Science, Psychology & Faith chat while playing Chess.

Being into Financial Analytics, I am constantly reminded that the current financial markets’ shakiness is nearing _if not proportionally at par with_ that of the 1930’s.

This situation is not a first in history, yet it is definitely one where civilians are exposed to a lot more information than before.

The fact is that, this “wobbliness” is true across the chessboard, occupying the economic; politic/defence; demographic; education; health and religion squares. I defy the best minds (objective, rather than allegiant) to work out the best strategic play out of this one…

This post is, in fact, a short reflexion on one of those cells: Religion/Faith.

• Atheists are compelled to “help” civilians out of their belief systems.
• Psychologists are bending over backwards to attempt to explain the need humans have for Faith and belief in a higher power.
• Notable scientists, both monotheist believers (Christian, Islamic, etc…) and non monotheist believers (Agnostics, Atheists, Wiccans, of-no-specific-denomination, etc…) are beginning to mind the impact their advances have on civic stability.
• Religion, excepting fanatics, keeps mostly quiet and minds its own business.

In all cases, it is my personal opinion, that the unprecedented strategic move here would be to attempt an unbiased, objective, balanced debate to reach consensus. Nothing short of a miracle.

Prominent scientific and religious figures have attempted this in the recent past, only to see their efforts thwarted by a few fanatic Atheists whom, let’s face it, have always known better than all of us put together.

As Atheists go, there is one in particular that calls Agnostics: “fence sitters” _referring to their tactful and diplomatic stance_ because they are neutral enough to let others make their own belief-choice.

As Knights on a chessboard do, mainstream Atheists are excellent at dropping dung-bombs on a square and jumping in unintuitive angles to avoid having to “pick it up”. They are known to jump in awkward angles to both:

• undo the work organised beliefs have done during centuries to maintain social order and;
• avoid the consequences.

All disciplines seem to lack communication and emotional intelligence skills. Yet Atheists, mainstream ones in particular, are doing more damage than the current global situation can realistically take.

There are publications, which in many cases, have helped me put things in perspective. This one by Hume is an obvious classic: http://amzn.to/T6kDYZ.

To our relief, the game depends on much more than these few _somewhat self-serving_ mouthies so it is with hope that we still manage to organise ourselves to support each other in this economic crisis. In fact, there are a few Atheists I know who would serve as an example to most of us in this respect. Mostly because they are able to self-govern in ways that even organised religions would struggle with.

They also happen to be very aware of the emotional needs of those around them, gracefully honouring their own lack of belief in a higher power.

If you are an Atheist I would very much welcome your thoughts yet please avoid the “I know best” format. Please mind everyone else’s preferences and the bigger picture.

Copyright free image source: [http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/sir-lawrence-alma-tadema/egyptian-chess-players-1865] Accessed: 12/11/2012 Artist: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. This artwork is in the public domain, more info on Wikipaintings.org

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17 thoughts on “Science, Psychology & Faith chat while playing Chess.

  1. trying to attribute what we’re experiencing purely to ones faith is almost like trying to blame sugar for obesity. There are so many other factors that the role of faith in all of this may not be as significant as you describe.

    • Yes, please see my post. I do say that.

      Dialogue is complex (and tedious) when everyone “just wants to be heard”.

      Regardless, it just seems that the only one that does not need to listen yet should always be heard, is Time.

      *Loads of blood in that avatar… Why?*

  2. (sorry bout the length – i’m still working on being a succinct blogger, i’m no so talented in communication in this respect :( )

    I’m not sure what you mean by atheists causing more damage? As far as I can see both sides of the argument are as guilty as each other in the dialogues.

    There are obvious morals and paths we all agree on. But when leaders of atheism come head to head with leaders of religion in debate, it damn near impossible to look for or against a motion in such an objective manner. As for being unbiased, forget it, both sides tend to have vastly incompatible universal/world viewpoints that no solution can be found within these individuals that are often spearheading these conflict/debate.

    I personally don’t claim to know better about our existence, because despite the fact I don’t worship any of the thousands of Gods that have be described by people over the ages, I can’t prove any of their non-existence. Nor do I hope to, it would be an irrational hope to attempt to do so. I have only a non-scientific rationale to not choose a god to submit myself to.

    I am, however, very vocal about what I see are moral shortcomings of a text. (I’m not advocating that all believers follow and emulate the bad stuff in their books, but it seems some leaders at the forefront still do) I am also very vocal about misrepresentation of faith-as-science, misrepresentation of scientific theories, and misrepresentation of the scientific method itself.
    These above are major reasons why atheists can get very frustrated with apologists. Like my fellow atheists, I can not, and will not, compromise on what i consider misrepresentation, blind denial, and morally questionable beliefs. I simply just can’t tolerate travesty on that level, and many of us cannot simply sit by and keep quiet like our religious counterparts. I hope you understand what I mean by this.

    It is no wonder why us atheists can be so offensive to theists en masse – and I accept that I will offend as an individual – i can’t see how I can avoid being offensive to religion in this perspective. If i was to be relativistic, what would i have to debate and what would i care to debate?

    So I take issue with the notion that debate can be “unbiased and objective” because debates – particulary involving differing beliefs – are anything but that. There is little to debate, no solution to be found, if both parties are politely agreeing to disagree yet none are willing to compromise. However, one does hope debates are balanced with a good moderation allowing equal opportunity for both sides to posit their points. Maybe I’ve misunderstood you Alyx?

    I can agree that religion is a major proponent of our past, particularly in giving laws and maintain social order, i.e having a reason to act good. It was also key in the development of the scientific method. But I no longer feel a necessity for this religious lordship in this diverse modern world, i.e in government. Such that compromise is very important to the social order and laws in this increasingly cosmopolitan world society.

    I believe secularism can theoretically provide greater solidarity where religion previously did. But with sadness i say this: I’m not so sure given the current major religious doctrines and powers, that secularism can be successful in providing decent solidarity in practice without religious reform.

    Most sane people (whether they believe or not), I hope hold that morality comes from being humane (whether a god made us or not). Moreso, that compassion and fairness comes from within us, not from an external threat of damnation. One should not commit a crime because they fear punishment & jail, they should avoid crime because its inherently wrong – I apply the same rationale to the religious death anxiety situation. (i don’t mean that in an insulting way, but to encompass all afterlife beliefs in a generalized way)

    Unlike Mr Dawkins, I do not wish to see churches empty, debate is good, debating moral ground is good. Again, I do not believe religion is necessary for this in these modern times – even atheists can disagree with each other in areas such as biomedical ethics. But we do learn more about humanity because of the differences we have – and religion is no exception to expanding this knowledge.
    However, I do hope the next generation of leaders will push for further reform once the current dinosaurs in the clergy step down. In doing so churches may further set the trends for a more tolerant, knowledgeable, world.

    I do feel an admiration for regular religious people becoming more vocal. Being quiet is part of the problem the debates face. Regular believers need to get more vocal. I say this because I feel that sometimes laymen may provide/contribute their own personal perspectives against their atheist opponents that their own leaders cannot.

    I would be open to hear suggestions of new paths to explore in the dialogue though. I just can’t posit any myself i guess.. :-/

    An afterthought: I feel It takes very little faith to not believe in a god for most of us atheists. We see no reason to believe in Yahweh’s existence over Ra’s, Allah’s over Marduk’s, Krishna over Jupiter, Christ over Mithra… and so on… We simply have lack-of-faith.
    By that I mean we do not believe any human being has been able to posit a convincing argument for any of their thousands of gods of old and new. And by that I mean: it would take a considerable leap of faith for us to believe in any one God over any of the others!
    Oops almost sounded agnostic there haha. Well maybe I am one by loose definition…. but i’m definitely a practicing Atheist (and quite the pessimist it seems :-s )

    • Hi, thanks for that amazing comment and the considerable time and effort you put into it.

      There were very valid points I will definetly look into further.

      There were points which I think illustrate perfectly why Atheists cannot reach consensus with religious beliefs.
      One is that religions far from discredit the scientific method. Most of the breakthrough scientific discoveries were due to religious men and women. From astrophysics to psychology and mathematics. Look for Angelo Secchi, Nicholas Stern, Maria Agnesi to name very, very few!
      Atheists are too quick at believing they are the only ones that understand and respect the scientific method.

      Do your research, let me know if you need more names, and you will be surprised how much Science owes Religion.

      What Religion does is ask Science to question its motives and consider the effect they have on nature and human lives. Many people need education and a sense of responsibility before they are given technology that can destroy lives.

      I believe there is a way to reach consensus and religions, as millennia old societal systems, know very well how to do this. There is a purpose to religions that sceptics will rarely see if they ommit to look at the bigger picture. The One-ness, what we call God. The God in everything and in everyone.

      It is a complex and demanding thought process. One which even religious disciples are encouraged to look for by themselves.

      Yes I was talking about Richard Dawkins. A mass media Atheist that claims to go hand in hand with modern science yet has gone decades without publishing a scientific paper. He is earning a lot of money by doing what he does despite the fact that he is leaving despairing people without a figure to look up to and without hope in themselves or their environment. These are my thoughts on his recent work.

      A complex topic and one which I think is moving towards a demand to reach agreements and encourage proper research into the background and purpose of each other systems.

      Atheism, in its full realisation, is for disciplined, ethical human beings capable to coexist with an environment that largely needs God figures.

      • Thanks for the reply. :)
        (ugh sorry this is long again, I really need to get better a this, oh well – more practice)

        I’m not surprised at all. I already do know about the about the religious peoples contributions to science as I said. For instance Ibn al-Haytham, al-Rahwi, Ibn Sena, Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon. Muslims played a very key part in Chemical and Mathematical knowledge, as well as developement of the scientific method, and have contributed to scientific knowledge as much, if not more or less (kinda hard to measure), than the ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Christians did.

        It agree that It is not the religions themselves that try to discredit the method, but time and time again the apologists at the forefront do make this mistake themselves, much to the frustration of their atheist counterparts. This is one thing I wish to see not happen anymore in the dialogues, you’d think in the 21st century we’d be past that – especially since the religious ancestors were beyond that point themselves in their dialogues and monologues.

        I mean any educated atheist knows religions contributions. But don’t mistake when we do point out misconceptions of science for thinking that we’re pinning all religious like this. We are usually trying to get the individual who has misrepresented science to reverse their statement to a faith-based one when they have made a statement that is wholly unscientific yet claimed it to be scientific – this happens all too much in public debates and really just looks embarrassing and frustrating.

        —“Atheism, in its full realisation, is for disciplined, ethical human beings capable to coexist with an environment that largely needs God figures.”–
        You raise a good point Alyx. It all starts with education, if children are allowed to make their own decisions about what they want to believe (and this to me is an honourable path for a parent – rather than drilling their children on faith or non-faith), it is still important to teach them about being humane. This is so they don’t get the wrong idea about acting good, so they don’t misinterpret ideas of religion or atheism as they grow up, that possibly otherwise without education could make them think they can get away with abhorrent behaviour via prejudiced interpretation.

        Being taught the compassion that is in all of us as human beings is paramount. Secondary to that in later life is continued education about technological and bio-medical ethics is important. It actually feels weird to say that, because it just seems like common sense.
        Its because of that I feel that religion is not actually necessary for goodness, but if you choose to believe in something, then thats fine, but it really shouldn’t be the the primary source of compassion. However, if plays secondary part i.e a reaffirmation of compassion, then that’s fine too as long as it doesn’t twist otherwise moral statements into prejudice something or bad.

        I’d probably get harassed by some fellow atheists for not being a big Dawkins fan. I find his tact terrible. However I do understand the role a charismatic leader plays, even if only in the temporary sense, for getting voices heard and getting the atheist voice represented in popular media (even though I don’t agree with his tact!). I see him in debates and such, and I must say people like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett appeal to me much more than Dawkins. Dennett is probably my favourite, because he has a philosophical and scientific background, his wisdom seems more apparent, and his line is most philosophical than hard-line.

        I guess now that I think about it. The way I see to work towards solution and compromise is the reduction or elimination of extremism and fanaticism at the forefronts of religion – and this starts with the clergy and apologists that are still preaching medieval prejudice and misrepresenting science (who clearly have not learned a thing from even some medieval religious scholars that weren’t so idiotic)

  3. Some atheists seem attracted to atheistic tenants since it has a sheen of the scientific attached to this worldview. Atheism decidedly does not: atheism requires as much faith to believe there is not a god as believers contend there is a god. Neither viewpoint can be validated scientifically, since scientific endeavors cannot falsify or affirm the presence of a god (not even the misnomer “god particle,” or the Higgs-Boson particle, despite implications to the contrary in Dan Brown novels).

    Oft times, the embracing of the atheistic viewpoint stems from a challenge to organized religion, yet one can be a believer in a god while rejecting all organized religions, although this rejection is not necessarily required. The stand against organized religion emerges mainly from past sins, particularly organized religion’s orchestrated efforts in war and persecution.

    This cannot be ignored, although in the 21st century I think most of us can embrace a more nuanced understanding of organized religion: radical factions often distort the tenants of a faith to justify war and persecution. We understand, however, that this is a distortion and not an institutionally held tenant of a given faith in the contemporary setting.

    More troublesome are the cases of sexual abuse that have recently emerged, particularly from the Roman Catholic Church, although other faiths are not exempt. In the larger context, however, such abuse comes from the exploitation of power, and the exploitation of power can build and take hold in any institution, be it religious, political or economic. Yet, we would not speak of rejecting all methods of governance or economics simply based on past exploitations of power in these realms.

    What is often missed in the stance against organized religion is the legitimate role it plays in forming a framework around which individuals can find guidance for the self-governance of their lives. Certainly this can be dismissed as a “psychological crutch,” but truthfully, what individual carries on life without a guiding set of principles? Be it spiritual or secular, the source of the principles matters not.

    What does matter are the effects of those principles, the outcomes witnessed in the living of a life. As Alyx suggested, churches can and do pursue community outreach programs. While I cannot speak for all faiths, for Christian churches that do not pursue such community outreach and help fill spiritual or material needs within a targeted segment, they are little more than shells of brick and mortar, without substantive purpose. Addressing spiritual and material needs in an individual is fulfilling the most basic of tenants in the Christian faith, emerging directly from the Sermon on the Mount, which is -the- Christian manifesto.

    Organized religion must be held separate from the government of a nation, for history informs us of past institutional abuse of the political system by a religious faith. Particularly in nations that host many faiths, no given religion can be sanctioned, nor those of unlike beliefs forced into making choices against their own better judgments. Government cannot be tapped to enforce the belief of one faith: Not only does this infringe on the natural rights of the individual, it also weakens the legitimacy of the faith trying to enforce its tenants through a political system, requiring an institution of human origin to carry out what rightfully belongs in the realm of God.

    Besides, as John Milton openly asked in Areopagitica, what right has the individual to claim virtue when every decision he or she makes is by dictate, rather than free will? While government can regulate public morals and prevent the infringement of natural rights by one individual on another, private morals and the virtues (or vices) they generate cannot be dictated as such. In the end, an individual must be allowed to take or be held accountable to personal responsibility for his or her actions, public or private.

    For the believer in an afterlife, such accountability will be called on by a god. If this does not act as a deterrent to licentiousness or vice in general (in the particular, we all make mistakes), then one has to ask, what framework could be expected to regulate such an individual? Some individuals, believer or atheist, will not properly self govern. For that, there is the law.

    For the legitimate atheist, he or she will find their own frameworks by which to structure the living of their lives, always with an outcome of respecting the natural rights of others. If the atheist declines to make even a modicum of effort to erect such a structure, then we see through the ruse of claiming atheism, finding it as a mere convenience for the practice of license and vice. Again, we find ourselves in need of the law to regulate such an individual, atheist or believer.

    • Thanks for this amazing comment.

      As many brains are always better than one, I can see new paths to explore this issue and reach a focused conclusion. Even if that conclusion means further research.

      Reading these comments I have gathered a number of questions. One of those questions is: “Which solution based dialogues are already taking place? And if there are any, are they yielding benefits and in which areas (and how)?

      As per your comment there are areas to be explored, I think I know which one I’ll begin work from and I’ll busk it from there (^-^`)… I am now giving your comment a second read as today has been info overload both by mingling and through random papers…

      I need to re-organise my research (‘ ._.)…

      Thanks again for the awesome comment.
      Best,
      Alex

  4. All that is true. Most of what is written is true. Rather like modern economics, which is also true. But modern economics ignores the absolute truth that you cannot keep growing bigger markets and populations and –whatever you want to grow — on an earth that CANNOT grow any bigger than it already is. We have been running a deficit balance, relative to the earth resources (which can not significantly expand and are now being damaged so will in future be reduced) since 1997 by physical measurments. What I cannot understand is why people keep talking about individual this and that, and human this and that, while just totally ignoring the bottom line. We can’t grow any bigger, no matter what all those social organizations do UNLESS THEY PAY ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT THIS EARTH CANNOT FEED THIS MANY PEOPLE. So everything you say is true, but none of what you say will resolve the problem. One of our famous columnests, Molly Ivins, rest her beautiful soul, put it this way. All the politicians are arguing cats and dogs, while out there in the bush is the elephant that they are all ignoring.

    • Hey Lynn,

      I really do think that economists are very aware of scarcity. What you point out is very true: scarcity and overpopulation are issues gradually being raised, more openly, by the media and politicians.

      What I have wondered for a while is whether this “instability across the chessboard” isn’t naturally, or purposely, allowed to be to address just that: scarcity.

      Best,
      Alex

    • But overpopulation issues start at the individual level, one individual at a time, just as the rapid depletion of natural resources start with the individual halting his or her consumption-by-planned obsolescence habits.

      The macro discussions are necessary but if these discussions stay at the macro level, no one takes (or feels) individual responsibility for the individual actions that feed into the increasing amplitudes (wobbliness) of the whole.

      Individual responsibility. Personal accountability. All weighed by the Golden Rule.

  5. As far as needing more dialogue I am totally on board with that. I also think we need people of all different worldviews willing to apply more rigorous objective methods (the scientific method being just one example) and peer review to the claims that religion and “pseudoscience” make. I believe Joe Nickell is a good example of someone who tries to do this without going into the investigations with a presumption of naturalism or supernaturalism. While not all claims of religion can be investigated and tested, some can and if we want to get a better chance at finding what reality really is all about then we should be willing to both increase the dialogue as you suggest and apply objective methods without coming to the investigation with a determination before hand. These are major themes (along with a few others) on my blog.
    I also agree with you that some of the “New Atheists” have been a bit too extreme and overly pompous. I believe David Eagleman’s approach is a little better at expressing a way of going forward for a-religionists with his talks about the word “possibilianism”, although he hasn’t had time to actively develop this.

    • Hi Howie,

      I wonder sometimes whether “reaching consensus” or conciliatory ideas such as “possibilianism” (which sounds great) are not being held back for a reason…

      From what I read, you are absolutely right in pointing out existing “solution focused” dialogue…

      I need to give this some thought… A factor I am considering is that present conditions may be due to a reversal “correction” to the explosive consequences of increased global quality of life…

      I’ll give that “possibilianism” a read too (^-^`)!

      Best,
      Alyx

  6. I’m not sure what you’re going for here, but I will address one part. The best way to, as you say, ‘maintain social order’ is to have a fair government and fair laws. When it pertains to religion, the separation of church and state. America does this on some level but doesn’t go all the way. When it comes to law and social programs, it should make no difference what your religion is, or if you have no religion. It’s nobody’s business but your own. And churches should have to pay taxes like everyone else.

    • Hey Jason, thanks for your comment.

      I’m going for the fact that we need more dialogue.

      We both agree on the “it should make no difference what your religion is, or if you have no religion.” What I add to that is that there is too much divide over issues such as religion and the moral code that is inevitably attached to it. We are asked to let go of religion when this religion is what held us together. The next post I am working on will illustrate this in fewer, yet perhaps more poignant words.

      My point is that everyone is “right” yet noone is doing an effort to reach a consensus or agreement to function together fairly and avoid instability/volatility… riots and a general discontent.

      Not sure that churches should pay taxes. The churches I attend feed the hungry, provide shelter to homeless civilians, organise trips for engineers/doctors to volunteer in third world countries, and host masses or workshops for people to share their problems, seek help, be listened to. Whether there is a “political” drive to what they do, is a matter of perspective. I think their work is vital to an increasingly selfish, thoughtless and downright cruel society.

      If we were to reach consensus on who should pay taxes, or higher taxes, I think we all know who would be pointed at…

      Thanks again for the visit and hope to read more of your writing work on your blog.

      Best,
      Alex

      • The whole paying taxes thing isn’t as simple as I put it. There are ways to become a non-profit organization. The simple fact that they are a church doesn’t pay taxes whether they do all those things to help people or not. I’m sure there are plenty of organizations that help people that don’t get tax free status because they don’t attach a religion to it. It isn’t just as simple as if they pay taxes and that’s it. The government would have to actually do something with that money instead of mismanaging it, which they have a long history of doing.

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