collapse

* "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" Problem Logging In?

If you get an "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" error when you try to log in, you need to be sure you are accessing the board with a url that starts with "https://ecauldron.com".  If it starts with https://www.ecauldron.com" (or "http://www.ecauldron.com") you will get this error because "www.ecauldron.com" is not technically the same website as "ecauldron.com". Moving to the more secure "https" means it is more picky about such things.

Author Topic: Polytheism and Science  (Read 9382 times)

Materialist

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 605
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Polytheism and Science
« on: January 25, 2013, 06:30:42 pm »
I read  a lot of skeptic magazines (scientists discussing their investigations into unscientific sounding things), and a popular subject is the science vs. religion debate, as authors in these mags call it. The debates, though, are really between science and specifically monotheistic deities, and I question whether the arguments for or against either side can be equally applied to specifically polytheistic religions.

It would be interesting to see how a debate would go between a scientist, who is an atheist, as all these article writers are, and a polytheist. As with a Christian debating an atheist, the former would give evidence that God exists, that latter offering up scientific discoveries that disprove his existence.

In a hypothetical world where most people are polytheists trying to convert the heretical atheists, what facts would a polytheist bring to the table to prove gods exist?

Would it be the same things monotheists say? A creator is necessary for the universe to exist? Life is too complex for evolution to be true, so a god of some sort had to control things?

What would it be?

Valentine

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 936
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 79
    • View Profile
  • Religion: get free; get others free; make new life in the aftermath
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2013, 06:40:52 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;93549
I read  a lot of skeptic magazines (scientists discussing their investigations into unscientific sounding things), and a popular subject is the science vs. religion debate, as authors in these mags call it. The debates, though, are really between science and specifically monotheistic deities, and I question whether the arguments for or against either side can be equally applied to specifically polytheistic religions.

It would be interesting to see how a debate would go between a scientist, who is an atheist, as all these article writers are, and a polytheist. As with a Christian debating an atheist, the former would give evidence that God exists, that latter offering up scientific discoveries that disprove his existence.

In a hypothetical world where most people are polytheists trying to convert the heretical atheists, what facts would a polytheist bring to the table to prove gods exist?

Would it be the same things monotheists say? A creator is necessary for the universe to exist? Life is too complex for evolution to be true, so a god of some sort had to control things?

What would it be?

 
I should hope the factuality of evolution as an observable phenomenon would hardly be under debate here, at least.

Many of the logical arguments antitheists bring up to disprove the notion of Gods are predicated on "God" meaning singular, benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, that's true, and those arguments simply don't work in a polytheistic frame.  Consider David Hume's famous arguments that amount to "Does God care more about the cheetah or the gazelle?" (If there's more than one that's easy: there are multiple forces at work that are in tension.) or "Wouldn't horses have gods that look more like horses, the way humans have gods that look human?" ("Why not?")  One of his arguments flat-out concludes, and I'm paraphrasing, "For this to work there'd have to be more than one God, and we know that's absurd, therefore, there aren't any."

A polytheistic frame may or may not be tripped up on the grand question of theodicy the way a monotheistic frame often is, too.  Not all religions assume deities are benevolent or benevolent toward humans in particular.  Not all conceptions of deity treat those deities as all-powerful, or as creators.

I mean, for me, pushed, I'm not interested in proving Gods exist, and I have too much respect for the atheists in my life to try to convert them, but the arguments disproving the existence of Gods, I'll fence with if I have the time and energy.
"Let be be finale of seem." - Wallace Stevens, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream"
"There isn't a way things should be.  There's just what happens, and what we do."
- Terry Pratchett, "A Hat Full of Sky"

Darkhawk

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 4849
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 729
    • View Profile
    • Suns in her Branches
  • Religion: An American Werewolf in the Akhet; Kemetic; Feri; Imaginary Baltic Heathen; Discordian; CoX; Etc.
  • Preferred Pronouns: any of he, she, they
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2013, 06:49:36 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;93549
In a hypothetical world where most people are polytheists trying to convert the heretical atheists, what facts would a polytheist bring to the table to prove gods exist?

 
Is there any particular reason that the polytheists in this particular world would care?  It's a common trait of historical polytheisms that of course other people don't worship their gods, that's one of the ways you know they're other people, not our people.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

RandallS

  • Site Admin
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: NE Ohio
  • Posts: 10172
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 254
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Hellenic Pagan
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2013, 07:02:51 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;93549
In a hypothetical world where most people are polytheists trying to convert the heretical atheists, what facts would a polytheist bring to the table to prove gods exist?

The problem is that Polytheists see no reason to care about what other people believe. This is why there aren't a lot of debates on this topic between  polytheists and skeptics -- the polytheists generally don't give a damn  what others believe about gods so long as they can worship their gods.  Someone thinks Zeus doesn't exist? So what? That doesn't affect Zeus or  me.

The two large western monotheisms, on the other hand, are very concerned that everyone believe in their (version of) god and hence see far more reasons to involve themselves in such debates than polytheists do.
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free
OSR.SPACE: Old School Tabletop RPG Community

Darkhawk

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 4849
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 729
    • View Profile
    • Suns in her Branches
  • Religion: An American Werewolf in the Akhet; Kemetic; Feri; Imaginary Baltic Heathen; Discordian; CoX; Etc.
  • Preferred Pronouns: any of he, she, they
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2013, 07:11:02 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;93557
The two large western monotheisms, on the other hand, are very concerned that everyone believe in their (version of) god and hence see far more reasons to involve themselves in such debates than polytheists do.

 
It's worth adding that providing an actual polytheistic perspective to the standard skeptic flamewar is a good way of getting stepped around as if one is covered in a Somebody Else's Problem Field.  As far as I can tell, the standard skeptic flamewar is a set-piece dance with prescribed choreography, and anyone who doesn't follow the strict set of known sound bites is roundly ignored.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Altair

  • Adept Member
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Location: New York, New York
  • *
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 2934
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 324
  • Fly high and make the world follow
    • View Profile
    • Songs of the Metamythos
  • Religion: tree-hugging pagan
  • Preferred Pronouns: he/him/his
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2013, 08:00:38 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;93549


In a hypothetical world where most people are polytheists trying to convert the heretical atheists, what facts would a polytheist bring to the table to prove gods exist?


I like your question, and I like how Randall answered it. Here's an answer that ends up in a similar place, though perhaps this answer is more applicable to the softer forms of polytheism, like mine.

Your question implies a tension--"do gods exist, or don't they?"--that for me simply isn't there. My view is, "something exists." This is a view about which both the scientifically minded atheist and the polytheist can agree.

Science is one way of exploring that something, and delivers objective results that can be replicated: empirical truth.

Religion in general (in my case, a very soft polytheism) is another way of exploring that something, and it delivers poetic results that are intensely personal. These are not empirical, should not be taken literally (the tragic error of the fundamentalist), and shouldn't even be considered in the same way as scientific insights. And yet these religious insights can also deliver truth.

There are simply things so vast and amazing out there that the human mind doesn't grasp them. Science is one way to begin to understand them; religion is another. It's not either/or; it's both.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 08:03:29 pm by Altair »
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Gilbride

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Sep 2012
  • Posts: 597
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2013, 08:02:49 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;93549
In a hypothetical world where most people are polytheists trying to convert the heretical atheists, what facts would a polytheist bring to the table to prove gods exist?


It's honestly hard to imagine such a world. I don't think it's possible or meaningful to "prove" the existence or non-existence of deities. You either experience them or you don't.

Shine

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Nov 2011
  • Posts: 912
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
    • http://houseofthelion.wordpress.com/
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2013, 08:17:18 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;93560
It's worth adding that providing an actual polytheistic perspective to the standard skeptic flamewar is a good way of getting stepped around as if one is covered in a Somebody Else's Problem Field.  As far as I can tell, the standard skeptic flamewar is a set-piece dance with prescribed choreography, and anyone who doesn't follow the strict set of known sound bites is roundly ignored.

 
This.

Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, burned the T-shirt, was still ignored.
Leave your darkness with me, and I will make you shine.

Collinsky

  • Sr. Newbie
  • **
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 10
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2013, 11:54:25 pm »
Quote from: Altair;93571
I like your question, and I like how Randall answered it. Here's an answer that ends up in a similar place, though perhaps this answer is more applicable to the softer forms of polytheism, like mine.

Your question implies a tension--"do gods exist, or don't they?"--that for me simply isn't there. My view is, "something exists." This is a view about which both the scientifically minded atheist and the polytheist can agree.

Science is one way of exploring that something, and delivers objective results that can be replicated: empirical truth.

Religion in general (in my case, a very soft polytheism) is another way of exploring that something, and it delivers poetic results that are intensely personal. These are not empirical, should not be taken literally (the tragic error of the fundamentalist), and shouldn't even be considered in the same way as scientific insights. And yet these religious insights can also deliver truth.

There are simply things so vast and amazing out there that the human mind doesn't grasp them. Science is one way to begin to understand them; religion is another. It's not either/or; it's both.


I absolutely love this response. As an atheist, I can get completely on board with this.
~*~Colleen~*~
When I\'m sad, I stop being sad and be AWESOME instead.

HeartShadow

  • Adept Member
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 2195
  • Total likes: 3
    • View Profile
    • http://www.flamekeeping.org
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2013, 06:56:14 am »
Quote from: Altair;93571
I like your question, and I like how Randall answered it. Here's an answer that ends up in a similar place, though perhaps this answer is more applicable to the softer forms of polytheism, like mine.

Your question implies a tension--"do gods exist, or don't they?"--that for me simply isn't there. My view is, "something exists." This is a view about which both the scientifically minded atheist and the polytheist can agree.

Science is one way of exploring that something, and delivers objective results that can be replicated: empirical truth.

Religion in general (in my case, a very soft polytheism) is another way of exploring that something, and it delivers poetic results that are intensely personal. These are not empirical, should not be taken literally (the tragic error of the fundamentalist), and shouldn't even be considered in the same way as scientific insights. And yet these religious insights can also deliver truth.

There are simply things so vast and amazing out there that the human mind doesn't grasp them. Science is one way to begin to understand them; religion is another. It's not either/or; it's both.

 
*cheers* like I say, they're different toolboxes.  Science answers a different set of QUESTIONS than religion.  Trying to use science to answer some of these questions is just as futile as trying to turn a screw with a hammer.  And vice-versa, of course.

RandallS

  • Site Admin
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: NE Ohio
  • Posts: 10172
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 254
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Hellenic Pagan
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2013, 08:25:23 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;93560
As far as I can tell, the standard skeptic flamewar is a set-piece dance with prescribed choreography, and anyone who doesn't follow the strict set of known sound bites is roundly ignored.

LOL, very true. Some have looked at me like I was an alien when I pointed out that the (philosopical) Problem of Evil (a large debate point in arguments over the existence/non-existence of the JCI God) simply isn't a problem for a typical polytheist as they have no deity who claims to be all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, perfect and is somehow responsible for everything that happens in reality.
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free
OSR.SPACE: Old School Tabletop RPG Community

Materialist

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 605
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2013, 11:19:03 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;93553
Is there any particular reason that the polytheists in this particular world would care?  It's a common trait of historical polytheisms that of course other people don't worship their gods, that's one of the ways you know they're other people, not our people.


Well, historically, some cultures dominated by polytheism DID care, as with the Roman Republic, which massacred Christians for not making sacrifices to the deified emperors for a while.

Materialist

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 605
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2013, 11:22:38 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;93560
It's worth adding that providing an actual polytheistic perspective to the standard skeptic flamewar is a good way of getting stepped around as if one is covered in a Somebody Else's Problem Field.  As far as I can tell, the standard skeptic flamewar is a set-piece dance with prescribed choreography, and anyone who doesn't follow the strict set of known sound bites is roundly ignored.


Hm, yes, the science vs. religion debates in the magazines I've read have gotten old. What would be interesting is taking up Carl Sagan's challenge of figuring out how many of the gods actually exist, but no one's touched that as far as I know.

Darkhawk

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 4849
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 729
    • View Profile
    • Suns in her Branches
  • Religion: An American Werewolf in the Akhet; Kemetic; Feri; Imaginary Baltic Heathen; Discordian; CoX; Etc.
  • Preferred Pronouns: any of he, she, they
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2013, 11:54:07 am »
Quote from: Materialist;93669
Well, historically, some cultures dominated by polytheism DID care, as with the Roman Republic, which massacred Christians for not making sacrifices to the deified emperors for a while.

 
Which is not a concern about belief, it is a concern about social conformity: more specifically, a matter of social conformity that was taken as an indication of whether or not someone is potentially traitorous.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Materialist

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 605
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Polytheism and Science
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2013, 11:55:17 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;93648
*cheers* like I say, they're different toolboxes.  Science answers a different set of QUESTIONS than religion.  Trying to use science to answer some of these questions is just as futile as trying to turn a screw with a hammer.  And vice-versa, of course.


This reminds me of another thing. A scientist named Stephen Jay Gould made up this thing called "Non-overlapping Magisteria," that science and religion answers different things, as you've said, so the two shouldn't pester each other.

Along with a lot of other skeptics, I think such boundaries need to be taken down, and religious claims investigated. My own reasons for doing this comes from studying the works of mythologist Joseph Campbell, who said somewhere that the conflict is not between science and religion, but between Bronze Age science and Modern science. Another thing he said, from reading "The Hero's Journey," is that religion and mythology is about reconciling oneself to reality. Telling people to pray to a magical creature in a quartz crystal to cure gout has no place in this world anymore, in my opinion, so I do judge religions.

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
0 Replies
5825 Views
Last post June 23, 2011, 08:19:33 pm
by RandallS
4 Replies
4545 Views
Last post December 27, 2011, 08:16:21 pm
by SunflowerP
0 Replies
1871 Views
Last post June 02, 2012, 02:04:23 pm
by RandallS
2 Replies
1122 Views
Last post January 08, 2013, 08:51:36 am
by veggiewolf
0 Replies
927 Views
Last post February 13, 2013, 01:49:20 pm
by RandallS

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 29
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 2
  • Dot Users Online:

* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Host:
Sunflower

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Darkhawk

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Senior Staff:
Aisling, Jenett, Sefiru

Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, EclecticWheel, HarpingHawke, Kylara, PerditaPickle, rocquelaire

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:
Randall