Fundamentalism in Science and Religion

The growth spurts of science come from dissent, doubt, and radical questioning of normsThese are the sunshine and water of science.

When your interpretation of evidence brings you to disagree with something that science has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, you are following in the footsteps of the greatest scientists in history: Einstein, Copernicus, Salk, Papanicolau… the list grows with every decade.

But when we agree vehemently (and emotionally) with a scientific dogma that we haven’t personally studied in-depth, or that we can’t understand after having studied, we find ourselves following the footsteps of the average American fundamentalist, whether “religious” or “scientific” – and that distinction needs to be tentatively abandoned because “scientific materialism” is an untestable assumption that rules out God and the reality of our own minds without considering one piece of evidence, pro or con. That’s more akin to fundamentalist religion than objective science.

The thing that all fundamentalists have in common is a belief that they are in possession of a source of ultimate truth, whether old writings, a person with special insight, or an array of science journals. The important parts of their “truth” must be kept static, never doubted or questioned because the facts have been proven and are now known forever.

To go against the known “truth,” or even to doubt it, is considered irrational and morally wrong, especially among modern scientific fundamentalists. (Many Christian fundamentalist groups have been arguing over “important details” long enough to have seen the irony and abandoned much of the vicious outrage of bygone generations. Scientists could learn something here.)

Of course the religious fundamentalists must label their dissenters as heretics, infidels, heathen or whatever.

The scientific fundamentalists don’t use the same terms, they casts aspersions upon a dissenter’s educational credentials, sanity, mental acuity, motivation, and funding, but not so much upon the detailed logical weaknesses of opposing ideas. It’s too much work and they already know they’re right.

An important example is the way the scientific fundamentalists have responded to Stephen Meyer, PhD in his detailed analysis of DNA and molecular biology that concludes that intelligence must have been involved in writing the code and designing the cellular systems of life if the Universe is really only 13.8 billion years old.

The fundamentalist gatekeepers of science journals obstruct publication of dissenters’ work because of narrow-minded bias. They seek to embarrass anyone who dares talk rationally and openly about a shunned concept.

An example is the general rejection of “functional medicine” by orthodox western medicine. More specifically, Dale Bredesen’s breakthrough work with Alzheimer’s patients is ignored because it goes beyond standard experimental design where one variable must be isolated independently, a practice that grossly underestimates the complexity of many diseases and disallows examination of multiple simultaneous synergistic treatment effects.  (The whole treatment is better than the sum of its parts as tested independently.)

And yet, fundamentalism is the natural style of human thinking.

Ever wonder why?

Is it because we’re social “pack animals” or because God created us this way?

Is it the result of a “residual primitive brain” or the result of “sin?”

Maybe none of the above, or all, but the human groupthink tendency probably offers a survival advantage that’s underrated by those of us who perhaps value objectivity too highly.

Could it be that we shouldn’t paint fundamentalism in the same black-and-white colors it endorses?

That’s a tough challenge for me, personally.

But maybe fundamentalism is like salt: necessary for survival, but fatal if the dose is too high or too low.

Is religious and scientific fundamentalism good, bad or somewhere else – maybe on an amoral spectrum of usefulness?

What do you think?

M. Talmage Moorehead

84 thoughts on “Fundamentalism in Science and Religion

  1. And from what I’ve seen in my aliveness, when people bend from God, it’s led to destructive conduct and accomplished freak out with regard to worldpanorama. But, ultimately, I wear’t trust the philosophical system of inerrancy is all important(p) for maintaining the resurrection of Christ or the universe of God.
    Also, I guesswork considering your panorama of fundamentalism, it is not surprising that you would panorama infallible sources of data as skeptically as you do.

    • I don’t deny that it’s theoretically possible for an infallible source of information to exist. I just don’t think God has given us one. But I could be wrong. I often am. 🙂

      Thank you for your interesting comment!

  2. David Robertson

    Spot on, this goes beyond science and religion, into many spheres of life. I would argue that the polarisation of politics these days in the west is largely due to these convictions of holding some form of absolute truth.

    • Totally agree. I’ve become a political agnostic, not convinced that our “semi-democracy” in the US is more than an illusion today. The rigid political polarization on every issue requires a rigorous level of black-and-white thinking that I’m not able to maintain. Everyone assumes their “facts” are true and the “evil morons” across the aisle have been brainwashed by mysterious forces. It’s so parallel to fundamentalist style religious thinking… you’re right. Excellent point!

      The fly in my ointment is this: I’m not sure we humans are wired to think without assuming the accuracy of our facts and theories, despite their untestable nature.

      By the way, I love your blog!

      Any of my readers, hear me now, believe me later… you will love this man’s blog! Here’s the URL: https://perennialmystics.wordpress.com/ 🙂

  3. Who Is Not Important

    I grew up in a fundamentalist sect, so fundamentalist that we thought our little band of Christians, numbering about 100,000 world wide, were the only true Christians, that everyone else was deceived by Satan. In college, I abandoned the faith, then all faith, and became just as much a fundamentalist in my atheism as I was in my earlier faith. Fundamentalism begat fundamentalism, which resulted in a terribly intolerant person at both ends of the equation.

    • That’s one of the most valuable and enlightening comments I’ve ever had on this blog. And I’ve had some eye-openers. Thank you!

      Dragging my old fundamentalism with me on this nearly solitary journey is something I’m trying to avoid as much as I’m trying to avoid accepting the mindless, meaningless universe of materialistic determinism that’s swallowed science whole. The book, “The Field,” by Lynne McTaggart has been helpful to me.

      Please come back and comment here again. It sounds like there’s a lot of wisdom where you’re coming from.

  4. Wow. I appreciate such honest dialog. Thank you for the transparency with which you speak. It’s very refreshing. You are obviously an educated, introspective thinker.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that you hold the position of a somewhat reluctant theist with agnostic views toward divine revelation. I drew this conclusion from your statements about DNA, infallible sources of information, and the importance of holding to those religious traditions that keep us in contact with our Creator.

    I probably wouldn’t call myself a fundamentalist either, but I do hold to the doctrine of inerrancy. However, my understanding of inerrancy allows for the historic methods of literary genre (such as “ancient biography,” which has little interest in retelling a person’s story chronologically from birth to death). I guess if one didn’t believe the Bible was infallible, then it would be up to that person to figure out a method to distinguish what is God’s word and what’s not, which would be difficult. But, ultimately, I don’t believe the doctrine of inerrancy is essential for maintaining the resurrection of Christ or the existence of God.

    Also, I guess considering your view of fundamentalism, it is not surprising that you would view infallible sources of information as skeptically as you do. It seems that belief in infallible sources of information is necessary for fundamentalism, and thus, if you have a problem with one, you would in turn have a problem with the other. Yet, as you say, believing in fundamentalism is not completely irrational; it is possibly the case that fundamentalism is true. It’s not an incoherent thought. But as illustrated in the events of 9/11, believing in an infallible source of information can be as destructive as it is constructive, especially in the case of false religion.

    I admire your determination not to slide down “the slippery slope.” If I am tracking with you, the slippery slope begins with fundamentalist Christianity and ends in a nihilistic materialism, in which case I would agree – that is not a good slope to slide down. Younger people seem to be more disposed to turning from God because of the immediate passions of life that lure. And from what I’ve seen in my life, when people turn from God, it’s led to destructive behavior and complete disorientation with regard to worldview. Of course, it appears that this is only truly pitiable if there is a God, such as the Christian God, and there is ultimate meaning, purpose, and value found within the lives we live. Otherwise, there would be no intrinsic value to place on a person’s life that might be destroyed, no true meaning of life to which one might become disoriented, and no ultimate purpose obliging us to have lived in one way or another.

    • Yes, I think you’ve categorized me more accurately than I could have done myself. I’m reluctant to call myself a Theist because I prefer to think of myself as a Christian who doesn’t make an idol out of the Bible by believing it has no errors or contradictions or human mistakes in the choosing of the “infallible” books to be include in it. But I respect the people who are able to hang on to that view and I realize it has many advantages and may, in fact, be the accurate view. I just feel that God has led me to abandon it and view it as idol worship. I’m probably wrong about this, of course, but it’s what makes sense to me. I have a close, personal relationship with God, I pray a lot and try my best to use a combo of logic and intuition to decide which parts of anything I read are true. (In my view of “inspiration,” when something important is true, whether religious or not, this indicates that the idea probably came from God in some way that I don’t at all understand). I try to bring an open mind that doesn’t assume I’m reading straight, undiluted truth to science journals, the Bible, self-help books, the writings of all religions and everything I read and hear, whether fiction or nonfiction. I believe God speaks through people, but we have to use our heads and hearts to figure out what’s true and what’s not. I think it’s part of exercising free will and using the brains God created for us. No matter how close we are to God, we’re not going to be right all the time. The basic nature of the universe seems to be literally beyond human comprehension.
      The great physicist, Niels Bohr, said, “The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.”
      I believe this applies to the human understanding of God, too. The people who have unshakable spiritual beliefs that contradict mine could possibly be following a profound truth that only appears to contradict the profound truths that I cling to in my “non-fundamentalist Christianity,” which many would argue is actually still fundamentalism. And they are probably right, though I think I’m right, too, because my beliefs are not so brittle as to be broken by some paradigm-shifting event like the landing of alien beings from another planet or the discovery of ancient artifacts on the Moon or Mars. My fear is that if such things as these should happen, most of the Christians around the world would be unable to reconcile their “infallible” Bible with the visible facts in front of them. Already the arguments over the age of the Earth are taking fundamentalist Christians out of their walk with God and into the depressing myth of materialistic reduction. And that’s an easy argument to overcome, (simply by realizing that time is literally relative.) I hate to see people losing their purpose in life simply because the Bible has to be either perfect or it’s worthless. Black and white thinking is the enemy of Christianity in the long run, though within the life of an individual, it’s no doubt best to hang on to a belief in Biblical infallibility for as long as you can because most people who lose it fall painfully into a lonely world filled with unnecessary problems like addiction, losing their children to an angry spouse through divorce, losing a sense of purpose, etc.

      • Oh man, I couldn’t agree with you more in certain respects. To many people have inerrancy at the center of their belief systems. Conservative Baptists (the tradition I grew up in) are extremely susceptible to this. Inerrancy does not make or break the Christian religion. Belief in inerrancy should be a much more peripheral belief, perhaps more toward the permimeter of one’s “web” of beliefs. Things like God’s existence or the resurrection of Jesus should be at the center.

        I also know what you mean about people making the Bible an idol. However, I do not think that just because a person believes the Bible is inerrant, then it necessarily follows that that person worships it as an idol. My belief in biblical inerrancy stems from my belief in biblical inspiration. I believe that God inspired the original writers of the text through the Holy Spirit to write what they wrote, and that what we have is thus essentially from God. This does not mean there were not perhaps spelling errors that happened in copying or something of that nature. It also doesn’t mean that everything the Bible says is literally true. What it means, and what I think the traditional doctrine of inerrancy teaches, is that everything the Bible intends to teach is true. So I’m not interested in people who bring there own ideas of what constitutes an error to the text. That’s not really relevant to me. What matters is, “is everything the Bible intends to teach or affirm true?” And I believe I can answer that with a confident, “yes.”

        One thing I found interesting about your reply was when you said, “The basic nature of the universe seems to be literally beyond human comprehension.” I love that. It reminds me of a quote I’ve heard about Isaac Newton. He says, “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” After all of his study and work, Newton felt like it was all just a drop in the bucket. Isaac Newton! If that doesn’t arouse a humble spirit toward the reach of inquiry, human reason, and scientific aptitude, I’m not sure what will.

        • I really appreciate your comments. I’m definitely going to have to read this one again and meditate on what you’ve said about infallibility being a peripheral issue that’s not essential. That’s profound. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.

  5. If I’m reading correctly, then I think I would be right to say that I too have a certain uneasiness when it comes to fundamentalism. I think for me some of the uneasiness comes from the overall negative connotation it has. Most of the people in my circle of interlocutors do not assent to Fundamentalism. But it’s hard to me. I do believe there is a core system of irreducible beliefs in, for instance, Christianity. But I think my list of irreducible beliefs would be much smaller than what the traditional Fundamentalist would espouse. I mean, if someone claimed to be a Christian but also claimed that righteousness in the sight of God was not achieved through the atonement brought about through faith in Christ’s death, I think that would undoubtably constitute saying that person was not a Christian. However, the further away we get from that truth, the less assertive I would be in denouncing a person’s Christianity. Surely there are other things that might constitute a similar response, but this is one of the big ones that came to mind immediately. Anyways, I enjoyed reading your post. Hope you might respond concerning further thoughts about what I’ve mentioned above. Good day my friend!

    • Thank you for this wonderfully thought-provoking comment. It’s difficult for me to accurately describe where I stand on Fundamentalism in Christianity because I’m on a slippery slope that most often seems to take Christian fundamentalists from a strong but brittle faith to a rejection of everything spiritual. Fortunately for me, I’m not going all the way down the slope.

      My understanding of science and genetics makes me believe that there is certainly an original Author of the DNA code whose intelligence and free will is not bound up in time (has no linear beginning and no prior creator). My concept of free will is that it’s fragile and precious to God. I think it would be damaged if God were to place proof of his existence in front of us in the form of an infallible book or anything of that sort.

      Nevertheless, it’s clearly possible that I’m wrong about fundamentalism: that it’s not only a positive force in many specific situations (which I believe), but it’s possible that there is one special group of people with the right beliefs and/ or book (or other source of infallible information) while the rest of humanity is wrong about all sacred beliefs around the globe from the beginning of human existence on the planet (which I doubt is the case).

      While my tendency is to paint all belief in infallible information sources as a negative, I fight my tendency because quite often things are not as they seem from the human perspective. (Slit lamp experiments teach us that.) I fight my distaste for fundamentalism also because, in my limited perspective of history it seems that fundamentalist Christianity in all of it’s diverse forms has produced an overall better world in many ways.

      Also, fundamentalist Christianity plucked me out of a directionless life and put me onto a productive path… not all good, of course, but I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to help people as their pathologist. (Helping people is the meaning of life to me.) I wouldn’t have had the self-discipline to become a doctor without the influence of the strict fundamentalist Christian belief system that I joined at age 14.

      I would be in that system still but for two factors: 1. I read the Bible too much to continue believing that it’s infallible (in my fallible opinion). 2. The tragedy of 9/11/2001 forced me to see the emotional perspective of the “heathen” who were attacked and annihilated, supposedly under God’s orders. In my heart I “knew” that God would never give such an order under any circumstances. That was my break with fundamentalism.

      But leaving fundamentalism is a slippery slope. I don’t think the slope often leads to a closer walk with a personal God. It has for me, but most people I know who have left fundamentalist Christianity have lost personal contact with God. They stop talking to Him. That’s the biggest loss anyone could experience.

      I certainly respect your view of the atonement. I’m probably not in line with enough traditional Christian theology to call myself a Christian anymore, but I still do. I call myself a “non-fundamentalist Christian,” but I realize this phrase might be an impossibility.

      I think it’s best to hang on to any and every part of traditional religion that keeps you connected to our Creator. In the modern world where government “science” is brainwashing children into the religion of a meaningless, mechanical, mindless, depressing universe, I think the force of traditional Christianity is like a lifeboat… not perfect but able to get the job done, which to me is bringing integrity and purpose into people’s lives through personal contact with God.

  6. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    *
    *
    When your interpretation of evidence brings you to disagree with something that science has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, you are following in the footsteps of the greatest scientists in history: Einstein, Copernicus, Salk, Papanicolau… the list grows with every decade.

  7. Pingback: Fundamentalism in Science and Religion – Pravin suryawanshi

  8. I have had similar thoughts for some time now as well. A lot of research which doesn’t fit in with established presumptions in science is classified as fringe or pseudo-scientific. For example, 75 years worth of Psi research (which I’ve recently written about) has mostly fallen prey to this. Although I do like to make a distinction between science and scientists, as I feel it is the latter which is the victim our group psyche. Science can be used in a more neutral and creative sense but only if we agree to follow the evidence (and critique it on its own merits) rather than impose our pre-existing assumptions onto it.

    • Amen! Thanks for your comment. I like the concept of the Universe as someone’s brain (in your recent post). Being a retired pathologist, I’ve noticed a striking similarity between neural tissue and the far-away reconstruction images of the Universe. My characters, Johanna, talked about it in “Hapa Girl DNA.” I think the war between religion and science is completely bogus and unnecessary. Objectivity is the cure for myopia in both fields. And humility. 🙂

  9. Pingback: Physics and it’s Antiquity – Ethereal Sparkles

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    • That’s an interesting questions. I’m starting to think that there are two separate modes of uncovering accurate data, one is science and the other involves a sixth sense of some sort that I don’t understand at all. I think that mainstream science should explore this “impossible” means of understanding things. Then I have a feeling there would be an appropriate relationship between science and spiritual things.

  11. I think IQ is a measure of the ability to pick up new skills or solve problems , the tests are designed to not rely on previous knowledge. I’m 75 and I’ve been retired since I was sixty one, having lived a pretty ordinary life and brought up four children with a struggle. I did set about improving myself when I retired by reading and some study even tackling algebra in a moment of madness. My ordinaryness does not worry me because I know my value is equal to every other persons. Regarding talent I do not think you can train up a Mozart , we are certainly not born equal in health or talent but as humans we deserve equal treatment and the hope of some pleasure in life. We are also dogged by luck ; I’m lucky to have been born in a rich nation making my lifestyle possible.
    Not all scientists are materialistic and physics is beginning to tie itself in knots since quantum mechanics appeared on the scene . Professor Penrose believes consciousness is linked to quantum mechanics in some way and he has rejected the idea that modern computers , no matter how powerful, will ever be conscious. These days we have big bang Christians even the Pope has professed he is a big bang believer.

  12. Thanks for the reply I’m afraid synergy and zero point field is beyond me although I looked it up and will have another try. I have no advanced education and besides this an IQ of just 105 slightly above average. Let me explain my very simple thinking with a fallacy. You produce a pack of cards and I select one say the two of clubs . Why that’s fantastic you say to me you only had a 1to 52 chance of selecting that card.
    I suppose I should not be dabbling in impenetrable stuff but I’m sure it has a fascination for most of us.

    • Thank you for this interesting conversation. 🙂

      The idea that “IQ is fixed” seems to be inaccurate. You might check out “The Talent Code,” by Daniel Coyle. It talks about how world class “talent” is systematically developed in various fields of human endeavor.

      If the guy holding the cards had said, “I predict that you will select the Jack of Hearts,” and then you selected it randomly, that would be fantastic. If he could reproduce that event (without cheating) under carefully controlled conditions, it would be a scientific breakthrough that the scientific establishment would ignore because such things are “known to be impossible” to them in view of their materialistic assumptions about the nature of the Universe.

      Nevertheless, there are a number of scientists testing such things and reporting statistically significant results. “The Field,” by Lynne McTaggart talks about their findings and the worldview implications.

  13. Yes Hinduism has a lot to answer for in grading people ; the cow is more important than the person, perhaps the vegans who believe milk is cruelty should move to India. Ghandi was the one who believed Hindus and Muslims could live in harmony yet the formation of Pakistan was an endeavour to separate them. Quite recently some Muslims have been murdered for eating beef.
    Coincidences are always highly unlikely until they happen. Richard Dawkins plays with chance to prove that replicating organisms could arise by chance I could not follow the mathematics but The Blind Watchmaker is a first class read.

    • Thanks you. 🙂

      “Coincidences are always highly unlikely until they happen.”

      Interesting thought, but I don’t think their likeliness changes after they happen. If it did, would this principle make it more likely that you will win a big lottery later this month or that I will be struck by lightning several times before dinner tonight? I doubt it. It’s only in retrospect that unlikely events seem to become likely, or even inevitable. And that’s deliberately ignoring the notions of synergy and strange effects of the “zero point field.”

      “Signature in the Cell,” by Stephen Meyer is an astounding read to balance Dawkins and the establishment on the issue of DNA and chance.

  14. It’s a very fair reply and I thank you for it. We have to be careful about dismissing experts they have got us where we are although some may say it’s not a very nice place . It’s not bad for me but not so good for the 20 million or so Indians who have no toilets. Let me say we are far from rational in many ways due to our evolution which has saddled us with a moral conscience and an ambitious desire.
    I do not dismiss the Bible but insist like many on my own interpretation . Here is my one for the tree of knowledge of good and evil:
    It is a metaphor about the gaining of a conscience of primitive man and we do not know when that happened anymore than the writers of Genesis did. We became self-aware and self-judgmental and now there was no return to innocence.

    • I love your interpretation of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Thank you for that! 🙂

      Maybe it’s a coincidence that just yesterday I listened to a Ted talk about the lack of toilets in India – she said it’s not entirely due to poverty, but is also caused by the cultural and religious attitudes against the cast status of those who do unclean things like emptying primitive-style toilets. Facts like these are mind-boggling to me.

  15. If you don’t close your mind you could be open to anything and if you do close it your a fundamentalist. Oh no what a quandary perhaps I aught to close my mind on Mondays , Wednesdays and Fridays but very definitely on Sundays . I could lead a compartmentalized existence ; you know what I’ve got a sneaking suspicion I’m already doing just that. Still I console myself with the fact that the human race are compartmentalized animals after all who in their right mind would enjoy listening to music while some are starving to death?

    • I met a man online once, a preacher if I remember right, whose son was an atheist and had convinced him that the Bible was not infallible. The preacher had become an atheist by the time I met him. He told me that “you can’t pick and choose,” meaning that either the Bible is perfect or it’s worthless.

      I disagree.

      To me, black-and-white thinking is not the route to knowledge. I think we all have to pick and choose – from medical journals, “established” science, ancient holy writings, or fringe individuals touting strange worldview opinions and experiences such as UFO’s.

      “Pick and choose” is rational as far as I can tell.

      Humility and abandoning the notion that experts (religious or secular) know everything and have earned the right to think for us “lay people” is the starting point for anyone with enough courage.

      Compartmentalization doesn’t seem rational to me, but maybe I’m wrong. I often am.

  16. Talmage,

    Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not being someone who simply enjoys being argumentative. For a Buddhist though, this is an important point to understand.
    You keep presupposing a subjective personality by using words like “anyone” entity” and the term “original mind”, as a preconceptual assumption to then justify the concept of a who as opposed to a what.
    In other words, your making a presumption of a who in order to then justify the assumption of the same.
    I see no reason to think that the endless and eternal process of arising, existing, and ceasing to exist would ever need a subjective persona to accomplish it’s own self evident meaning of existence.

    If you would like, we can just agree to disagree.

    I’ll be working on Steven Meyer’s “Signature in a Cell” this morning at a local coffee shop.

    Blessings….

    Brother Mark:)

    • You’re absolutely right, Brother Mark. Thank you for the link.

      I do hope that people won’t use it as an excuse to bypass reading, “Signature in the Cell,” and evaluating the content for themselves. Have you had a chance to read it yet?

      It’s always easier to be swayed by the powerful “experts” and others who would discredit Meyer along with anyone else who doubts that Neo-Darwinism is a viable path to macro-evolution.

      Thank you, I’m having a great day, actually. My family’s away and it’s nice how God’s company seems more intense when I’m otherwise alone.

      You have a great day, too. 🙂

      Talmage

      • M.Talmage Moorhead,

        I just purchased the audio book on my Audible .com account.
        Listening to it so far I would say that he seems to want to make the argument that because it all is so very complicated, that there just must be an intelligent designer at hand.
        We have all heard this before.
        Intelligent design I believe is pretty obvious, although whether that intelligent design is the product of a supreme deity is a far different story.
        When I finish it, I’ll let you know what I think.
        Thank you.

        Brother Mark:)

        • Thank you, Brother Mark. I look forward to hearing your insights.

          You’re right in pointing out that intelligent design, if true, says nothing about who the intelligence is that did the designing.

          It’s seems likely to me that we humans are now beginning a path toward understanding genetic code well enough to design new life forms at some point in the distant future. If true, and if our space exploration technology keeps pace, it’s conceivable that we might someday populate a planet with life forms we have designed ourselves – just for fun, maybe.

          Going the other direction in time, though, it seems to me that there was probably a first time for this sort of thing.

          I would reserve the term “God” for an intelligence that had no previous designer, a Being somehow independent of time as we know it – assuming that the Supreme Being has sparkling good moral character.

          To me, God’s character is the vital issue to humanity because we tend to rise or sink to the level of the being(s) we adore.

          It’s probably infinitely better for our species to all become atheists than to look up to a heartless being (or beings) as a behavioral or moral guide.

          • M.Talmage Moorhead,

            “You’re right in pointing out that intelligent design, if true, says nothing about who the intelligence is that did the designing”.

            Who OR What. Why MUST it be a who?

            “To me, God’s character is the vital issue to humanity because we tend to rise or sink to the level of the being(s) we adore”.

            How very true!
            The best teachers teach by example….do they not?

            The Old Testament has plenty of examples of the God of Israel mudering people in his wrath. As a matter of fact, he would have to be considered the most prolific mass murdering serial killer in all of humanity’s history!

            Nahum 1:2
            2. “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies”.

            This being only one possible citation for the jelousy and wrath taught about the God that is supposedly the epitome of all that is good and morally pure!

            Malachi 3:6
            “For I am the LORD, I CHANGE NOT; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed”.

            Let’s keep that in mind the next time we read the Book of Acts Chapter five and recognize murdering spiritual gangsterism at it’s finest.
            I can’t say that the morals of this Abrahamic linage of religions God impresses me very much. As a Buddhist monk I must consider jelousy and vengeance as well as the tendency to kill and torture those who don’t please you character deficiency’s, not attributes.

            Of course if one believes in the Trinity, one can say no better for the Christian man God Jesus. How predictable that when it comes to talk of the Trinity, all of a sudden Jesus is to be considered more different than the same!

            Either way, birds of a fether flock together, and something like the sermon on the mount comparatively speaking does nothing to change that.
            The only argument left is basically that might makes right….and that’s the sort of perspective that certainly goes a long way in perpetually destroying the otherwise wellness of humanity.

            When I’m through with “Signature in the Cell” I’ll be more than happy to give you my insights!
            Thank you for the recommendation.
            As a Buddhist missionary monk now living in Cambodia, I always enjoy meeting my Christian missionary friends and being caught up on some of the latest and relevant reading material!

            I wish you and all others a spiritually prosperous day.

            Brother Mark:)

            • I hear you, Brother Mark. I finally had to leave Christian fundamentalism (the notion that there’s a source of essentially perfect information available to humans) for exactly the types of Bible quotes you’ve cited.

              This happened to me as a gradual process over decades of reading the Bible almost every day, trying to believe that if rightly understood it was infallible. Finally when 9/11/01 happened, I think I saw a tiny glimpse of what it must have felt like to be on the side of the “heathen” in the promised land as a group of fundamentalists acted on their belief that God had told them to kill men, women and children and take all their valuable belongings and land.

              That was my tipping point. I concluded that God would never give any such command to humans under any circumstance. All the talk of Giants and Nephilim hybrids doesn’t make genocide acceptable to me. It would be morally wrong in my view to kill dogs or apes that way, too.

              I could be wrong about all this, of course, and the Christian fundamentalists or the Buddhists (or any other group) could be right. I’m a lot further from infallible than any major religion’s holy book is apt to be.

              Yes, I’d like to call myself a “non-fundamentalist Christian” (if such a thing can logically exist) because I think certain thoughts attributed to Jesus offer our species a singular chance of long-term survival, especially this: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

              Does that admonition contradict most of the Old Testament? For me, yes. In my completely fallible opinion, it certainly is the opposite message found in many places in the Old Testament as well as several places in the New, including the book of Revelation.

              But I’m not dogmatic about this stuff. I don’t understand the basic nature of reality – how anything can be a wave and a particle at the same time, for instance. So I’m probably wrong about most of the details of my own personal beliefs. And I’m fine with that because I trust God and enjoy his company and subtle influence. To me, God is the only absolute we have. To elevate a guru, a book or a collection of scientific documents to such an status as to turn off the questioning mind is the essence of idol worship, modern western idol worship. Just because a person becomes a non-thinking “zombie” to a book, guru or tradition instead of a piece of carved stone, doesn’t make it something other than dehumanizing idol worship.

              It’s possible that humanity is incapable of understanding the literal truth of the Universe and beyond. So the last thing I’m trying to do is convert anyone to fundamentalism of any sort, whether Christian, scientific, atheist or otherwise.

              Incidentally, I have a special respect for Buddhism (what little I know of it) precisely because their message doesn’t hold out an eternal reward or any sort of hellish punishment to motivate moral behavior. That implies to me that Buddhist motivations for being good people are similar to God’s motivations for doing what’s right – no external reward or punishment awaits the Supreme Being, nor does this being believe in a higher power. Both Buddhists and God do what’s right because it is right. I admire that quality of motivation and see it as highly advanced. Atheists like Thomas Negal deserve the same acolades, in my opinion. Here’s a link to a book he wrote that’s groundbreaking:

              My reason for expecting a “who” rather than a “what” behind intelligent design is that any intelligence capable of understanding (and inventing/ creating) the genetic code must be capable of understanding human language. If a mind can understand human language, I think it becomes a “who” rather than a “what.”

              My interest in intelligent design also stems from a deep conviction that science has gone astray in assuming that the Universe is composed entirely of matter and energy. I think intelligent consciousness (mind) is almost certainly more fundamental to this place than matter and energy. But once this “scientific materialism” is assumed, everything is reducible to nothing more than meaningless, mindless particles and waves.

              This meaninglessness is forced down young people’s throats along with Darwin’s sociopathic “kill or be killed” paradigm of ultimate motivation.

              This, I’m convinced, causes depression and encourages narcissism. I’ve read that 30% of the kids at Harvard are clinically depressed. To me, this is where fundamentalism has taken over science and made it more like a religion where an untestable assumption (materialism) is at the foundation of a worldview that is rigorously and emotionally perpetuated by cult mechanics (professors) at our universities where academic fear seems to be a controlling force. (Fit in and publish or perish.)

              Thank you for your great comments! Incidentally, my wife’s paternal grandfather was the first Buddhist Priest on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. I’ve heard his memory is cherished today in Okinawa, Japan. They call him “one of the five,” whatever that means.

              Same to you, Brother Mark: have a spiritually wonderful day when you read this. 🙂

              Talmage

              • M.Talmage Moorehead,

                “My reason for expecting a “who” rather than a “what” behind intelligent design is that any intelligence capable of understanding (and inventing/ creating) the genetic code must be capable of understanding human language”.

                Human language is a developed by product of the genetic code,
                therefore I hardly see this as necessary.
                Otherwise we would be born knowing how to speak one language or another.

                “They call him ‘one of the five,’ whatever that means”.
                Here’s what that means:

                en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Dhyani_Buddhas

                Not my school of Buddhism, but it’s interesting to read up on.

                Thank you for the worthwhile conversation.

                Brother Mark:)

                • What fascinating stuff at the other end of that link! Thank you. After a quick read, I’m getting the impression that “one of the five” is probably an expression used to honor someone, rather than meaning that someone was literally one of the “Five Great Buddhas.”

                  “Human language is a developed by product of the genetic code,
                  therefore I hardly see this as necessary.
                  Otherwise we would be born knowing how to speak one language or another.”

                  I’ve read this several times and can’t follow what you’re saying. I think it’s because the point I was trying to make wasn’t expressed well.

                  I was trying to say that anyone smart enough to write DNA code is also capable of learning any human language. And a being with that ability seems to be a “who” rather than a “what.”

                  To me, “who” versus “what” is a distinction, really, between an entity incapable of communicating (a what) and a being that can communicate intelligently (a who). I guess it doesn’t necessarily have to involve human language. It might be more universal than that – something at the level of what I call the “machine language” of the mind, possibly based upon phase interference patters of the electromagnetic signals that course through our brains. But communication is the thing that makes me favor a “who” over a “what” in terms of the original mind that wrote the Universe’s first DNA code.

                  Thank you, too. It’s always interesting and stimulating to talk to you, Brother Mark.

                  Talmage

  17. I da not recall whether is was Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens,but one of them simply refused to argue with hardcore Christian fundamentalists on certain things as both came from such opposing views that rational debate was impossible.

    • Interesting. Thanks for telling me about that.

      I’m not sure if an exact definition of “fundamentalism” is possible, but it seems that we have them on both sides of most important issues. I’ve been trying for years to back off on my own tendency toward “fundamentalist” attitudes and supercilious dogmas. It’s a complex and nuanced internal process, at least for me.

  18. Pingback: UFO’s, NASA and Religion ~ Gulp! | Storiform.com

  19. hassnainqasim

    Fundamentals restrict us from making new discoveries or progressing in our research, science should be free from such an idea that promotes irrationality.

    • Absolutely, Hassnain. I think we all tend to crave absolutes and shun uncertainty, but the cure is probably nothing more than humility – the practice of listening with an open mind, studying the literature objectively and speaking without the air of infallibility no matter how sure we might feel. 🙂

    • Thank you. Humans have a neurotic need to project infallibility into groupthink topics, especially science, religion and politics where both sides know beyond doubt that the other side is “evil.” Thank you for commenting. Your thoughts are valuable to all of us.

  20. Excellent post. You take a nuanced approach to excessive fundamentalism while it is usually a label reserved for religious people only. Science, too, is oversimplified for the sake of politicization. This leads to the inappropriate “ideologization” of science, which is inherently neutral. People will trust — even ardently defend — science without knowing the details just like they will with religion. It’s not to say people shouldn’t trust science, but it’s the saying without knowing that’s the problematic dynamic in both situations.

    • I totally agree. “Saying without knowing” is a ubiquitous human fault, across the board. I think that even fundamentalists (who do a ton of good work throughout the world, incidentally) would do well to ease up on the human tendency to insist that reality is always exactly as each group says, when sometimes it’s impossible to know for sure. Humility should temper all human beliefs, scientific and spiritual.

  21. Very interesting post! Not being a well educated woman, I’m always looking for information and answers. My also not well educated father told me often that there was nothing more dangerous than a closed mind. Many things are improbable but nothing is impossible. So I have always kept an open mind about everything and realize when people are stuck in their dogma, be it religion, science or any other idea. I read a lot of quantum physics and Lynne McTaggart has a good book out called
    “The Field” It’s a term used often to identify the Infinite Intelligence. I think Jesus must have studied with the Buddha as their philosophies are very similar. I think when we take it from a philosophy or a code of ethics and turn it into religion, humans find ways to pervert it from how it was intended. I’m a deeply spiritual person, just not a fundamental person. When you are open to learning new information, I think fundamentalism has to go out the window. I read your article on Alzheimer’s and found it quite good. It resonates with other information I’ve been reading about it. The diet is really hard for this carb addict. But I agree with it. Ketogenic diets are going to be the new norm in treatment for many things. I do well with it for awhile then fall off the wagon when I run into social situations.. 😦 I’m probably not very clear here but I did like this post a great deal.

    • Thank you for telling me about “The Field.” I was just reading the intro on Amazon and getting goosebumps! Hard to find this sort of reading material.

      I know what you mean about Jesus having possibly studied the Buddhist philosophy. If you’ve ever listened to the whole Bible on tape, it’s an abrupt and somewhat shocking transformation of God’s personality from the OT to the New.

      I find that coconut oil helps me lose the craving for carbs. It also contains medium chain triglycerides which the brain can convert to ketones and use as fuel instead of glucose. One of the problems our brains have as we age, especially if we have a predisposition to Alzheimer’s, is a reduction of its ability to use glucose. It’s analogous to type 2 Diabetes. But I’ll bet you know all of this stuff as well as I do.

      I read a paper a while ago that indicated that a ketogenic diet renders metastatic cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy. It was breast cancer they were dealing with, but the principle will probably extend to other primaries because most, if not all types of cancer cells lose the ability to derive energy from ketones. So they’re weak and sickly in a low glucose environment such as a ketogenic diet. The science is out there if doctors would just read it with an open mind, leaving their fundamentalist-style biases behind.

      I was a fundamentalist Christian for much of my life, but finally had to leave the fold because I had read the Bible too much to continue believing it was essentially ‘infallible” at its core. Plus 911 forced me to see parallels between Israel taking the promised land and the terrorists attacking the US. I couldn’t imagine how God would be behind either aggression. The arguments that the natives in the promised land were in some way subhuman (giants or whatever) seem to completely miss the point of Christianity. Genocide against anybody is not likely to be approved by God, let alone promoted. Disciples: “Shall we call down fire from heaven to devour them?” Jesus: “You know not what spirit you are of.” Every fighting force finds or seeks a reason to consider the enemy somehow subhuman. It makes the killing easier, I guess.

      Though I’ve left the mainstream of religion, I still believe in God and pray a lot. My spiritual experience is founded in science, especially the concept that intelligence and “the mind” are at least as basic to things as matter and energy – and probably more basic, as in, matter and energy (including zero-point energy) are derived from the mind of God. Also it seems that much of the Universe’s DNA code and other information-dense phenomena would require a Code Writer with no temporal limitation calling for a previous intelligence or any sort of parent being or cause.

      Thank you for your wonderful comment! 🙂

      • Thank you. I think we would find much in common. I’ve read so much from so many others in my search of it all. I don’t know if you are familiar with Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden, Gary Renard, Carolyn Myss, and so many more that have helped me understand things in a more scientific way. I saw the movie “What the Bleep” many years ago and it helped me understand what I already “knew”. I’ve had many spiritual experiences since childhood that I understand the power of prayer and that I live in Grace. Larry Dossey M.D, is another good one for explaining things that bring science and faith together. I don’t mean to be long winded here but I have had a very long path to the peace I now feel. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  22. I think that if we keep ourselves humble, we continue to learn throughout our lives — being fundamental merely to follow others is much different from someone who chooses the philosophy and values they live by, even if it agrees with fundamentalists. But even fundamentalists argue among themselves – at least the smarter ones do 🙂

    • That’s an insightful connection you make between humility and the ability to continue learning as we get older. I’ve always had a strong desire to be humble, probably an unhealthy obsession with it, really. But like Ben Franklin said, some of us become proud of our humility. It’s like salt.
      I’d like to consider myself a non-fundamentalist Christian (if there can be such a thing) because there are several sayings/ concepts ascribed to Jesus that I think are crucial to humanity’s long-term survival, such as: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” But when it comes to thinking that others have to believe like I do or else, I just can’t fit into the system anymore. I wish there was a “religion” that claimed to be probably wrong about most important things, but said, “here’s what we hope is true….”

  23. Very good points – I enjoyed reading/thinking this post.

    Since I’m making a comment & know you have an interest in Alzheimers’ research, have you studied Lion’s mane? It’s a bizarre looking mushroom that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a brain tonic and as a treatment for many health conditions. To the best of my knowledge, it is being studied as a treatment for Alzheimers and Dementia.

    • Thank you, Jeanne. 🙂 Yes, I take Lion’s mane almost every day. It’s part of Dale Bredesen’s protocol now. He seems to have added it in the last year or two along with over a dozen other thing that I’ve tried to track down and list on my “Alzheimer’s” page. He places more emphasis on a ketogenic diet now, too. The aging brain likes to burn ketones for energy and often has trouble using glucose to make ATP. I’ve found that being ketogenic elevates my mood and clears my thinking, but it predisposes me to renal calculi (I have autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease) so I have to take a bunch of potassium citrate to avoid stones. Too much information, sorry. 🙂 Hey, it’s great to hear from you again!

      • I didn’t see Lion’s Main on your Alzheimer list of, so thought it was worth mentioning. I take it, too and feel sharper. While I don’t have either dementia or Alzheimer’s, IMHO, prevention is a smart move.

        • I agree 100%.

          I don’t have dementia either, but my mother did, and my father had CT evidence of cerebral atrophy in his 80’s, so I’m being careful to preserve as many neurons as possible. Also, I’m doing high intensity interval training (aerobic exercise) which is known to increase neurogenesis in the hipocampus of adults. It seems to do me more good than a long stretch of mild to moderate exercise in which I never breathe heavily, though I still do a lot of walking, since my dog, Halo, likes to get outside and walk.
          I added Lion’s Main to the Bredesen list fairly recently (number 11 on the second list) but it was in parenthesis behind its obscure name. I’ve reversed it now for clarity’s sake. I appreciate you telling me about Lion’s Main, in case I wasn’t taking it. 🙂

    • Thank you, Jim. I wrote a post on NASA granting money to a religious group for the study of the effect of “UFO disclosure” on religion. No kidding, this happened a few years ago. After writing about it I didn’t have the nerve to post it. So many scientists consider spiritual people to be mildly crazy already, throw in talk of UFO’s and the “mildly” probably shifts to “severely.” I probably shouldn’t care, but I guess I do.

      It’s nice to hear from you, Jim!

  24. (https://irishfirebrands.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/where-do-you-get-your-ideas/)

    It’s been a long while since we chatted, Talmage. I hope you’ve been well.

    We are given to learn line upon line, precept upon precept. Milk before meat. When we’re ready for more, we receive it, but if we’re content with what we have, and seek no further, the spirit of the universe will not strive with us. Even at the day when all truth is laid before us, plain and precious, we will have the free agency to accept or reject it, because the spirit of the universe will not force us to take more than that with which we can cope.

    • Thank you, Christine. I’m doing well. My kidneys (GFR) have actually improved in the last several months. I hope you’re feeling great, too.

      I totally agree that the Spirit of the Universe seems to respect our free wills rather than forcing information upon us. I may wind up being one of those who can’t cope with much ultimate truth, but I’m trying to listen.

      Here’s a version of an old text that grabbed me the other day: “And the angel of the LORD said to him, ‘Why do you ask for my name? It is incomprehensible.'” Judges 13:18. Imagine a realm where even the people’s names are beyond our current ability to comprehend. Maybe that’s a glimpse of the ultimate truths that some of us seek but aren’t actually ready to hear.

    • That’s an interesting point. I think my science background makes me often avoid expressing exactly how I feel about some of the outrageous “science” that we cram down young throats in US government schools.

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