The age of artificial life has come. The universe, including life, continues to be demystified. Is life divinely created by God or just another physical structure subject to human manipulation? God continues to shrink. Paul Tillich's idea of God as "ground of being" perhaps in effect announces that science has chased God to His final refuge of a thin film of mystical "ground" under the feet of everything.
The day is November 24, 2009.
From the HUUmanists email list:
Remember that today is a holy day to Humanists, Unitarian Universalists, and all others who hold sacred our rapidly increasing knowledge of our own precious human nature, and especially its relation to the rest of the universe. One hundred fifty years ago today, on November 24, 1859, Charles Darwin opened the gates of heaven with his publication of "On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life," and suddenly a great light shone down upon us all. Our understanding of ourselves has grown rapidly ever since, is growing today, and will continue to grow forever. Humanity will never be the same again.
Amen and hallelujah!
Spinoza was born on this day in 1632.
Happy Birthday to you, Spinoza. Another reason for a Humanist celebration.
Spinoza is best known for his Ethics, a monumental work that presents an ethical vision unfolding out of a monistic metaphysics in which God and Nature are identified. God is no longer the transcendent creator of the universe who rules it via providence, but Nature itself, understood as an infinite, necessary, and fully deterministic system of which humans are a part. Humans find happiness only through a rational understanding of this system and their place within it.
This is an interesting perspective from an Evolutionary Biologist. The emerging field of Evolutionary Religious Studies is fascinating too!
Science as a Religion that Worships Truth as its God
October 20, 2009
blog by David Sloan Wilson, Evolutionary Biologist
In short, the truth is regarded as sacred within science, more than within public life, with all the obedience commanded by the word sacred in religious life. Science can even be regarded as a religion that worships truth as its god. It might seem provocative to put it this way, but I find the comparison compelling and challenge my readers to show what's wrong with it.
Here are some insights that emerge from viewing science as a religion that worships truth as its god. First, being a scientist is not natural. We evolved to adopt beliefs when they are useful, not when then they are true, so being a scientist requires resisting temptation, just as religious believers must resist temptation to achieve the ideals of their faiths. Second, the ideals of science can only be achieved by an entire cultural system. Simply exhorting people to respect the truth is not good enough, just as exhorting people to do unto others isn't good enough. Third, science as practiced often falls short of the goals of science as idealized, just as religions as practiced fall short of the goals of religions as idealized.
The third point is especially important because it means that scientists must be vigilant about keeping their own house in order before preaching to others. Anyone familiar with science knows that it is a messy process, like making laws and sausages. If only it was as simple as hypothesis formation and testing leading straight to the truth! Often science is like a bloodhound having difficulty finding the scent or running off baying loudly in the wrong direction.
A special problem occurs when all scientists are biased in the same direction. Then there is no diversity of opinion that might cause them to disagree. Everyone knows that Darwin and his contemporaries were biased by the assumptions of Victorian culture, which they didn't know how to question but we can easily recognize with the passage of time. Everyone is prepared to admit that we are also biased by the assumptions of our own culture, but we seldom make a serious effort to examine and correct for them as part of the scientific process. We should.
The fallibility of science makes arrogance one of its sins and humility one of its virtues, just as for other religious faiths. Beware of scientific emperors. They might have no clothes and that's not a pretty sight.
Evolutionary Religious Studies
Alex from UUHK