A Jovial Juxtaposition

A Jovial Juxtaposition

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Remember that many brilliant scientists merely made it possible for humans to obliterate each other more efficiently, indiscriminately, and with less blood. Is this called “progress”?

Additional Note: Historically, people have used BOTH science and religion as a means to harm, suppress, and kill fellow human beings.

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32 thoughts on “A Jovial Juxtaposition

  1. “you might look at the cartoon and the text and then think about them”

    Yup, that’s what I did. I’m afraid an artist can’t always control how people interpret his work, or what reaction it sets off.

    That’s three responses you’ve had from me, so think yourself blessed!

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  2. An apt response to: “Science flies people to the moon. Religion flies planes into buildings.”

    “Science blows up entire cities with bombs. Religion encourages people to ‘turn the other cheek.'”

    Such bumper-sticker types of sayings have emotional power, but do not reflect the reality. The benefits and ills of either science or religion (whatever the referent of “religion” is, anyway) are far more complex than one line. People who try to say otherwise are just doing to laugh at the “other” (usually the religious “other”).

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    • Thank you for getting and expressing the point exactly, JW. That’s the entire point of the cartoon. People I’ve met are perfectly content with talking about the ills of religion and go on and on about the Crusades. Yet if one were to turn the conversation to Hiroshima / Nagasaki and the hundreds of thousands killed immediately and in the aftermath, then what happens?

      Critics start jumping off their soapboxes.

      Peace!

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  3. The cartoon presents a false comparison between selected products attributed to religion and owed to science as either good or evil.

    Why is it a false comparison?

    Well, you’re comparing apples with oranges regarding morality.

    But then you ask an unrelated question about progress. And this the question I answered.

    Look, religion confuses faith-based belief with reality whereas science is a reliable and astoundingly practical method of figuring out how reality actually works. Science in this regard is the only means to ‘progress’ if, by progress, one means increasing our knowledge of reality. Religion in this regards never undergoes any self-administered ‘progress’ because it doesn’t allow reality to arbitrate its faith-based claims. That’s why religious belief never produces new knowledge or any practical applications, technologies, or therapies. Ever. That’s not its job. Its job is to provide a framework into which reality is supposed to fit.

    So when you ask Is this called progress? and refer to one product of science (killing efficiently), then the answer is the same as if you referred to the means by which you communicate here… as Ryan quite perceptively pointed out. Science is not a product but a method, whereas religion is not a method but a product! Only science, in this regard, will always produce more knowledge about all facets of reality to which it is applied. In comparison, religion is a product of belief that is a method stopper (for honest inquiry) by pretending some faith-based framework is equivalent to ‘another way’ of gaining knowledge… but one that cannot link its claims to the very reality it pretends to describe.

    In my mind, any definition of ‘good’ that applies to stopping the acquisition of knowledge about reality with the certainty of faux-answers exempted from reality’s arbitration of them is not a ‘good’ worth having. And it seems to me to be the antithesis of ‘progress’.

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    • And who’s to say that that bomb falling is just an example of what science can do? It could easily be an example of religion doing bad too, if the people dropping the bomb were religiously motivated. And unless we know more we can’t even say if that bomb is actually leading to harm – perhaps it’s a bomb dropped in the desert by a state to dissuade another state from a pointless war, thus avoiding bloodshed.

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    • The cartoon presents a false comparison between selected products attributed to religion and owed to science as either good or evil.

      Response #2: Before you read my comment, read JW’s comment above for a concise, precise understanding of what the cartoon is about. Onward to my second and final response…

      Fortunately, dictionaries are law recorders, not law makers. They record the way people use words from their context. The meanings of good include “of a favorable character or tendency”, “profitable; advantageous”, “virtuous; right; commendable”. Dictionaries also declare that evil is used to mean “harmful”, “injurious”, “causing ruin, injury, or pain”, etc.

      You’re welcome to go argue your case with a dictionary.

      But then you ask an unrelated question about progress…

      The statement on progress is only unrelated to the cartoon because you haven’t taken the time to consider what the atomic bomb, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII may have to do with progress. Rather than connect the dots for you here, just read some literature in from the late 1800s and early 1900s. See what the two World Wars did to disprove a certain view on humanity that was popular at the time.

      And the often repeated mantra of “religious belief never produces new knowledge or any practical applications, technologies, or therapies” is just as ignorant a statement now as it was when it was made a couple of times before here on this blog. To say that religion is somehow “a knowledge stopper” or some sort of reality denying tool is to ignore the history of science.

      Sorry that I don’t have more time to waste entertaining such assertions.

      Joshua

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      • The difference, Josh, is that science as a method of inquiry is not the causal agent of Hiroshima, whereas religion as a method of advancing a particular belief is the causal agent for the Crusades. By any fair comparison, it takes religious belief as the causal agent to intentionally fly civilians into a civilian building to cause death and suffering; it takes science to build the scaffolding of knowledge needed to successfully build the applications and technologies needed to fly people to the moon and back again.

        The problem that Wartick misses is that, if compared only by its complex effects, the difference between religion and science is that science produces knowledge (used in applications, therapies and technologies for good or ill) whereas religion produces ignorance, superstition, bias, misogyny, and intolerance (that produces comfort for some people and misery for others). Religion does not, cannot, and never shall produce knowledge that causes good, whereas science does, can, and shall produce knowledge that causes good.

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      • Readers, please note these 2 simple equations:

        1) humans + “religion” = Crusades
        2) humans + ? = bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

        Some critics sometimes fail to understand that to label something “Christian” — even a crusade! — doesn’t make it so, as if everyone and everything claiming to be Christian actually is. So, readers, consider this: Did Jesus ever use “convert or die” tactics? Where does the New Testament teach that the behavior displayed by people in the Crusades was justifiable? Without “religion” (merely “information” that people used to act on), various critics charge that the Crusades would not have happened. In reference to my cartoon, readers, I ask you: What, then, was the entity that effected the death of 246,000 or so innocent or otherwise Japanese people? Or do atomic bombs, like we are told of our own complex biological systems, simply form themselves — and then load themselves onto airplanes, and magically drop themselves on precise targets half-way around the world?

        As JW Wartick already stated so clearly and precisely above:

        An apt response to: “Science flies people to the moon. Religion flies planes into buildings.”

        “Science blows up entire cities with bombs. Religion encourages people to ‘turn the other cheek.'”

        Such bumper-sticker types of sayings have emotional power, but do not reflect the reality. The benefits and ills of either science or religion (whatever the referent of “religion” is, anyway) are far more complex than one line. People who try to say otherwise are just doing to laugh at the “other” (usually the religious “other”).

        History teaches us that people will use whatever tool they can find, either religion or science, to enable them or to justify their evil deeds. Anyone trying to convince people that neither religion nor science has never been used for evil has something to sell you, even if only metaphorically.

        Done on this thread. I’m moving on to the future…

        Joshua

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      • Sorry the concept proves so difficult for some. Let me rephrase:

        The crusades were undertaken solely for religious reasons and justified solely by religious reasons. This is why they are attributed to religious causes.

        In direct comparison, is the same true for dropping nuclear weapons on civilian populations, namely:

        The dropping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were undertaken solely for scientific reasons and justified solely by scientific reasons. This is why they are attributed to scientific causes.

        Now ask yourself, is the comparison fair? Is the comparison even legitimate? Does the comparison allow us to then conclude that both religion and science equivalently motivate atrocities as much as social benefits as Wartick believes?

        Clearly, there is a problem here with the comparison. Clearly, something is badly askew because the two are NOT equivalent for comparison. Is it even remotely possible that Josh could have gone astray and ended up comparing apples with oranges and that Wartick is too busy assuming equivalency because it benefits his religious beliefs rather than what’s true in reality?

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      • Final Response: Readers, the gross oversimplifications above are exactly the type of thing that this cartoon was drawn in response to. Historically, readers, people have used BOTH science and religion as a means to harm, suppress, and kill fellow human beings. (But that DOESN’T mean either is wholly evil.) If you don’t believe me, that’s good. Unlike some here, I don’t want you to rely solely on what I write or the little cartoons here or an anonymous video on YouTube. Go study yourself. Get some of those funny rectangles made of paper and read them. And, here, let me just give you one potential thread of inquiry to press the point about science not being as benign as our reality overlord here would like to make it out to be: read about why the Nazi scientists performed all their hideous experiments on humans.

        By the way, artists work in symbols, especially cartoonists. Rather than get hung up on the symbol of this cartoon (the atomic bomb), remember that the cartoon is meant to remind people of a very simple concept — that it’s not so simple to write off either (science or religion) as wholly evil or good, as some insist that everyone else do. One more time: Historically, readers, people have used BOTH science and religion as a means to harm, suppress, and kill fellow human beings.

        Joshua

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  4. Okay, I can’t figure out how to respond to the exact comment, but Tildeb wrote “The crusades were undertaken solely for religious reasons and justified solely by religious reasons. This is why they are attributed to religious causes.”

    Honestly, this would be laugh-out-loud hysterical if it weren’t such a popular portrayal of the Crusades. Seriously, Tildeb, have you read even one scholarly work on any aspect of the Crusades? Anything? I’m not about to say that religion was not involved, but to suggest that the Crusades were some kind of 100% religious war is absolutely, historically absurd. There were any number of factors that went into the motivating factors for the Crusades. Just off the top of my head based on works I’ve read on the Crusades: they were fought over trade, land, religion, colonialism, and money. Was religion a primary motivator? Absolutely. Was it “solely” religious? Absolutely not. That very notion is just academically dishonest. I expect better from you.

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  5. …And I should note that these reasons for the Crusades are a matter of much debate. Some scholars go so far as to argue the Crusades were primarily colonialism; others primarily religious; still others not colonial at all, etc. But the comment you wrote just shows a complete lack of any knowledge whatsoever about the Crusades. Seriously, if you don’t know anything at all about historical events and their context (and I’m just going to be honest here: your comment betrays that you literally know nothing about it), do not comment on them as though you are an expert. In fact, it may be better to say nothing at all.

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    • “…And I should note that these reasons for the Crusades are a matter of much debate”

      Then you should also note that the morality of the WW2 atom bombs is hardly a cut and dried matter either. Many historians argue that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki enabled Japan to surrender with dignity, when it would otherwise have kept fighting, extending the war and causing many millions more casualties.

      Anyway, not only was it Josh who brought up the Crusades in the first place, I don’t see why attributing the Crusades to religion is any more ‘laugh-out-loud hysterical’ than attributing Hiroshima and Nagasaki to science.

      And quibbling about the examples used is just a distraction from the main point that Josh is comparing causes of destruction with the methods of meting out that destruction.

      Finally, the ‘I expected better from you’ meme is getting real old as an internet argument burn sign-off.

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      • One last response (since my name was brought up twice in one post):

        Anyway, not only was it Josh who brought up the Crusades in the first place, I don’t see why attributing the Crusades to religion is any more ‘laugh-out-loud hysterical’ than attributing Hiroshima and Nagasaki to science.

        You’ve finally got the cartoon! As I thought of examples of mass casualties, the two examples dealt with in the thread are the two I came up with; 1 is often brought up to me whenever religion is mentioned (the Crusades) and the other is my response to that (the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). (I could have come up with a purely “science for science’s sake” example involving Nazi scientists, but I’ve already drawn Nazis once and I don’t like giving them much attention.) Yet in the examples I did give, I think the honest critic will have to admit that it’s just as ridiculous to attribute the results of the Crusades (that is, mass casualties — the part that people object to) to just religion as it is to attribute the results of the Hiroshima / Nagasaki bombings to just science (that is, again, mass casualties). We can rant about ideas of each leading directly to the end results… mass casualties.

        Some historians, Andy, do argue about the morality of the atomic bombings. They certainly do. And I’ve even read that some people say the bombings were not the reason Japan surrendered anyway (it had more to do with the Russians), implying that the bombings were unnecessary. And that is a thoughtful, deep discussion in itself. But that’s not the point of the cartoon. Again, I’ve used symbols and examples to stress one point (a point that I even added to the text under the cartoon):

        Historically, people have used BOTH science and religion as a means to harm, suppress, and kill fellow human beings.

        (Yes, science, like religion, can be applied differently, for good and for evil. And sometimes, as you point out in the Hiroshima / Nagasaki bombings, it’s not so clear cut to affix one reason or cause to an historic event, a conclusion which supports the entire purpose of the cartoon, except, according to you and tildeb, when talking about religion and things like the Crusades. Then it’s OK, right?)

        We can all paint our skewed pictures of history and say that religious knowledge resulted in this and scientific knowledge resulted in that, but gross generalizations are not accurate pictures of any history mentioned here.

        By the way, I do welcome any critics to respond to the following two points:

        1) Did Jesus ever use “convert or die” tactics or teach them?
        2) Where does the New Testament teach killing for property, relics, or to maintain religious segregation?

        And I’d like to mention to any of the readers that anyone can read about the close, friendly interaction between Muslims and Christians many centuries ago (which some term a 1,000 golden age of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East) in books like “The Lost History of Christianity”. One can see that history isn’t a long, bloody tale of religious rivals killing off each other every chance they get. Hopefully, readers can see for themselves the necessity of critics to paint such grossly generalized pictures — to bolster their claims about the evil of this thing called “religion”. (And most critics I encounter don’t have too much of a problem with Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism, or even Islam. It’s only Christianity that seems to get them all riled up.)

        Joshua

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      • Historically, people have used BOTH science and religion as a means to harm, suppress, and kill fellow human beings.

        This is the false comparison.

        One simply cannot find historical accounts that ‘science’ was the purpose to cause equivalent mass casualties, to promote science by the intentional harming, suppressing, and killing of fellow human beings. The same cannot be said of religion.

        No one goes to war in the name of science, in the name of its ability to produce knowledge, in the name of the method of honest inquiry, in the name of justifying mass casualties. No one. But people do justify mass killings in the name of religion. That’s why the comparison you offer up is absurd in that any example of human caused mass casualties uses some kind of technology. But that’s not the comparison: more efficient technology is designed to kill people more efficiently! The technology in the hands of scientists really does send people to the moon! The same technology in the hands of the religious really does fly sophisticated flying machines full of civilians into civilian buildings to kill people in the name of god.

        That technology did not come from religion, which we know produces no knowledge at all. And the products of science can be used by anyone. So that’s not the comparison. The comparison is whether science or religion motivates mass killings, and the evidence here is clear. Religion.

        Religion does so in the name of promoting and protecting faith-based belief. That’s its job. And it has historically taken its job very seriously, in that those who stand opposed to its goal for dominance are vilified and discredited as agents of some nefarious force. We see it on this blog where people are vilified and discredited for daring to question the confidence in faith-based claims dressed up to be equivalent to facts that are then shown to be demonstrably wrong. This is what religious belief in action does: it tries to impose belief in an authoritative agency by fair means or foul in place of reality-based knowledge.

        There is simply no historical equivalency between this disciplined inquiry into reality – science – with something like the activities of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, more commonly known as the inquisition. There simply are no historical equivalencies between the policies of such bodies like national scientific organizations and religious ones in defense of the faith (I urge anyone to read the Mallius Malificarum, a papal bull to justify the torture and death of hundreds of thousands of people in the name of fighting Satan.) We just don’t find these kinds of historical calls from authoritative and influential scientific sources for the death and destruction of others who impede the acquisition of knowledge about reality. But we do find these calls from authoritative and influential religious leaders all the time, and we find many events of mass casualties are justified in exactly these terms. There is no equivalency here with science: a call even by Richard Dawkins for atheists to band together, rise up, and kill believers would be laughable because of its absurdity… a sure sign of mental derangement that no one would follow. How sad and pathetic that the same cannot be said of so many religious followers.

        But equivalent calls from religious leaders are made all the time (especially by many clerics of islam)… if not directly then by indirect policies to uphold faith-based beliefs at the expense of causing mass casualties (think of the RC position on condoms to combat AIDS or the evangelical influence in Uganda’s anti-gay legislation that has killed thousands by instigating mobs to take oaths of fidelity to heterosexuality followed by a rampage to prove loyalty by killing people accused of being sympathetic to gays.) No one is killing anybody in the name of science, in the name of pursuing honest knowledge about how reality works, and presenting this cartoon as if religion and science are equivalent agents in causing mass casualties is false.

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      • In the interest of fairness and reason, I’ll respond to another of tildeb’s baseless claims:

        One simply cannot find historical accounts that ‘science’ was the purpose to cause equivalent mass casualties, to promote science by the intentional harming, suppressing, and killing of fellow human beings.

        One really obvious example: Nazi human experimentation.

        But, readers, don’t take my word for it. Go here: Nazi Medical Experimentation

        excerpt:

        “The second category of experiments was designed in order to help develop and test pharmaceuticals and research the treatment of injuries and illnesses. These experiments occured in several different camps: Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Natzweiler, Buchenwald, Neuengamme, and Ravensbrueck.”

        Further details of one of the second category of experiments: Bone Grafting and Nerve Experiment

        excerpt:

        The bone grafting and nerve experiments were possibly the most savage, sadistic, and inhumane experiments during the World War II period of time. The experiments involved the regeneration of bones, muscles, and nerves, and the transplantation of bone. In order to carry out these goals, sections of bone were removed from the subjects, legs were removed at the hips, shoulders and arms were removed, and muscles and nerves were removed from healthy patients. These parts were then transferred to other victims in order to see if they could regenerate or transplant successfully.

        Most of these experiments resulted in death or permanent mutilations.”

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      • Yeah, Josh, just ignore the key word I use entirely: equivalent. Sure, there are a few of historical accounts where people died by design to suit the unethical and immoral goals of a few people, which is why these practices were roundly and soundly condemned by scientific organizations then as they are today. Nazi death camps, after all, were hardly the result of achieving some scientific purpose and goal, although they were a handy source for test subjects who had no power to opt out of such experiments. Religious believers do have such an option. Again, though, there is no equivalent universal condemnation by believers of unethical and immoral religious goals today that there was from the scientific community then to these horrible practices.

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      • I saw the word perfectly well, tildeb. Equivalency depends on what you’re comparing. You wanted to compare numbers. I saw that. But we’ve already established clearly enough that your criticism of “religion” and what it has, in your opinion, caused is seriously flawed; that is, you can’t establish that the Crusades were caused solely by “religion”. Therefore, reducing the argument to mere numbers is disingenuous. I already admitted that people have caused harm, killed, and suppressed others in the name of religion. The same is true of science, as the evidence above — regardless of the numbers — forces the intellectually honest among us to admit.

        Besides, you’re hardly in the position to be accusing people of ignoring anything. You never responded to two times I asked critics to cite where Jesus teaches His followers to kill people that won’t convert or to kill people over property, relics, or to maintain religious segregation. Where does the New Testament require that of Christians? And if it doesn’t, then you can’t put the bulk of your misguided fury on Christianity, at least. Because, as your mentioning of the papal bull (one of many), it’s not the New Testament or the teachings of Jesus that compelled the people to go bloodthirsty.

        I think you might do well to double-check the reaction of the scientific community to the Nazi scientists and their experiments then and now, especially in light of things like Operation Paperclip.

        Joshua

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  6. “But that’s not the point of the cartoon. Again, I’ve used symbols and examples to stress one point (a point that I even added to the text under the cartoon):”

    Yeah, I got that. Which is why I didn’t bring up the bomb issue before. It was JW Wartick who ignored your clearly stated request not to get hung up on the details of the individual meanings of the symbols of the cartoon to ignore its message, and started quibbling about the causes of the Crusades.

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  7. “it’s not the New Testament or the teachings of Jesus that compelled the people to go bloodthirsty.”

    That strikes me as a pretty weak get-out. The OT is still a major part of the bible, and it supposedly comes from the same eternal deity. Are you effectively dismissing the whole of the Old Testament? I’ve talked to Christians before who’ve quoted passages to justify something horrible. When I say “Isn’t that Old Testament?” they reply with a Matthew quote from Jesus to the effect that he comes not to replace the old law but to fulfil it. Meaning unless Jesus expressly contradictions an OT edict, those Christians will proceed as if it’s still a go.

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    • “Are you effectively dismissing the whole of the Old Testament?”

      Of course I’m not dismissing the entirety of the Old Testament. As you yourself know, Christians accept the entirety of the Old Testament as inspired by God, too. I could have put the Old Testament in there, too. I don’t know what sort of context or topic you were discussing with Christians that resulted in those kinds of answers. Because of that, I can’t comment on that. But if it had anything to do with murdering, for whatever reason, well, you don’t need me to tell you that Jesus taught the turning of the other cheek and, more explicitly, on loving your enemy:

      “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

      (Matthew 5:39 – 40 NIV)

      Even Paul echoes this teaching to Christians by saying that it’s better to be wronged or cheated than to be entangled in petty arguments about property, etc. (1 Corinthians 6:6).

      More importantly, it’s the New Testament and the recording of Jesus’ teaching that tells Christians:

      “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:45)

      Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’

      Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

      (Matthew 22:34 ~ 40 NIV)

      It doesn’t say cram a grenade down their pants or shove a gun up their nose.

      Joshua

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  8. I’ll check that out. Was just listening to his and Dean Martin’s Mack the Knife (again) yesterday, but it’s the only Frank on my iPod.

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    • If you’re interested, Andy, check out the original version of “I Get a Kick Out of You”, part of Vol. 1 of Make Mine a Double: Frank Sinatra. As far as I know, there’s an entire verse that I think was deleted from later versions / edits of it for obvious reasons. LOL

      And since you’re a fellow music enthusiast, be sure to check out the “Make Mine a Double” series. Tons of tracks for a dirt cheap price that is very appealing to fathers like us.

      Let’s lock swords again in the future…

      Joshua

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