Which is More Damaging?

Steve Caruso shared the above, in which he combined two images he found online, each trying to suggest that their worldview is affirming of human beings and gives meaning, while the other supposedly does the opposite.

I think he is right that the very act of pretending that only one’s own worldview is meaningful, and that any opposing view by definition dehumanizes, engages in the very damaging of others that each side claims the other’s worldview causes.

In other words, on the one hand, neither religion or science can be said to damage people by definition. And on the other hand, the act of insisting that people whose beliefs are different than your own are evil or twisted  clearly does cause such damage, in at least some instances.

Click through to see the image full size.

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  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    Personally, I don’t adopt either of those views. I’m inclined to think that one should avoid having a “world view”.

    My science does not compel me to adopt “the naturalist interpretation of science.” If anything, it compels me to question that interpretation.

  • Brian P.

    I’ll comment on the image with the little girl with the poster, simply as it has fewer words for my commonplace ADD of half engagement of things written on the Internet. First, let me strike the top “according to” projections as they should be preceded with “according to my characterizations of…” Second, I think I’m everything on the left list; I think I’m everything on the right list too. I am, for instance, both broken and beautiful. Now for the bottom question of the girl’s posterized false dilemma: which do I think is more damaging? I think either list without the other held in balance is more damaging than either alone. I also think the list should not be for just self, but for others too. Does one see another or a group of others as all in the lefthand list or all in the righthand list? I’d suggest healthiest is to see oneself as all of the above and most others–at least given the chance to be authentic–as all of the above too. My challenge to self now is this: how do I grant generosity daily to people living without such balance?

  • Michael Wilson

    Ah the stupidity of New Atheism. Of course all the photo does is take a bunch of subjective beliefs and call them science. It would be as logical to say, “according to science I have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb sent by the Holy father in heaven.” I mean really, scientifically she is beautiful? There is a scientific, objective, testable way to determine if people are beautiful and full of wonder? I think your right James, I could scientifically argue that this girl is a turd compared with the majesty of the cosmos but really it is all subjective.

    • arcseconds

      The ‘smart’ is plausibly testable with an IQ test(*), and there are strong enough correlations between IQ and social success of various sorts that there’s some sense to be made of saying she ‘has the potential for greatness’.

      But even if she has a high IQ, it’s a horrible way of valuing people! Sure, we can coo over her and how smart she is, but what are we going to do with low IQ children? Give them signs saying “science says I’m dumb and pedestrian, and am doomed to fail”?

      (Maybe it means she’s smart compared with a chicken or something? OK, fine, but it hardly seems like something to skite about.)

      (*) I’m pretty sceptical about what IQ tests tell us about people, but I’m still prepared to call someone with a high IQ ‘smart’, although I might want to put a few caveats on that…

      • Michael Wilson

        Right, how smart can be measured but “smart” is relative. And scientifically, we can’t all be smart in a meaningfull way. Maybe we shouldn’t look to far into it, this ill thought drivel may not be very representstive of new atheist.

    • Matthew Jenkins

      Right, Science can’t prove beauty or objective moral valeus or duties. You couldn’t show with Science how the Scientists in Nazi German did anything evil as opposed to the Scientists here in America.

      Science can only explain the “is”, not what “ought” to be.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    No, it’s not damaging to anything but some fragile Platonist fantasy to make a witty parody of common Platonist talking points.(Knittel, 1993)

    Yes, Platonic Christianity is damaging, both to individuals and the body politic. Such religion is a “scheme” by the “clergy” to establish “tyranny over the mind of man.” (Jefferson, 1800)
    Gregory Lawrence Knittel (1993) The Euthanasia of Platonic Christianity: Thomas Jefferson, Plato, Religion and Human Freedom. San Jose State University. scholarworks.sjsu.edu/etd_theses/689/

    “The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me…” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800

  • TomS

    “The rich man in his castle,The poor man at his gate,
    God made them high and lowly,
    And ordered their estate.”

    From the 19th hymn to creation, “All Things Bright and Beautiful”

  • guest

    Any good naturalist/materialist knows that replicating DNA can’t be said to be our purpose, since purposes are the product of minds and DNA is the product of natural selection.

    Both charts would be better if, instead of ‘religion’ ‘Christianity’ was inserted. There’s more than one kind of religion. I’m fairly sure Buddhism does not teach that God’s son died for our sins, for instance. It’s another example of Christian hegemony, that ‘religion’ becomes synonymous with Christianity.

    I agree that it’s damaging to think that religion (or naturalistic atheism) always damages people, because it obviously isn’t true. On the other hand, some of the teachings of some religions have lead to people being damaged. It should be possible to point that out. Some atheistic philosophies, like communism, have also led to damaging acts, although I have to say I’ve never met anyone or heard of anyone yet who was all that disturbed to learn that they were an arrangement of molecules. Obviously science has made things that damage people- nuclear bombs and so on- but the idea of people being hurt by the scientifically accepted model of the universe seems more like a Christian myth than reality. Though if anyone has been traumatised by it, I’m willing to listen. I wasn’t all that happy when I realised I would eventually die, but I wouldn’t say I was damaged by it. You get used to the idea, in time.

    Of course science doesn’t have much to say about meaning or value. Maybe in psychology, but generally it’s not the kind of thing you can make experiments or models to test. You can test what people claim they value with surveys, you could scan their brains to see which part lights up when thinking about meaning or value, but you can’t scientifically prove what people should value. That’s really up to them to debate about and to search their own feeling for.

    • Michael Wilson

      Guest, your right about purpose. And yes, the sign has a very limited understanding of religion. People make the mistake frequently, but lifes purpose isn’t to reproduce any more than a rocks purpose is to fall, they just do. Regarding the harm of being molecules, you left out the important modifier “just” implying no other aspects. The new atheist often say people invent religion so they won’t be afraid of dying. I suspect that believing as the second sign suggest, that one is an accident without purpose, value, self control, or a future could nake one sad. Thatvisnt to say one must be Christian to deal with these issues, only that science, as you say can’t impart what we should value.

  • arcseconds

    I think whoever wrote the stuff on the left (I’m pretty sure it’s not the little girl who’s holding it) needs to do some hard thinking about how it is they are deriving their values from science. They might want to read some Hume.

  • Robert Landbeck

    Which is more damaging? both are about the same but for different reasons. There is something missing from human thought that might be described as an honest critical self scrutiny. Religion hammers on about the flaws of human nature without offering a way and means of learning to overcome them. And this is certainly contrary to the promise of the Incarnation.

    Science offers a too overly optimistic even dishonest view of human potential without offering the means to realize that potential. And ignoring just how slow and fragile the Enlightenment project has become. Burning less and less bright in a world of unfathomable conundrums threatening both our planet and ourselves, that demand resolutions, which even the highest reason seems incapable of delivering.

    And while our species may be ‘unique’ in many respects, the potential is incomplete and unrealized. Which is why both philosophy and religion have failed in their primary goal to answer the question: What is the good life and how can we know for certain. The search continues! http://www.energon.org.uk

  • wild

    with the two religion graphs we see one expample of the contradictory tensions in Christianity (when religion focuses too much on the stuff on the left graph it becomes toxic and dangerous)

    this contradiction also goes for the ohter sides of the graph – you could give both of them the heading “naturalistic humanism”