RE: The Status of Memetics as a Science

From: Trupeljak Ozren (
Date: Wed May 02 2001 - 02:26:06 BST

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    --- Vincent Campbell <> wrote:

    > <Logic was an essential tool for development of Christianity through
    > the middle ages; read Thomas Aquinas if you want to see what did it
    look like.
    > > although the reasoning used is almost impeccable in most of these
    > religious treatises, one can argue very well that the basic premises
    > to put it
    > > nicely...rather out there...>
    > >
    > Perhaps, but if you start from the wrong basic premises, it doesn't
    > matter that whether what you may then do has internal consistency or
    > not, it's stil wrong. Ask Descartes.

    Read above. I believe I clearly stated that their premises might have
    been rather shaky. Logic by itself can not be used to define the truth
    of beginning axioms; the validity of these is an act of faith. Just
    look at the history of development of non-euclidean geometries.

    > <Most of the religions "clearly" diverge, and I do not see how that
    > would make them different in their deep structures. As far as I know,
    most of
    > the scientists *believe that science is The Way Of Truth, same as
    > of theChristians believe that Christ is the way to truth,
    > etc...mechanisms of
    > > finding the correspondences with the word, and
    > them into existing bodies of knowledge *are different, though. The
    > > between the religion and science I see as a difference between apes
    and early
    > humans -
    > > clearly, very close and similar species..>
    > >
    > You're not seeing this at the right level. Once experimentation
    > falsifies a hypothesis in science, that hypothesis is rejected (this
    > a significant lidealisation, and simplification, of course). In
    > words,if it doesn't work it's rejected. Religion is about continuing
    > believe, in many cases especially when lived experience and
    understanding seem
    > to contradict those beliefs. That's Kiekergaard's absurd leap of

    I am very much aware of that leap of faith; it is also needed for
    science of today. Ask some religious people whether they believe in
    science of today, and you will find out that their knowledge of science
    is very much a matter of their own belief; similarly, non religious,
    but also non-scientificaly minded people show that they cannot find
    distinction between scientific claims and claims of pseudoscientific
    quacks, sects, etc. (look at all those new age movements so visible
    today). I am trying to show here that unless you are scientist
    yourself, or very familiar with the theory behind it (in effect, a
    priest of science ;), the differences between science and religion seem

    > The basic premise of belief in religion and science are
    > different. 'Belief' in science should always be contingent, belief in
    > should never be contingent (you have to believe absolutely).

    Never claimed anything else. They both require belief, though.

    > >
    > > I do not agree that practicaly any of the above meanings of the
    > word arbitrary can be applied to religious rituals in any of today's
    > developed religions.>
    > >
    > Well, you just don't understand them very well then. I think every
    > definition here applies to religions, and their rituals. Take the
    > 3rd definition here- exactly what I mean- religious rituals have
    > to do with the intrinstic nature of whatever it is they're supposed
    to be
    > doing (again, rain dances don't make it rain; transubstantiation does
    > turn communion wine into the blood of Jesus etc. etc.).

    Might be that my understanding is fallible. Thank you for showing me
    what meaning of the word arbitrary you choose. I still do not agree
    with your belief, though; religious rituals have not developed
    arbitrarily, but with very specific goals in mind, and these goals
    affected the choice of words, movements, dress etc. Just because you
    can not prove that they really work (or do not work) reliably, does not
    mean that they are arbitrary.

    > <The cultural meanings of the rituals do not became attached to
    > arbitrary choices in dress, movements, postures etc; it is rather the
    > way around, these movements, dress, colors, words, are all chosen
    because of
    > their cultural meanings, in order for religion scheme to be more
    successful in
    > attaching to the hosts. And I do believe that mistakes in copying the
    > produce such significant effects that often people of the same
    religion but
    > different ritual are not perceived as sharing the religion at all.
    All of that
    > points out that the choices are *not arbitrary.>
    > >
    > Again, look at those definitions. Tell me there's some external-
    > not internal- logic to the majority of religious rituals.

    What is external logic? Are you refering to the correspondence with
    phenomena in the real word? What does that have to do with logic? And
    how does that prove that choices are arbitrary? I don't get it.
    > <Actually, the truth-generator is the root, but you are close
    > enough. But the difference is not enough, IMHO for us to call the
    > "opposite" of religion, or something completely different then
    religion. It is
    > just another, maybe more advanced, one...>
    > >
    > Even I might shirk from saying that science is the opposite of
    > religion, but another one? Absolutely no way. It's a completely
    > different way of thinking.

    OK, a compromise. It is the next step in evolution of religion. It is
    still based upon certain axioms (that scientific method produces truths
    about universe, etc..) that have to be accepted on faith; it offers
    understanding of the universe and our place in it; it offers "true"
    magic thorough its offspring, the technology; it even offers hope of
    finaly understanding the secrets behind human mind (arguably, soul,
    I do not believe it is a different way of thinking (except as related
    to the truth-engine) since you still can not have both schemes active
    in your mind at the same time (resource sharing theory!); they are very
    much related.

    > Let's assume for a moment you're right- that modern Christianity is
    > down to Paul. How did Paul decide what bits of Jesus' teachings were
    > correct? He made arbitrary choices- not in the sense of being
    > unrelated to the cultural needs of people of the time, but arbitrary
    in the sense
    > that there was no way for him to judge the absolute vaildity of the
    > he> chose, and yet at the same time claiming them to be absolute
    > That's the point; evidence-free assertions of absolute truth. That
    > be more removed from what science endeavours to do (i.e. possible
    > contingent of available evidence).

    Different truth engines, as I said before. What are the reasons behind
    such absolute dogmatism in religion, as opposed to the more flexible
    one of science? I presume they are just different survival strategies
    for the specific scheme. And I would most definitively not go as far as
    to say that the strategy chosen by scheme of science is better at
    survival; majority of the people of earth are still religious (in the
    old fashioned sense - excluding those whose religion is science ;).
    > <I always see the use of word arbitrary in a sense of unrational,
    > almost random choice. And I don't agree that interpretations of
    > writings are like that at all. >
    > >
    > Again, then I don't think you understand religions at all.

    Might very well be so; please enlighten me.

    > <And different factions of Islam might be explained by evolution
    > > theory: even small mistakes in copying can produce huge differences
    > in finished organisms. And with such complex structures as religions
    are, you
    > have this constant fight against "cancer", mutated cells - sometimes
    > spring into open heresy, and then you can get an entirely new
    > >
    > You're not seeing the personal psychology here of people trying to
    > jump on Mohammad's band wagon. It, arguably, had nothing to do with
    > correct or incorrect understandings of Mohammad's teaching's and
    > to do with familial squabbles over his legacy.
    > Vincent

    OK, so how is the theory of "mutated cells" and "mistaken copying"
    different and opposed to the one you advocate (familial squabbles
    leading to different interpretations)? Isn't one the subset of the

    There are very few man - and they are exceptions - who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment.

    Carl von Clausewitz

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