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Re: [pagan-1073] How Far We've Come: Air Force Academy builds us a... chapel?

From: Michael
Sent on: Saturday, December 10, 2011 11:08 AM
Thanks to all who responded to my inquiry with your thoughtful comments.   As someone coming from an agnostic/atheist background I'm most comfortable with paganism when the supernatural/paranormal aspects or interpretations of concepts like "Magick" are explicitly disavowed and references to gods and goddesses are clearly described as metaphorical.   It's great that pagans are so tolerant of this and other views and interpretations.
With some claiming a billion non-believers in the world (the book "Good Without God" for example), I'm sure there are many more like me.
I have started to create a new secular Yule-inspired version of the Holidays called "Wintermas" (see ) to appeal to all non-Christians (a work in progress!)
Also, if anyone knows of any upcoming celebrations of Yule and/or the Solistice on the Pennisula, please let us all know.

From: teamnoir <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Sunday, December 4,[masked]:47 PM
Subject: Re: [pagan-1073] How Far We've Come: Air Force Academy builds us a... chapel?

On Dec 4, 2011, at 3:57, Kennita <[address removed]> wrote:

Begin forwarded message:

Maybe.  I'm not sure I make the distinction. 
Magick = change. Ritual = self/group hypnosis. Does ritual create change or does it celebrate change in progress? 

It can do either.  But "magick" is not change; it is inexplicable change.  Noting that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic:  putting food in a box, pressing a button, and having the food get hot looks like magic to an aboriginal, but is clearly the normal operation of a microwave oven to you or me.  While I can't name particular neurotransmitters and psychological processes, I am also clear that hypnosis is not magic -- no supernatural agency is involved.

When I was in college, physics was down to four forces in the universe - strong force, weak force, (the thing that keeps protons together in a nucleus and the thing that keeps them from collapsing into each other - I forget which is which), electromagnetism, and gravity.  I've heard that people have found models that could convert from several pairs, or even could convert three of these.  Everyone is looking for the Grand Unified Theory that will convert all four, make energy requirements moot, antigravity anyone? Etc.

But at its root level, no one understands how these forces work, only at they do.  I don't think that means that physics breaks down into magick.  I just think that means that at some level physics breaks down a bit.  But then, all of science does.

Consider for a moment the concept of "root cause".  What qualifies as a root cause?  Why don't root causes have root causes?  What cause is sufficient that you're willing to accept it as is without asking for its antecedent cause?

Put another way, do you really have a personal experience of the mechanism by which your microwave works?  Or are you happy just to know how to push the buttons to make things hot while accepting some eloquent description involving mysterious invisible demonic, (ie, "hot", as with maxwells demons), forces exciting impenetrable invisible angelic, (ie, "cold"), objects?

I would argue that your level of explanation is no better that the aboriginal's Clarke explanation.  The only significant difference is that you're comfortable with your explanation and you're uncomfortable with his, (although he may be quite comfortable with his own).  (we all know what happened to the star of "the gods might be crazy, right?!xau). Your explanation is socially appropriate in your social group and his is socially appropriate in his.

I don't have to invent supernatural forces to explain or use either magick or ritual, although fantasy terms can be very useful as non-professional, lay allegory and/or metaphor.  I mean, what's the difference between soul retrieval, demon work, and mediation?  They all seem remarkably similar to me with the primary distinction being contextual. 

One can get into trouble using such allegory in dealing with people who think that souls and demons and such have objective existence rather than being metaphorical, because imaginary entities can be counterfactual and even nonsensical in any and every way (as suits any sufficiently charismatic human who is motivated to convince any sufficiently credulous other human of its veracity) (is that sufficiently sesquipedalian for you?  Sorry.)

On this I completely concur.  One must always be careful to speak the right language and paradigms to one's audience or one risks any number of ugly social ramifications.

I think a lot of things become more clear if we consider that science is just another process for evaluating and refining belief.  The entire concept that science has validity is something that must be taken on faith, it can't be "proven" using science as that would be tautological circular logic.
 So any process one uses to validate science must necessarily be some other form of ratiocination, a sort of protologic or metalogic, if you will. 

Don't fall into that trap.  Science is not "just another" process for evaluating belief; it is *the* process for evaluating belief that is consistent with observed reality.

And that is a demonstration of the fallacy of objective reality.  There is no such thing as "objective reality" and I defy you to prove otherwise.  There is only consensus.  Science doesn't define objective reality. It only describes one process for arriving at, and then later challenging, consensus.

In fact, there are many, many other systems which evaluate belief and it's consistency with observations.  I observe the results of my last, now terminated, relationship and I reevaluate my beliefs about myself, the other person, reality, etc.  That's not science.  If there's any consensus building going on it's only within a small group of people and the information isn't openly available.  There may be theories involved, but the are no theory testing experiments, at least, not in any scientifically clean, reproducible, publishable manner.

Don't get me wrong.  Science is a very strong social process.  It's one of the strongest and most group unifying processes we've ever had.  But it doesn't make for a complete individual life path all on its own.  If it were, we'd have a universal, logically obvious, scientifically proven happy life path.

 One of the best statements on the subject that I've heard is "Science adjusts its views based on what's observed; faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved."

That would be a very rigid type of faith.

But let me ask you.  If you had a belief, perhaps one based on science, and you later came into evidence that countered or at least challenged that belief, wouldn't you reevaluate?

I suspect that you would.  And while you might claim that your reevaluation was scientifically motivated, I'll ask again, what evidence do you have that the scientific method is valid?  Science can't validate science.  Only faith can do that.  Thus, I would argue that while your choice to reevaluate might be scientifically motivated, your choice to apply this method at this juncture is an act of faith.  And thus I conclude that not all faith is as rigid as you might at first think.  (IMO, science is no better or worse in this regard,  btw, as science is simply a process followed by people. And people, all of them, are sometimes reluctant to change dearly held beliefs).

 If science does not have validity, what does?

I didn't say that science has no validity.  I only said that science can't justify science.  Only faith can do that.

If accepted on faith, then science can do many wondrous things.  And so can many other systems of belief.

 To refer to ratiocination in this way is to demote it unjustly in a manner that serves the purposes of the snake-oil salesman who would have us not believe in what out eyes see and our logic dictates (note that logic must prevail, given optical illusions; and that the logic is not always intuitive, e.g. Bayes' theorem and general relativity, but that is not reason enough to surrender to fantasy).

Lots of material here.  But let's just say, either you accept evidence or you don't. If you don't accept your own experience, then whose experience will you accept?

Note that this has nothing to do with science.  Nor does "logic".  There are many different kinds of logic.  One does not equal zero.  That's logical.  But it's also an axiom of modern mathematics.  That is, it isn't, and can't be, proven.  Accepting that one and zero are different is an act of faith, not of science.  Whether its an act of logic is a semantic question whose answer depends on how you define "logic".

I'm not asking you to ignore your eyes.  I use my eyes daily.  I trust mine more than I trust anyone else's.  And I never doubt what they see.  I do doubt many of the judgements and interpretations my brain sometimes places on the data that comes into my eyes.  I'm frequently skeptical of my own judgements and interpretations, but never of my own eyes.  Or any of my other senses.  Sensation is experience is reality.

And yes, I have personal...  "translations", (explanations?), for most of the "supernatural" things I hear about today.  (I haven't figured out alien abduction yet, though.) 

Alien abduction, like other "supernatural" things, can be chalked up to hallucination (including dreaming), optical or cognitive illusion, or other delusion.  It can be tempting to pretend that there are supernatural things, because so many people are delighted or terrified by thoughts of them; but "supernatural" == "imaginary".  The universe is quite vast and complex enough, and there is so much of it that we don't yet fathom, that there is no need to make up stuff to keep us amazed and entertained.

While I can appreciate that explanation, I don't think that explains the frequency of this particular experience nor the commonality of description.  This particular experience is too common and too similar to be explained by random dreams.  There's a clustering effect involved. Even if they are all dreams/hallucinations, there's a pattern here, and presumably predictors, that I do not yet fathom.

I also don't understand about all the dead babies in ritual abuse survivor histories.  I'm not saying that the stories are false, only that I haven't found a way to reconcile them into my own map of my reality.


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