Science is the religion of depression


Maybe ‘tis the season for the spiritual and the secular to clash. Or maybe it’s a holdover from the election. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive for some reason.

 

In the past week I’ve seen a couple of posts on message boards that have dealt with science vs. religion, specifically creationism vs. evolution. One of those threads actually became that; the original intent of the author was to show that America is becoming “stupider” as it gets more religious.

 

Anyway, the posts got me to thinking, which doesn’t hurt as much as it used to. Remember, these forums I visit are made up mostly of writers, or at least readers, of horror. I don’t think “horror” automatically means the stories have to have a supernatural element (though my graduate thesis committee chairman still disagrees), but it implies that there is something in the story to be afraid of. I contend that if your religion is science, you have nothing to fear.

 

As I said, the posts in question were primarily creation vs. evolution. My own conviction is that belief in one does not exclude the other. All sacred texts give a creation story relevant to the people writing it and present the story in a way the audience of that time and locale can understand. Could Moses have understood DNA if God explained it to him? Of course not. And paradigm shifts in science may someday make modern beliefs about evolution seem like fairy stories, too.

 

Science as a religion has to be horribly depressing. One poster argued that there is no scientific proof of the human soul. Another argued against creation, or even the “Intelligent Design” idea (in which God orchestrated evolution). So, what does that mean?

 

First, if I understand the religion of science correctly, it seems to mean that we are nothing but animated mud balls. As such, there is no reason why we should adhere to any code of morality or civil conduct. Life is not precious because it is an accident. To kill another person is no worse than breaking up a clod of dirt.

 

Fear? The staple of horror writing? How can you have that if your religion is science? If there is no scientific reason to care for real mud balls, the reader certainly won’t care for made-up mud balls. Not to mention that, without a spiritual element, ghosts, demons and promise/threat of an afterlife has no power to evoke fear.

 

As you may already know, I was brought up going to Pentecostal churches. And hating it. I don’t attend any church at the moment, but maintain a calm and, I think, rational belief system based on Christian principles. So I can’t imagine living without a sense of spirituality, of higher purpose. To think that a parent could bury a child and think nothing of it because science says the body was never more than dust and water … that’s just too depressing.

 

To go back to elections, I couldn’t fathom voting for a leader who held science as his or her religion. All the real religions have one basic tenant in common, though it goes by different names. To paraphrase the rule, you should treat other people the way you want them to treat you.

 

This would not apply to science. The rule of science is natural selection; only the strong survive. In science, the meek not only won’t inherit the earth, they will become food for the strong. So you’d think these disciples of Darwin would support President Bush and the war in Iraq, right? No. Most of them I know are extremely liberal Bush-haters.

 

And that brings up another element of the “stupider” argument that I’d like to mention. Remember, he said that the rise in religion in the United States is coinciding with the country becoming “stupider.” Not surprisingly, this author was a John Kerry supporter; he lives in the 10th wealthiest state in the country.

 

If you look at the Catalogue for Philanthropy Web site, you’ll see that most of the states that came out Kerry-blue in the past election are listed at the bottom for charitable giving, but at the top in wealth (our friend’s state is ranked 31 on the Generosity Index). The red states, where religion is stronger and where the author I’m talking about says the “stupider” people live, are at the top in giving. Interestingly, the states at the top of the Generosity Index also show up near the top of most poverty charts.

 

I believe in God. I believe in the human soul. I believe in charity. I believe in being responsible for your actions and not relying on handouts, no matter how freely those handouts are given. If that makes me stupid, then I’m damn proud to be stupid.

 

What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from some of the atheists. Why do you adhere to any moral code of conduct if we are all just animated mud? I won’t ridicule you. I just want to understand.


0 responses to “Science is the religion of depression”

  1. oh oh oh… I’ll jump into the can of worms!!
    Dahling… just because some Deity told you to be nice to others doesn’t mean you’re going to. And on the flip side, no Deity needed to tell me to ‘do unto others’ for me to understand the basic human principle of just getting along =)
    now to assume that athiests, or scientist minded theologians in general, would believe “To kill another person is no worse than breaking up a clod of dirt” is almost as contextually warped as me saying that Christians are ‘weak minded sheep’ and never consider all the various degrees of Christianity, faith, and follow through.
    Christians can be evil rotten whores, and as long as they confess they still go to some happy place and float around with musical instruments all day… i [atheist], however, have no quick fix for my guilt should i do something horrible, so i must behave on this plane, to exist on plane, and be happy on this plane… the promise of something after this does nothing for me, and surely doesn’t justify bad behavior here =) [though i’m a strange atheist and believe in some form of ‘soul’, reincarnation, and even karma]
    also, my science mind understands that we do not know everything – we don’t have a magic book that explains all the mysteries of the universe and, hell yeah, the unknown can still be scary!! even deities/demons can be scary… Ed Lee has repeatedly made me not only fear his version of hell, but really really not want to be there to the point of momentarily wondering if i should repent like a dirty sinner and hope ‘god’ forgives me just to avoid it =)
    what actually struck me about this little post was that i think American has less religion/religious structure now than ever before and would argue, yes even though I’m atheist, that loss of religion is creating stupid people – if and only if ‘stupid’ now means criminal, cruel, or otherwise not nice on purpose, to strangers, and just in general. what exactly did they mean by ‘stupid’?
    for the record: i honestly do not care what people worship as long as it keeps them happy and gets them through the day…
    Oh and ‘science’ isn’t my religion either [atheist who not only went to catholic school, but taught sunday school and youth group once upon a time, now i have tidbits of this and that but no dieties or heaven/hell in the mix – scared yet?]… perhaps a more science based theological kinda person should answer you =)

    • Ah Wenchy, by “stupid” this guy meant that more people are believing in God and the creation story than in science. Following his vehement assertion that there is no deity and we exist only be accident, I made the comparison to humanity being nothing more than a dirt clod.
      Tell me, why must you behave on this plane? If this is all there is, why not say “Screw you” and do whatever it takes to be happy now. You want money? Rob a bank. Somebody cuts you off in traffic? Pop a cap in his ass. If this is all there is, why tolerate anything that doesn’t make you happy?

      • oy… ok, i wouldn’t call someone ‘stupid’ for any belief, so right off the bat, this guy is a bit judgemental
        …what he said: Moral conduct is important for structured society. Behaving morally has its rewards. A person earns trust and respect or they lose it. Selfishness can really hurt a person. What goes around comes around.
        and then add to that – since i fear no diety, but must live in society, i do fear society’s rules… jail, death penalty, loss of freedoms, etc. and thus i follows man’s rules rather than the invisible pink elephant in the sky =))
        oh and love… tangible or not, it exists and is strong. i wouldn’t want anyone to hurt my kids, family, friends, etc. so why would i do that to anyone else?
        and things that don’t make you happy are par for the course… life would be awfully boring if everything was perfect don’t you think?

  2. Steve,
    I have some thoughts on this.
    “[I]f your science is religion, you have nothing to fear.”
    I spent a lot of time studying the philosophy of science in college. I was raised Catholic; but I’m agnostic. There are a lot of possibilities… things to be afraid of…and a lot of things that we don’t understand. I don’t think that there’s enough evidence in the physical world to disprove every hypothetical Hereafter. Certainly, Creationism has been shown to be an untenable hypothesis. But have scientists thereby disproven the existence of any possible higher power? Certainly not.
    Karl Popper (a big name in the philosophy of science) argued that science doesn’t so much prove theories to be true as it disproves hypotheses, which are false. If my religion says that a higher power exists if and only if it is impossible to hardboil chicken eggs, then no higher power exists…because I can hardboil chicken eggs. But how do we arrive at that hypothesis? I agree with you that it can be flawed. Why couldn’t a higher power exist and it be possible to hardboil chicken eggs both. Why can’t a higher power exist, though Creationism is probably false? There’s no reason I see. Do a lot of religions have problems like that? YES.
    I may not subscribe to a particular religion; and I may have a scientific mind. But I’m not an atheist. My thoughts are that we haven’t got it right yet…and will probably never get it right. That’s scary, isn’t it? I think it’s more scary not having religion. There’s no clear path to redemption without religion. Moreover, I find the thought of ceasing to exist disconcerting at the very least.
    A question you had:
    “Why do you adhere to any moral code of conduct if we are all just animated mud?”
    Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a person without one? Is a flower just shit because it doesn’t live forever? Is a sunset less beautiful because it doesn’t last forever? Not to me. To me, a human being is worth more than a ball of dirt, eternal soul or no eternal soul.
    Moral conduct is important for structured society. Behaving morally has its rewards. A person earns trust and respect or they lose it. Selfishness can really hurt a person. What goes around comes around.
    I think that moral behavior is typically learned from experience. It makes more sense to behave morally. There are advantages to running in a pack…not to mention that most people simply appreciate human companionship.
    But, mostly, if the here and now is all that matters, why not build Heaven here? If there’s a Hereafter, hopefully we did the best we could and that’s good enough. 🙂

    • I like the way you think, Nick. I agree with what you said. I especially like the flower and sunset analogy. However, I think your human soul is biasing your thoughts. A mouse would likely fear the sunset because it signals the coming of darkness and the hunting time of owls, etc. If I understand atheism correctly, humans are no better than the mouse or the predators that hunt it; our evolutionary path simple took a different fork.
      You asked, “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a person without one?”
      I don’t know how to answer that because I believe in the soul. But, I would think that someone who doesn’t believe in the soul, who doesn’t believe in karma or an afterlife, wouldn’t see any value to any other person. Unless that other person was serving to make the atheist’s life better in some way.
      You said, “But, mostly, if the here and now is all that matters, why not build Heaven here? If there’s a Hereafter, hopefully we did the best we could and that’s good enough.”
      Exactly. And if somebody pisses in my pool here in the heaven I’m building on earth, why not eliminate that person? Yes, there’s prison, but the whole idea of punishing people for murder is a religious concept. If true atheism is correct, one human killing another would be no different than one owl killing another over the mouse.
      Maybe I’m just projecting what a horribly shitty person I’d be without a believe in God to rein me in.
      Thanks for responding.

      • alrighty, you don’t know how to answer: “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a person without one?” because you believe in human soul… so let’s dehumanize it =)
        “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a dog?”

        • Steve, from the sound of it, it’s good you have religion. Sometimes, I wish I had it too. I’ve grown more accustomed to exercising disbelief. It’s not so bad. I can admit there’s a lot I don’t know. Good or bad, it may come as a complete surprise to me.
          I wanted to clarify something else:
          “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a dog?”
          I would say it’s because human beings are capable of doing a lot more than dogs to begin with. Suppose neither had souls. I’d say the human’s more valuable. Well, whether, a human being has a soul or not, I would consider his life more valuable than the dog’s life.
          I’d reframe the question this way: “Suppose there’s a bad dog with an eternal soul, is that creature more important than a good person without an eternal soul?”
          My answer is that it’s preposterous to think anyone would know whether or not dogs or humans have souls. So, the better, more capable individual will almost always be more important to me as long I live on earth.
          I think the crux of the matter here is that any such reframing of the question could be inconcievable to a person who firmly believes that all humans have souls and no other animals do. Of course, it’s engrained in a lot of people that the crucial difference between humans and other animals is that we have souls and they don’t.
          For me, it’s simply a matter of belief whether or not creatures have souls…moreover, I think the question itself is predicated on finding a creature useful or important (or like us). We don’t, for example, look at a pile of manure and wonder whether it has a soul. We sometimes say to someone who is cruel and useless that he/she is souless.
          So, I’m reframing my question: “What does the addition or subtraction of a soul do for a person? And how do I know whether or not I have one? For example, people have had all sorts of problems with their brains and losing function, sight, hearing, memory, etc. What is it that the world can’t take away from me? If I’m stripped of my ability to sense, reason, and remember, what value would eternal life hold?”

  3. Steve,
    I have some thoughts on this.
    “[I]f your science is religion, you have nothing to fear.”
    I spent a lot of time studying the philosophy of science in college. I was raised Catholic; but I’m agnostic. There are a lot of possibilities… things to be afraid of…and a lot of things that we don’t understand. I don’t think that there’s enough evidence in the physical world to disprove every hypothetical Hereafter. Certainly, Creationism has been shown to be an untenable hypothesis. But have scientists thereby disproven the existence of any possible higher power? Certainly not.
    Karl Popper (a big name in the philosophy of science) argued that science doesn’t so much prove theories to be true as it disproves hypotheses, which are false. If my religion says that a higher power exists if and only if it is impossible to hardboil chicken eggs, then no higher power exists…because I can hardboil chicken eggs. But how do we arrive at that hypothesis? I agree with you that it can be flawed. Why couldn’t a higher power exist and it be possible to hardboil chicken eggs both. Why can’t a higher power exist, though Creationism is probably false? There’s no reason I see. Do a lot of religions have problems like that? YES.
    I may not subscribe to a particular religion; and I may have a scientific mind. But I’m not an atheist. My thoughts are that we haven’t got it right yet…and will probably never get it right. That’s scary, isn’t it? I think it’s more scary not having religion. There’s no clear path to redemption without religion. Moreover, I find the thought of ceasing to exist disconcerting at the very least.
    A question you had:
    “Why do you adhere to any moral code of conduct if we are all just animated mud?”
    Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a person without one? Is a flower just shit because it doesn’t live forever? Is a sunset less beautiful because it doesn’t last forever? Not to me. To me, a human being is worth more than a ball of dirt, eternal soul or no eternal soul.
    Moral conduct is important for structured society. Behaving morally has its rewards. A person earns trust and respect or they lose it. Selfishness can really hurt a person. What goes around comes around.
    I think that moral behavior is typically learned from experience. It makes more sense to behave morally. There are advantages to running in a pack…not to mention that most people simply appreciate human companionship.
    But, mostly, if the here and now is all that matters, why not build Heaven here? If there’s a Hereafter, hopefully we did the best we could and that’s good enough. 🙂

    • I like the way you think, Nick. I agree with what you said. I especially like the flower and sunset analogy. However, I think your human soul is biasing your thoughts. A mouse would likely fear the sunset because it signals the coming of darkness and the hunting time of owls, etc. If I understand atheism correctly, humans are no better than the mouse or the predators that hunt it; our evolutionary path simple took a different fork.
      You asked, “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a person without one?”
      I don’t know how to answer that because I believe in the soul. But, I would think that someone who doesn’t believe in the soul, who doesn’t believe in karma or an afterlife, wouldn’t see any value to any other person. Unless that other person was serving to make the atheist’s life better in some way.
      You said, “But, mostly, if the here and now is all that matters, why not build Heaven here? If there’s a Hereafter, hopefully we did the best we could and that’s good enough.”
      Exactly. And if somebody pisses in my pool here in the heaven I’m building on earth, why not eliminate that person? Yes, there’s prison, but the whole idea of punishing people for murder is a religious concept. If true atheism is correct, one human killing another would be no different than one owl killing another over the mouse.
      Maybe I’m just projecting what a horribly shitty person I’d be without a believe in God to rein me in.
      Thanks for responding.

      • alrighty, you don’t know how to answer: “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a person without one?” because you believe in human soul… so let’s dehumanize it =)
        “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a dog?”

        • Steve, from the sound of it, it’s good you have religion. Sometimes, I wish I had it too. I’ve grown more accustomed to exercising disbelief. It’s not so bad. I can admit there’s a lot I don’t know. Good or bad, it may come as a complete surprise to me.
          I wanted to clarify something else:
          “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a dog?”
          I would say it’s because human beings are capable of doing a lot more than dogs to begin with. Suppose neither had souls. I’d say the human’s more valuable. Well, whether, a human being has a soul or not, I would consider his life more valuable than the dog’s life.
          I’d reframe the question this way: “Suppose there’s a bad dog with an eternal soul, is that creature more important than a good person without an eternal soul?”
          My answer is that it’s preposterous to think anyone would know whether or not dogs or humans have souls. So, the better, more capable individual will almost always be more important to me as long I live on earth.
          I think the crux of the matter here is that any such reframing of the question could be inconcievable to a person who firmly believes that all humans have souls and no other animals do. Of course, it’s engrained in a lot of people that the crucial difference between humans and other animals is that we have souls and they don’t.
          For me, it’s simply a matter of belief whether or not creatures have souls…moreover, I think the question itself is predicated on finding a creature useful or important (or like us). We don’t, for example, look at a pile of manure and wonder whether it has a soul. We sometimes say to someone who is cruel and useless that he/she is souless.
          So, I’m reframing my question: “What does the addition or subtraction of a soul do for a person? And how do I know whether or not I have one? For example, people have had all sorts of problems with their brains and losing function, sight, hearing, memory, etc. What is it that the world can’t take away from me? If I’m stripped of my ability to sense, reason, and remember, what value would eternal life hold?”

  4. Steve,
    I have some thoughts on this.
    “[I]f your science is religion, you have nothing to fear.”
    I spent a lot of time studying the philosophy of science in college. I was raised Catholic; but I’m agnostic. There are a lot of possibilities… things to be afraid of…and a lot of things that we don’t understand. I don’t think that there’s enough evidence in the physical world to disprove every hypothetical Hereafter. Certainly, Creationism has been shown to be an untenable hypothesis. But have scientists thereby disproven the existence of any possible higher power? Certainly not.
    Karl Popper (a big name in the philosophy of science) argued that science doesn’t so much prove theories to be true as it disproves hypotheses, which are false. If my religion says that a higher power exists if and only if it is impossible to hardboil chicken eggs, then no higher power exists…because I can hardboil chicken eggs. But how do we arrive at that hypothesis? I agree with you that it can be flawed. Why couldn’t a higher power exist and it be possible to hardboil chicken eggs both. Why can’t a higher power exist, though Creationism is probably false? There’s no reason I see. Do a lot of religions have problems like that? YES.
    I may not subscribe to a particular religion; and I may have a scientific mind. But I’m not an atheist. My thoughts are that we haven’t got it right yet…and will probably never get it right. That’s scary, isn’t it? I think it’s more scary not having religion. There’s no clear path to redemption without religion. Moreover, I find the thought of ceasing to exist disconcerting at the very least.
    A question you had:
    “Why do you adhere to any moral code of conduct if we are all just animated mud?”
    Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a person without one? Is a flower just shit because it doesn’t live forever? Is a sunset less beautiful because it doesn’t last forever? Not to me. To me, a human being is worth more than a ball of dirt, eternal soul or no eternal soul.
    Moral conduct is important for structured society. Behaving morally has its rewards. A person earns trust and respect or they lose it. Selfishness can really hurt a person. What goes around comes around.
    I think that moral behavior is typically learned from experience. It makes more sense to behave morally. There are advantages to running in a pack…not to mention that most people simply appreciate human companionship.
    But, mostly, if the here and now is all that matters, why not build Heaven here? If there’s a Hereafter, hopefully we did the best we could and that’s good enough. 🙂

    • I like the way you think, Nick. I agree with what you said. I especially like the flower and sunset analogy. However, I think your human soul is biasing your thoughts. A mouse would likely fear the sunset because it signals the coming of darkness and the hunting time of owls, etc. If I understand atheism correctly, humans are no better than the mouse or the predators that hunt it; our evolutionary path simple took a different fork.
      You asked, “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a person without one?”
      I don’t know how to answer that because I believe in the soul. But, I would think that someone who doesn’t believe in the soul, who doesn’t believe in karma or an afterlife, wouldn’t see any value to any other person. Unless that other person was serving to make the atheist’s life better in some way.
      You said, “But, mostly, if the here and now is all that matters, why not build Heaven here? If there’s a Hereafter, hopefully we did the best we could and that’s good enough.”
      Exactly. And if somebody pisses in my pool here in the heaven I’m building on earth, why not eliminate that person? Yes, there’s prison, but the whole idea of punishing people for murder is a religious concept. If true atheism is correct, one human killing another would be no different than one owl killing another over the mouse.
      Maybe I’m just projecting what a horribly shitty person I’d be without a believe in God to rein me in.
      Thanks for responding.

      • alrighty, you don’t know how to answer: “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a person without one?” because you believe in human soul… so let’s dehumanize it =)
        “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a dog?”

        • Steve, from the sound of it, it’s good you have religion. Sometimes, I wish I had it too. I’ve grown more accustomed to exercising disbelief. It’s not so bad. I can admit there’s a lot I don’t know. Good or bad, it may come as a complete surprise to me.
          I wanted to clarify something else:
          “Why would having an eternal soul make a person so much more valuable than a dog?”
          I would say it’s because human beings are capable of doing a lot more than dogs to begin with. Suppose neither had souls. I’d say the human’s more valuable. Well, whether, a human being has a soul or not, I would consider his life more valuable than the dog’s life.
          I’d reframe the question this way: “Suppose there’s a bad dog with an eternal soul, is that creature more important than a good person without an eternal soul?”
          My answer is that it’s preposterous to think anyone would know whether or not dogs or humans have souls. So, the better, more capable individual will almost always be more important to me as long I live on earth.
          I think the crux of the matter here is that any such reframing of the question could be inconcievable to a person who firmly believes that all humans have souls and no other animals do. Of course, it’s engrained in a lot of people that the crucial difference between humans and other animals is that we have souls and they don’t.
          For me, it’s simply a matter of belief whether or not creatures have souls…moreover, I think the question itself is predicated on finding a creature useful or important (or like us). We don’t, for example, look at a pile of manure and wonder whether it has a soul. We sometimes say to someone who is cruel and useless that he/she is souless.
          So, I’m reframing my question: “What does the addition or subtraction of a soul do for a person? And how do I know whether or not I have one? For example, people have had all sorts of problems with their brains and losing function, sight, hearing, memory, etc. What is it that the world can’t take away from me? If I’m stripped of my ability to sense, reason, and remember, what value would eternal life hold?”

  5. It’s too damn late to get philosophical, but I will add this.
    People have been crowing about the “one true way” for a lot more years than there are hairs in my beard. The scientists swear they know it all, and the preachers claim that God is the answer.
    I know this. I know shit. I take a lot of guesses and run with them, really fast. If I run fast enough, folks think I know what I’m doing. If enough people start believing that I know what I’m doing I can open up my very own religion, or enroll a class.
    The neat thing about life is you’re allowed to believe in whatever you danged well want to. If folks want to stand up on soapboxes and tell you that you’re stupid to believe in what you believe in, don’t waste your time trying to kick over their soapboxes. You’ll just earn splinters.
    That’s what I believe, any way.
    (shit, where’s a smiley icon when you really need one?)

  6. It’s too damn late to get philosophical, but I will add this.
    People have been crowing about the “one true way” for a lot more years than there are hairs in my beard. The scientists swear they know it all, and the preachers claim that God is the answer.
    I know this. I know shit. I take a lot of guesses and run with them, really fast. If I run fast enough, folks think I know what I’m doing. If enough people start believing that I know what I’m doing I can open up my very own religion, or enroll a class.
    The neat thing about life is you’re allowed to believe in whatever you danged well want to. If folks want to stand up on soapboxes and tell you that you’re stupid to believe in what you believe in, don’t waste your time trying to kick over their soapboxes. You’ll just earn splinters.
    That’s what I believe, any way.
    (shit, where’s a smiley icon when you really need one?)

  7. It’s too damn late to get philosophical, but I will add this.
    People have been crowing about the “one true way” for a lot more years than there are hairs in my beard. The scientists swear they know it all, and the preachers claim that God is the answer.
    I know this. I know shit. I take a lot of guesses and run with them, really fast. If I run fast enough, folks think I know what I’m doing. If enough people start believing that I know what I’m doing I can open up my very own religion, or enroll a class.
    The neat thing about life is you’re allowed to believe in whatever you danged well want to. If folks want to stand up on soapboxes and tell you that you’re stupid to believe in what you believe in, don’t waste your time trying to kick over their soapboxes. You’ll just earn splinters.
    That’s what I believe, any way.
    (shit, where’s a smiley icon when you really need one?)

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