Previous posts in this discussion:
Post"Science is the New Religion": What Does This Mean? (A. J. Cave, USA, 01/11/18 5:22 am)
There is a lot more to unpack in the religion vs science thread.
I have used a variation of the "science is the new religion" catchphrase myself. Here is the context:
Since the 19th century, our lives have become irrevocably tied to science. While science was (and remains) conservative, scientists were (and are) anything but conservative. They were considered eccentric iconoclasts--what we call "nerds" in modern jargon.
While the Scientific Revolution has profoundly changed the Western world and views, the marriage of science and religion has never been a happy one. Armed with experimentations and observations, scientific explanations started to replace traditional religious ones. With the twins of biology and geology, scientists started to think creatively about the origins of life. Science eventually became the new religion. Today, natural history (biological and geological) is no longer debated, but neither is it believed by the ultra religious.
The 19th century was also the height of the Western quest for tracing the Biblical people and places. Discovering and cracking the code of cuneiform script turned out to be a lot more than what anyone had bargained for: the Biblical scripture and the Babylonian accounts didn't exactly match and the results were unsettling to deeply religious Christians. Discovery of non-biblical people (like the Sumerians) contradicted the Biblical view that all (wo)men had descended from the biblical Adam. Now Adam of the Bible who had been considered the first man created by God, was no longer the first man created by God.
For more "bad" news, tangible evidence from Assyrians and Babylonians (and other ancient civilizations) challenged Biblical chronology and the short age of mankind. The Sumerian story of a catastrophic flood unleashed a few thousands earlier than the Biblical story of Genesis, was the handiwork of the great god Enlil.
The crisis of faith and loss of religion was not a liberating experience. There was neither emotional gratification nor intellectual satisfaction in an optional God.
One of the most eloquent laments was the famous Dover Beach poem by the English poet Matthew Arnold published in 1867:
"The Sea of Faith"
...and we are here as on a darkling plain
swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
where ignorant armies clash by night.
JE comments: If science toppled religion beginning in the Enlightenment, does it come as any surprise that the former would replace the latter? This is how I understand A. J. Cave's post. And yes, there is little satisfaction (comfort?) to be found in an "optional" God.
Donation of Constantine; from Gary Moore
(John Eipper, USA
01/13/18 4:28 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
This is in response to A.J. Cave's enumeration (January 11th) of how Bible literalism has had to ignore archaeology.
(I'd never thought about the fact that Adam couldn't be the first man and also be 5,000
years old, if profuse evidence shows the Sumerians were older. This is a whole different
difficulty from the Creationists denying paleontology.)
My odd thought in response is that the belief
process now sounds much like belief a thousand years ago--say, around 1018 AD--when the popes
believed in the Donation of Constantine, though later popes, even in the 1500s, began to crumble
and agree with scholar Lorenzo Valla that this hoary old writ (giving the entire Western Roman empire
to Pope Sylvester I) was a hoax, a fake, a "pious fraud."
Apparently it was penned around 700-800 AD,
when the Church was desperately seeking to prove it shouldn't be attacked by various hordes
of the Dark Ages, and since it purported to be from a time hundreds of years even earlier, the Dark
Ages was unlikely to be able to check. Even in those years, though, its use of bloopers like "satraps,"
"consuls," and other anachronisms should have made its fakery obvious, but there was a lack of will
to compare and contrast. We may never know the specific monk or canon who sat down to create this
whopper, though the Internet Age is strange. Will he be on YouTube someday?
inviolability of the Donation's illusion circles back to my original question in this thread: All the time,
we use the word "faith." But what is it? Is faith (at the most stellar height of irreverence) like a physiological
climax, something you can sort of make yourself do--though not exactly on purpose? Or is it the
manifestation of just the right convergence of upbringing and stress? Or, of course, there's Adam's answer,
from 5,000 years ago.
JE comments: Faith as orgasm? There may be something to the comparison. As Gary Moore points out, both are sort of voluntary, sort of not. And it's ultimately up to you to get there, even when others are involved.
The Donation of Constantine may have been the biggest charitable contribution of all: handing the entire Roman Empire to the papacy. Imagine, say, a letter from President Trump giving a US state to WAIS. (I trust it won't be a s*%#hole state.)
This gets me thinking: why don't we start a WAIS thread on History's Hoaxes? It's Godwin time: remember the Hitler Diaries from 1983?