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Author Topic: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism  (Read 2625 times)

Donal2018

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #30 on: July 10, 2019, 04:50:16 pm »
As examples go, something as basic and existing in the actual natural world as benzene is a poor choice.  It's just a carbon ring with hydrogens attached, which means even for organic chemistry it's super simple.  It's a minor component in fossil carbons, which are also used to manufacture more of it.

A better example might be- many synthetic medicines are small molecule substances with low molecular weights, whereas as proteins are naturally occurring macro molecules with a very large number of molecules. So, you can have simple synthetic substances (small molecule medicines) versus complex natural substances (proteins made up of many polypeptide chains/amino acids). Complexity and simplicity are not good gauges as to whether something is natural or synthetic.

[edit for spelling]
« Last Edit: July 10, 2019, 04:52:51 pm by Donal2018 »

Sefiru

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #31 on: July 10, 2019, 08:22:58 pm »
But my overall point is that there are some human, man-made substances that do not normally occur in nature.

That still doesn't address why products of humans, specifically, are excluded from 'nature' while the products of other animals, such as silk, termite mounds, and beaver dams are not. (In fact, the effects of a beaver dam on the local environment are such that if a human tried to build one, I doubt it would be allowed.)

Earlier you said,

If we define "nature" as everything that exists, it kind of becomes a useless category.


And any other definition being either arbitrary or anthropocentric or both, I for one try to avoid using the term altogether.

Donal2018

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #32 on: July 11, 2019, 02:10:26 pm »
That still doesn't address why products of humans, specifically, are excluded from 'nature' while the products of other animals, such as silk, termite mounds, and beaver dams are not. (In fact, the effects of a beaver dam on the local environment are such that if a human tried to build one, I doubt it would be allowed.)

Earlier you said,
 

And any other definition being either arbitrary or anthropocentric or both, I for one try to avoid using the term altogether.

I believe that I have stated that there is, in my view, a continuum between the Natural and the Artificial. Things can be more or less Natural, and more or less Artificial. A beaver dam is natural in the sense it is made of natural materials, but is partially constructed and would not exist in nature if an animal, a beaver, were not there to build it. So, maybe in the sense that it is constructed, it might be considered partially artificial.

So, a beaver builds their dam out of natural materials, not plastics. I acknowledge that some animals construct things. It is just that humans make things that are more different than what occurs in nature. They build things that are more extreme and less natural than a beaver dam. You might disagree.

A human can build something out of natural materials (stone, wood) like a beaver does with their dam. This is Artificial to a degree. Humans can also construct things out of materials that are less natural (alloys, plastics, polymers, etc.). This is less Natural, and more Artificial. So, a continuum.

I do not deny that some animals build things. I just believe that humans create stuff that is more different and less natural by many degrees. A nuclear submarine is far more artificial than a beaver dam made out of wood.

So, humans depart from nature by greater degrees that those animals that do construct things out of natural materials.

Furthermore, I AM anthropocentric because I am a human being. I define terms in ways that help me express myself, not in an arbitrary manner. If you do not agree with my definitions or my arguments, that is fine. My definitions and positions are designed to clarify my own thinking, and maybe someone else's, if I am fortunate. I try to be straightforward, clear, and direct. If someone agrees with my views, great. If not, that is fine also. Anyway, I think that I have made myself clear, whether some folks agree or not.

[edits for spelling and readability]
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 02:15:49 pm by Donal2018 »

Donal2018

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #33 on: July 11, 2019, 04:26:24 pm »
A better example might be- many synthetic medicines are small molecule substances with low molecular weights, whereas as proteins are naturally occurring macro molecules with a very large number of molecules. So, you can have simple synthetic substances (small molecule medicines) versus complex natural substances (proteins made up of many polypeptide chains/amino acids). Complexity and simplicity are not good gauges as to whether something is natural or synthetic.

[edit for spelling]

Just a post for reference. There is a brief Wikipedia article on the Artificial-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificiality

Sefiru

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #34 on: July 11, 2019, 06:21:42 pm »
I define terms in ways that help me express myself, not in an arbitrary manner.

If you want others to understand you, it generally helps to use the same definitions as the people you're talking to, or to provide better support for your arguments. FWIW, you keep going round and round with 'artificial things are further from nature because they are artificial, human activities are less natural because they are further from nature.' This is not at all convincing.

We have thoroughly established that we don't agree on what constitutes 'nature', but let me go back to another point you've brought up several times:

I find these subjects and concepts useful for my own thinking.

What are they useful for? Why is this distinction so important to you?

Donal2018

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #35 on: July 11, 2019, 07:48:24 pm »
If you want others to understand you, it generally helps to use the same definitions as the people you're talking to, or to provide better support for your arguments. FWIW, you keep going round and round with 'artificial things are further from nature because they are artificial, human activities are less natural because they are further from nature.' This is not at all convincing.

We have thoroughly established that we don't agree on what constitutes 'nature', but let me go back to another point you've brought up several times:

What are they useful for? Why is this distinction so important to you?

I think that I have stated my case clearly and defined the terms as I am using them. I don't agree with how some have used the term "nature". It is so broadly defined as the be useless as a word. I am not going to use someone else's definition of a word if it that definition does not work for me. If I use a term differently, with a different definition, then I will try to make my definition clear enough for others to understand me. They might not agree with my definition, but at least they might understand what I am saying. Or not.

Sorry that you are not convinced by my statements. I don't really need you or anyone else to be convinced. It is enough for me to know what I think, believe, and care about. If someone else gets it, that's great. If not, that is fine also. I just need to write my thoughts out for my own satisfaction. It would be nice if someone else understood my points, but I am fine if no one does, or if only a few people do. 

As far as to why the topic is so important to me- clear thinking and clear writing are important to me. I find a lot of the thinking around the term "nature" and related terms to be murky and dense. So I am just writing some straightforward points for the sake of clarity and for my own satisfaction.   

Donal2018

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #36 on: July 11, 2019, 08:24:24 pm »
I think that I have stated my case clearly and defined the terms as I am using them. I don't agree with how some have used the term "nature". It is so broadly defined as the be useless as a word. I am not going to use someone else's definition of a word if it that definition does not work for me. If I use a term differently, with a different definition, then I will try to make my definition clear enough for others to understand me. They might not agree with my definition, but at least they might understand what I am saying. Or not.

Sorry that you are not convinced by my statements. I don't really need you or anyone else to be convinced. It is enough for me to know what I think, believe, and care about. If someone else gets it, that's great. If not, that is fine also. I just need to write my thoughts out for my own satisfaction. It would be nice if someone else understood my points, but I am fine if no one does, or if only a few people do. 

As far as to why the topic is so important to me- clear thinking and clear writing are important to me. I find a lot of the thinking around the term "nature" and related terms to be murky and dense. So I am just writing some straightforward points for the sake of clarity and for my own satisfaction.

I think I would amend my prior post to say that I do get frustrated when other people do not seem to understand what I am trying to say. It is especially frustrating when I think that I have explained myself in what seems to me to be a clear and straightforward manner. After several attempts at explaining myself, I find that I have to stop caring because some people do not seem to understand what I am saying, even though it seems quite clear to me. At least I know what I mean, and that is enough for me.

[edits for spelling and readability]
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 08:30:02 pm by Donal2018 »

Donal2018

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #37 on: July 11, 2019, 09:30:46 pm »
I think I would amend my prior post to say that I do get frustrated when other people do not seem to understand what I am trying to say. It is especially frustrating when I think that I have explained myself in what seems to me to be a clear and straightforward manner. After several attempts at explaining myself, I find that I have to stop caring because some people do not seem to understand what I am saying, even though it seems quite clear to me. At least I know what I mean, and that is enough for me.

[edits for spelling and readability]

Maybe to approach this from a different angle to achieve more clarity with a few simple and direct statements.

Some people's definition of Nature seems to be "Everything is Nature, therefore nothing is unnatural".

I disagree with this formulation.

My definition is: "Nature is the Biosphere and everything that directly supports life on Earth, excluding man-made artifacts."

Thus, there are non-natural things possible in this definition. A horse is natural, an internal combustion engine is not natural, it is artificial.

The surface of the planet Venus is not supportive of life as we know it. It is a hostile and alien environment, and is not Nature as we know it in the context of the above definition.

So, these are a few simple statements. You may reject them or accept them, but I find that they are useful and provide for clearer thinking about these topics- Life, Nature, etcetera.

Donal2018

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2019, 01:42:51 pm »
Maybe to approach this from a different angle to achieve more clarity with a few simple and direct statements.

Some people's definition of Nature seems to be "Everything is Nature, therefore nothing is unnatural".

I disagree with this formulation.

My definition is: "Nature is the Biosphere and everything that directly supports life on Earth, excluding man-made artifacts."

Thus, there are non-natural things possible in this definition. A horse is natural, an internal combustion engine is not natural, it is artificial.

The surface of the planet Venus is not supportive of life as we know it. It is a hostile and alien environment, and is not Nature as we know it in the context of the above definition.

So, these are a few simple statements. You may reject them or accept them, but I find that they are useful and provide for clearer thinking about these topics- Life, Nature, etcetera.

I thought that I would link to the Wikipedia page for the Biosphere as a reference.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere

So, as far as Nature goes, there are no ecosystems that we know of on Mars and the Moon. No ecosystems, no life, no Nature. Just an alien planet or satellite devoid of life.

Of course there has been some discussion that maybe there is some small amount of microbial life on Mars that we have not yet discovered. Even if this were true, this would be a very limited  type of alien nature, and not the full blown Biosphere that we have here on Earth.

RandallS

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #39 on: July 12, 2019, 02:16:06 pm »
I don't know what else to say about this. We might just be defining the term "natural" differently. I have stated before that humans sometimes do things that are not natural, in my view. GMO plants were an example that I used. Genetically modified organisms do not exist in nature. They are altered in an artificial way.

I think trying to equate "not natural" with "artificial" is a bad idea as you end up with things like beaver dams defined as "not natural" that way.  Also, mutations occur naturally and they are a form of genetic modification.
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Donal2018

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #40 on: July 12, 2019, 02:18:26 pm »
I thought that I would link to the Wikipedia page for the Biosphere as a reference.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere

So, as far as Nature goes, there are no ecosystems that we know of on Mars and the Moon. No ecosystems, no life, no Nature. Just an alien planet or satellite devoid of life.

Of course there has been some discussion that maybe there is some small amount of microbial life on Mars that we have not yet discovered. Even if this were true, this would be a very limited  type of alien nature, and not the full blown Biosphere that we have here on Earth.

I think that I will make a post to try and get back to the original point of this Thread. I appreciate somewhat where the discussion has gone in some cases.

Anyway, Nature is Sacred to me. This is the core aspect of my personal view of Paganism, more than polytheistic gods and goddesses, more than ideas of magic and rituals. Paganism is a way of treating Nature as Sacred.

The reason that Nature is Sacred to me is that Humankind is primarily Sacred to me. I am a Religious Humanist. I am a self interested Human Being, which is why I view anything that helps and supports Humankind to be a Good.

Human Beings arose out of Nature and continue to survive by depending on Nature here on Earth. I am very interested in environmentalism and saving the ecosphere for selfish reasons. I do not wish for Humanity to die out. I hope that the global biosphere continues to be healthy and continues to support Human Life. So, Nature is Sacred to me because it supports Human Life. It is also beautiful in itself and worthy of admiration and forms of worship and respect.

That said, there are also aspects of my Religious Humanism other than the Nature that supports Human Life. There is also Human Culture as well as the Built Environment. I think that Civilization/Built Environment helps support a large population of Human Beings, and I have an appreciation of Civilization and the Human Culture that helped to build it.

Also, Religious Cultures are a part of Human Culture, a subset of Human Culture. Since I respect and admire Human Culture, I also respect and admire Religious Culture in all of its diversity and variety. All Religious Culture is fair game for my study and interest. This is the broadest reason why I am a Universalist. I find value in many different kinds of Religions, from Taoism to Christianity, to Paganisms. They all have something to teach us, I think.

So in this context, I am an Eclectic Universalist. The religious culture that I was raised in was Catholicism, and I will always be at least a Cultural Christian, as my values and experiences come out of Western Civilization, of which Christianity is a cornerstone. So, I was raised in a culture of Christianity, whereas later in life I chose Paganism.

As Human Life is Sacred to me, so is Human Culture and Human Civilization. Since Humankind comes out of Nature, Nature is also sacred to me. And as Nature and the Earth arose out of the Cosmos, so the entire Cosmos is also Sacred to me, for creating the Earth and allowing Nature, Life, and Humankind to flourish. Because of this perspective, I am also a Scientific Pantheist who holds the entire Cosmos and Everything in it to be Sacred.

So, my Spirituality is multi-faceted. In the context of this Thread, I view a core value of Paganism to be respecting Nature as Sacred. I also distinguish between Nature and Civilization/Built Environment. Human Civilization is important to me because it is a creation and construction of Humankind, and as a Religious Humanist, I value Humanity and all Human Culture and Human Civilization.

Donal2018

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #41 on: July 12, 2019, 02:32:38 pm »
I think trying to equate "not natural" with "artificial" is a bad idea as you end up with things like beaver dams defined as "not natural" that way.  Also, mutations occur naturally and they are a form of genetic modification.

Fair points. I think the definition of "artificial" on the Wikipedia page on "Artificiality" states that what is artificial is man-made, that is manufactured. Since a beaver is not a human being, a beaver dam in not artificial or man-made by that definition. So, a beaver dam is more of a natural object or natural artifact.

As far as genetic modification goes- you are right that genetic modification does occur in Nature. I would argue that GMOs are not natural because the modifications they have undergone are man-made, ie deliberately made by Biotechnology, not by some natural process. Anyway, I appreciate you bringing up these topics.

Klaw

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #42 on: July 12, 2019, 04:07:33 pm »
I think trying to equate "not natural" with "artificial" is a bad idea as you end up with things like beaver dams defined as "not natural" that way.  Also, mutations occur naturally and they are a form of genetic modification.

Random mutation, is always interesting but rarely of value. Most put the animal at a disadvantage. Different coloration of coats make them targets. Some may find that it greatly limits their environments. One mutation I always found interesting and may be contributed to selective breeding is 85% of white cats with blue eyes are deaf. We even had one when I was a kid. It is a huge disadvantage that probably would have died out without humans keeping them as pets.

Sefiru

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #43 on: July 12, 2019, 07:21:38 pm »
I think I would amend my prior post to say that I do get frustrated when other people do not seem to understand what I am trying to say. It is especially frustrating when I think that I have explained myself in what seems to me to be a clear and straightforward manner. After several attempts at explaining myself, I find that I have to stop caring because some people do not seem to understand what I am saying, even though it seems quite clear to me. At least I know what I mean, and that is enough for me.

We understand *what* you're saying just fine. We just (a) don't agree with it and/or (b) don't get *why* you think so. You don't need to be clearer; you need to provide more backup. When you say:

My definition is: "Nature is the Biosphere and everything that directly supports life on Earth, excluding man-made artifacts."

How did you come up with that definition?

Was it by reading Romantic philosophers, or since you mentioned you were raised Catholic, something from the Bible? Were you inspired by Fern Gully or another pop culture source? Giving supporting information rather than reiterating you main point can reduce frustration on all sides of a discussion.

Sefiru

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Re: Technology, Civilization, and Paganism
« Reply #44 on: July 12, 2019, 07:23:31 pm »
I just need to write my thoughts out for my own satisfaction.

Well, if you do that on a discussion and debate board, people are going to debate you ... 

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