avatar would be owned by the Catholic Church and Warren Ellis would be seen as a devout Christian writer because he worked for them. He'd be annoyed as hell with all of their censorship but he'd still want to get paid.
    • CommentAuthorIsaacSher
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.89)
    Now, I'm no art history expert, but it seems that there are periods where a huge portion (if not a majority) of the art produced is directly inspired by or related to religous concepts. Bach and co., as mentioned above, and over to the east, Islamic calligraphy, gorgeous Indian temple carvings, statues, giant breathtaking Buddhas, the temples *themselves* (Architecture!), you name it. Even if you're not a fan of religon, it's impossible to deny the huge effect that divine contemplation of all stripes has had on humanity's artistic development. If nothing else, the divine has been a fertile subject matter and inspiration for artists in all time periods.

    Do I have major reservations about organized religion? Oh, absolutely. Have some utterly horrible things been done in the name of religion? Undeniably. But that doesn't mean that Anything To Do With Religion is automatically bad.

    Let's be fair, Science doesn't have a perfect record either. Just off the top of my head, wasn't the French Revolution at least partly fueled by a desire to create a "society of reason", free from religious thought? And yet it was a massive bloodletting. Science has given us many awesome things, but it's not perfect "puppies and blowjobs" as someone put it.

    Neither approach is perfect, and I think where people get into trouble is when they get overly dogmatic about *either* one. There's room for both in our world. Religion isn't just about "Let's Make Up A Shiny Thing In The Sky", it's about trying to find meaning in our existence, to try and understand things that may not be fully comprehensible no matter how hard we try -- but it's still worth trying. Some of these questions about the universe, like proving the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun in space, can be answered as time goes on our knowledge (and yes, Science) increase. But some questions -- what happens to our consciousness when we die? -- don't have a definite answer yet. Science doesn't know, and Religion is willing to offer up some interesting guesses, but the *act of contemplation* via religion (or even secular study or meditation) is still worthwhile, even if no concrete answer is produced. Sometimes these guesses are claimed to be fact, unfortunately, and that is a problem. But that's a problem with the person making the assertion, not with the concept of religion in general.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010 edited
     (8121.90)
    @Isaac: do you know about the Catholic Church?

    They would kill you back in the goold old days if you painted a picture that didn't have anything to do with God and his big book, the Bible...So no, I'm not giving religion credit for that.

    But some questions -- what happens to our consciousness when we die? -- don't have a definite answer yet.


    They do have a very definite answer.
  4.  (8121.91)
    Because a person is religious it doesn't mean that every one of their achievements is religion's merit. For fuck's sake.

    And Michelangelo's paintings had a number of possible easter eggs: in the creation of Adam, God and his angels form a figure very similar to the human brain:



    Or the angel who's making an obscene gesture (next to a figure, prophet Zechariah, whose face was painted with the likeness of then pope Julius II):



    Or painting the mouth of Hell directly above the altar:



    (images from a CRACKED article which, despite being obviously humorous, cites sources for the information)

    Point being, may I suggest we don't start making random links between achievements, religion, and science, before this whole thread becomes a discussion about how religious Sir Isaac Newton was?
  5.  (8121.92)
    Now, I'm no art history expert, but it seems that there are periods where a huge portion (if not a majority) of the art produced is directly inspired by or related to religous concepts. Bach and co., as mentioned above, and over to the east, Islamic calligraphy, gorgeous Indian temple carvings, statues, giant breathtaking Buddhas, the temples *themselves* (Architecture!), you name it. Even if you're not a fan of religon, it's impossible to deny the huge effect that divine contemplation of all stripes has had on humanity's artistic development. If nothing else, the divine has been a fertile subject matter and inspiration for artists in all time periods.


    Religion was much more present and opressive at the time. It doesn't mean that if religion had never existed, the artists back then wouldn't have created beautiful things with different subject matter anyway.

    Let's be fair, Science doesn't have a perfect record either. Just off the top of my head, wasn't the French Revolution at least partly fueled by a desire to create a "society of reason", free from religious thought? And yet it was a massive bloodletting.


    ...

    Are you saying basing society on reason, the main principle of Enlightenment, was a bad thing to fight for?
  6.  (8121.93)
    Just to be clear I wasn't trying to pitch myself in some "science only" camp, I was trying to demonstrate that for me, fiction has as much to do with science as it has to do with faith and religion. By demonstrating my love for science, I wasn't demonstrating a hatred of faith (although I do have a problem with the utter denial of objective truth). The reason I was so vitriolic, is that as an artist, I'm sick to death of people assuming that art/storytelling is some mystical magical skill somehow removed from other skills (including science).

    Science does get it right though. It's unavoidable. No appeal to metaphor, myth, fiction or anything else avoids that. If you want the facts, you use the scientific method. I agree with mister hex to a certain degree.... science getting things right (facts) isn't the same as science *doing* things right (actions, policies). One is a matter of objective truth, the other a matter of subjective application, and in the end neither science nor religion DO anything directly, people do things. Science and religion can only guide people as principles of action.

    For me, the important thing is not how the practices of science and religion affect individuals, but how they affect organisations and infrastructures of people. There's too much noise at the individual level to make any concrete statements, if a scientist does something abhorrent, it doesn't tell you anything about science, if a religious man does something benign, that doesn't tell you anything about religion, only about the individual.

    I would make the bold statement that religions as institutions (not as individuals) have a tendency to be conservative in a dangerous and un-self-critical manner, science however, when acting as its own institution (not within OTHER institutions like the military, or a capitalist economy), is conservative in a self-correcting and extremely careful manner. If all institutions behaved the way a scientific institution should do I honestly believe the world would be a better, (if somewhat more bureaucratic and slow-to-change) place.

    Please don't mistake this for an assertion that all scientifically run institutions are benign though, I'm sure there are exceptions. All we can do is count the scientifically run institutions and asses their positive/negative impact and compare that with religious institutions and their positive/negative impact. Has anyone actually done that? I mean as quantitatively as possible rather than qualitatively?

    Also, for anyone reading this and thinking of responding, don't leap to conclusions about what I mean about a "scientifically run organisation". I don't mean one run with some vague desire to have an organisation acting via perfect reason and logic, such a thing isn't possible, I mean how *actual* scientific organisations are run (here's a good podcast taking astronomy publications review as the model http://www.astronomycast.com/astronomy/ep-146-astronomy-research-from-idea-to-publication/ )
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.94)
    > How has religion advanced art, music and architecture?

    Partly by motivating people, I guess, educating them, and ordering society. Here's one example, from the 2nd chapter of _Civilisation_ by Kenneth Clarke:

    ... The faces on the west portal of Chartes are among the most sincere and, in a true sense, the most aristocratic that Western Europe ever produced.

    We know from the old chronicles something about the men whose state of mind these faces reveal. In the year 1144, they say, when the towers seemed to be rising as if by magic, the faithful harnessed themselves to the carts which were bringing stone, and dragged them from the quarry to the cathedral. The enthusiasm spread throughout France. Men and women came from far away carrying heavy burdens of povisions for the workmen - wine, oil, and corn. Amonst them were lords and ladies, pulling carts with the rest. There was perfect discipline, and a most profound silence. All hearts were united and each forgave his enemies. This feeling of dedication to a great civilising ideal is even more overwhelming when we pass though the portal into the interior. This is not only one of the two most beautiful covered spaces in the world (the other is St Sophia in Constantinople), but it is one that has a peculiar effect on the mind; and the men who built it would have said that this was because it was the favourite earthly abode of the Virgin Mary.


    > Philosophy I can see, but religion is wholly separate from art.

    Apparently they used to think of geometry as divine, and god as a geometer.

    > Just because the Catholic Church had the money to commission the most imposing buildings and buy the finest paintings doesn't mean they necessarily did a lot to advance the arts. It was the artists and the builders wo did all the work, not the bishops.

    Well ... intelligent, educated people were clergy. And "the Church" is defined as the whole society or communion of the faithful, not just the clergy.

    To take a more modern example of building a cathedral, look at the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona. It's being paid from private donations and tourists (and not apparently from official church or state sources).
  7.  (8121.95)
    How has religion advanced art, music and architecture?


    Ginja's examples are perfect.

    Although motivations can be exclusive, my point is that such things are not (and were not) exclusively driven by only one or the other. The history of the arts weaves its inspiration from science (mathematics, geometry, chemistry, physics) and religion (concepts of space and form, visual or audio narrative inspiration).

    Regardless of whether or not the bishops lifted a finger to make something, they (and wealthy families and kings, etc) financed the creation of the art at that time. The notion of patronage continues in various forms today. No, they did not build it...but the architects and especially the craftsman took PRIDE in what they were carving from wood or stone by hand. The work, the design and crafting, was spiritually significant to them beyond just getting a paycheck (unlike most of today's construction industry).

    Everyone seems focused on Christianity (or maybe organized religion in general) in this discussion but it goes beyond Catholicism and Christianity. The Anasazi kiva was brilliantly designed to signify religious ceremony...the tribe's significant connection to the earth and heaven and each other while functionally funneling the passage of air into the space to fuel the fire. Japanese Tea Houses..the space of geometry involving kimono, utensils, tables, windows, the passage of air, the proportion of all things in the room...scientific applications inspired by Buddhist philosophy and belief.

    From the Cave Paintings of Lascaux to artist Andy Goldsworthy (whose work is essentially an environmentalist celebration, manipulation, and reverance of natural forms and space, but he'd probably disagree with me :P)
    From Australian diggeridoo to 16 Horsepower performing Bob Dylan's "Nobody 'Cept You"
    From Stonehenge to the Acropolis to the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut.
    From Illuminated Manuscripts to Thomas Merton's the Geography of Lograire.

    For me, probably the best modern example of art touching upon the worlds of the sacred and the profane, the spiritual and the scientific, is Louis Khan's Exeter Library. A cathedral of knowledge of study. I have never met anyone that didn't feel something...a wonder, a simple smile, a serenity...when they stepped into the space of that building.

    I can understand that some feel that one has no place or relevance in today's world but I disagree when I think the two things have pushed and pulled and challenged each other throughout history, the tension of the two and their intersections propelling us forward.
    • CommentAuthorIsaacSher
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010 edited
     (8121.96)
    "Are you saying basing society on reason, the main principle of Enlightenment, was a bad thing to fight for? "

    No. I'm saying that extremism of any stripe is a bad thing. Massive slaughter of fellow humans, be it in the name of God or in the name of Science And Reason, is a horrific thing. Trying to justify it as furthering Science is just as bad as justifying it as an act of furthering faith and religion.
  8.  (8121.97)
    No. I'm saying that extremism of any stripe is a bad thing. Massive slaughter of fellow humans, be it in the name of God or in the name of Science And Reason, is a horrific thing. Trying to justify it as furthering Science is just as bad as justifying it as an act of furthering faith and religion.


    Except that the French Revolution had many more factors that caused it, among them France being fucked by the ways of the Ancient Régime (famine, huge national debt). The religious factor was mainly that there was no freedom of religion. No scientific extremism was involved in this particular example (which I find important to clarify, not intending to derail the thread)
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.98)
    @Fan

    The problem with these arguments is that we used to be a monculture. Everybody was Catholic/Christian, so every single thing that was done in those days, could also be said to be a Catholic (or Christian) deed. So that sort of argument doesn't work. The point is especially true regarding education. Of course education was Christian, it was organized by Christians, the curriculum was Christian, etc etc because 1) everybody was a Christian, 2) everybody who wanted to teach something which wasn't in accordance with Christian doctrine was burned/beheaded/quartered.

    It's like organizing a bake off and only inviting people from Norfolk and then claiming that those Norfolkers are the only people in the world who know how to bake cake. Fact is, Christianity doesn't get to claim credit for education. If Europe hadn't been Christian there would still have been education in some form.

    .. The faces on the west portal of Chartes are among the most sincere and, in a true sense, the most aristocratic that Western Europe ever produced.

    We know from the old chronicles something about the men whose state of mind these faces reveal. In the year 1144, they say, when the towers seemed to be rising as if by magic, the faithful harnessed themselves to the carts which were bringing stone, and dragged them from the quarry to the cathedral. The enthusiasm spread throughout France. Men and women came from far away carrying heavy burdens of povisions for the workmen - wine, oil, and corn. Amonst them were lords and ladies, pulling carts with the rest. There was perfect discipline, and a most profound silence. All hearts were united and each forgave his enemies. This feeling of dedication to a great civilising ideal is even more overwhelming when we pass though the portal into the interior. This is not only one of the two most beautiful covered spaces in the world (the other is St Sophia in Constantinople), but it is one that has a peculiar effect on the mind; and the men who built it would have said that this was because it was the favourite earthly abode of the Virgin Mary.


    I think the Internet idiom "LOLWUT" is appropriate here. What does the author mean? Which faces is the author referring to and how does he know that all those people were so ecstatically happy?
    • CommentAuthorIsaacSher
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.99)
    "Except that the French Revolution had many more factors that caused it, among them France being fucked by the ways of the Ancient Régime (famine, huge national debt). The religious factor was mainly that there was no freedom of religion. No scientific extremism was involved in this particular example (which I find important to clarify, not intending to derail the thread) "

    That's fair. My point wasn't to pick on France, but more about extremism in general. I wasn't saying that "Science Uber Alles" was the only thing behind the Revolution. Perhaps a better example would've been the Communist revolutions in Russia and China, where religion was discredited and vilified by the new ruling powers, and those of strong religious convictions persecuted as a result. Again, not the only point of the revolutions, not by far, but it was a part of the picture.

    But again, the point is Extremism, be it Faith or Science, is a bad thing.
    • CommentAuthorSteadyUP
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
     (8121.100)
    Having read the last page and a half at a stretch, I think it would be productive if everyone take a couple points as a given before we progress:

    1) Both science and religion, like all human pursuits, are capable of and have done both great good and horrible evil, and to attempt quantification of either's is a waste of time.

    2) Neither science, nor religion, nor good, nor evil, will ever disappear completely from human civilization, therefore speculating on why one or the other would be better is masturbation.

    The amount of cyclical posting in here to the tune of "I'm not saying all _______ is bad, just that _______" or "if the world didn't have _______, _______ would never happen" is crippling the real conversation, and Rachael's original topic, IMHO. I think it's safe to assume that no one here genuinely believes that either science or religion is fundamentally evil and capable of no positive influence, and if someone does, they're a moron and should be ignored anyway.