Re: Patriarchy: Re: What Matriarchy?

William Edward Woody (
Sat, 10 Aug 1996 13:10:35 -0700

In article <4ugj67$>, (Gerold Firl) wrote:

> (William Edward Woody) writes:
> |> And who isn't to say that there isn't a God who planted the evidence
> |> in order to test our faith? While I do not accept this answer, the
> |> scientific paradigm rejects this answer not because it's not possible,
> |> but because if this were true, then it would be impossible to explain
> |> *anything* using science.
> It's more than just that. If there was a god who created the universe a
> split-second previous to now, and planted all our memories in our
> heads, and fossils in the ground, and a 3 degrees K cosmic background
> radiation in free space, rational people would continue living their
> lives just as they do presently, using logic, hypothesis testing, and
> the evidence of their senses to reach their best-guess conclusions.
> God is going to have to come across with the punch line before the
> cosmic-joke theory gets taken seriously. Until then, we'll just have to
> make do with logic and intuition.

It's not quite my point. My point is that science presupposes that there
isn't someone loading the dice or fiddling with the experimental results
when the experiments get done. Science also assumes someone doesn't come
in and kill the rats with an undetectable drug on a regular basis, and
it assumes God didn't fiddle with the universe to plant all of this
evidence, or that we're not a brain in a nutrient bath being tickled
by electrodes.

And more importantly (and here's where the cultural bias gets in)
science presupposes that the experimental design is capable of detecting
and testing the hypothesis that is being worked on.

And it is in the experimental design and in the development of the
working hypthosis where cultural bias creeps in.

Newton was a real bigwig during his time, and is still a rather
famous man, and for good reason: his Principa Mathematica was one
of the first intellectual works of the time that didn't answer the
question "Why?", only the question "How?"

Up until then, you see, everyone who was anyone tried to answer
their scientific questions with the "Why does this happen?" (which,
if you wanted to stay in the good graces of society and the Church,
was "Because God wanted it so.") But Newton was one of the first
who simply answered the question "How?" while avoiding the "Why?"--
many people accused him of propagating a theory of "Black Magic"
with his theory of gravity, because he never explained the "Why?" part.

But even so, his theories (and those of his contemporaries who created
classical physics and classical mathematics and brought the scientific
method to a high art) were imbedded in several culturally-biased
assumptions which are still being made by many in the science community

Those assumptions include the notion that there is an ridged order
to the universe, where everything has it's place. (This assumption
also justified 18th and 19th century slavery and repression of
women's rights, as well as class stratification.) It included the
notion of God as the ultimate watchmaker, who created His universe
and let it go, not involving Himself in the day to day operations.
(This assumption is used today to attack mystics and spiritualists.)
And it included the notion that one can (and somehow should) explain
everything through experiment and hypothesis testing only. (Ask
the NAZIs why they were torturing Jews in concentration camps, and
the "somehow should" phrase gets trotted out.)

And we haven't even gotten to any particular hypothesis.

You're correct, Bryant: K=MA^2 is only descriptive. But the reason
why we use this description is because of the assumptions above.
Someone living in different cultural assumptions would never have
used K=MA^2 to describe an aspect of the universe: there
are those for whom experimentation is just a silly idea, and there
are those whose culture suggests describing the universe is such
a mechanistic, clockwork fashion is a silly idea to begin with.

> ... Anthropology examines the enormous range of
> spiritual systems invented by humans, and the most sophisticated
> religious/spiritual systems are found to be the evolutionary outgrowth
> of rudimentary misunderstandings about how the world works, coupled
> with society-wide organizational/motivational techniques and even
> disengeneous exploitation.

But you see, this is the very reasoning that I complained about
that scientists have no business being--the underlying assumption
here is that (1) primitives are culturally, morally, and intellectually
inferior to us, and (2) Logical Positivism is the only way to
describe the universe.

Assumption (1) simply pisses me off--as someone who is a member
of a family who was in the stone age just two generations ago (I'm
AmerIndian), the suggestion that my ancestors spiritual path was
the "evolutionary outgrowth of rudimentary misunderstandings of
how the world works" is a bit, well, condesending and irritating.

And frankly many spiritual systems do not even attempt to explain
how the world works, only how we as individuals should work within
the framework of the world. (This is true of some AmerInd spritual
paths and of much of the Eastern religious mindset.)

Second, the notion that Logical Positivism is the only way to
explain the world--that is, all of the religions of the world,
including the spiritual assistance they give to those who are down,
the hope they give people who are looking for light, and the
moral and ethical impact they have had on both individuals and of
our society in general--the notion that all of this comes from
a simple misunderstanding--is pretty bogus, and arrogant of the
scientific community.

> As you point out, there *could* be a god who set-up the whole thing
> this way, for whatever reason, but until we find some evidence to
> support such a view that hypothesis must remain an amusing mental
> exercise, with no relation to our daily lives.

Are you suggesting that God (in whatever form He/She takes) has
no place in our daily lives because He/She has no impact (due to
the lack of experimental evidence)?

Someone who hasn't spent an afternoon in the company of a religious
person, I take it. (And I'm talking about the spiritually advanced,
not just the annoying Bible-thumpers.)

> And one final note: people around here are way too ready to take
> offense.

Words on the Internet are hard to interpret for inflection and tone.
I may say "I don't understand what you are saying," and mean "Could
you give me more information."

You may read "I don't understand what you are saying" and read an
accusation that you are an idiot.

While there are many negatively charged words which are almost
universally bad (and many positively charged words that are almost
always positive), for the most part, with the right inflection and
tone, our sentences can be read as accusation or as praise...

Just another roadbump on the information superhighway.

- Bill

William Edward Woody | e-mail:
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