[FoRK] Re: "Thanks for the Facts. Now Sell Them."

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com> on Mon Apr 23 00:12:55 PDT 2007

On 4/22/07, mattj at newsblip.com <mattj at newsblip.com> wrote:
> Quoting Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com>:
> >  "The universe is the womb that bore me, and  "the universe is my body."
> >
> >  Both of these are, quite literally, scientifically, true.
> No. "Literally", a womb is an organ of a female mammal.  You are using
> a metaphor.  The appropriate word here is "figuratively", roughly the
> opposite of "literally".

  You're right; It's not literally true.  It's a metaphor.
  You caught me mis-speaking.

  The universe doesn't have a womb, except for all of the instances
  where there are wombs.

  But it is true that the universe made us, and this is a literal truth.

  Wait-- that's not true either...  Because, "made," you know--
  factories, people putting things into place, assembly lines, or people
  putting things together with their hands, or ...

  It looks like slippery slopes, as far as the eye can see.

> You also wrote, regarding "Born With A Bang: The Universe Tells Its Story"...
> > The book doesn't say that the universe has an independent
> > consciousness-- it says that the universe has become conscious,
> > and that scientists (who we presume are telling the story to you)
> > are telling its story to you.
> Er, no.
> I just got the book from the library.  It is *all* first-person, told
> by a loving Universe.  It begins:
> "My Dearest Earthling,
> You may not know me. We haven't talked before. I am the Universe and
> it's time for us to get to know each other.
> [and later,]... Mind you, my dear Earthling, your Milky Way is only
> tiny neighborhood in my vast expanse.  Even though your galaxy is very
> special, I care equally for all my galaxies!"

  This is fair criticism.

  Evolutionary spirituality, the Great Story, are not about a sentient
  universe in the sense that the book portrays.  This book then,
  is clearly out of step with message.

  However, I will cite the top Amazon reviewer:

Some parents might also object that treating the Universe as a person
reeks too much of New Age nature-worship pantheism. Such a criticism
would be unwarranted - Morgan, after all, knows that the Universe is
not actually a human being, and even young readers should be able to
see this as simply an engaging storytelling device. Any child who
enjoys watching talking planes or a purple dinosaur on TV, while
knowing that neither is real, can appreciate Morgan's narrative
approach. This book should be of value to any family, regardless of
religious or philosophical orientation, who possess a serious interest
in science or nature.


> Taking to heart Jeff's comment about precision, meaning, and slippery
> slopes, I think I'm done with this thread. Cheers,

  Sadly, we cannot scold Carl Sagan for his misleading statements:
  "We are a way for the universe to know itself."

  I'm sure we had to see it in context.

  In the interest of precision, I'll state that I don't feel the cheer;
  Rather, I feel the disappointment.

  However, if you are to take Jeff's comments about precision, meaning,
  and slippery slopes to heart, you have a challenging task ahead of you-
  you will need to interpret the universe, without interpreting.

  Re-read this,

You come to grips with the fact that the only
purpose of life is what you make of it;  that the world is a cold,
hollow, soulless place, and that no --- you are not a precious
fucking snowflake.

  ...asking yourself:  "Is this an interpretation of scientific facts,
  or a scientific reality?"

  Since we must interpret, since we have the freedom to choose
  the interpretation, and since the interpretation we choose will
  ultimately shape our own lives and the lives we influence--
  I believe it simply MUST be a positive interpretation.

  The facts are what the facts are.  But the interpretation of
  the facts is yours to create and live by.

"A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe
as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of
reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or
later, such a religion will emerge." -- Carl Sagan

  Take care,

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