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Blasphemy

I was raised in the church and studied the Bible extensively. So this kind of thing really pisses me off.

Legalization of drugs leaves addicts helpless, priests in Argentina warn

While the priests acknowledged “the good intentions of those who do not want addicts to be criminalized,” they warned that in the case of the most vulnerable people, legalization means “leaving the addict helpless and ignoring his right to help.” […]

They went on to recall that the Gospel invites us to be present at the fringes of society and human existence, “to enter into communion with the poorest of the poor and from there to reach out to all.”

They recall the Gospel, yet seem not to have actually, you know, read it.

Did Jesus say “I’d like to help you, but I need to wait until the Romans arrest you and throw you in jail”?

“…ignoring his right to help.” Really?

Is the catholic church so weak that they cannot help people without first sending them to prison for pot?

Fortunately, there are other religious leaders who understand the true meaning of the Gospels.

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22 comments to Blasphemy

  • CoG

    At the risk of sounding like a Roman-Catholic-basher, don’t be surprised. Here’s a quote from Jesus.

    Matthew 23:9

    And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

    The Roman Catholic Church has a long history of keeping the scriptures out of the hands of their congregation, and using Latin, which is very effective at keeping it out of their congregations’ minds! The Jews and early Christians did not write in Latin.

    You’re right with your implications. Jesus said he would accept anyone who came to him. He did not say you have come to him desperate, or at wit’s end, or broke after having spent all your money on drugs, or …

    For the moment I can’t bring myself to read the article.

  • Price

    It really is sad that Religion as an organization is all about control…Spirituality and closeness to God doesn’t require one to control anybody, just love them as we do ourselves…The CHURCH needs to be called out on this whole drug war thing just like they were called out on racial prejudice…They went along with it for a long time…way to long..and then the moral aspects finally won over…Same thing here….Loose the need to control people…you can love them without forcing them into your philosophy…better to have them want to be like you…that is if you’re someone to be like…

  • tommy

    It’s the “The team of priests that assists at the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires’s Emergency Shelters” talking and I’m assuming that’s their equivalent of the Salvation Army shelters. What they mean, as our own “treatment” industry does, is that we need the threat of prison to force
    us to buy what they’re selling.

  • ezrydn

    I’m accustomed to carrying my Bible to church with me. I like to follow the minister and keep him honest. My wife is Catholic and I went with her one day. The Padre and I were the only two people in the church with bibles. Boy, did I get some looks when I, not understanding Spanish, just opened mine and started reading. I can mention a passage to my wife and she has no earthly idea what I’m talking about.

  • Religion will always be more likely to cause this kind of trouble than solve it, because of its inherent volatile nature. Religion is bereft of any (attempted) objective rule for evaluating knowledge. It’s all about faith and very little about producing knowledge following the method most likely to produce reliable results.

    Furthermore a lot of religions have made quite a virtue of the in vs. out group thinking. I’m convinced this impulse in inate in humans, but I’m equally convinced that this drive which is the impetus for discrimination and polarisation should not be encouraged.

    And did anyone notice the drama written by the story of Adam and Eve?

    First of all God institutes the first Prohibition in existence.

    Ironically this fails as Adam and Eve eat the entheogenic/hallucinogenic apple and gets the knowledge of God. Though an abject failure even with just two people, the fact that the ways of God are supposed to be inscrutable asks the believer to simply accept no matter the efficacy the very idea of Prohibition. Who’re we to question God, eh?

    Secondly the whole Fall thing was orchestrated by the Devil in the disguise of the snake. There’s your pre-historic Pusher type with all his temptation. And we know temptation is bad, and we just have to say no to that sorta thing.

    Thirdly the drama is supplied with the guideline for how to deal with people who don’t comply with Big Parent’s dictates: draconian punishment for pretty much all eternity. Hell, woman are even so horribly cursed that they can’t give proper birth, but even those dead, mutilated children or women seem “reasonable” sacrifices as The Female needs to be punished.

    “Volatile” being the word this doesn’t always make all relgious people act crazy, but it’s a fertile soil for the ENTIRE meme of the Drug War. In that short story pretty much all the characters in this cruel play are defined and to this day we play the same drama while drugwarring.

    Coincidence? Perhaps.

  • @ Price, “It really is sad that Religion as an organization is all about control…Spirituality and closeness to God doesn’t require one to control anybody, just love them as we do ourselves…The CHURCH needs to be called out on this whole drug war thing…”

    Maybe you’re drawing a distinction between “religion” and
    “spirituality” but for the moment, just let me say that both should be about setting free, not control. Not against you, but in general, folks who read what’s attributed to Jesus (vs. the constant harping on Paul), know he said “the Truth will set you free.” And also Jesus himself never forced his will on others. And in fact, it’s written he even asked God to help him avoid the horrible suffering he faced, but also added, “let not my will be done, but yours Heavenly Father.”

    As far as calling the church out, please check this out:
    ChristiansAgainstProhibition.org

    (Not sure if that will link up, so click my name.)

  • @ Jesper Kristensen, let us not toss the baby out with the bath water, this is the same thing the prohibitionists do. Religion, fundamentally, is about trying to figure out and worship God.

    Just because it continues to be bastardized does not mean it’s useless. You yourself point out, “I’m convinced this impulse [of us vs. them is] in inate in humans,” I agree.

    With regard to your interpretation of Adam and Eve and calling the apple an entheogen, I can’t say I agree with that assessment at all. Even if you want to take the story of Adam and Eve literally, don’t overlook Genesis 4:7, “… sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

    People familiar with the Bible know that God wants us to question him. They know that Jesus told us the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like little children, and what is one thing kids are famous for? Asking questions!

    Clearly your perspective on religion has been colored by people who have acted in very distasteful ways to you, and I find much behavior/teachings antithetical to what I believe is true and right. But again, realize this is nearly exactly why some people are rabid prohibitionists, they can point to all sorts of awful things “druggies” have done. But does that mean everyone who drinks a beer, takes a shot of absinth, smokes a joint, eats a shroom, is a murderer, thief, lazy, a drunk?

    Have and can people do horrible things while on drugs? Sure seems that way. Have and can people do horrible things while on religion? Sure seems that way.

    But I would say that the potential for harm is minor compared to the potential for good (drugs and religion). Religion is basically a philosophy, we all pick and choose what seems right and we’re responsible for it. Even the followers of the most notable philosophers had varying opinions from their teachers.

    If all religion was the same, there’d only be one. If all of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc… were so easy to grasp and so perfectly logical there would only be one group of each, but as it is, each religion/philosophy has adherents to different versions.

    God welcomes and WANTS “critical thinkers.” God does not want Bible worship. Yes, you can figure out God by thinking and God is more than glad to help! 🙂

    The more people try to find faults with others, over religion or drugs, the longer all this pain will last. Helpful conversation is so much better. 🙂

    I invite you to check out http://ChristiansAgainstProhibition.org/ to see some perspectives you may not have noticed before.

  • Some related short essays:

    Comparison: Old Roman Catholic Church and Astronomers Similar to U.S. and Mind Expanding Plants
    Link
    Short url: http://NewOldSalt.com/node/192

    Absolute Truth
    http://NewOldSalt.com/Absolute_Truth
    Short url: http://NewOldSalt.com/node/194

    In both essays I conveniently use the Roman Catholic Church’s ironic (and so sad) historic behavior. In general I find much to dislike in the Roman Catholic Church’s espoused philosophies and interpretations, but I also have to give them credit for a long history of actually trying to help societies. But yes, even to this day they do things that really piss me off.

    So this is like many things, let’s say beer. I love beer! Give me the darkest, most bitter beer you can. Preferably with a plate of some good food to go with it. But I know that if I drink too much I will really dislike it and probably barf it all up. Again, ultimately one has to know one’s limits, how to pick and choose, and so forth.

    I hope you enjoy those short essays!

  • @Drew: problem still is the first I mention – that there’s clearly no standard of knowledge in religions. That – coupled with the geographic issue – is why no relgions agree on anything. In fact, lots of them are at each others’ throats, each on their side convinced they’re right … correction: absolutely right. Even inside what I’d call the same religion. I mean, just the fun that Catholics and Protestants have had with each other is wild.

    Admittedly I’m very much an atheist, if not even the Christopher Hitchens variety of anti-theist. Over the years I’ve heard countless people tell me that “these other guys” don’t represent the “right faith”. It’s just a hollow statement in the wider issue of what’s true or not – but important enough to sometimes choose your allies. Because I really agree with everyone in the video, but it also appears to me that what really turned these people around was the brick wall of reality, logically and methodically worked out.

    Looking at it historically is there any other conclusion than religion being static, absolutist and even hostile to free inquiry. Even while tipping the hat to Thomas Aquinas who (somewhat uncautiously) opened the path to even allowing empirical science? I have eyes and ears, and “asking questions” just seems to come a long way down the list compared to “you have to believe” and the whole “faith” thing in general.

    Anyway, regarding the Adam & Eve thing. I just see a pattern, and had it been a play at a theater I would have recognized the modern-day drug war as the same play, just updated. Hence, it’s something people can resonate with.

    Not that we’re probably gonna agree all that much 😉

  • This issue is not about morality or doctrine as such (it’s interesting that everyone is interpreting it in this way, and taking the opportunity to bash the Catholic Church in the process) — but about resources. The fact remains that most Latin American countries (namely, Mexico and Argentina) do not currently have the infrastructure to treat addicts — and neither have governments really shown a willingness or initiative to build it up. In an interview with Reuters, Claudio Izaguirre, director of the Argentine Anti-drugs Association, expressed the same opinion — “There will be an increase in the drug trade and the people that fall into addiction will not, unfortunately, access treatment…My country doesn’t have the necessary health coverage for what will happen.”
    The perspective on the Church is centered on whether these people will REALLY be receiving the treatment they need, instead of being told my the government that it’s “ok” for them to continue with a habit that is destroying communities all over Latin America.

    Check out my blog!
    fightingthefightworldwide.blogspot.com

  • Mariella, thanks for commenting.

    I’m not sure I understand this concern for addicts not receiving help in Argentina. So far, we’re only talking about marijuana being decriminalized in Argentina. Is that really such a huge problem in terms of addiction? Sure, some people have dependency issues regarding marijuana, but it isn’t severe, and it sure isn’t worth locking up everyone else who uses marijuana.

    Also, the notion that criminal justice helps any drug abuse situation is belied by the evidence of decades of failure. While anecdotally, some individuals are more likely to be pushed to treatment because we arrest them, overall the results are counterproductive. There are much better ways to deal with drug abuse than through coercion.

    If the priests are really concerned about the lack of treatment opportunities for drug abusers, then why don’t they say so, instead of claiming that morality requires locking up those who harm nobody?

  • The Roman Catholic Church is deeply involved with its pharamacratic inquisition:

    http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/2008/07/roman-catholicism-anti-christ-of.html

    And it was involved with starting up this inquisition on a timeline immediately after the 2nd time they summoned Angelo Francois Mariani — creator of Vin Mariani Coca Wine — through their tools as William Randolf Hearst and ‘knight’ Harvey Washington Wiley of USDA and the AMA.

    http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/2008/07/roman-catholic-church-cocaine.html

  • @ Jesper, “there’s clearly no standard of knowledge in religions.”
    You may have to explain to me what you mean by that.

    “… no relgions agree on anything.”
    C’mon. You believe this? Even the Muslims and Christians both say Jesus/Isa is a prophet and alive. Granted there are differences beyond that, but there is PLENTY of overlap in religions, even among mono- and poly-theistic religions.

    “Over the years I’ve heard countless people tell me that ‘these other guys’ don’t represent the ‘right faith.’ “
    Again, why is this any surprise? Even atheistic scientists say that about each other’s work, some just as vehemently as religious zealots. Does that make me reject them, their theories, or their findings? No. The information they espouse must be taken apart from the person giving it. People who confuse what is said with who is saying it can often miss the point.

    Taking Advice From Others
    http://NewOldSalt.com/Taking_Advice_From_Others

    I have to admit that people who grew up around a “believe this or else” mind-set are seriously hampered in their ability to understand religion because God wasn’t put to them as something to understand or question, but as a load of bricks to carry around, a ton of other people’s beliefs.

    Because I really agree with everyone in the video, but it also appears to me that what really turned these people around was the brick wall of reality, logically and methodically worked out.
    This “brick wall of reality” sure sounds a lot like what I hear from the Drug Warriors as to the “need to lock up druggies to force them to quit.”

    Not everyone has to have a “rock bottom” experience to realize the Drug War is a failure. Not all Christians think cannabis, mushrooms, all-naturals are evil. But I can understand that based on where one grows up and that environment, a person could think Christians do.

    I have eyes and ears, and “asking questions” just seems to come a long way down the list compared to “you have to believe” and the whole “faith” thing in general.
    My advice to anyone and everyone is you have to believe on your own terms, not on someone else’s.

    Question Authority
    http://NewOldSalt.com/questionauthority

    If you look for flaws, you find flaws. If you look for truth, you find truth. It’s not always obvious at first, and sometimes seems the opposite of what you expect, like trying to help people who have addictions by legalizing and regulating drugs!

    Looking at it historically is there any other conclusion than religion being static, absolutist and even hostile to free inquiry.
    This is the same “guilt by association” reasoning I bet you hate when applied to your favorite drugs.

    In conclusion, you’ve fallen in a trap if you’ve been forced to believe you have to believe 100% of a person’s favorite version of the Bible, and that if you don’t believe it 100% it’s the same as rejecting it 100%; that’s bogus crap from peer-pressure-meisters.

    I might as well apply that same peer pressure to a dinner guest, “if you don’t lick your plate clean, I’ll just have to assume you not only hate my food, but hate vegetables as well, and hate Italians because of the Italian food I cooked, and hate the Middle East because of the hummus I made, etc…”

  • @ Mariella, I agree that bashing it not good. If you think I have been bashing then call me on it please. You need not do it on this page if you don’t want to, but I have some forums that could be more appropriate.

    That said, it’s my understanding/belief that we could do a whole lot more to help people who need it if we stopped spending so much money trying to “help” them via munitions, armed conflict, jailing, etc…

    I understand that you can’t take a gun-toting troop and sit him down in an office and tell him to dispense prescription heroin, but one seems to be proven to fail and the other proven to work. I’d rather we all stopped spending our limited resources on the ever-increasing cost of the War on Drugs and spend it on treatment and even transitioning those employed in the WOD into the so-called harm reduction model.

    “The perspective on the Church is centered on whether these people will REALLY be receiving the treatment they need, instead of being told my the government that it’s “ok” for them to continue with a habit that is destroying communities all over Latin America.”
    I guess I am not reading enough, or what others are reading about Latin America. But it seems to me that the worst destruction is due to prohibition and gang violence in trying to corner the market.

    I also firmly believe that once we can get rid of drug prohibition and legalize/regulate drugs, and get rid of the “evil eye” attitude, those with addictions will slowly loose the feeling of having to spend so much mental and physical energy hiding their habit, they can finally do some introspection and spend time questioning themselves vs. defending themselves.

  • @ Mariella, Over at your blog I saw this “President Calderon has invested over $7 billion of state money to fighting the drug trade. Moreover, the United States provides approximately $400 million in aid per year…”

    That money sure could have gone A LOT further as training and knowledge sharing, even some equipment purchases, than trying to fight the cartels.

    I would NOT call it an “investment” since investments are spent to yield returns of greater value. Since when has any money spent on the drug war brought us a return? All that spending just brings even bigger and perpetual debts, like prisons, or ironically, paying for poppy-synthetics to ease the pain of kids who’ve lost limbs in this evil WOD.

    I have to admit that for those in power it’s a whole lot easier to put some kids through basic training for a short period of time and hand them a gun, vs. a few years of schooling.

    But I think we should take a lesson from countries in Africa. Their populations are so huge and out of control, they train medical technicians with the bare essentials and send them in the field. They don’t have the time or resources to even bring them up to what we consider a nurse in the U.S.

    Not too long ago there was a show on PBS about midwives in Africa (I think it was, maybe India). The midwives were minimally trained, but still many women died due to complications before or during birth. So what happened is, when they could, a doctor stood by during some complicated deliveries and watched over their shoulders, giving instructions, only taking over if the midwife couldn’t handle a certain procedure or an emergency happened. It was not the deep training the U.S. charges so much for, but it was meant as training anyway, enough to perpetuate healthcare knowledge and save some women’s and baby’s lives.

    The main problem I see is our country is so full of ambulance chasing lawyers, a seriously sick insurance industry, and perhaps greedy/lazy people too eager to sue, that those in power want every one wielding a hypodermic needle to have thousands upon thousands upon thousands of hours of training.

    Like I said, in Africa they just don’t have the time for that. They train their medical technicians with enough and send them on their way. I am definitely not saying we should abandon training and further education, but there are some — in all of the Americas — who have set the bar too high: No Drugs Anywhere, Only 12+ years of Medical Training, etc…

    Legalize and regulate drugs. Take the enormous profits out of it as much as we can. Stop spending insane amounts of money on the WOD and use it for education and REAL investments.

    @ Douglas, I found your links very interesting. I especially liked the first one. So sad! It’s my personal belief that some people are just plain addicted to forcing their wills on others; something Jesus DID NOT do. In fact his whole life is an example of NOT EVEN DOING WHAT HE WANTED, but doing what God asked him to do. Thus the metaphor of carrying one’s cross!

    I am also coming to the conclusion that the people who are not content with just bossing themselves around, could use a dose of that MDMA stuff and a chat with a therapist.

  • Servetus

    A competition exists between some forms of organized religion and the drug experience.

    Tim Leary famously noted examples of theology students who considered their LSD trip far superior to their chosen religion in bringing about a true spiritual experience—with the drug induced spirituality guaranteed to be quicker, more effective and less expensive than years of theological studies and meditation. Apparently, some early LSD experimenters dropped out of theology schools for this very reason. For the Vatican, an institution in desperate and constant need of new priests, losing a candidate for the priesthood to Dr. Leary’s Little Liberal Pills must have induced panic in the minds of the church hierarchy. It probably still does.

    Many religions are selective about their drugs. The Catholic Church, for example, refers to wine as a ‘gratuitous grace’ from heaven, whereas users of competing drugs offered by outlying religious sects have been persecuted by the Vatican since the 4th century C.E.

    Based on NIDA pooled surveys between 1984 and 1987, high school seniors who used marijuana in the past month were categorized according to religious affiliations. For Mormons the number of cannabis consumers was 14%–Protestants 22%–Catholics 25%–Jews 28%–and the non-religious 32%. It seems the more conservative the religion, the more it and its members tend to favor drug prohibitions. The cited examples of marijuana use are similar to the ratios of those respondents categorized by religion who in the 60s favored pulling all the American troops out of Viet Nam.

  • Cliff

    Many religions are selective about their drugs. The Catholic Church, for example, refers to wine as a ‘gratuitous grace’ from heaven, whereas users of competing drugs offered by outlying religious sects have been persecuted by the Vatican since the 4th century C.E.

    The Catholic Church has no moral standing in the matter of self ownership. We are all God’s creatures with our own unique challenges and value in the eyes of God. For a religion to aid and abet in the slavery of whole races in the name of God and then wag their fingers at drug abusers?

    All I can say to the Catholic Church is;

    “Child Please!”
    Chad Ochocinco.

  • DdC

    I was raised in the church and studied the bible extensively.

    Well, we all have our youthful indiscretions.

    Even if you disregard the anointing oil as being from Ganja. Even if you don’t believe “kaneh bosm” is cannabis. Even if you bury your head in the sand and claim the hemp canvas ship sails and covered wagons were coincidence. Or the hemp burlap sackcloth was grown somewhere else. Tossing buds onto hot rocks in cauldrons enclosed inside of a tapersty dome tent “bathing” in the smoke or the hookah’s, bongs, and chiloms that were filled with hashish, during the same time and in the same geographical location, but no one in Jesus’ group indulged. Even if you hide from the logic and common sense. You can’t hide from Archeology. The incense burners found showed trace amounts of hashish. If you have ever been to a Monastery where they still use incense. You know there is no escaping the smoke. Though in today’s Ganja paranoid world the incense isn’t made with hashish. There is no mistaking the fact that when it was, those who were in the ancient temples got stoned. Unless maybe he pulled a Clinton and just didn’t inhale? For hours on end. The newest miracle!

    “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
    — Thomas Jefferson, – 1814

    Ancient Temple Hashish Incense! Did Jesus Inhale?

    “If a ruler
    “Hearkens” to Lies
    all his servants are wicked.”

    — Prov:29:12

    The Pope Harkens to Lies

    “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre.””
    – Frank Zappa, 1977

    Cannabis Culture Archives: Sacrament

    “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”
    –Thomas Jefferson

    The Ganjawar is a three headed monster.
    The government, of which most energy is spent fighting.
    The Corporations and the Church kept in the shadows.

  • jewel

    @ Jesper
    “And did anyone notice the drama written by the story of Adam and Eve?

    First of all God institutes the first Prohibition in existence.

    Ironically this fails as Adam and Eve eat the entheogenic/hallucinogenic apple and gets the knowledge of God. Though an abject failure even with just two people, the fact that the ways of God are supposed to be inscrutable asks the believer to simply accept no matter the efficacy the very idea of Prohibition. Who’re we to question God, eh?

    Secondly the whole Fall thing was orchestrated by the Devil in the disguise of the snake. There’s your pre-historic Pusher type with all his temptation. And we know temptation is bad, and we just have to say no to that sorta thing.

    Thirdly the drama is supplied with the guideline for how to deal with people who don’t comply with Big Parent’s dictates: draconian punishment for pretty much all eternity. Hell, woman are even so horribly cursed that they can’t give proper birth, but even those dead, mutilated children or women seem “reasonable” sacrifices as The Female needs to be punished….”

    I can see how you could reach a comparison with your take on Genesis. My discernment from the reading is vastly different and it does not compare. This is my take:
    I thought God gave Adam and Eve a ‘warning’not to eat of that tree. The warning in fact did fail as in their God given free will they chose not to obey. What they ingested gave them a knowledge of EVIL and a mortality that must result in death. They already knew God and spent time with him daily. It didn’t seem like they were interested enough in the tree to ask about it and surely they would NOT have eaten it if they had.

    Yeah, the fall was orchestrated by the evil one…though I believe his form was not that of the snake prior to the eating. I have to agree with the rest of your second points as well ;).

    Thirdly, yes satan got his wish…that is to steal man from God, and make him suffer for all eternity with his evil presence. God CANNOT exist with evil..abide in it’s presence. (This is where the religion of Science, if it ever evolves to a quantum point, will realize God..in the parallel 😉 The ‘birth’ thing came about as a natural occurence of mortality. When Adam was confronted about the apple..he blamed both Eve and God for his eating. Eve at least spoke truth, and admitted she was seduced/tricked. By that truth, God was able to give HER ‘seed’ blessing…ultimately, for God’s own Son to be born, live as the only perfect and sinless mortal, renting the veil of separation.

    Is’nt it amazing how 2 people can view one thing so vastly differently and yet agree completely on the issue of the drug war?

    Peace

  • @Drew: you got a couple of questions. I’ll take these two at the same time because I really expressed myself badly:

    “there’s clearly no standard of knowledge in religions.”

    ““… no relgions agree on anything.”
    C’mon. You believe this? “

    It’s about the whole question of how we go about getting knowledge. While not perfect the scientific method is the best we have in terms of generating knowledge that robust, useful and as close to truth as possible. Religions, conversely, admit revelations as evidence and it considers certain texts to be absolute/the Word of God. Your religion has for the larger parts of its history murdered people who simply had a different opinion. I know, I know … but they were all using the same source document as even people today.

    Religions do agree on some things, and it’s not surprising because religion is mad-made. It remains, however, that the fundamental question of “who has the right interpretation of the Bible and who comes closest to knowing the nature of God” doesn’t have any objective standard by which we can once and for all settle the issue. It’s even worse when comparing Christianity, Islam or some other religion. Ultimately it is a question of faith.

    Scienttists may disagree, even vehemently, but at least they have a common standard by which to evaluate their claims. In time science is self-correcting, and the best of the best even welcome the cruelest dismantling of their hypothesis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLeztJkhi4U

    If you look for flaws, you find flaws. If you look for truth, you find truth. It’s not always obvious at first, and sometimes seems the opposite of what you expect, like trying to help people who have addictions by legalizing and regulating drugs!

    One thing I can’t help noticing about the Drug War is that it apparently cannot be falsified. No matter what happens it’s a “success” for the Drug War. People live: it’s because the drug war works. They die: ditto. If asked explicitly they almost invariably ask that the drug be measured using one scale while everything else must be weighed using some other scale.

    We’ve had people look for truth for a long time, and what we know from behavioral psychology is that people instinctively seek out data that corroborates their hypothesis while overlooking contradictory evidence.

    Left to itself this bias is, quite frankly, a recipe for disaster. That why the scientific method was invented: to prevent us from making such mistakes.

    Finding corroborating evidence for a given hypothesis is required, but so is finding flaws. Finding flaws does in fact further truth. Not subjecting a hypothesis to criticism can, on the other hand, obstruct the search for truth, because we may come to accept as true that which is not in fact true.

    When nothing wrong can be found with a hypothesis it becomes theory. It’s the highest honor in science. But it’s not a static, absolute truth, because anyone is entitled to a crack at falsifying it.

    I like that science doesn’t operate on faith and doesn’t ask of anyone to be faithful to a theory simply because someone said so.

    I think humans have the capacity for extraordinary reason and logic. We can know a lot of things with surprising certainty.

    With so much that can go wrong in the pursuit of truth I guess my main beef with religion is that it tends to praise – if not even exploit – some of the most obvious pitfalls in human thinking.

  • @ Jesper, “Your religion has for the larger parts of its history murdered people who simply had a different opinion.”

    I find it rather unscientific of you to blame me for any murders. Yes, saying “my religion” is blaming me. This makes about as much sense as blaming all white people for slavery. Or blaming Jesus for people grabbing his name and committing murder. Jesus preached no such thing. If you actually took the time to do the scientific investigation (i.e. reading) what is attributed to Jesus, you’d know.

    You would even know that he has a very good saying about people who murder in other’s names, “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Saying “my religion” murdered people makes as much sense as saying “Drew invaded Iraq, it’s obvious since he’s a U.S. citizen. And now Drew is responsible for murdering many Pakistanis, Afghans, and Colombians, etc…”

    Surely your critical thinking ability is more finely honed that the ham-fisted guilt-by-association reasoning of those you dislike so much.

    “I know, I know … but they were all using the same source document as even people today.”
    Dude! Clearly you don’t know! There is not one “source document.” There are hundreds! And some of them are merely fragments. You really need to be more careful about trying to smash things you are only partially knowledgeable about. It’s quite unscientific. A surgeon uses a scalpel, not an axe.

    It remains, however, that the fundamental question of “who has the right interpretation of the Bible and who comes closest to knowing the nature of God” doesn’t have any objective standard by which we can once and for all settle the issue.
    One part I think I agree with you on is that scripture-worship is wrong. Too many people DO NOT try to worship God, but worship their brittle and small-minded interpretations of whatever scripture they cling to. However, like anything else we try to figure out in the abstract and concrete, as we work towards understanding, it’s necessary to recognize the parts we are taking as “given” (think mathematical proofs). Those of us who are interested in finding the truth can swap out one “given” for another, to see how that changes the equation.

    René Descartes did EVERYONE a huge favor as he tried to factor out ALL DOUBT and come up with a statement that could survive the most brutal scrutiny, “I think, therefore I am.” Hm, for those of us who are familiar with the Bible, that sounds darn familiar. 🙂

    EVERYONE builds their understanding on what they believe is true, whether we take it on trust or try to hunt down every iota of assumption that underlies it. But the fact is, life is so complex and vast everyone has to take many things on faith, there is just not enough time in one’s lifetime to double check that what everyone else said is true. EVERYONE takes things on faith from time to time. Faith and assumptions in and of themselves are not intrinsically bad, but being afraid to question them is.

    There IS an objective standard. But like some scientific theories, proving it takes time and many generations. The issue WILL BE settled, but like some scientific theories it may not happen in the next year, the next few years, or the next decade. 🙂

    We’ve had people look for truth for a long time, and what we know from behavioral psychology is that people instinctively seek out data that corroborates their hypothesis while overlooking contradictory evidence.

    Left to itself this bias is, quite frankly, a recipe for disaster. That why the scientific method was invented: to prevent us from making such mistakes.

    I don’t believe the scientific method was invented. The scientific method is instinct that goes from feelings all the way to the mind. Many discoveries and clarifications of facts often started as gut feelings which then the person worked hard to articulate, going through many revisions as s/he tried to figure out how to best express the “this doesn’t feel quite right” notion.

    The problem is not that the scientific method did not exist and people were in a cloud, and it was suddenly invented to clarify things. The problem was that people had trouble questioning themselves, their assumptions, they wanted to surround themselves with “yes men.” Again, this is just as much a problem in science as it is in religion. However, I readily admit that the main issue tends to be “feelings” and “power trips” and, in general, some scientists can get over their feelings of having their findings/methods/etc… questioned much more quickly than some religious folks.

    If you study children you will see that figuring out things is instinctual. To me, most of humanity’s problems lie in ignoring what the mind figures out (and reality often verifies) in favor of what feels best. And scientists and religions fall in that exact same trap!

    I like that science doesn’t operate on faith and doesn’t ask of anyone to be faithful to a theory simply because someone said so.
    This is not entirely accurate. The amount of information to understand is so enormously vast that people specialize. The primary care physician who does not know something refers the patient to a specialist and trusts — takes on faith — what the specialist advises for the patient.

    For the moment, I can’t provide examples, but I am certain that many scientists work up their theories with pluggable “faiths” “givens” “assumptions” under them as they try to work out what seems the most accurate. (I’ve heard as much on many PBS shows, although I can’t recall specifics, I’m sure I’ve heard it from biologists, physicists, psychologists, etc…)

    Science and religion are two separate words. However, they are not mutually exclusive. Science and religion (quoting Jimi Hendrix, “toss all your hang-ups over the side”) — put out of your mind the various personalities and actions done in their names but not holding to their cores — have significant overlap. Science does not disprove religion, and religion does not disprove or disapprove of science. The scientific method is a way of thinking and acting designed to keep one honest, religion at its core, has those same ideals. They are not exactly equal, as evidence by being different words, but they are certainly not the enemies some pretend they are. In fact, I wrote an essay teasing folks who think this way; some people hate religion so much IT IS a religion to them! I call them the I Hate Religion So Much It Is A Religion Coalition. 🙂

    I think, therefore I am. 🙂

  • Not sure anyone is still paying attention to this, but along the lines of an earlier comment I posted to this thread…

    http://www.DrugWarRant.com/2009/08/blasphemy/comment-page-1/#comment-664

    Th PBS News Hour is going to have a segment tonight from Tanzania about how there is a serious shortage of doctors, so they are “training clinical workers with grade-school educations to perform surgery and other medical tasks.”

    Here is the link to their website:
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/globalhealth/

    We are seriously screwed as long as we keep important medical knowledge in the hands of people trained 15+ years and go in to amazing debt to do so, and long as as sue-happy lawyers and citizens insist on keeping it that way. They may be glad now, but the time is coming…