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Godless's Avatar Joined over 7 years ago
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Go to: Heaven and Nature

Godless's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by Godless

Lucas wrote;

While I'm happy Douthat took the opportunity to suck readers into a point about the prevalence of New Age "nature mysticism" in American culture by making reference to a recent popular film, he may not have actually seen the film. I say this because James Cameron and his screenwriters made sure that Sigourney Weaver says at one point, when faced with skepticism about the existence of the Na'Vi's earth goddess Eywa, that there is something "physical and biological" about Eywa and that the connectedness of the planet Pandora is not just a superstition. This is made explicit when they show that the Na'Vi repeatedly intertwine something like nerve endings (from their ponytails) with those of other creatures and trees. When they communicate with Eywa or their ancestors, they do so physically, by way of a biological system that Weaver's character is trying to figure out. This I think adds a little twist to Douthat's point; while the ideas are based in New Age-like nature mysticism, they are only validated by a physical reality that is being pursued by a scientist.


You make an excellent point that few seem to be noticing, Lucas. It is clear that Pandora is Darwinian for reasons you have given. In addition there is the reference Dr Augustine makes concerning the roots of trees being essentially like neuronal synapsees. The biosphere of Pandora is Gaian in nature (ie; Gaia Hypothesis - See Lovelock) The spirituality is rooted in the very physicas and biology of the biosphere, making the claim of Pantheism at the very least misleading. Endowing nature with divinity is one thing, having a biologically based planet-wide organism/mind as your deity is something quite distinct. The article writer isn't paying attention to the science in his science fiction. What makes Pandora and Avatar unique in story are the elements of science fiction which allow what ordinarily could be described as an overdone set of themes and plotlines, has transcended those conventions in a way that makes the experience of Pandora herself an experience rather than a simple morality tale. Avatar isn't a story as much as it is an experience of a reasonabley plausible alien world quite distinct from our own, yet grounded in hypothetical scientific concepts. All this renders Douthat's points almost irrelevant to what is actually presented in Avatar. He's simply revealed to us his arrogant human intellectual anthropocentrism projected onto an alien species and world. What does our abstract theism have to do with Pandora's Gaian biology? He knows not what he saw when he saw Avatar.

Wed, 23 Dec 2009 22:48:00 UTC | #425735

Go to: RDF TV - The Unconsidered Life

Godless's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by Godless

I'm skeptical of this notion that people just float through life unthinkingly. What if all people are thinking their way through life, yet are coming to different conclusions and behaving seemingly, appearing as if they weren't giving it much thought? The problem I find is that there is a lack of explanation as to how to think well, how to reason well. It's all fine and dandy for Mr Dawkins and Mr Grayling to go on about reason as if it were self-evident and clearly a given, but it isn't. Most people believe they are thinking critically and thinking well. Simply repeating "Think!" and "Reason" over and over won't magically make it happen.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:07:00 UTC | #423636

Go to: Richard Dawkins on The Late Late Show, 18.09.09

Godless's Avatar Jump to comment 96 by Godless

"There's a LOT of people watching this show..."

Which is code for, "You'd better be more tactful... and change how your talking about such things". I'm glad Richard stood his ground.

You could have cut the tension in the room with a knife.

Sun, 20 Sep 2009 16:34:00 UTC | #399267

Go to: New Bus Campaign

Godless's Avatar Jump to comment 1210 by Godless

"Don't convert to Atheism, de-convert from Theism."

"You were an atheist before you believed otherwise."

"Embrace knowledge, not faith in a lack thereof."

"Trust is earned, faith... not so much."

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 20:01:00 UTC | #306401

Go to: Religious education as a part of literary culture

Godless's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by Godless

I agree. I firmly believe being forced to study Shakespeare damaged my intellect. Poetry generally does that to me, but Shakespeare can play havoc with your ability to speak, write, and think logically and rationally. Perhaps it is the language of the time it was written, or perhaps it was the mythical, lyrical mind-set of the writer. Regardless, I heartily DO NOT recommend polluting your childs brain with Shakespearean incomprehension and convolutedness. Shakespear would have benefitted from understanding the concept of Occam's razor as per word usage and sentence/thought construction.

Tue, 15 Apr 2008 15:08:00 UTC | #153757

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