Friday, May 11, 2018

Old Meets New

The news from China:
The Chinese Academy of Sciences has apologized for a Taoist ceremony organized by construction workers that included the slaughter of a lamb to inaugurate the construction of a nuclear test reactor. Images showing a monk chanting while the lamb was killed sparked online controversy in China. The April ceremony marked the start of construction of a thorium molten salt reactor in north-central China, part of a 22-billion yuan (US$3.5-billion) project to be operated by the academy’s Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics. In a statement posted on its homepage on 30 April, the academy said it apologized because the ritual was “against the spirit of science” and that institute staff did not know the ritual was planned.


G. Verloren said...

It seems like a harmless enough thing to do. It may not be scientific, but so what?

Yes, of course, a big part of the issue is the killing of a goat, and people being sad that a cute animal died. But if we really wanted to be scientific about things, we'd point out that said goat was almost certainly going to be killed anyway for meat, so what meaningful difference is there?

If the ritual had not involved animal sacrifice, would anyone have objected? If it had just been a monk reciting a few chants and making a few ritual motions, would anyone have cared? I highly doubt it. Thus, it doesn't seem to be the superstition involved that is objectionable, but rather the killing of the goat.

Killing a goat behind closed doors to turn into a sandwich is okay, but killing the same goat more visibly as part of a deeply rooted traditional ritual culture is not? That doesn't seem like a terribly rational view to hold.

Shadow said...

What a clash of ideas. -- the sacrifice of an animal (to the gods) on the alter of a nuclear reactor. It's like some futuristic science fiction novel where a medieval society runs around with light sabers. Oh, no, it's Dune!!!!

Shadow said...

PS: I read Dune when it first came out and hated it. Then I read all these rave reviews by critics and readers alike and thought I must have missed something. So I read it again. Nope. Hated it even more. I did however like the name Duncan Idaho.

G. Verloren said...


I've never read Dune, because I've never been able to get into it.

From what I've been able to glean by talking to other people who love it, the premise everyone seems to find so fascinating boils down to, "What if there was Feudalism again, except this time in space? Oh, and there's this entire massive empire that is utterly dependent on receiving magic dust from a single planet, but they somehow know basically nothing about that planet and have no actual control over it for some reason despite it being the single most important thing in their civilization, and there's a secret society of psychic super hippies living there in unimaginably vast numbers, with a secret plan that will upend the empire as soon as psychically propechized Space Muhammed shows up and leads them as a religious warlord."

Shadow said...

"What if there was Feudalism again, except this time in space?"

G! You gleaned well. Now you know why I didn't like it.