Rev. Michael Dowd, Death-Cult Environmentalist? |435|

#21
Nonsense. Our very own Alice posted a video clip of one of them (Stephen Schnieder) taking on a whole roomful of opponents. Now that takes balls!
Well I really meant a debate where both sides get an equal amount of time (approx) to make their case, followed by questions and answers. If that is of that type, please post it again here.

Do you mean that you and Alice both come from Tasmania, or that you are in a partnership with her?

David
 
#22
well said. and I think yr right about evolution except the christian's kinda clouded the issue for a long time :)
They did, and to be fair many, but not all of them are Christians, but I think they have long since realised that it is beneficial to trash RM+NS using purely scientific arguments.

David
 
#23
Thanks for your efforts Alex, I have no words for what I just heard really. It's timely for me though as I've arranged to interview a therapist next month on her work with people suffering from climate anxiety. In addition to me asking about that, we're going to discuss how we arrived at our different positions on the threat posed by climate change itself.
 
#24
Long time listener to Skeptiko. Just have to say first that I'm a big fan of the podcast and your book, Alex! It's because of your book that I tried Bengston therapy (through Bernadette) and eventually found a few more truly unbelievable healers who are doing extraordinary work and have worked miracles for me. If you ever want more info on some of these people, or if you want me to try and connect you with one or more of them, just let me know. I'm happy to ask if they're interested in talking about their work and sharing their extraordinary life stories.
I'd love to hear more on this theme. I think I actually found Skeptiko when looking for William Bengston interviews. That approach to healing (not Bengston specifically but energy healing in general) is the reason I am able to walk around today.
 
#26
Christian Naturalist = German Idealist, right? I found that so interesting that he had his epiphany in Berlin and it’s, low and behold, it’s German Idealism! There’s a lot about this in Michael Tsarion’s work on Schelling, Rank, Kant, even Darwin and Freud if I’m understanding it. A short related clip—

I found this interview really fun! Inspired me to check back on this forum after many months! I can also understand his position about being ‘over’ the political and scientific aspects of this argument. I feel the same way! I have also experienced a threshold where reality is smacking me in the face long enough that it is ‘what are you going to do about it?’ It goes back to the ‘New Agey’ idea that we are in a spiritual battle right now above all else, and even when I disagree with more than half of everything else they espouse, on that aspect I can get fully on board.

Since ‘everyone’s a critic’ and I’m no exception, my critique was he keeps insisting he’s not debating, yet everything about his delivery screamed ‘debate’! And, he’s an eternal ‘company man’—looking for the next group to belong to his whole life it seems, never really individuating, imo— which I naturally criticize, but probably just b/c I don’t relate well to this character type, especially when they don’t seem very aware of this tendency in themselves. Alex nailed it early on, seems to me, when he said, ‘you’re still IN IT!’ or something similar, talking about the Christian cult.

But, shows some courage, no, to stay in the fight when you know you are good and flustered, and still have the where-with-all at the end to notice that, and even apologize. Thought that was kinda cool of him actually!

On a personal note—I’ve now been in 3 major weather disasters—Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Hurricane Ike in Galveston, and a ‘tornado’ right over my head on our property this past spring, causing enormous, though not catastrophic, property damage. ‘100 year’ disasters they call them, yet I’ve been in 3 in 15 years, by what miracle of the universe, I can’t help but wonder.
 

Alex

Administrator
#27
Except that if you follow my thread about Behe's "Darwin Devolves", he shows that, given the structure of DNA, the only form of evolution by natural selection that 'works', is a destructive kind that progressively destroys the information in the genome.

David
interesting. sorry I missed this first time around. can you point me to yr post.

also, do you think you could help us get Behe on Skeptiko?
 
L

lonevoice

#29
I have been following his work for quite some time. He initially used the phrase "two-story" reality as in two stories to a bldg. And he said there is no second story, no transcedental realm. So now God is merely co-extensive with the material universe, which is simple pantheism and its fatal flaws.

Schopenhauer was brilliant about these flaws: https://www.azquotes.com/author/13133-Arthur_Schopenhauer/tag/pantheism

Superfluous synonym: if I take a group of apples and say they are identical to, say, dohicky, have I added anything to your knowledge of apples? I have just made up a superfluus word.

The current consensus theology is called panentheism: the Divine is both in the world / immanent AND transcendent.
 
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L

lonevoice

#30
I would not use the word "defensive" but rather offensive. Did Jesus really exist as a man on the earth? I have no 'f...king' idea.

He does indeed seem troubled to me, someone who has never explored his shadow side.
 
#31
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#32
I have been following his work for quite some time. He initially used the phrase "two-story" reality as in two stories to a bldg. And he said there is no second story, no transcedental realm. So now God is merely co-extensive with the material universe, which is simple pantheism and its fatal flaws.

Schopenhauer was brilliant about these flaws: https://www.azquotes.com/author/13133-Arthur_Schopenhauer/tag/pantheism

Superfluous synonym: if I take a group of apples and say they are identical to, say, dohicky, have I added anything to your knowledge of apples? I have just made up a superfluus word.

The current consensus theology is called panentheism: the Divine is both in the world / immanent AND transcendent.
I'd like to hear more about this, in what way does panentheism avoid superfluity as an explanation?
 
#33
Yep, agreed - I think that's a perceptive comment.

What results have your explorations turned up so far? Or, in other words, how would you evaluate this approach?
Thanks, Laird. I appreciate your comment and your question here.

I think this experiment of mine makes me feel less like I have to know all there is to know. It feels like I can just let the world and my life be whatever the hell they are and it is okay if I don't understand it. I have my ideas and I can do my researching and reading and listening to podcasts and such, and I can write posts on discussion forums like this one, but it feels like I'm expressing personal experiences of ideas and not describing some Great Truths of the Universe.

In this experiment of mine, I also tend to think that that's what everybody else is doing, too. Just talking about their inner experience of ideas that feel good or useful or personally meaningful to them. Even though most some percentage of people in the forums I visit seem to think they are doing something else; they seem to think that when they share an idea or a theory or an interpretation that is important to them, they are somehow expressing an Absolute Truth of the Universe or that they have solved the Great Mystery of the Universe. I don't begrudge anybody feeling that way or talking that way. I have talked that way too. And when it comes to the ideas that people express, even if they don't seem useful to me, I try to appreciate that they are somehow useful to them.

I have spent time training and practicing art. In my view, a lot of art itself is considered to be expressions of something human that would be hard to express any other way. In my view, a composer who writes a symphony or a writer who writes poems are not trying to solve the Mysteries of the Universe or trying to make Definitive Statements About the Nature of the Universe. And yet that music and that writing can have a powerful impact on the world.

In this metaphor that compares human culture to an ecosystem, organisms in the ecosystem change in response to the ecosystem changing. So if I'm a plant in an ecosystem and there's a new kind of bird or insect or pest that has evolved or migrated into my ecosystem, I may evolve in response to those factors. Likewise, human culture changes in response to other changes in the culture. So the artist who contributes a personal expression is changing the culture in response to previous states of the culture. In this way of looking at things, a powerful new symphony or piece of writing does not need to be an Absolute Truth of the Universe, and yet the art still influences the culture.

Taking it a step further, as some philosophers do, we can consider that even the research reports of scientists are expressions of inner experiences of ideas. "Good science" and "new scientific knowledge" may be considered expressions of inner experiences that are very USEFUL for particular human purposes.

The view I am trying to practice here is not composing music or writing poems. I am experimenting with considering my writing here to be an expression of my inner experience of logic, reason, imagination, desire, etc. If we were so inclined, we could consider this way of looking at things to be the introduction of a new mutation in the ecosystem that is this forum. Maybe it will be useful and maybe it won't. Maybe it will stay around and maybe it won't.

I appreciate that there is some degree of circularity to this perspective I am exploring and in the way I am trying to answer your question. In my view, the ecosystem we live in, the ecosystem of the world and our culture, may not be such that the perspective I am exploring is particularly useful at this time. It is clear to me that people putting forth theories as if they are the Absolute Truths of the Universe is a very useful practice to many people individually and in groups for many different kinds of reasons. But in my view, the ecosystem is always changing, and it is difficult if not impossible to predict what mutations will be useful in the future.
 
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#34
Interesting, Dan! As I read your thoughts, I wondered how you would react to my idea of clear semantic modelling. Here, too, there is scope for the "semantic model" to be merely "speculatively theoretical" - that is, to be based on speculative contingent facts rather than grounded facts - and thus in a sense to be merely a "useful" model rather than a model "known to be true". At the same time, there are criteria for ensuring that even a purely theoretical model is "clear", which basically amounts to it being "rationally and optimally expressed" in some sense, I guess you could say.

I am not so sure how clear semantic models would relate to art as you describe it, but as for your notion of ideas being "introduced into the ecosystem", I wonder whether my notion might be used to evaluate those introduced ideas for "clarity"? Of course, you might argue that this notion of "clarity" as I have defined it is not "necessary", in the sense that "utility" need not entail "clarity", but... anyhow, I leave the resulting analysis/assessment to you!
 
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#35
Thanks, Laird. I appreciate your comment and your question here.

I think this experiment of mine makes me feel less like I have to know all there is to know. It feels like I can just let the world and my life be whatever the hell they are and it is okay if I don't understand it. I have my ideas and I can do my researching and reading and listening to podcasts and such, and I can write posts on discussion forums like this one, but it feels like I'm expressing personal experiences of ideas and not describing some Great Truths of the Universe...
I liked your post a lot, Dan; it has a refreshingly humble approach, and I think your metaphor is a useful and memorable one. Thanks for sharing.
 
#36
I was prepared to dislike Dowd straight away, but that attitude softened as the show progressed. He blends some interesting insights with some overly personal POVs and ends up with the intellectual equivalent of a dish with flavours that do not go well together.

His arguments about cultures pushing their environments too far is valid up to a point. But others suffered from naturally induced climate change and more systemic cultural and political developments. So its an interesting point, but not, in my view, compelling.

We are here talking about a global crisis - whether natural or human induced - that has come about at a time when we do have a global culture to large degree. Its not uniform or homogenous however. So I am not sure how one can equate a single culture's environmental overreach with global phenomenon. Here I am asserting the climate is changing - but I do not know the cause.

Is there likely to be catastrophic events in the foreseeable future? Unless one prophetic insight, all we can say is that it is possible. We can interpret argument that asserts the degree of likelihood as we wish. Dowd's point about how to behave in preparation for such a catastrophe should stand regardless. His apparent sense of urgency should equally apply to difficulty as much as catastrophe if the goal is to oblige self-reflection leading to a greater of fellowship.

I get his take on Christianity as an effort to get from under the theological lard that burdens the faith. But converting sacred notions to secular ones to avoid any hint of metaphysics is a tad too idiosyncratic for my taste. God as Reality is an incomplete notion. It needs consciousness. It is true that the ancients saw reality as living - everything was. It is true that gods and goddesses were ways of describing what seemed to be coherent natural agencies that formed the foundation of reality.

His notion of Jesus as the future is clunky. Christ in the Pauline sense as the future potential of the soul might be a fair idea at a pinch. But you really can't graft the one idea onto the other, absent the metaphysical. For me his notion of Christianity is an intellectual and essentially materialistic one - not unlike Christianity in general. Its a kind of soft atheism in effect. As an effort to escape the mental muddle of Christian thought its not an utterly awful effort. It just misses the point about a spiritual perspective - the metaphysical dimension.

While I think Christianity should be redefined for a contemporary mentality I don't think refashioning a car into a garden chair is good idea if you are still wanting to call it a car.

To me Dowd is saying (A) the world is going to hell in a hand basket courtesy of climate change that is irreversible by any human action, so (B) we better sort ourselves out to survive the best way we can. He might be right. It is possible, but we argue over the odds and time. But are we arguing about A? For me B is not conditional on A. What is the value of B to us now? That is a useful discussion.

Bringing Christianity into the picture in the way Dowd has strikes me as not being very useful to more than the few who would find his idea attractive. For me, if the potential catastrophe is global, a more pluralistic approach would be appropriate. In any case why get distracted arguing about religion if sorting B is really the only sensible thing to pay heed to?
 
#37
I have been following his work for quite some time. He initially used the phrase "two-story" reality as in two stories to a bldg. And he said there is no second story, no transcedental realm. So now God is merely co-extensive with the material universe, which is simple pantheism and its fatal flaws.
As a kid, and at first at university, I used to go to church, and I just filled up with slippery arguments like that, which I suppose makes sense since he has a "Rev" in front of his name!

After abandoning the transcendental realm, all he has left is the death cult. There have been so many of them, and they all have a problem when the world just goes stubbornly on past its sell-by date! I am sure this will turn out the same way.

David
 
#38
Well, what can one say about Michael Dowd? He's so off-the-wall it's hard to know how to describe him. I suppose the frequently used image of a kid covering his ears and screaming lalalalala... incessantly to shut out anything he doesn't want to hear could be a partial description of sorts.

Show me a man who isn't interested in having any doubts about his own opinions, and I'll show you someone who, were his views ever to be widely shared, could become a cult leader. Maybe he is already; maybe his followers have already drunk the kool-aid of this Greta Thundberg on steroids.

What I suspect is that his views on coming catastrophe may have been formulated before the present climate change frenzy, and once that had gathered momentum, it became the perfect justification for them. No way you can argue against him; 99% of all scientists agree after all... except that they don't.

Poor little Greta doesn't agree with him because she thinks we can do something to avert catastrophe. Even most of the scientists he relies on are implicitly in disagreement with him. Otherwise, why would there be all the brouhaha about doing something and doing it now? They evidently think that not everything is lost; that the same entities -- namely we human beings -- who putatively screwed everything up, can in fact unscrew everything up (not that I agree with them).

I see his stance as being his particular way of coping with something he's convinced himself is inevitable. How to keep up hope if one really believes it's already too late to do anything? Why, formulate your plan of action in such a way that it can operate within a scenario of doom. He just happens to have had a Christian background, and that provides the loose framework for his approach.

I find his idea of "Christianity" to be actually quite interesting, except of course that to me it seems completely devoid of any spiritual element. Yes, one can consider Jesus not necessarily to have existed and not literally to have been the only son of God, and yet still retain the essence of Christianity. However, I don't believe that's what he does. I think he mangles the concept of Jesus the Christ, stuffs it into a materialist framework, applies his own peculiar brand of humanism to it, and then merely labels it as Christianity.

He hangs on to his self-applied label of being a Christian, even apparently sometimes wears a dog collar, and entrains people's conditioned response to such trappings. He talks of "Evolutionary Christianity"; God as reality; father as past, son as present and spirit as future. Well, I suppose that if you want to carry on using the same totemic words sans spirituality, you have to define them in non-spiritual ways. Then you can have your cake and eat it: exercise the same kind of (pseudo-)authority that religion has always had, whilst at the same time using it to promote your idiosyncratic views.

I have no time for arguing with people as rigid in their views as he is. It would be totally pointless. In any case, we'll all eventually know the truth of the matter. He states that in the next 50 years, the climate will have all but destroyed us as a result of CO2 emissions. We'll have to wait and see, but I personally think it won't be so. I suppose climate might change precipitously, doing away with most of us, but if so, I don't think it would have anything to do with CO2 and the cause would be natural factors rather than our own puny contribution to CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
 

Alex

Administrator
#39
And, he’s an eternal ‘company man’—looking for the next group to belong to his whole life it seems, never really individuating,
very cool point! I think this explain a lot not just about Michael but about those who are especially susecitable to the problem-reaction-
Thanks for your efforts Alex, I have no words for what I just heard really. It's timely for me though as I've arranged to interview a therapist next month on her work with people suffering from climate anxiety. In addition to me asking about that, we're going to discuss how we arrived at our different positions on the threat posed by climate change itself.
nice... look forward to that one. could go either way, eh?
 
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