Jesus in a Box

By Keith Kloor | May 21, 2011 6:11 pm

When he was two or three, my oldest son asked, “who’s that,” when we walked past this shrine in our neighborhood. Not sure what to say, my wife blurted out, “that’s Jesus in a box.”

And so for a while, every time we walked by it, my son would point and say, “There’s Jesus in a box.” I’ll let you know if he’s busted out and taken all the Brooklyn believers to heaven.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: end times, rapture
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  • http://rankexploits.com/musings lucia

    Mary in a bathtub is more popular. http://not.contaxg.com/files/0151/bathtubmary_.jpg
    If Jesus does bust out, remind him to turn some water into wine. The end of days revelers could probably use some wine.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Hey, that’s pretty low rent (but creative). At least Jesus in a box is protected from the elements.

     

  • http://rankexploits.com/musings lucia

    These are very, very popular. If you are lucky, Mary will bust out of the box when Jesus does. She’s the one who pestered him into turning water into wine.  Ask her to help you persuade Jesus.  According to the story, it was good wine.

    I just noticed in the image I linked, Francis of Assisi holding baby Jesus is standing between the bathtub  and the stairs. They are totally exposed to the elements.

  • Tom Gray

    If some other movement received a challenge to one of its icons, how would they react. Say there was a strong indication that a hockey stick curve was calculated incorrectly. How would the movement react. Do you think that they would produce movies that used Hollywood effects and a professional communicator to spread the good news? Do you think that would create other icons like one showing bears who are strong swimmers isolated on an ice floe?

    Do you think that they would defend their beliefs and reject contradictory evidence however valid?


    If you want a learned discussion of this read “Against Method” by the major philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend. It is just how he describe scientists  operating

  • Lewis Deane

    But he, like all young lads and chimney sweepers must, can’t help transport us there. From the mouth of babes – children are so beautiful!

  • Tom Gray


    A description of Feyerabend’s view of the role of science in society. I think that it is appropriate given the current post and the attitude of some AGW advocates
    ==================

    Feyerabend described science as being essentially anarchistic, obsessed with its own mythology, and as making claims to truth well beyond its actual capacity. He was especially indignant about the condescending attitudes of many scientists towards alternative traditions. For example, he thought that negative opinions about astrology and the effectivity of rain dances were not justified by scientific research, and dismissed the predominantly negative attitudes of scientists towards such phenomena as elitist or racist. In his opinion, science has become a repressing ideology, even though it arguably started as a liberating movement. Feyerabend thought that a pluralistic society should be protected from being influenced too much by science, just as it is protected from other ideologies.

    ==================

    Note that many AGW advocates reject the modern consumer society. They wish to move to a more sustainable society in which humanity will live in harmony of nature. Note that this is an implicit rejection of modern applied science (engineering) which they see as being unavoidably harmful to the environment. Thus they reject nuclear power because it enables the modern society of consumption and individualism to continue.

    As Feyerabend notes, they would create their own science which would answer the questions that they want answered.  For example, they would disband research institutes dedicated to solving nuclear problems. Now other traditions create belief systems which allow them to answer their own questions. This may be in the form of questions of about how to live in society. They may create concepts such as a Savior or a Virgin Mother and create learned schools in which these concepts can be explored. They do this to foster the way they want to live in the world. Just like the research institutions of the modern consumerist society of the more sustainable collectivist society that some AGW proponents solve the problems that are required by their own traditions.

  • http://www.shewonk.wordpress.com Susan

    Feyerabend?

    I tend to see Feyerabend as creating a straw man of science that he can then hack apart to attain his goal, which is often the case in the philosophy of science and sociology of science. It has a lot to do with creating one’s career and reputation by doing something “shocking” than something of value but that’s just MNSHO. Yes, as Feyerabend argued in Against Method, science has been used to justify the worst actions and crimes, but that is not science’s fault but humanity’s, at least in IMO. Knowledge is always dangerous, but to throw science under the bus because humans behave badly is the height of folly.

    In “Galileo and the Tyranny of Truth”, Feyerabend argues that the Catholic Church’s position was more rational than Galileo’s insistence on empiricism. The Church was, in Feyerabend’s view, right to condemn Galileo in the battle over heliocentrism. In considering and rejecting the heliocentric model, the Church, according to Feyerabend, considered the impact of Galileo’s ideas on humanity instead of whether the conclusions were merely theoretically consistent with empirical methods.

    That is key to Feyerabend’s critique of science – in Against Method, he argued that the modern model of science places empirical method and its results above humanity and threatens to turn humans into mere objects, dehumanizing them, etc. He actually states that, in writing Against Method, he was motivated more by humanism than an intellectual goal. I say that his work is ultimately anti-science, which is probably why a skeptic would use his work for support since to me, many skeptics are ultimately anti-science in order to promote their political and ideological goals. Feyerabend disputes that science is what it claims it is, and that it is really something else and that it is self-deceived and ultimately dangerous.

    Of course, I might be skeptical of such an analysis and speculate that Feyerabend was wrong and motivated by an attempt to create a reputation for himself by being controversial and that the Church was more interested in protecting its turf and preserving its power to define reality than in humanity. I might go father and say that, in contrast to Feyerabend, that is precisely why a rigorous protection of the scientific method from social and political incursions is so important, but I digress…

    I’m suspicious of Feyerabend’s critique of science and I tend to smile to see climate science “skeptics” use philosophers of science like Feyerabend to support their essentially political positions. I suspect this support is naive and if the proponent actually understood Feyerabend a bit more, they would back away in horror because hey, when it comes down to it, Feyerabend is all about Postnormal Science…

    Next…

  • Tom Gray

    re 7
     

    Susan writes

    ===========
    I say that his work is ultimately anti-science, which is probably why a skeptic would use his work for support since to me, many skeptics are ultimately anti-science in order to promote their political and ideological goals. Feyerabend disputes that science is what it claims it is, and that it is really something else and that it is self-deceived and ultimately dangerous.

    ===========


    Implicit in this is a scientific statement. That is that “Science is Apolitical” and that scientists do not make political or moral statements. This is a scientific statement in that it is amenable to falsifications. Evidence that would indicate that scientific papers were written to favor certain political objectives would falsify it. That is evidence that certain IPCC assessment reports were written so as to make a bigger impact or that certain papers were either excluded or included by political machinations would be evidence that falsifies it. Further contradictory evidence would be statements that the behavior revealed by Climategate was simply the robust way that scientists interact. The scientific statement then that “Science is Apolitical” is thus falsified by application of the scientific method.


    The use of the word “anti-science” reveals something that goes beyond the falsified statement. Anti-science implies that science and scientists have a way to understand absolute truth that is denied to other disciplines. That is, while other disciplines are inherently political, science with the scientific method deals in “true” statements or rather determining the “truth” in hypotheses. Assuming that the word “true” can be given any real meaning, I have often heard scientists make a statement in the spirit of ” Humanity is a species like any other”. This statement is meant to contrast with another statement of the form “Humanity is an exceptional species”. The second statement implies that the environment can be seen as a resource for the betterment of human well being. The first statement implies that humanity has no more right to the environment than any other species and hence must temper its exploitation of the environment to allow the well being of other species.

    These two statements are not scientific statements. They are not amenable to falsification. They are moral statements that each define a cultural ethos. However scientists frequently make statements like this and use the supposed capability of the scientific method to claim that their particular moral statement is somehow “true”. This is what Feyerabend meant when he noted that science frequently tries to make statements about the “truth” that are beyond its capacity to make.

    As Feyerabend notes science, as it is practiced, is inherently political. The science of  a deep green sustainable society would be quite different from a consumerist society. The former would be about finding ways to live in harmony with nature. The latter would be about finding ways to increase human well being. These two forms of science cannot be declared “better” or “worse” by scientific methods. That is left to the philosophers, theologians and ultimately the  politicians. This is done as Feyerabend points out not by the scetific method by rhetoric and trickery.

    A study of the Climategate affair and what it reveals by the methods of Feyerabend would be quite illuminating.

  • Tom Gray

    re 7
    Susan writes

    ================
    I’m suspicious of Feyerabend’s critique of science and I tend to smile to see climate science “skeptics” use philosophers of science like Feyerabend to support their essentially political positions.
    ==============

    Susan, please do not make assumptions about my views on the AGW issue. You have no idea what they are.

  • http://skepticalscience.com grypo

    ‘Jesus-in-a-box’ makes a great explicative.  I’ve been doing it all day.  It’s a hit!

    “Oh, ‘jesus-in-a-box’, eat your damn vegatables!”

  • http://www.shewonk.wordpress.com Susan

    Oh, I don’t know, Tom Gray, whatever you think in your brain, your commentary would seem to lay it quite out in the open. Your residence in DC’s Very Deep Hole tells me all I need to know.

  • Tom Gray

    re 11

    Susan

    As Mike Hulme points out, people have their own minds and their own values. To treat the AGW issue as a simple matter of sides with one or the other having access to the “truth” is eminently unhelpful. If action is to be taken to determine the extent of the problem and to take action to prvent potentially grave consequences, there has to a form of shared understanding. Bandying about terms such as “anti-science” is unhelpful. They have no useful meaning and only service to increase the alienation from climate science in particular that is being demonstrated by so may people now. You have no idea what my opinion is on the AGW issue.

  • http://www.shewonk.wordpress.com Susan

    “Implicit in this is a scientific statement. That is that “Science is Apolitical” and that scientists do not make political or moral statements… The scientific statement then that “Science is Apolitical” is thus falsified by application of the scientific method.”
    Who said science is apolitical? Only naive ideologues. The direction of science is influenced by the political and social through funding and choice of research topic. Politicized science can produce bad science, but so can non-politicized science.
    The methods of science attempt to minimize the biases of the individual researcher and reduce error so the findings are as objective and reliable as is possible, regardless of how the political and social impinge on the pursuit of science or the politics of the individual scientist.
    The issue is not whether science is influenced by the social or political — if it wasn’t in some way, it would not be of use to humanity. The science underpinning space travel was highly influenced by the political and social events of the 20th century. This does not mean that the findings of this new science weren’t scientific. If they weren’t, the rockets wouldn’t have been able to get out of orbit. Sure, American and Soviet politicians attempted to influence science to purse certain objectives, based on the values of being dominant in space, etc. but that didn’t mean the science was flawed.
    Again, straw men…
    “These two statements are not scientific statements. They are not amenable to falsification.”
    Have to disagree. Not to argue how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or anything, but the statements that humans are animals and comprise a species in the same way that other animals are divided into species, are scientific statements that can be falsified using modern genetic analysis and other science methods.
    The statement that the interests of the human species transcends those of other species is a value statement, a moral statement, and can’t be falsified scientifically therefore it is not scientific. Us humans have to duke it out in the political realm to decide what value is paramount.
    Your analysis is imprecise.

  • http://www.shewonk.wordpress.com Susan

    Why don’t you tell us your view of AGW so that we are not under a misapprehension?
    Sorry but you sound to me like a concern troll.

  • Tom Gray

    re 13

    Susan writes

    ==============
    Politicized science can produce bad science, but so can non-politicized science.
    ===============

    Susan is quite correct in this statement. Maybe some  current events are evidence of this

    The  statement that “humanity is a species like any other” is a political and moral statement dressed up in the disguise of a scientific one. That is the problem.
    As fro my opinion –
    We are facing a clash of value systems in which each side is trying to portray itself as true to “science”. That is science as the arbiter of “truth”. Until that issue is resolved than there will be very little progress made.

  • Tom Gray

    re 13

    I forgot to add that the statement
    “Humanity is an exceptional species”
    is scientific in the sense that it is a description of the dominance that that species has achieved. However it is scientific only in disguise in that it is in reality a moral staement that describes the proper  relationship of humanity and nature. Just as the other statement:

    “Humanity is a species like any other”
    s a moral statement in disguise. It describes the  proper relationship of humanity and nature.
    We have a clash of value systems trying to disguise themselves as science.

  • http://www.shewonk.wordpress.com Susan

    Tom, you are very imprecise. “Humanity is a species the same as any other” is a moral statement when in a particular context and is not in others. In a biology text that is delineating all the species on the planet so far identified, it is a scientific statement. In a tract advocating some deep ecological principle of species having an inherent right to exist, it is a moral statement. In anti-religious rhetoric, it is a moral statement.
    You still haven’t told us what your position is on AGW. Why so coy?

  • Tom Gray

    re 17



    Susan writes



    ==============

    You still haven’t told us what your position is on AGW. Why so coy?

    =============



    I had previously replied in 15



    ==================

    As for my opinion ““
    We are facing a clash of value systems in which each side is trying to portray itself as true to “science”. That is science as the arbiter of “truth”. Until that issue is resolved than there will be very little progress made.

    ==============



    it is my opinion that the current exchange has indicated this. Susan continually tries to place her own favored views on AGW as “science” and therefore an approximation to the “truth” in contrast to other views on AGW which she sees as the result of some or other political bias.



    We have a clash of values in regard to this issue and each side is trying to use the mantle of “science” and its ability to generate “truth” to trump the other side. As long as their are sides in this debate and  they continue to be deaf to  and dismissive of others’ views then we are not going to make any progress on this issue.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    It is sometimes the case that a widely held opinion is contradicted by science. In cases where “We have a clash of values in regard to this issue and each side is trying to use the mantle of “science” and its ability to generate “truth” to trump the other side.” it is likely that one “side” is simply wrong about the science.

    What mechanism the society at large should use to take note of this and identify which side is which, is unclear. The journalists have explicitly punted.
     

  • Tom Gray

    re 19

    Michel Tobis writes:

    ==========

    it is likely that one “side” is simply wrong about the science.

    ===============

    it is this attitude that one side has a privileged access to the “truth” is what is fundamentally wrong with this issue. Other people have different “truths” that you have. You may feel that the current state of the science justifies certain actions. others may feel that the current state of the science does not have enough certainty to justify actions. Others may feel that the current state of the science provides no guidance on what actions will be efficacious.  Others may feel that even given the state of the science, no action can be justified  given ther cost. Others may feel that the science is misdirected and should be investigating other issues related to AGW.

    These are all positions that can be and are held on this issue. There is no way to take the science and a priori link to certain policies. To say that somebody has the science “wrong” is to totally misunderstand the issue and the reasons for disagreement.  It is a form of sophomoric arrogance that appears to characteristic of the climate science establishment and a primary reason why this issue cannot find consensus

    There is a cultural clash here and calling people names is not going to resolve it.

    Calling people names has been tried as a strategy to promote action on AGW. It has demonstrably failed and failed dramatically. Why is it that this is the only strategy that the climate science establishment can come up with? When will they get it through their heads that it is not working? They regard themselves as the smartest kids in the room so why is so hard for them to understand their failure.

  • Tom Gray

    There is a sweet irony hidden in the Jesus in a Box posting

    The thread is entitled “Jesus in a Box” and originated with the interest in the predictions of a end of days group. I have indicated that I see much of the controversy around AGW as a clash of cultures. It would be instructive to consider the origins of the cultural values of the ideologies in the controversy.

    Al Gore has degrees in Divinity in protestant Christianity. Evangelical Christian churches have indicated their support for AGW mitigation as an outcome of a tenet of their faith that they are stewards of the Earth. The basis of the tenet of stewardship in Christianity comes the millenarian doctrine.  From the Book of Revelations, Christ is to return to Earth and preside over it for a 1000 years before Judgement Day. The 1000 years will be a time of a earth paradise. Two variants of that belief exist. In one, Christ will transform the Earth into a paradise. In the other, and the one in which evangelicals and other Protestants subscribe, is that it is the duty of mankind  to prepare the Earth as a paradise in preparation for Christ’s return.

    The import of the distinction between the two beliefs is very important. In one, Christ will create a paradise for the faithful on Earth. That is that faith is purely spiritual. One must strive for spiritual grace to  receive the blessing. In the other, humanity is responsible for preparing the paradise. Faith is not just spiritual but requires in involvement with the physical aspects of life. Humanity must prove itself worthy by being stewards of the Earth and preparing a paradise. Humanity musty makes its faith perfect by perfuming good works in the world

    The duty to prepare the Earth is common in Protestant Christianity and is the basis for the Protestant work ethic and its part in the development of the Industrial Revolution. it is the basis of much of the free market and capitalist belief commonly held today.  The creation of wealth to enrich the world is part of the duty to create the paradise for Christ’s return. Just as importantly, the belief that humanity owes a duty to the Earth is also the basis of environmentalism  Humanity cannot exploit the Earth for its own purposes but must prepare ti as a paradise.

    So the two opposing ideologies commonly heard in the AGW debate are both derivations of the same branch of Millenarian Christianity. That Al Gore has a degree in divinity is not surprising  with this analysis. Millenarian beliefs are what is behind the concern of environmentalism.  Hard core capitalists can trace their doctrine back to the same origin

    The basis of the cultural clash comes from different interpretations of the millenarian myth. It a debate among various branches of an end of days religion. Before Adam Smith there was Lancelot Andrewes and both capitalists and environmentalists can trace their ideas back to him and his contemporaries in their emphasis to make their faith perfect by performing good works in the world.
    AGW as a debate among end of days cults — Jesus in a Box — Sweet irony

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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