PDA

View Full Version : Cardinal Speaks Out on Science



TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-04, 01:19 AM
Vatican: Faithful Should Listen to Science (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051104/ap_on_sc/vatican_science)


"We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link," he said.

"But we also know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism," he said.

"The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity."
Any comments? I personally think this is a valid and logical position for religious people to take.


Note: I'm posting this under the "12 C: Focused, polite discussion of the difference between astronomy (including cosmology) and religion" rule, but if mods disagree please feel free to delete this topic. I cannot seeing this topic being offensive and I hope it won't lead to offensive discussions, but once again if a mod disagrees feel free to delete the topic.

Enzp
2005-Nov-04, 03:48 AM
Of course it is. But do the faithful listen with their ears open? Not long ago I was in a discussion with a young person, and we touched upon evolution. She assured me that because she was Catholic, she didn't believe in evolution. I suggested she read the Pope's own message regarding the matter, but she was not open to even going that far if it contradicted what she wanted to believe.

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 05:03 AM
I think Enzp touches on an important problem, which plagues religions as much as it does science. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing! Scientists are often frustrated at how uneducated people can take up a few scientific-sounding words to make up smokescreen-science explanations that are obvious bunk. But do we stop and consider at how frustrating it must be for people of faith when droves of zealots make all kinds of misrepresentations of the religions they purport to follow? In my experience, there are very few truly religious people, including Christians, maybe especially Christians. True religions are extremely challenging to follow, and all too often religions serve merely as a way to draw that ever-present line between "us" and "them", rather than serving as an "expert voice on humanity" in practice. But that is not the fault of the religions, or the truly religious, and I feel that scientists should avoid such line-drawing also, so I agree with the sentiment of the OP.

devilmech
2005-Nov-04, 05:39 AM
I used to be religious, although Bertrand Russell kind of made me lose it, but even coming from a non-religious standpoint as I do now, I do think that if properly used, science can benefit religion, and vice versa.

Since they are really two completely different fields, neither one has to contradict the other. InCatechism of the Catholic Church, the official text promulgated by Pope John Paul II, it's stated in section 159 that, "There can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason." and "...methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with faith".

I use Christianity because it is what I am most familiar with apart from Buddhism, and true Buddhism cannot be considered a religion. Any Christian with a little bit of intelligence will take much of the content of the bible in the sense it was meant to be taken, allegorically, metaphorically, etc. As such, nothing prevents the biblical world view from conflicting with evolution. Again, I use evolution as it is the main area where science and religion seem to clash. True macroevolution(i.e., common ancestry, descent with modification, etc.) can be taken as the process by which an intelligent Creator brought about life. Provided those of religious persuasion can accept science for what it is, observation and experimentation into how our universe works, science can shed light on many areas of religious study, particularly genesis.

As for religion having benefit to science, it has benefit in the sense that persons of religion have provided us with many scientific advancements such as the gregorian calendar which we use today, given to us by Pope Gregory. There are various other scientific accomplishments made by religious figures, some of which would never have been made had the person in question not been religious.

To put it shortly, science is not the devil, and religion need not hamper scientific advancement.Theoretically, we can all play together nicely. Practically, the situation is a bit different, with evangelical fundamentalists opposing the biological sciences at every opportunity, and scientists pointing fingers at religion instead of finding avenues that would allow them to explain things in ways that the typical religious person might understand and agree with. It reminds me of a quote I saw on the forum a day or two ago from the movie Cool Hand Luke, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

Maksutov
2005-Nov-04, 05:57 AM
[edit]To put it shortly, science is not the devil, and religion need not hamper scientific advancement.Theoretically, we can all play together nicely. Practically, the situation is a bit different, with evangelical fundamentalists opposing the biological sciences at every opportunity, and scientists pointing fingers at religion instead of finding avenues that would allow them to explain things in ways that the typical religious person might understand and agree with.Since when is it required of science to couch its information in religion-friendly terminology? Plus I don't recall "scientists pointing fingers at religion", instead scientists deal with objective evidence, and unfortunately some of that evidence, both historical and current, has to do with the suppression of science by various dogmatic belief systems.


It reminds me of a quote I saw on the forum a day or two ago from the movie Cool Hand Luke, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."What Strother Martin, as the Captain of Road Prison 36, actually says is, "What we've got here is...failure to communicate." Science has been communicating its discoveries for centuries. Finally a portion of one religion has decided to listen.

http://img475.imageshack.us/img475/2904/failuretocommunicate3hv.th.jpg (http://img475.imageshack.us/my.php?image=failuretocommunicate3hv.jpg)

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 06:12 AM
Yet what devilmech says is still true-- science is a human endeavor, and as such, must appeal to humans or humans will discontinue endeavoring in it. Science is here by virtue of its benefits to humanity, not by virtue of being "right". It is true that scientific discovery may represent the highest achievement of humanity, but it also may represent its downfall if we cannot couple intellectual and technological growth with growth in wisdom and a sense of connectedness with the universe we study. Science is our chance to understand our master the universe, not an opportunity to master the universe. Such an attitude, I am convinced, is utter folly for so immature a species as humanity. At least religion starts at a place of having a master rather than being a master-- science does have something to learn from (true) religion.

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 06:24 AM
And note JessM has brought to our attention this quote by none other scientific authority than the legendary Albert Einstein:
"Science without faith is lame, faith without science is blind."

Personally, I wouldn't say that faith and science could ever be married, they have too little in common. Rather they can inform each other, like separate branches of government. Checks and balances, that sort of thing.

Maksutov
2005-Nov-04, 06:43 AM
Yet what devilmech says is still true-- science is a human endeavor, and as such, must appeal to humans or humans will discontinue endeavoring in it. Science is here by virtue of its benefits to humanity, not by virtue of being "right". It is true that scientific discovery may represent the highest achievement of humanity, but it also may represent its downfall if we cannot couple intellectual and technological growth with growth in wisdom and a sense of connectedness with the universe we study. Science is our chance to understand our master the universe, not an opportunity to master the universe. Such an attitude, I am convinced, is utter folly for so immature a species as humanity. At least religion starts at a place of having a master rather than being a master-- science does have something to learn from (true) religion.Wrong. Very weak straw man, plus a false dichotomy. Science is about knowing, not "mastering".

This is reminiscent of the religionists claiming exclusive rights to ethics. To quote Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess, "It ain't necessarily so".

BTW, what's (true) religion?

Maksutov
2005-Nov-04, 06:48 AM
And note JessM has brought to our attention this quote by none other scientific authority than the legendary Albert Einstein:
"Science without faith is lame, faith without science is blind."[edit]"Appeal to Misleading Authority" logical fallacy.

Einstein's pronouncements on religion are about as useful and meaningful as various theologians' pronouncements on science.

Zogski
2005-Nov-04, 07:22 AM
They should all read Thomas S. Kuhn.

devilmech
2005-Nov-04, 07:38 AM
Since when is it required of science to couch its information in religion-friendly terminology? Plus I don't recall "scientists pointing fingers at religion", instead scientists deal with objective evidence, and unfortunately some of that evidence, both historical and current, has to do with the suppression of science by various dogmatic belief systems.

It's not required to make science religion-friendly, but in the interest of progress. You may not "recall" scientists pointing finger at religion, but that is exactly what you're doing. It doesn't matter what has been suppressed, what matters is that we educate religious people so that they'll understand that there isn't a need to suppress science. Otherwise, many diseases may never be cured, much information may never be dug up. Putting religion on the defensive will never get stem cell research expanded, will never allow cloning to become useful for human medicine. Perhaps you'd rather our children receive inadequate education in high school biology because people erronously believe teaching evolution will warp their children's minds.

Religion isn't the problem, communication is, and unless science "couches it's information in religion-friendly terminology", there will continue to be a lack of communication, and by proxy, a lack of progress in many areas of science which could produce immeasurable benefit to humanity.

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 10:10 AM
"Appeal to Misleading Authority" logical fallacy.

Einstein's pronouncements on religion are about as useful and meaningful as various theologians' pronouncements on science.
Poppycock. Not another one of the "fallacy" spouters, please! Here's the logical fallacy I would add to the list: the fallacy of spouting fallacies in place of an actual argument.

In fact, the mindsets of successful scientists is an important aspect of doing science. Science is a human endeavor, how many times must that simple fact be repeated before the "purists" clue in?

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 10:29 AM
It's not required to make science religion-friendly, but in the interest of progress... Religion isn't the problem, communication is
Perhaps another way to say this is, scientists should not hamper their definitions (which are designed for clarity) by trying to incorporate ideas that sound less alien to faith-based thinkers, but they should avoid making sweeping generalizations about the impact of their definitions and concepts. It can be stated simply: science should stay within the confines of science, just as should religion.

The main fear of the faith-minded that could lead to the problems devilmech mentions is not scientific discovery, it is the philosophy of materialism and determinism that can stem from scientific discovery. Religious people are in a precarious position, they want to know the truth because they have faith in their view of the universe, but they don't want to know the truth if it upsets their comfortable ignorance. So do you shove the truth down their throats simply because it's the truth? You'd make a lousy doctor, if that's your attitude. Instead, you first have to get them in a position to handle the truth. That means you teach them the meaning of a scientific truth, and let them believe whatever they want. If you can get them to admit that according to science, the Earth is 4.6 billion years old, and reject creationism as a science, you're work is done. You don't need them to disavow any belief that the Earth is actually 6000 years old, you only need them to know that it isn't science! And, you need to ask them if they are going to drive over a bridge that is built using scientific principles, or one that uses creationism to make the bridge. At that point, you are finished, there is no need for further discussion of their beliefs. And there is no need to characterize scientific truth as absolute truth, it simply isn't necessary! Why not focus on the accomplishable objective I've outlined, which is in fact the only self-consistent application that science permits.

Maksutov
2005-Nov-04, 10:59 AM
Originally Posted by Maksutov
"Appeal to Misleading Authority" logical fallacy.

Einstein's pronouncements on religion are about as useful and meaningful as various theologians' pronouncements on science. Poppycock. Not another one of the "fallacy" spouters, please! Here's the logical fallacy I would add to the list: the fallacy of spouting fallacies in place of an actual argument.If what you've written is a logical fallacy, then it's a logical fallacy, no matter how much you either object to it or fail to recognize it. Calling that which points out the fallacy "poppycock" just helps make my point.

For example: "the fallacy of spouting fallacies in place of an actual argument". That describes the fallacious components of your statements quite nicely. Thank you.

An essential part of a meaningful discussion is the requirement for participants to be able to spot logical errors. This is a result of the use of critical thinking. When a participant who has employed logical errors goes into denial, as you have now done, then the discussion becomes unproductive, as this one has become.


In fact, the mindsets of successful scientists is an important aspect of doing science. Science is a human endeavor, how many times must that simple fact be repeated before the "purists" clue in?All of which means what? If you're referring to the personal lives and philosophies of scientists, then, guess what, they're humans too, with all the attendant shortcomings such a condition entails. But one should not confuse the person with the science they do. The personal lives of scientists are one thing, the results of their research and experiments are another, separate thing.

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 11:29 AM
An essential part of a meaningful discussion is the requirement for participants to be able to spot logical errors. This is a result of the use of critical thinking.
How interesting is it then, that the only aspect of what I said that you chose to leave out of your quote was actually the only part where I made my case? Hmm? This is just what I mean about fallacy spouting, it's like you think this is a competition. High school debator, am I right? This is the fallacy of spouting fallacies. Every statement can be construed as incorporating a logical fallacy of some sort, if that is your goal. Want an example? OK, I'll choose the easiest one. Citing logical fallacies falls under the logical fallacy of assuming that logic is the only path to reaching a valid conclusion, when in fact it is the path to a logical conclusion. So in effect, you are stating that the only discourse of importance is a logical one. Are you Spock? That is a fallacy, I thought Star Trek covered that quite well. Nevertheless, it's a bit unfair of me to quote that fallacy (as it would imply that I too was trying to win some kind of competition), as it seems natural for you to conclude that the only type of discourse we would be embarking on here was a logical one. Not true of course, but I'll play by those rules since they are pretty well agreed upon, and return to my original point that you ducked-- how exactly do you characterize Einstein as, how did you put it, a "misleading authority" on the foibles and limitations of science? I kinda missed that "logic".

Maksutov
2005-Nov-04, 11:36 AM
Originally Posted by Maksutov
Since when is it required of science to couch its information in religion-friendly terminology? Plus I don't recall "scientists pointing fingers at religion", instead scientists deal with objective evidence, and unfortunately some of that evidence, both historical and current, has to do with the suppression of science by various dogmatic belief systems. It's not required to make science religion-friendly, but in the interest of progress. You may not "recall" scientists pointing finger at religion, but that is exactly what you're doing.Really? Referring to historical facts is finger-pointing? Well, I guess we need to rewrite history so it's friendlier to non-scientific pursuits, eh?

BTW, I asked for examples of this (i.e., scientists pointing a finger at religion, which I take to mean "unjustified accusations") but so far, no meaningful evidence.


It doesn't matter what has been suppressed, what matters is that we educate religious people so that they'll understand that there isn't a need to suppress science. Otherwise, many diseases may never be cured, much information may never be dug up. Putting religion on the defensive will never get stem cell research expanded, will never allow cloning to become useful for human medicine. Perhaps you'd rather our children receive inadequate education in high school biology because people erronously believe teaching evolution will warp their children's minds.Nice straw man. The fundamentalists, who as an article of belief will never accept anything scientific that contradicts their beliefs, are already well along on the road of doing what you described, plus it's current practice in religious schools and that wonderful euphemistic institution, "home schooling".

It's up to each individual to figure out what they hold as true. If a person's mind has been taken over by dogma, then there's not much that the educational process can do. Presenting science in a context that affirms dogma won't help at all. Only the individual can break free of such constraints. Having access to unadulterated scientific information typically aids immensely in gaining such freedom.

Prostituting science in the name of religious harmony will result in one thing only, the dilution of science to the point of ineffectiveness. BTW, this is the whole point and plan of the "Intelligent Design" folks, and is a key component of their "wedge" strategy.


Religion isn't the problem, communication is, and unless science "couches it's information in religion-friendly terminology", there will continue to be a lack of communication, and by proxy, a lack of progress in many areas of science which could produce immeasurable benefit to humanity.On the contrary, religion is the problem, as has been demonstrated quite well over the past 500 years (or ~2200 years if you count what happened to the Ionian scientists). As the Cardinal implied, it's time for less preaching and more listening and thinking.

Maksutov
2005-Nov-04, 11:52 AM
How interesting is it then, that the only aspect of what I said that you chose to leave out of your quote was actually the only part where I made my case? Hmm? This is just what I mean about fallacy spouting, it's like you think this is a competition. High school debator, am I right? This is the fallacy of spouting fallacies. Every statement can be construed as incorporating a logical fallacy of some sort, if that is your goal. Want an example? OK, I'll choose the easiest one. Citing logical fallacies falls under the logical fallacy of assuming that logic is the only path to reaching a valid conclusion, when in fact it is the path to a logical conclusion. So in effect, you are stating that the only discourse of importance is a logical one. Are you Spock? That is a fallacy, I thought Star Trek covered that quite well. Nevertheless, it's a bit unfair of me to quote that fallacy (as it would imply that I too was trying to win some kind of competition), as it seems natural for you to conclude that the only type of discourse we would be embarking on here was a logical one. Not true of course, but I'll play by those rules since they are pretty well agreed upon, and return to my original point that you ducked-- how exactly do you characterize Einstein as, how did you put it, a "misleading authority" on the foibles and limitations of science? I kinda missed that "logic".Ducked? What I wrote was


Einstein's pronouncements on religion are about as useful and meaningful as various theologians' pronouncements on science.Perhaps you need a translation into general terms to understand this. It means, "Being an expert in one field doesn't automatically qualify a person as an expert in other fields." Got it?

Seems you're one "ducking" here, as you haven't answered my question posted earlier:


BTW, what's (true) religion?But, considering the overall gist of your current post, in which you seem to be saying that conclusions don't have to be logical, then there's no point in any further replies. Enjoy your illogical, little world.

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 11:55 AM
Ducked? What I wrote was

Perhaps you need a translation into general terms to understand this. It means, "Being an expert in one field doesn't automatically qualify a person as an expert in other fields." Got it?

Seems you're one "ducking" here, as you haven't answered my question posted earlier:

But, considering the overall gist of your current post, in which you seem to be saying that conclusions don't have to be logical, then there's no point in any further replies. Enjoy your illogical, little world.
Arrogant to the end. I am not surprised, but what you must realize, is that when people like you are making the case for scientists, our chances go way down.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-04, 03:19 PM
Okay, I'm going to get this out of the way before I forget about it. I might add that I haven't read through the other posts, so sorries if I just repeated a previous point.


"We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb...

I disagree with that particular idea of the Atomic Bomb. Scientific reason proclaims that people can die from radiation and bombs. They could also predict that if everyone got involved in nuclear warfare, everyone would die. Science then could say that this would be the end of the Human race. So... since we don't want to die, Science by itself could easily cause us to not want to use the nuclear bomb.

Also, the idea that we need spirituality to show us morality is a myth. I see people picking and choosing what to believe according to their personal morality. For instance, focusing on biblical messages of peace is more acceptable today than focusing on biblical messages of war. This denotes morality BEFORE belief, NOT after.


...and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link," he said.

There's little benefit to cloning human beings. Our wish is not to focus on cloning humans, but instead to clone body parts and organs so far. Cloning humans are entirely inefficient. To deny research towards cloning in the name of religion is to deny life to those people that could do with a replacement heart, kidney, etc.

grant hutchison
2005-Nov-04, 06:40 PM
If what you've written is a logical fallacy, then it's a logical fallacy, no matter how much you either object to it or fail to recognize it.The trouble with some of the so-called "logical fallacies" is that they have rather limited roots in logic. They're at best a means of identifying where the argument lies, rather than conclusive arguments in themselves.
Saying "straw man", for instance, is a non-argument: I have to say why I think my opponent has raised a straw man, while my opponent will almost certainly argue that his/her claims have substance.
"Appeal to misleading authority" similarly has no logical strength to overturn an argument. There is no logical reason that a person's lack of experience or expertise in some matter will prevent them from ever uttering a true statement about that matter, or indeed prevent them from being able to encapsulate that truth in a pithy summary that's worthy of quotation. To win the argument, you must address the statement itself and ignore its provenance.
The use of these dubious manoeuvres as "trump cards" in order to skip out of real discussion has unfortunately become so rife among some sceptic groups that it's pretty much counterproductive to wheel them out. Far better, IMO, to go straight to your disagreement with what your opponent has said.

Grant Hutchison

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 07:04 PM
The use of these dubious manoeuvres as "trump cards" in order to skip out of real discussion has unfortunately become so rife among some sceptic groups that it's pretty much counterproductive to wheel them out. Far better, IMO, to go straight to your disagreement with what your opponent has said.

I couldn't agree more, although I do apologize to Maksutov for this being such a raw nerve with me. Grant Hutchison has put it much better, and more cool headedly. But I further add, that this thread is about the complementary nature of science and religion, and hence must admit of points of view that are not solely rooted in logic (even if that were possible, as Grant points out), but rather are rooted in certain valuable elements of human nature.



So... since we don't want to die, Science by itself could easily cause us to not want to use the nuclear bomb.


I think that Lonewulf's points are valid as far as they go, but they fall short of absolving science of its ethical responsibilities for things like the bomb. I am sure that people who participated in the Manhattan Project, for example, must have had to consider issues of ethics that are completely outside science and are not informed by science. Could we cite any scientific subfield in the determination of whether or not it was appropriate to build this weapon? To use it? It is true that religion can be used to justify horribly immoral acts, as history has shown, but I would argue this is a misapplication of religion, just as much as we would argue that ID is a misapplicaton of science. We cannot absolve ourselves of bad astronomy but hold religion responsible for bad religion-- the fact is, human morality has always been a key component of the mission of the world's religions, and the extent to which they have succeeded or failed is a measure of the monumental difficulty of the task in the face of human foibles, more than it is a comment on religious people or religious institutions.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-04, 07:10 PM
To use it?

If you mean Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I'm pretty sure I can use non-religious means to show how it was necessary and beneficial in the long run.


It is true that religion can be used to justify horribly immoral acts, as history has shown, but I would argue this is a misapplication of religion, just as much as we would argue that ID is a misapplicaton of science.

Ah, but here's where you prove my point again, and I'm glad you did!

People picked and quoted only what justified their personal vendettas, decisions, and land-grabbing. It was not religion that caused them to be violent, no. It was not religion that was the reason for the warfare, or for the land-grabs.

So why should I believe that religion causes ethics and morality? You've already shown that people decide how to use religion, not religion that decides hwo to use people.

Also, what parts of religion should I use? The parts that promote warfare and hatred and genocide and slavery? Or the parts that promote peace and love?

Why should I pick either/or? Shouldn't I buy all of it based primarily on it being the religionI subscribe to? No, what most people do is pick the parts that promote peace and love - then claim that that's what the religion itself is supposed to be all about.

People set their own rules. This has happened with religion and without. religion has not caused morality - morality, that we learn from SOCIAL, not RELIGIOUS means - is what has caused us to decide which to believe and which not to believe when it comes to religion.

publiusr
2005-Nov-04, 07:11 PM
Science needs all the friends it can get inside or outside the pews. Only Nixon could go to china, so the more that people of faith go with the Cardinal, the better off we will be. Even M. Gardner--in the forward of Rudy Ruckers' book on the fourth dimension, said that while he didn't go for Rudys Tao approach, quoted a nice saying about how every man is entitled to his 'over-beliefs." Interesting quote.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-04, 07:16 PM
Science needs all the friends it can get inside or outside the pews.

Maybe, but never at the cost of science itself (ID would be an example of said "cost"). Nor should the teachings of any religion be thrust upon scientific or political actions.

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 07:22 PM
religion has not caused morality - morality, that we learn from SOCIAL, not RELIGIOUS means - is what has caused us to decide which to believe and which not to believe when it comes to religion.

Actually, I was not trying to argue that religion causes morality, any more than I would argue that science causes logic. You are right that morality, as well as logic, are human capabilities whose origins are deeply rooted in social and intellectual evolution of our species. But some point along the way, with both of these processes, humanity has tried to take it out of the hands of survival-based evolution and into the self-referential domain of a controlled feedback. We attempt to bootstrap these capabilities, artificially if you like, in the hopes of accelerating progress toward a beneficial direction. Religion has this mission with regard to morality, science has this mission with regard to the application of logic and quantitative reasoning to the understanding and mastery of physical principles. The success or failure of each will ultimately be measured by their impact on the survival of our species, make no mistake.

I think the OP has made the valid point that the complementary action of these missions, done properly, will maximize our chances of development in a positive direction, while the misapplication of either avenue could lead to hardship and calamity. That misapplication is a threat on both fronts, not just the religioius front, and animosity between the camps is beneficial for neither. I echo publiusr in that regard, even though I hear where Lonewulf's frustrations are coming from. I would suspect that the fine Cardinal may have similar frustrations aimed at things that have been done in the name of science, even if bad science. I won't go there here, but the list is not a pretty one.

publiusr
2005-Nov-04, 07:25 PM
That's true of course. Let me give you an example. Here in Birmingham a Doctor of faith was on WERC and talked about how there was nothing unChristian about stem-cell research (which seems to be really coming along: http://www.terradaily.com/news/stemcells-05g.html). I forgot his name.

A unified fron from agnostics, people of faith, etc. makes for a unified front.

Preachers know verses, researchers know science--but politicians know **people** and it takes a lot to get politicos motivated so a unified front, even if folks disagree on things themselves, can be considered a step in the right direction--otherwise you win the arguement but lose the war. A unified front is a pragmatic approach to a more rational future.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-04, 07:31 PM
I would suspect that the fine Cardinal may have similar frustrations aimed at things that have been done in the name of science, even if bad science. I won't go there here, but the list is not a pretty one.

In the name of science, or in the name of political pressures? Also, please don't make a claim and back out on it.

Personally, I have my own personal dislikes for religion in the first place. I don't think it has much of a place outside of providing a group for people of like faiths to get together, for helping them to be able to provide charity for others, etc.

I don't think that religion should have any place in politics, as I said before - so I don't think that it has an application in the first place, for any major world-altering decisions.


science has this mission with regard to the application of logic and quantitative reasoning to the understanding and mastery of physical principles

You're oversimplifying science.

There's some other things that scientists are attempting to do. This includes:

Curing AIDS. Curing Cancer. Providing longer life.Trying to understand our bodies and minds, which would benefit medical research. Preventing suffering. Preventing disease.

These are a few of the morally fluent ideals of science.

Understanding physics can help us understand how to use it, and how it affects us and our lives.

Understanding the universe is the same, but in the same way, it's mainly a sense of wonder, but not to mention a sense of being able to answer the final question of, "Why are we here?". We've already answered "What are we?", though we are still developing upon the answer to that question, and adding more and more to it.

Meh, I got into a bit of a ramble. I'm not even sure if I'm arguing any more, instead of merely rambling.

Ken G
2005-Nov-04, 08:21 PM
In the name of science, or in the name of political pressures? Also, please don't make a claim and back out on it.

Well, I didn't want to go here, but you are forcing me to bring up the Nazi experiments that were done in the name of the scientific understanding of how humans respond to various horrendous conditions. Obviously these were immoral, and not very valuable science either, but nevertheless they could be construed as science in the complete absence of any moral compass or any valuable purpose at all. That's certainly an obvious example, but generalizing the concept a bit brings other examples to light, such as the "science" of eugenics. Again, bad science, but still done in the name of science.



You're oversimplifying science.
There's some other things that scientists are attempting to do. This includes:
Curing AIDS. Curing Cancer. Providing longer life.Trying to understand our bodies and minds, which would benefit medical research. Preventing suffering. Preventing disease.
These are a few of the morally fluent ideals of science.

All very meritorious applications, I assure you, and not at all in conflict with the general definition I offered (by physical principles, I'm including all that is physical, not just "physics"). But remember, none of these pursuits are quintessentially scientific (which "ideals" are you referring to? Those don't sound like scientific ideals, which have to do with models of how the universe functions) in the sense that they are motivated by something that does not exist within the formal confines of scientific inquiry-- the desire to help, not just the desire to know. I would argue that is science plus something else, something uniquely human and very valuable, something that does not require religion but is nevertheless the area that religion has attempted to "bootstrap" in humans. Not always successfully, of course, but then refer to the "bad science" I referred to above.


Understanding the universe is the same, but in the same way, it's mainly a sense of wonder.
You have rightly identified my own personal bias in how I view science, and you are also correct that this is only a small piece. But I continue to hold that all science is definitively morally neutral. To add "morally fluent ideals" to science, you are going beyond science to something even more human, or even more of what we will need to be human if we're going to make it. So in fact you are not disagreeing with the spirit of the OP, only the method of reaching this important ideal. We can both agree on how crucial it is that we safeguard these morally fluent ideals, and I think this is an area where the majority of faith-based people would stand shoulder to shoulder with scientists, a la publiusr's point.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-04, 08:29 PM
I would like to point out that what Pope actually said was, "A little learning is a dangerous thing," not "a little knowledge." The thing about a little learning, you see, is that it of necessity comes with a whole lot of ignorance.

There are a lot of religious scientists, though this does not in and of itself make religion right. However, it proves that there is no validity to the Fundamentalists' view of "atheistic science." Isn't evidence what's important?

Ah, but religion requires no evidence. And that alone is why I do not rely on it to tell me how the world works. As I've said before, I don't know how my sewing machine works, so how can I expect to know how the universe works?

What's more, there's a lot of Catholics who do turn to science for answers. I know; I'm related to quite a few of them. I'm just glad the Church is choosing to reinforce that.

grant hutchison
2005-Nov-04, 08:54 PM
I would like to point out that what Pope actually said was, "A little learning is a dangerous thing," not "a little knowledge." The thing about a little learning, you see, is that it of necessity comes with a whole lot of ignorance.It's certainly very confusing for the writings of a man called Pope to be drawn into this discussion!
To further split hairs, the quotation is actually "A little learning is a dang'rous thing ..." presumably because he was writing poetry and so had to fiddle with the metre. Interestingly (to me, at least) this quotation is given in the Oxford English Dictionary as an illustrative example of the usage of the word "learning", specifically under Meaning 3.a: "Knowledge ..."
Doesn't a little knowledge also come with a whole lot of ignorance?

Grant Hutchison

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-05, 01:49 AM
Okay, Ken G, I'll grant you that. Science is morally neutral. But I think that Religion is morally neutral too. Religion is what the believer makes of it.

devilmech
2005-Nov-05, 03:55 AM
Okay, Ken G, I'll grant you that. Science is morally neutral. But I think that Religion is morally neutral too. Religion is what the believer makes of it.

I would disagree. Organized religion is by definition a set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader[1] (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=religion). As such, these beliefs and values give rise to a system of dogma which is set forth to codify matters of morality and faith authoritatively by the particular religious institution in question.

I would say that science should be carried out with regard to human and scientific ethics, but it musn't subscribe to any moral code.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-05, 04:34 AM
I would disagree. Organized religion is by definition a set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader. As such, these beliefs and values give rise to a system of dogma which is set forth to codify matters of morality and faith authoritatively by the particular religious institution in question.

I've talked to several different Christians, Catholics, and even a Mormon or two. They don't all hold the same beliefs. They don't all hold the same beliefs, even within their own personal religious denomination. I don't see the "codify matters of morality and faith" being enforced.

Perhaps they're forced into one set belief? But wait, doesn't that go against the idea of faith? It seems to me that a lot of people have their own personal faith - and turn their own studies of scripture into showing what they personally believe to be "true" or "false".

Thus, some use Scripture to preach hate, some use it to preach love. But nowhere do I see ONE CODIFIED set of beliefs, even within one religious denomination, nor one religious sect. Some Christians preach "God hates fags". Others preach, "God teaches love for all - FOR ALL, including homosexuals". This is one example of one issue having different Christians, some of the same particular sect, that have differing viewpoints.

I've also talked to many a Christian (I talk more numerously to Christians - that's why I mention them specifically), that has claimed that they believe in the teachings of Christ, but do not wish to follow the Church itself, and dislike the Church's actions.

So this makes me question: How is it codified? In what form? In what way do you define it? In one book? Why are there so many different interpretations of that book, then? Perhaps by Church? But then, how many people disagree with the Church, yet still ascribe themselves to that belief?

I hope I've made my point.

devilmech
2005-Nov-05, 09:26 AM
I've talked to several different Christians, Catholics, and even a Mormon or two. They don't all hold the same beliefs. They don't all hold the same beliefs, even within their own personal religious denomination. I don't see the "codify matters of morality and faith" being enforced.

I will take Christianity as an example. In order for one to be a Christian, they must subscribe to certain articles of faith and moral behaviour. For example, one cannot be a Christian and not believe in "God" and immortality. This isn't unique to Christians, it's a tenet of all three Judeo-Christian faiths, including Islam and the Jewish faith. Second, to call oneself a Christian, there must necessarily be a belief that "Christ" existed. These are concepts general to Christianity, not necessarily the organized denominations within the Christian faith.

Once you accept the basic beliefs of the particular religion, you must then subscribe to the tenets of the particular denomination you wish to follow. All denominations have a dogma, the most lengthy of which is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which lays out the professions of faith, sacrements, etc. all of which a person who wishes to be Catholic must follow in order to truly be Catholic.

There is a certain minimum number of articles that one must believe in order to call themselves a member of a certain religion. If I believe in reincarnation, I can't call myself a Christian, as it runs contrary to the dogma of the faith, just as I couldn't call myself a Christian were I not baptized.




Perhaps they're forced into one set belief? But wait, doesn't that go against the idea of faith? It seems to me that a lot of people have their own personal faith - and turn their own studies of scripture into showing what they personally believe to be "true" or "false".

Personal faith has nothing to do with organized religion, except in the sense that those making up the body of organized religions have their own personal faith. Anyone can interpret the scriptures any way they like, but unless their interpretation falls within the structure of their religion, then they cannot call themselves a member of that religion.



Thus, some use Scripture to preach hate, some use it to preach love. But nowhere do I see ONE CODIFIED set of beliefs, even within one religious denomination, nor one religious sect. Some Christians preach "God hates fags". Others preach, "God teaches love for all - FOR ALL, including homosexuals". This is one example of one issue having different Christians, some of the same particular sect, that have differing viewpoints.

You haven't looked hard enough. I mentioned the Catechism of the Catholic Church[link (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1574551094/102-4190146-4587328?v=glance&n=283155&n=507846&s=books&v=glance) earlier, it is one such codified set of beliefs. Most other denominations of Christianity have similar codified sets of beliefs, which denominate them. What supposed Christians preach should not be confused with what it means to be a Christian.



I've also talked to many a Christian (I talk more numerously to Christians - that's why I mention them specifically), that has claimed that they believe in the teachings of Christ, but do not wish to follow the Church itself, and dislike the Church's actions.

These persons do not fall under the banner of organized religion, and shouldn't even be considered part of this debate.



So this makes me question: How is it codified? In what form? In what way do you define it? In one book? Why are there so many different interpretations of that book, then? Perhaps by Church? But then, how many people disagree with the Church, yet still ascribe themselves to that belief?

I hope I've made my point.

I believe that I have answered all of the questions you have aside from perhaps the question, "Why are there so many different interpretations of that book then?", which not being a theologian(although I did go to bible college for a year in hopes of becoming one before reading Bertrand Russell caused me to question, and thereafter discard my faith), I can only give my personal opinion, which is that as society has evolved, viewpoints have come to conflict with scripture, and rather than critically analyzing why this occurs, they find it simpler to change their interpretation of the scripture to line up with societal viewpoints.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-05, 01:17 PM
I think that I'm confused, because yes, you are right on organized religion... but, uhm, about this bit:


...I can only give my personal opinion, which is that as society has evolved, viewpoints have come to conflict with scripture, and rather than critically analyzing why this occurs, they find it simpler to change their interpretation of the scripture to line up with societal viewpoints.

So as morality evolved with society, interpretations of the Bible changed.

So... isn't that evidence of my claim that people base their interpretation and following of their religion based on personal morals - not vice versa?

Now, you are right about the basic structure of beliefs in certain denominations. I wouldn't contest that. But "morality" is supposed to be an important part of religion - be good to others, and you get rewarded by some higher power. However, it seems to me that, even within the church itself, viewpoints of what's "right" differs from hatred to love.

I'm sorry, but this is just going to keep going in circles, because I don't really see where religion itself changes one's beliefs in what's right and what's wrong - the same rights and wrongs they learned from their environment as they grew up, from their society, their schools, their teachers, their parents.

If the parents teach them a set of morals based on religion, then it's not really the religion that's responsible for it - it's the parent's personal beliefs.

Ken G
2005-Nov-05, 02:03 PM
So... isn't that evidence of my claim that people base their interpretation and following of their religion based on personal morals - not vice versa?

But I could equally point out that scientists base their understanding and interpretation of scientific principles on their experiences, they don't reinterpret their experiences to fit scientific models. Classic example-- spacetime is 4D, but when we picture it we always go to 2D or 3D because we've experienced that. We don't suddenly experience our 4D world differently. To say that religions react to society is just saying that they, like science, must evolve with the times to be successful.

The real emerging issue of this thread is, does religion have a valid mission in human affairs, or is it a vestige of ignorant times. We would probably all agree that humanity can't get along without science, its value is clear. So the question is, can we get along without religion? Can we, like John Lennon, imagine a world without it, and in a thousand years, are we better off or worse off for it? I think that's the real issue that Lonewulf is exploring, but I have a less pessimistic view of the role of religion. And the fear of becoming "vestigial" is I think what drives most of the ID debate.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-05, 02:20 PM
But I could equally point out that scientists base their understanding and interpretation of scientific principles on their experiences, they don't reinterpret their experiences to fit scientific models. Classic example-- spacetime is 4D, but when we picture it we always go to 2D or 3D because we've experienced that. We don't suddenly experience our 4D world differently. To say that religions react to society is just saying that they, like science, must evolve with the times to be successful.

I'm not sure if I see what you're saying. I never really claimed that Science itself can be a source of morality. I also admitted that it's usually neutral. But I'll tell you something -- I'd believe studies over scripture.



The real emerging issue of this thread is, does religion have a valid mission in human affairs, or is it a vestige of ignorant times. We would probably all agree that humanity can't get along without science, its value is clear. So the question is, can we get along without religion?

Can we? It seems that society develops our morality far more than religion. What else is religion there for? Spirituality? Well, I can buy that - some people do need to feel "secure" about their soul. But someday, science might be able to show that the soul does or doesn't exist - then will people change their beliefs based on what's shown by Science?

Someday, Science might be able to push forward in realms we can only imagine today.

I do have a pessimistic view of religion. I don't see it's necessity, personally, and then I'm surrounded by a nation that's trying to push policies based on their personal religious belief. Why should a religion that I hold no value in be affecting my life?

Gillianren
2005-Nov-05, 06:43 PM
Hey, Devilmech, you are aware that most American Catholics (at least according to opinion polls) hold views contrary to the official views of the Vatican, right? While my mother's church puts up the obligatory aborted fetus pictures every October ("Support Life" month, apparently), most American Catholics are pro-choice. Certainly my mother is. Most American Catholics support married priests and women in the priesthood.

Now, I'm picking Catholics because a) it's probably the most highly-structured Christian sect and b) it's the religion in which I was raised, so I know a lot of the dogma that gets disagreed with in this country. However, I'm sure that, for every type of religion with any structure at all, there are those who disagree with bits of it but still consider themselves members of that religion--after all, my mother still goes to church every Sunday.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-05, 08:05 PM
I could kiss you, Gillian. I felt alone there. ^_^

devilmech
2005-Nov-05, 11:54 PM
Hey, Devilmech, you are aware that most American Catholics (at least according to opinion polls) hold views contrary to the official views of the Vatican, right? While my mother's church puts up the obligatory aborted fetus pictures every October ("Support Life" month, apparently), most American Catholics are pro-choice. Certainly my mother is. Most American Catholics support married priests and women in the priesthood.

Now, I'm picking Catholics because a) it's probably the most highly-structured Christian sect and b) it's the religion in which I was raised, so I know a lot of the dogma that gets disagreed with in this country. However, I'm sure that, for every type of religion with any structure at all, there are those who disagree with bits of it but still consider themselves members of that religion--after all, my mother still goes to church every Sunday.

Yes, and I believe I covered this bit in my last post where I said that eventually the interpretation of dogma will evolve to line up with societal viewpoints.

Also, I believe there is a misunderstanding here. I am not saying that every single viewpoint put forth by a religion must be followed in order for one to be part of that religion. What I am stating is that there are a certain minimum number of views and articles of faith that one must believe in order to be categorized as belonging to a religion. I will bring up my previous postulation, which is that all Christians must necessarily believe in 3 things in order to be called Christian: God, immortality, and the existence of Christ. Then as you consider the organized religions within Christianity, you must necessarily have some viewpoint which denominates them.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-05, 11:59 PM
Yes, but this boils down to the original debate (if you could call it that), which was discussing about Religion dictating morals in society.

It seems you're defending, Devilmech (correct me if I'm wrong!), the idea that religion gives us ethics and morality.

devilmech
2005-Nov-06, 12:04 AM
I do have a pessimistic view of religion. I don't see it's necessity, personally, and then I'm surrounded by a nation that's trying to push policies based on their personal religious belief. Why should a religion that I hold no value in be affecting my life?

I myself have the same pessimistic view of religion. Or I should put it more correctly, I have a pessimistic view of religion as it interferes with the political process. Politicians make decisions based not on human ethics, but a personal sense of morality and faith, which negatively affects many aspects of society, and does irreparable harm to the progress of science.

Hence why I feel it is necessary for scientists to win over those of religioius persuasion to our viewpoint.

devilmech
2005-Nov-06, 12:11 AM
Yes, but this boils down to the original debate (if you could call it that), which was discussing about Religion dictating morals in society.

It seems you're defending, Devilmech (correct me if I'm wrong!), the idea that religion gives us ethics and morality.

I would be the least likely defender of religion you would find mate, and the day that we rely on religion to give us human ethics is the day that I take my own self out of existence. As for morality, yes, I would say that any particular religion lays out a moral code to be followed by those who would be a member of that religion. Perhaps you have read my posts in the wrong context?

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-06, 02:13 AM
Perhaps you have read my posts in the wrong context?
A very viable possibility.


As for morality, yes, I would say that any particular religion lays out a moral code to be followed by those who would be a member of that religion.

BUT!, I still disagree with this. I hear about how religion provides a moral outline, but really, I don't honestly see that happening. Even if you buy into the whole Immortality, Creator, Jesus, etc. thing, that doesn't necessarily mean that you follow the moral code outlined specifically by that religious denomination. This has been shown a few times throughout this discussion.

However, it seems we're going in circles in that regard, so perhaps it's time to agree to disagree.

Ken G
2005-Nov-06, 02:42 AM
Let's step back and think about the institutions that humans need, and forget about how things are actually operating. We need science, to learn about the universe from the practical side of being able to increase our ability to control the natural world. We also need it to provide a sense of wonder and understanding of the beauty and symmetries and mathematical patterns in our world. I really don't think I left anything out there, that is under the purvey of science. Does that sound like a complete list of everything of value to humanity?

OK, of course not. So we also have emotion, art, and inspiration. There is no formal place for these in science, although as human beings scientists of course experience these. But in terms of institutions, we have museums and theatres and literature, etc., to probe these aspects of the human spirit. Science has little to say about these, although you can certainly learn the aspects of these that are scientific. But you can't replace them with science.

Where does this leave churches, what is the purpose of those institutions? In my view, the essential piece that is provided by religion that comes from no other source is the sense of there being a higher power in the universe than humanity. Clearly, the concept is oversimplified, almost to the absurd, by most religions. But it is a far more difficult concept than even quantum mechanics. To me, science in the absence of religion risks falling victim to hubris, where humanity ultimately comes to feel that it is the master of the universe. I've no doubt it could be argued that this would be a good thing-- if we're the masters, we can't pass the buck. But from what I've seen of human nature, I fear that the abuses of religion would be nothing compared to the potential abuses of science in the absence of any sense that something is holding us to task for what we do. At the end of the day, that is the unifying principle of all the major religions that I've been exposed to. So getting back to the issue of the mission of various institutions, I think religion has the mission of giving us a sense of humility, and a sense of a higher calling to this morass of random and/or deterministic phenomena around us.

Now, you may argue that we don't need religion to have that sense. But I use a rather broader definition of religion-- if someone believes there is a purpose to existence, that any of this really matters in any universal or fundamental sense, then I say they have been touched by the fundamental tenet of religion, whether they go to church or not, or whether they follow any particular dogma. Most of the people I know who say they don't believe in God, just need a better definition. That is the main failing so far of our religions, they haven't pushed their mission to keep up with the times.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-06, 03:22 AM
Now, you may argue that we don't need religion to have that sense. But I use a rather broader definition of religion-- if someone believes there is a purpose to existence, that any of this really matters in any universal or fundamental sense, then I say they have been touched by the fundamental tenet of religion, whether they go to church or not, or whether they follow any particular dogma. Most of the people I know who say they don't believe in God, just need a better definition. That is the main failing so far of our religions, they haven't pushed their mission to keep up with the times.

I don't need a better definition, personally. I don't need a God, or gods, or spirits, to do what I think is right, for humanity, for the earth, and for myself.

I don't think we need religion. I also think that, no matter what I think, religion will pervade society from now and into the future. I must accept that there will always be religion.

Religious faith and scientific prowess cannot be combined. Morality based on faith can hamper science more than better it. That is my view. It doesn't always - a lot of times, it depends upon the beliefs of those that use Faith. So eh, I can't really say much one way or the other.

Ken G
2005-Nov-06, 03:38 AM
I think those are valid points, but to complete the picture of what role religion can play in providing a sense of purpose, I think we'd have to hear from someone of faith. As for myself, I do believe that there is something larger going on in the universe, profound enough that our childish brains are forced to cast it in terms we understand from our own existence, terms like Father or Lord. I think these are tremendous oversimplifications, but so are many of the concepts of science. They may be the best we can do at the moment, or maybe we could do better if people tried as hard to push the envelope of religion as people are trying to push the envelope of science. The methods are different, they would involve introspection, inspiration, and emotion. And sacrifice, that may be the toughest of all. Just as there must be some reason that logic and mathematics are effective in science, these other human capabilities should be effective in our spiritual development. They've just been pretty dormant the last few milennia, because people started believing religion should be a "magic bullet" (probably those trying to manipulate religion for their own power and gain), despite the unbelievably challenging teachings of most of the inspirational figures that religions are based on. Most of whom would roll over in their graves, I believe, if they saw how little humanity has really made of their teachings over these milennia. But I think it truly is a much harder mission than that of science, and harder to make incremental advances.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-06, 03:40 AM
In my view, the essential piece that is provided by religion that comes from no other source is the sense of there being a higher power in the universe than humanity.
This is by no means essential, as the many athiests throughout the ages have proven. Entertainment is essential, science is essential, emotion is essential, but a belief in a higher being is something a great many people do just fine without.



To me, science in the absence of religion risks falling victim to hubris, where humanity ultimately comes to feel that it is the master of the universe. I've no doubt it could be argued that this would be a good thing-- if we're the masters, we can't pass the buck.
In real life, quite the opposite seems to be the case. The vast majority of the religions throughout the ages were based on the assumption that we can convince some higher being to, or even makes ourselves able to, change anything we want about the universe. One of the central things science has taught us is that our control over nature is extremely limited, far more limited than pretty much any religion has ever taught us. In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, we are supposed to be able to rely on an omnipotent diety who will solve our problems for us if we ask nicely enough. In many other religions, witchcraft is supposed to be able to give ordinary humans unlimited control over nature. In others, there are many gods that can be convinced to do anything we ask them to. Science teaches us our ability to change our lot is extremely limited, I would say that is far less hubris than religion gives people.


And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over the whole earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth. 27

And God created Man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28

And God blessed them; and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heavens, and over every animal that moveth on the earth. 29

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb producing seed that is on the whole earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree producing seed: it shall be food for you; 30

and to every animal of the earth, and to every fowl of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth on the earth, in which is a living soul, every green herb for food. And it was so. 31
So basically we have the Bible telling us we own the Earth and everything on it, and we are allowed to do anything we want with it. Please tell me how this does not lead to hubris? This is a common feature of most religions, mankind is the center of the universe and we are allowed to do whatever we want with the world. Science teaches us all life on Earth is very closely related, that these creatures and even the plants religion tells us we have been given dominion over are really at our level, they are our cousins in the eyes of science. That is one of the reasons people hate evolution so much. Please tell me again how science leads to hubris and religion leads to humility?


But from what I've seen of human nature, I fear that the abuses of religion would be nothing compared to the potential abuses of science in the absence of any sense that something is holding us to task for what we do. At the end of the day, that is the unifying principle of all the major religions that I've been exposed to.
Yet athiests are perfectly moral people. Despite science being around for about 500 years, far more atrocities have been done in that time in the name of religion than in the name of science. Even today, when science is supposed to at the most significant level since mankind began, most wars are still faught on religious grounds, and those that are not are faught on ideological grounds. I have yet to see a war faught in the name of science, despite what people tell you about Hitler.


Now, you may argue that we don't need religion to have that sense. But I use a rather broader definition of religion-- if someone believes there is a purpose to existence, that any of this really matters in any universal or fundamental sense, then I say they have been touched by the fundamental tenet of religion, whether they go to church or not, or whether they follow any particular dogma. Most of the people I know who say they don't believe in God, just need a better definition. That is the main failing so far of our religions, they haven't pushed their mission to keep up with the times.
The central tenet of all religions is a belief in one or more higher powers. Not all religions involve a purpose to existance, but all involve at least one higher power of some sort. That is what defines a religion, not a sense of purpose in life. Most people I know who don't believe in God aren't Christians, Jews, or Muslims. Those that don't believe in any God do not believe in a higher power, no matter what the definition. Keeping up with the times would be irrelevant, they simply do not believe there is a higher power no matter how up-to-date or trendy it may be.


Now do not get me wrong, I am not attacking religion or you. I am religious myself. But I try to keep a fair assessment of the benefits and detriments of religions. There are great things about religion, and I thoroughly enjoy being religious, but I am not going to ascribe to it more importance and more benefits than history has shown it to have no matter how much I may like it personally.

cran
2005-Nov-06, 04:19 AM
I still remember what one priest said to me ...

Science is the means by which we hope to understand the mind of God;
religion is the means by which we hope to understand the heart of God

I said, "I can live with that." :)

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-06, 04:53 AM
Just recognize that there are those like me, that do not wish to ascribe a belief in any God of any sort, in any way, shape, or form, nor want to make assumptions on anything. I do not think that Science is "understanding the mind of God" personally, since I doubt the very existance of God. (I'm not necessarily an Atheist, but I have no reason to ascribe a belief to that particular faith system - nor any other faith system). However, within that faith itself, it's a decent analogy... I suppose.

Also recognize that people like me can be just as moral as any man of faith.

Ken G
2005-Nov-06, 05:23 AM
Cran makes my point quite well, and far more concisely than what I'm about to embark on. Personally, I never met a scientist who I believe is an atheist, by my definition. The problem is the definition of God, if you ask me. It is hopelessly inadequate to define God as a "supreme being". What does "being" mean? Merely that it exists. Well if it didn't, you could hardly define it could you. So that part is meaningless. How about "supreme"? Again, virtually meaningless. We may as well as be arguing over whether or not we believe in a glarblehooskin (I do). So here's my definition of religion-- inquiry, either at the intellectual or simply the "gut" level, into all the things we believe in even though we have no particularly strong supporting evidence.

In this vein, my own definition of God is inductive. I define it as the sum total of everything about the universe that is profound, and valuable, and meaningful beyond our capacity to describe linguistically. Any effort to define God more specifically than that is to trivialize it. Who cares what grunts or gestures a Neanderthal would try to use to define the concept of gravity? Similarly, any linguistic definition of God is utterly lame. Yet they have to start somewhere, so they say "all powerful" and "supreme", as if those expressions by themselves had anything to say that is meaningful. To be all powerful would of course be to have no power at all, because if you could really do anything, what would be the point in doing any specific thing? Why would you create one world but not another? Why not just create all possible worlds, and a few impossible ones too, isn't that "all powerful"? And in the words of one philosopher, can you build a wall you can't jump over? It's complete nonsense. So how can we argue over whether we believe in a completely undefined notion? You can neither believe it, nor disbelieve it, it's goggledygook. This is what I don't think most self-styled religious people realize, that they have no actual meaningful definitions for the things in which they think they believe. Yet they carry on believing, as do the atheists. The real difference is merely the dogma. So an atheist is someone who rejects dogma, not God. Perhaps you would argue a true skeptic is someone who believes nothing without evidence, but I think that really means they believe in no physical phenomena, or explanations thereof, that have no evidence. But every skeptic I've known makes the leap from not believing something is true to believing that it is false, and in so doing, have chosen the path of faith.

So what then is the real definition of a person who believes in God? I'd say it's a person who believes in anything at all, for whatever they believe in is God to them. Show me someone who really believes in nothing, and there's the true atheist. The posters on this thread do not strike me as atheists in that sense. And the ones who are believers but doubters at the same time are kind of making my point-- they are merely recognizing how very difficult it is to even define what it is that they actually believe in. That is the mark of a truly religious person, by my definition-- for anyone who can clearly say what it is they believe in are dogma spouters who are no more faithful than someone who has memorized the digits of pi. You may have to open your mind to what religion really is, or at least should be, before erasing it from the valuable pursuits of humanity. Even organized religion should be judged on what it could be, not just in the ways that it falls short by relying too heavily on dogma. Neither should science be judged on the ways that our jargon falls short of describing reality. It is the pursuit above all that matters. What will science and religion look like in a thousand years? In a million?

Ken G
2005-Nov-06, 05:30 AM
Also recognize that people like me can be just as moral as any man of faith.
To which I would say, welcome to the world of men (and women) of faith-- for morality is the highest faith of all.

Ken G
2005-Nov-06, 05:57 AM
. The vast majority of the religions throughout the ages were based on the assumption that we can convince some higher being to, or even makes ourselves able to, change anything we want about the universe.

They aren't based on that. They are based on the need to come to terms with the incredible profundity of existence. Some of the more childish elements of that effort involved trying to convince deities to meet your requests. That's rather like some of the more childish Arisototelian philosophies of the natural world, but it's not the final purpose of the exercise.


One of the central things science has taught us is that our control over nature is extremely limited, far more limited than pretty much any religion has ever taught us.

On the contrary, science has only taught us that our present control of nature is so limited. But the ideal of science, in its purest form, is that ultimately we gain more and more power with more and more understanding, with no obvious limit in sight, until we ourselves are almost like gods. Science has not put limits on itself, beyond very weak ones like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and the understanding of energy requirements. Just look at the posts on other threads to see what types of speculation science permits, and that's still limited by our current imagination.



So basically we have the Bible telling us we own the Earth and everything on it, and we are allowed to do anything we want with it.

Point taken, there is much in religion that can lead to hubris. But you have just selected one element. Don't forget that in that particular religion, there was also the idea that humans in the Garden of Eden strayed outside what was permissible, and paid a price for their hubris. Contrast that with the modern scientific search for a "theory of everything". And in the biological sciences, awful tests are carried out on animals that might even be outside of what Genesis had in mind (and don't get me wrong, I think that such tests are important and need only try and minimize unnecessary harm). On balance I'd say that curtailment of hubris is still on the side of those who believe they are answerable to a higher power of some kind.



Yet athiests are perfectly moral people.

Indeed, as I explained above, I think the typical atheist is far more a creature of faith, and more religious in that broader sense, than anyone who does not get beyond dogma-spouting.



Despite science being around for about 500 years, far more atrocities have been done in that time in the name of religion than in the name of science.

People don't fight wars in the name of science, they use science to win those wars. Is that so much better?



Now do not get me wrong, I am not attacking religion or you.

No personal offense taken, nor any intended on my part, I have the highest respect for your profound thinking on many subjects. I am missing how you can claim to not be attacking religion, however, because you have in fact done some attacking of not only the way religion is carried out in practice, but also the entire idea in principle. But I have cheated a bit by redefining religion, I admit, but all I care about is what is of value to humanity, so I redefine away.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-06, 02:22 PM
Ken G, I'm actually rather insulted that you assume that I believe in a God, or have any faith in a divine presence. Please don't presume to assume what I believe and what I do not -- or any Atheist -- unless you're willing to explain how you can explain the line about Atheists being men of faith.

Also, you want to talk about Hubris? First of all: I believe that being masters of our environment is a noble goal - but only if we're willing to be Custodians, not Destroyers. I think that mastering ourselves, our bodies, our environment, is something that we should strive for. For only if we truly understand everything around us, can we better take care of it. For instance, if we could control the weather, we would be much happier and not have to deal with those annoying hurricaines!

Saying that, here's an example of Religion ruling instead of Science:

"We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand." ~ James Watt (Secretary of the Interior in the Reagan Admin)

That's not Hubris?

Ken G
2005-Nov-06, 05:38 PM
Ken G, I'm actually rather insulted that you assume that I believe in a God, or have any faith in a divine presence. Please don't presume to assume what I believe and what I do not -- or any Atheist -- unless you're willing to explain how you can explain the line about Atheists being men of faith.

What, you really want me to repeat those long posts again? :think:
My point is merely, you define yourself out of believing in God. Broaden your definition. The issue is never who believes in "God", it's what do they believe in. In your case, this would include:


I believe that being masters of our environment is a noble goal - but only if we're willing to be Custodians, not Destroyers. I think that mastering ourselves, our bodies, our environment, is something that we should strive for. For only if we truly understand everything around us, can we better take care of it.

No insult intended.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-06, 09:50 PM
Then, in that case, everyone has faith, if your definition is so broad. Just having "faith" in your friends makes you a man of faith. It seems to be too broad of a definition for me to want to wield personally.


What, you really want me to repeat those long posts again?

Not really, sorry about that. I'm like a blocked sieve - sometimes the information gets through, sometimes it doesn't.

grant hutchison
2005-Nov-07, 12:42 AM
Ken:
It seems to me (and correct me if I'm wrong) that what you're describing is the frequently reported intuition people have that there is some higher purpose or meaning to existence. It can apparently be quite an intense sensation, and it leads people to explore various philosophical and spiritual avenues in an attempt to find this "missing" purpose and meaning.
Some neurologists have claimed to have found the bit of brain that mediates this sensation, and the idea that there's a neurological basis to it gets support from the fact that some epileptics report extremely profound sensations of this type, immediately preceding fits.

So I have to report that I have never once experienced this sensation. I have a number of friends and colleagues who report the same absence, and Jonathan Millar's excellent series of programmes exploring the history of atheism, running on BBC TV at the moment, suggests that this lack of a "religious impulse" is actually quite common.
Those who have the urge to religiosity / sprituality, of course, find those of us who lack it a bit of a puzzle and frustration, rather like playing snooker with a colour-blind partner. In fact, I've more than once been accused of lying about this by religiously inclined colleagues, though I'm at a loss to imagine what advantage they think I might gain by making this up.

Grant Hutchison

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 01:08 AM
That's quite an interesting insight, I'll have to ponder that. At first I'm not convinced that this is all there is to the pursuit of religion, so let me instead ask you a different question-- is there anything that you believe in, even though you cannot prove it is true, just because you choose to believe in that?

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 01:10 AM
Then, in that case, everyone has faith, if your definition is so broad. Just having "faith" in your friends makes you a man of faith. It seems to be too broad of a definition for me to want to wield personally.
.
And that's valid, I'm not trying to force my definition down anyone's throat. The purpose is to explore what value religion can have to humanity, in the broadest sense, and also how to erect bridges between atheists and religious people, who after all do need to share this world of ours.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 01:45 AM
And I don't see any value to religion.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2005-Nov-07, 02:13 AM
Hey, Devilmech, you are aware that most American Catholics (at least according to opinion polls) hold views contrary to the official views of the Vatican, right? While my mother's church puts up the obligatory aborted fetus pictures every October ("Support Life" month, apparently), most American Catholics are pro-choice. Certainly my mother is. Most American Catholics support married priests and women in the priesthood.

Now, I'm picking Catholics because a) it's probably the most highly-structured Christian sect and b) it's the religion in which I was raised, so I know a lot of the dogma that gets disagreed with in this country. However, I'm sure that, for every type of religion with any structure at all, there are those who disagree with bits of it but still consider themselves members of that religion--after all, my mother still goes to church every Sunday.
Ya' See, This Is Why, I Consider myself, EXTREMELY Lucky, To Been Born Into, a Faith, That Not Only, Allows Critical Thinking, But, Absolutely Encourages It!!!

The Odd Bit Is, you're Really Not Supposed to, Grow Up, Into It; In Fact, What youy're Really Supposed, To Do, Is Examine your Faith Closely, to See What, If Any, It Actually Is!!!

What, Is this Magical Faith, you Ask; Sorry, If I Told ya', I'd Have Ta' Kill ya'!

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 02:16 AM
Unitarian Universalist? That's what my mom is.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2005-Nov-07, 02:20 AM
Unitarian Universalist? That's what my mom is.
No ...

But, a Friend, of Mine is ...

Mostly, I Was KIDDING!!!

In All, Actuality, I'm a Reform Jew.

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 02:48 AM
It is good to hear some points of view from people who recognize the role of faith in their attitudes. I wonder what Albert Einstein himself would say to all this, he is surely a man of faith who also understands what science can do about as well as anyone. Does anyone have any juicy Einstein quotes to throw into the mix?

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-07, 03:04 AM
I have a lot of Einstein quotes (about 4 large pages of them). Here are a few:


It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.


A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.


Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being.


I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.


If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.


The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action.


The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2005-Nov-07, 03:52 AM
It is good to hear some points of view from people who recognize the role of faith in their attitudes. I wonder what Albert Einstein himself would say to all this, he is surely a man of faith who also understands what science can do about as well as anyone. Does anyone have any juicy Einstein quotes to throw into the mix?
This Is One, of The MANY Reasons, Why I'm Glad, I Was Brought Up, the Way I Was!!!!

If, you Have Lived your Life, In Such a Way, As To Bring As Much Joy, As Possible, Not Only, To Yourself, But, Also to Others, you Have No Reason, To Worry, Whether There Is an After Life, Or Not!!!!

For, If There is One, you Have Surely Earned It, And, If There Isn't, you've Made The Most, of The One you Have!!!!

:D

DemonWerx
2005-Nov-07, 04:35 AM
Hi,

I am not a big fan of the quote from the Pope - it can be hard to swallow advice after when it starts with a not so subtle insult, imho.

Though it would be nice to have both communities listen to each other... but the chances of that happening is very slim to impossible on many subjects. (As we are well aware)

This whole thing about Science and Religon with Morality is an interesting thought:

I agree that Science itself is (hopefully) without need of Morality.

Religon seems to have an effect on Morality, and may influence one's environment to help develop Morals.

I feel that a persons sense of Morality and Morals are developed and/or determined by their environment and experiences, whether religious or not.

Science is not something that should really effect Morals, but hopefully the people that put the products of Science to use will use their best moral judgment with the applications.

Maybe this is what the Pope was referring to in the first section of the quote? I hope so.

~Demon

cran
2005-Nov-07, 06:33 AM
Welcome to the Problem Pit, DemonWerx! :D

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 11:15 AM
I guess I walked into that one-- very interesting quotes, TheBlackCat, obviously Einstein's religious views are often misconstrued. Still, a deeper look shows that he identifies himself as a man of faith in the broader context that I am discussing (and how could we have believed he would see the concept of a "personal God" that has a consciousness and can answer prayers as anything but a gross human simplification of a much more profound reality). What I hear from these quotes, along with frustration with being identified in the standard vein of the word religious, is that for him, God is in the equations, in effect. That isn't surprising given his reliance on sweeping unifying principles in explaning physical reality, and his oft-quoted (and apparently regretted!) statement that "God doesn't roll dice". He is using a generalized definition of God, in a secular humanist vein. That he would be a secular humanist and still refer to God when discussing scientific principles is evidence to me that he also felt the conventional definition of God, and religion, is too restrictive. The last quote makes this abundantly clear. So he may be described as critical of the over-simplification of religion as it has developed, especially in the West, and critical of the idea that religion should be based in the fear of a higher power or the desire to have one's prayers answered, but he is not critical that science by itself requires support from a moral dimension, a "genuine religiosity", that is outside the self-consistent application of the rules of science itself. So I think he is actually arguing along the same lines that I am attempting to-- that we should not discard religion or faith as of value to humanity, but rather we should challenge it to be less limited and dogmatic, i.e., less of a "magic bullet" packaged for a child to understand and go no deeper. These are criticisms of the human application of the concept, just as one could criticize past scientific theories for proving to be inadequate.

Here is the basic thesis that is crystallizing: the advice of science to religion should not be, "go away". It should be, "I challenge you to be more responsive to the amazing advances in understanding of our universe that have developed since you first appeared. I challenge you to define yourself in a more profound and enlightened way, and get out of the business of explaining natural phenomena and into the business of challenging humans to better themselves so that they can handle what science has delivered and is about to deliver."
And religion may respond "I challenge science to be more cognizant of its own central tenet, that of self-consistency, and to get out of the business of extrapolating concepts that are successful in science into the realm of metaphysics and human philosophy, for the observer can never observe herself in an objective way without missing something important". And above all, let us recognize that a widening gap between scientific and religious viewpoints will likely have a disastrous effect on both, not to mention humanity. What we need are bridges, not good arguments, and that is the spirit behind the quote in the OP.

grant hutchison
2005-Nov-07, 11:54 AM
-- is there anything that you believe in, even though you cannot prove it is true, just because you choose to believe in that?
There seems to me to be two parts to that question:
1) The set of things I personally have proved to be true is certainly much smaller than the set of things I believe in. I haven't visited Australia, for instance, but I nevertheless find the evidence for its existence compellingly self-consistent. I have a strong belief in Australia.
I have not personally sought out the original papers for the two experiments I described over on the "Placebo Effect" thread, but their results are so in keeping with my knowledge of the putative mechanisms and effects of placebos I find them unsurprising. I have a moderate belief in those results, to the extent I feel no unease about them sufficient to prompt a trip to the library. So there are many, many claims about the universe that I am comfortable with in this way, even though I have made no effort, or lack the skills, to prove them personally.

2) Simply choosing to believe in something never seems to work for me. But I'm guessing you're referring to what Kierkegaard called a "leap of faith" - in the absence of any evidence, one simply has a profound sense of the truth of some concept?
If so, I can also report that I've never had that sensation, either. I believe it's another manifestation of the "sense of purpose" and "sense of something greater" that I've already posted about, but of course I'm judging from outside the experiential framework, and may be inappropriately lumping two separate experiences.

Grant Hutchison

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 12:23 PM
There seems to me to be two parts to that question:
1) The set of things I personally have proved to be true is certainly much smaller than the set of things I believe in.
2) Simply choosing to believe in something never seems to work for me.

Yes, I agree there is a range in the concept of "faith". We all take leaps of faith every day because to not do so would be to make life almost impossible. It is clearly part of the evolution of the human mind that we are capable of making leaps of faith (such as, faith that thinking about a problem and discussing it will actually lead to increased understanding, faith that there really is a world outside this keyboard and I am not in an asylum on Pluto, etc.). So the question then is, at what point does a leap of faith get classified as a religious act, and not simply the most basic capability of intelligence itself? I'm not sure if there is a need to distinguish these, but there is a danger of defining religion so broadly that it loses its meaning, so it is worth looking for the "line" between your type (1) and type (2). No doubt the capability for type (2) emerges from the need for type (1), but that does not invalidate it, it merely explains its origin.

My first reaction is that "choosing" was probably a wrong word-- we don't seem to choose our beliefs, they choose us. But we can affect that choice by what we experience and think about, and how we internalize our experiences and thoughts subconsciously. So this is the personal path of religious pursuits-- to explore what beliefs are going to choose us if we give them half a chance. If you don't have any such beliefs, then I can think of 3 possibilities: 1) you actually do have such beliefs but have not acknowledged them to yourself, 2) you don't have such beliefs because you have not yet found the ones that would resonate with you, or 3) you are inherently a nonbeliever, beyond the things you essentially have to believe to get by. I think we can rule out 3) already, as your commitment to science shows me that you have faith in its value beyond what it will actually do for you in your own life, or the lives of those who affect you directly. You may be a "God is in the equations" type, but have not linguistically connected that with a type-2 faith system. To clarify this, I'll ask another simple question: honestly, do you not believe in a supreme being that created reality, or do you believe that there is no supreme being that created reality? This is often considered to be the difference between agnosticism and atheism. I believe this difference could be connected to your types 1 and 2, but I don't know which one you would choose there.

DemonWerx
2005-Nov-07, 12:37 PM
Obviously Einstein's religious views are often misconstrued. Still, a deeper look shows that he identifies himself as a man of faith in the broader context that I am discussing (and how could we have believed he would see the concept of a "personal God" that has a consciousness and can answer prayers as anything but a gross human simplification of a much more profound reality).

I find this amusing and confusing in roughly the same aspect.

First off, in refering to Einstein's religious views as mentioned or expressed in the quotes TheBlackCat supplied (thank you for those) I don't find the basis that makes the statement his "religious views are often miscontrued". Maybe they appeared to be miscontrsued in the context you were looking for at this time?

Secondly, the whole statement about a gross human simplification statement leads me to think that you mean - there is a higher power that you cannot explain, therefore someone elses feelings/beliefs on the matter are a "gross human simplification of a much more profound reality". I must research the word reality, because my version of it doesn't seem to match yours.

Nothing personal, I am trying to be as kind and expressive in my posts as possible, without trying to be overbearing with my opinions (bad experiences in the past).

My feelings on the communication between Science and Religion sadly seems to be in a more fledgling state in comparison to yours. I would be happy if they could simply acknowledge each other without having to slide in insults to start things off (OP is case in point).

Communication is key - though asking for a bend, or change, of such magnitude as you ask with your two hypothetical questions or requests would be imho as the process cold fusion and the moving of mount sinai in fruition now.

Human nature is hard enough to change just a slight bit, it always takes work in my experience, sometimes monumentaly more than others.. Talking to a Man of Faith about Evolution in even the most docile of manners can lead to astounding results, and I mean of abhorrence and rejection. As we have seen in this thread talking to a Man of Science about the acceptance of the existence of a Higher Power or Being or God as you will, is not always taken in the context it was meant.

It would be lovely, I assume, if drastic changes came swift and with broad acceptance. As I stated before Human Nature takes work to change, and has a tendancy to reject changes unless "moved upon" either by reason or feeling - the two major proponents in both sides core stances.

My question is: How does the Learned Man of Science work with the Enlightened Man of Faith in order to start to break down the walls between these two elements or facets in this human experience we are having?

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 01:04 PM
First off, in refering to Einstein's religious views as mentioned or expressed in the quotes TheBlackCat supplied (thank you for those) I don't find the basis that makes the statement his "religious views are often miscontrued". Maybe they appeared to be miscontrsued in the context you were looking for at this time?

I guess I don't understand what you mean, but I tended to be under the impression that Einstein, in his views on world peace for example, is held out as a man of conscience grounded in religious faith, but it would seem that this is only true using his own definition of "true religiosity".



Secondly, the whole statement about a gross human simplification statement leads me to think that you mean - there is a higher power that you cannot explain, therefore someone elses feelings/beliefs on the matter are a "gross human simplification of a much more profound reality".

I simply mean that any effort to define God is by necessity a gross simplification, but that is not sufficient grounds for everyone to be atheists (which is also an arbitrary belief system of a nihilistic sort).



Human nature is hard enough to change just a slight bit, it always takes work in my experience, sometimes monumentaly more than others.

I am taking the long view, of what institutions will humanity need to make it in a tough universe, and how will those institutions need to evolve. Progress will be slow, but animosity can grow like a forest fire. Reason may be the primary motivator of a skeptic, but the skeptics I've seen (and I include myself) have plenty of feeling behind the issue, it's not just the religious types that get fired up.


My question is: How does the Learned Man of Science work with the Enlightened Man of Faith in order to start to break down the walls between these two elements or facets in this human experience we are having?
Excellent question, and quite well put I would say. My first reaction would be, they both better be ready for a challenge! Such as the challenges I suggested they could quite rightly put to each other. I could add we've also seen two concise suggestions in this thread for how to deal with this: science is the how and religion is the why, and science is the mind and religion is the heart of God (whatever God is). But for those who would view those as oversimplifications, I tried to probe a little deeper with my wordy postings. I hope I have not imposed.

grant hutchison
2005-Nov-07, 01:48 PM
No doubt the capability for type (2) emerges from the need for type (1), but that does not invalidate it, it merely explains its origin.I disagree: 1) and 2) seem to me to be very different ways of arriving at belief. 1) relies on external evidence, while 2) relies on some purely internal experience.


I think we can rule out 3) already, as your commitment to science shows me that you have faith in its value beyond what it will actually do for you in your own life, or the lives of those who affect you directly.I disagree. I'm a 3).
My commitment to science is based simply on its utility. No other system of describing the Universe that I have so far encountered works as well. (Indeed, most don't work at all.) I believe in Australia because its existence explains, in a self-consistent way, much that would otherwise be inexplicable; I believe in science because it explains, in a self-consistent way, much that would otherwise be inexplicable.


To clarify this, I'll ask another simple question: honestly, do you not believe in a supreme being that created reality, or do you believe that there is no supreme being that created reality?I don't believe in such a supreme being. The external evidence does not seem to support or require such a belief (so no belief on the basis of explanatory power or internal consistency); and the internal sensation we've discussed is absent (so no leap of faith).
Believing in the non-existence of something is always tricky. I believe in the non-existence of an all-powerful, all-good supreme being (as described by many Christian theologians) because the existence of evil in the world makes such a being logically impossible (despite the protestations of many Christian theologians). But how can I logically rule out the existence of a supreme being who created reality while making it look as if it had not been created, and then made no further intervention in its creation (as espoused by many deists)? In the absence of any internal sense of religiosity, I can only shrug and say, with Laplace, that I have no need for that hypothesis, since it explains nothing.

Grant Hutchison

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 02:12 PM
I also don't believe in any supreme being or being(s). I admit that they COULD, potentially, exist. It would be arrogant for me to

A) Say that one supreme being, or a group of supreme beings exist, based on no evidence at all, and act on that...

Or B) Say that there couldn't be any supreme being, period.

Both requires belief and faith, and I have none to give out. I say that whatever is, is - and I'll rely on science to tell the Truth, not a priest, friar, monk, rabbi, etc.

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 05:46 PM
I disagree. I'm a 3).

Fair enough, you have the right to self-classification. I think it's an Amendment or something...



My commitment to science is based simply on its utility.

And why do you choose to believe in utility? A cloud of atoms obeying the laws of physics doesn't give a hoot about utility. OK, so it's a survival advantage, so what?




I believe in the non-existence of an all-powerful, all-good supreme being (as described by many Christian theologians) because the existence of evil in the world makes such a being logically impossible (despite the protestations of many Christian theologians).

Just because you can say why a particular belief has chosen to assert itself in you does not make it any less a belief. People have all kinds of reasons for believing what they do. You use logic more than most. Logic is not a belief system when it is used internally to solving a particular logic problem, but it becomes a belief system as soon as it attempts to transcend the bounds of self-consistency and is applied to reality. Yes, logic works in the real world. So we believe it is somehow connected with truth. Why? Simply because we have chosen that path, or it has chosen us. It is not by itself logical to use logic in one's belief system, that is transcendant to logic. Granted, I see the advantage to doing so, but religous folk see advantage there as well. Advantage does not make something any less a belief system.

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 05:54 PM
I say that whatever is, is - and I'll rely on science to tell the Truth, not a priest, friar, monk, rabbi, etc.
Your choice to place your faith in science is entirely self-consistent, and has many advantages for you I'm sure. Again, I say you are describing your faith, and I feel the strength and value of your faith (and I share it with you).

With all this talk of science and faith that I am using, one might ask, am I then advocating that science is a religion? Absolutely not, the difference between science and religion are their methods. Science is self-consistent, and it matters not a whit what faith the scientist has. But we all do have faith in science, because, because, because. Who cares? That's the part that might show up in a religion class.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 06:06 PM
Because it works :P

grant hutchison
2005-Nov-07, 06:37 PM
And why do you choose to believe in utility?Asking me why I believe in utility is like asking me why I believe in seeing. It's a label for a particular way the world and I interact. I can't choose not to believe in it.
Or are you asking me why I believe utility is a desirable thing? That's like asking me why I believe good is a desirable thing: the definition requires it to be so.


Just because you can say why a particular belief has chosen to assert itself in you does not make it any less a belief.
You're mixing "faith" and "belief", here.
I believe in science because I see it work. I have not had to perform a "leap of faith" to achieve that belief, because there is external evidence, stuff I can share with others. Similarly, I can say to you why I believe in "utility", because I can deploy concepts we share.
But to achieve a religious belief requires a "leap of faith", mediated by some internal revelation. So religious belief is acquired without any evidence that can be shared with others.

Grant Hutchison

grant hutchison
2005-Nov-07, 06:50 PM
Another way to point up the difference:

Religion works only if you believe in it.
You believe in science only if it works.

Grant Hutchison

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 06:57 PM
Religion "works" for people who feel they benefit from it. That is their utility. Why does this make it so different from science, other than its methods? I still see no difference, outside of the approach to achieving belief. I say that your choice to believe in science is no more or less automatic than someone else's choice to believe in a particular religion. That doesn't make science a religion, because it relies on evidence not inspiration. But the fact that you are inspired to believe in science because the evidence appeals to you is no less an act of inspiration than someone who chooses to believe in a religion because some aspect of it inspires them. I know you both get inspired by science, it's obvious, and to your credit. But why do you feel it is somehow different to be inspired by the amazing predictive and useful qualities of science than it is to be inspired by what others perceive as useful qualities of religion? Can you quantify and compare the personal benefits? If you could, are you sure science would win that contest, in the minds of the majority?

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 07:00 PM
In the minds of the majority? Depends on how open minded they are and how much they listen to my argument.

But I do think that science has MANY more benefits than religion - both on a societal level AND a personal level. But I wouldn't argue using faith - I'd argue using studies and past examples.

grant hutchison
2005-Nov-07, 07:04 PM
Why does this make it so different from science, other than its methods?I refer you to my second post above. The relationship between belief and utility are exactly reversed for religion when compared to science.

Can you quantify and compare the personal benefits? If you could, are you sure science would win that contest, in the minds of the majority?I have no axe to grind with regard to the benefits. I merely dispute your efforts to lump all "belief" into one big pot.

Grant Hutchison

Ken G
2005-Nov-07, 07:46 PM
I have no axe to grind with regard to the benefits. I merely dispute your efforts to lump all "belief" into one big pot.


All right, I'll admit to overstressing similarities in the process of believing in science versus the process of believing in religion (in contrast to the acute differences between the process of doing science versus doing religious inquiry). But I'm looking for commonalities, and my fundamental point is that we must find a way to coexist. I feel that humans are creatures of faith, we're made that way, and scientists could communicate better with religious people if they embraced the similarities of faith as an experience of inspiration, rather than focus on the differences in methodology. By the same token, I think there is a vocal group of religious people who could accept science better if they embraced the validity of applying our own "God-given" talent for learning about our universe, instead of relying on literal interpretations of pre-existing texts to do all our work for us.

grant hutchison
2005-Nov-07, 08:38 PM
I feel that humans are creatures of faith, we're made that way ...Yes, this is what inspired by first post in response to yours - I have no sensation at all of being a "creature of faith". It appears to be reasonably common to have a predisposition to faith, as you describe, but it also appears to be reasonably common to have no idea what the whole "faith" fuss is about.
So there's no way in which I, personally, can reach any sort of rapprochement with the religiously inclined in the way you suggest.

Grant Hutchison

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 08:46 PM
I feel that humans are creatures of faith, we're made that way,...

"Made that way" assumes that we were created. Unless you really mean "we evolved that way...", then this is an example of your putting your religious belief into the argument.

If we remove that part of your argument, then the argument falls. This is an example of a religion, religious belief, or just belief in a creator, being required for your belief to stand up.

Thus, I feel it has no bearing on me, and I also feel that you are incorrect. I do not feel like I must put my faith into anything other than my fellow man. And in that case, I put my faith in my fellow man in about the same way I put in faith that the sun rises in the morning and falls at night -- by predisposition, past occurance, and evidence.

Maddad
2005-Nov-07, 09:06 PM
BlackCat
I honeltly never thought that I would live to see the day that the head of the Catholic church took this position. Science and religion are indeed separate. Religion tells us Who created the universe and what His plans for us were. Science tells us how He did it. They do not have to cross, and both benefit if they do not.


Not long ago I was in a discussion with a young person, and we touched upon evolution. She assured me that because she was Catholic, she didn't believe in evolution.It would have been interesting to see her reaction had you said that the Pope believes in evolution because he is Catholic. It wouldn't have been entirely accurate, but it would have necessitated her reading his message to be able to refute you.


Einstein's pronouncements on religion are about as useful and meaningful as various theologians' pronouncements on science.Einstein was remarkable not just for his contributions to science, but also for his call for Man to abandon its inhumanity to Man. He was a Jew, and some of his religious beliefs became reflected in his beliefs in physics.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-07, 09:08 PM
Talking to a Man of Faith about Evolution in even the most docile of manners can lead to astounding results, and I mean of abhorrence and rejection.?

And again, this is not universally true! For example, talking to, oh, me about Evolution will get you nothing but agreement unless you're an IDer or a Creationist or a Eugenicist, and in fact I am a woman of faith. Heck, talking to John Paul II (currently a little challenging, I'll grant you) about Evolution would not have gotten you abhorrence and rejection. Again, I point out that Evolution has been Catholic doctrine for decades; that's not abhorrence or rejection.

I don't care if people around me are Christian or Pagan or Buddhist or agnostic or atheist. Doesn't bother me a bit, so long as they don't try to force that belief on me. What I do, however, resent is the frequent implication that I have to choose between the use of science and a personal religious belief, which, Einstein notwithstanding, quite a lot of other scientists do in fact have. I don't claim it's necessary. In fact, I don't claim it helps anything. But I don't claim it's guaranteed to hinder, either, and I wish other people would acknowledge this.

And as regards getting your knowledge of science from a monk, well, we all get at least part of it from a monk. Gregor Mendel.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 09:11 PM
Personally, I look at things and think that religion, over a large group of people, is more detrimental than helpful, mainly to society itself.

Then again, maybe my Sociology class is just biasing me.


Einstein was remarkable not just for his contributions to science, but also for his call for Man to abandon its inhumanity to Man. He was a Jew, and some of his religious beliefs became reflected in his beliefs in physics.

So you claim that this quote is wrong?:


It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Nov-07, 09:40 PM
Heck, talking to John Paul II (currently a little challenging, I'll grant you) about Evolution would not have gotten you abhorrence and rejection. Again, I point out that Evolution has been Catholic doctrine for decades; that's not abhorrence or rejection.Please don't call it 'Catholic doctrine', though. I know Catholics who are skeptical of evolution, and the Catholic Church does not actively promote evolution. I think the best we can say is that the Church's hierarchy has decided that the matter should be settled by scientists, and cautiously stated that it finds the evidence for evolution compelling.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-07, 10:08 PM
Please don't call it 'Catholic doctrine', though. I know Catholics who are skeptical of evolution, and the Catholic Church does not actively promote evolution. I think the best we can say is that the Church's hierarchy has decided that the matter should be settled by scientists, and cautiously stated that it finds the evidence for evolution compelling.

I've got a book here that gives a 10,000 year history of the world, and it cites 1953 as the year in which the Catholic church declared evolution to be fact, and that was even before they officially forgave Galileo. John Paul II's statement on the same was pretty wishy-washy, but the official stance of the church at this point is that the Bible is allegory, and science gives a more accurate picture of the world as it works.

Matthew
2005-Nov-07, 11:30 PM
Slashdot has just picked this story up (http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/07/1526216&threshold=-1&tid=99&tid=14). And its sparked massive conversation on Slashdot. 1576 comments already! And its only been out a few hours. Contrast that to the typical 150-300 posts.

Edit: changed "days" to "hours".

DemonWerx
2005-Nov-07, 11:43 PM
And again, this is not universally true!

This is reference to the Evolution statement - I should clarify: this has been my personal experience speaking to "Men of Faith" and not just members of the Catholic faith.

The point I was trying to make was that generally Scientific conversations are not recieved in the most positive light when speaking to someone rooted in religon. Yes thankfully there are a number of people that have one foot in religion and the other foot in science, I have found these people are fun to talk with.

In regards to this as well I believe it was you who stated that there are varying stances taken by the members of a given religon and the teachings of the governing body of that particular religon or denomination.

DemonWerx
2005-Nov-08, 12:05 AM
Slashdot has just picked this story up (http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/07/1526216&threshold=-1&tid=99&tid=14). And its sparked massive conversation on Slashdot. 1576 comments already! And its only been out a few days. Contrast that to the typical 150-300 posts.

This is Awesome! An Associate of mine "religiously" surfs Slashdot found it quite amusing as well.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Nov-08, 03:39 PM
I've got a book here that gives a 10,000 year history of the world, and it cites 1953 as the year in which the Catholic church declared evolution to be fact, and that was even before they officially forgave Galileo. John Paul II's statement on the same was pretty wishy-washy, but the official stance of the church at this point is that the Bible is allegory, and science gives a more accurate picture of the world as it works.Dogmas (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05089a.htm) are what the Church says R.C. Christians are required to believe. One example is the immaculate conception (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm). But you are not required to believe in evolution, to be a Catholic; I know Catholics who don't believe in evolution.

You won't see priests promoting evolution in their sermons, or the theory of evolution espoused in catechisms (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13120c.htm). It is not part of the official R.C. Catholic doctrine (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05075b.htm). They simply don't talk about it, and leave the matter for the scientists. Which, by the way, is the right thing to do, IMO.

So, yes, the Church has officially accepted evolution (just as they've accepted technological progress, democracy, women's rights...), but they have not committed to it. If tomorrow morning the theory of evolution were refuted, that would constitute no challenge for the Catholic faith.

cran
2005-Nov-09, 04:34 AM
Still, the previous, along with the latest from the Vatican supporting Darwin and evolution does kind of pull the rug out from under the 'creation' literalists ...

devilmech
2005-Nov-09, 05:45 AM
Dogmas (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05089a.htm) are what the Church says R.C. Christians are required to believe. One example is the immaculate conception (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm). But you are not required to believe in evolution, to be a Catholic; I know Catholics who don't believe in evolution.

You won't see priests promoting evolution in their sermons, or the theory of evolution espoused in catechisms (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13120c.htm). It is not part of the official R.C. Catholic doctrine (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05075b.htm). They simply don't talk about it, and leave the matter for the scientists. Which, by the way, is the right thing to do, IMO.

So, yes, the Church has officially accepted evolution (just as they've accepted technological progress, democracy, women's rights...), but they have not committed to it. If tomorrow morning the theory of evolution were refuted, that would constitute no challenge for the Catholic faith.


Thanks. I tried to say that in 3 separate posts, but this puts it a lot more simply, since it seems a lot of people didn't understand what I said.

hewhocaves
2005-Nov-19, 12:17 AM
I don't know if this has been posted before, but it came up on FOXNews today:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,176050,00.html

Of course this means about as much to fundamentalist protestants as the albedo of Chiron.

John

Ken G
2005-Nov-19, 01:39 AM
That's quite interesting hewhocaves. And the point is, if we are willing to accept that scientific truths never transcend the method that arrived at them, just as religious beliefs never do either, then we can count on some influential allies. If we doggedly claim that science is "right" and religion is "wrong", we will likely always be a minority among humanity. You can't even count me. Religion is not science, and has no claim to the value to humanity that science provides. The converse is also true. Where's the "beef"?

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-19, 02:35 AM
I have beef with religion, personally. But I doubt anyone wants me to go into it. (It would probably be breaching the rules anyways).

hewhocaves
2005-Nov-19, 05:51 PM
That's quite interesting hewhocaves. And the point is, if we are willing to accept that scientific truths never transcend the method that arrived at them, just as religious beliefs never do either, then we can count on some influential allies. If we doggedly claim that science is "right" and religion is "wrong", we will likely always be a minority among humanity. You can't even count me. Religion is not science, and has no claim to the value to humanity that science provides. The converse is also true. Where's the "beef"?

I agree completely. If everyone plays on their own side of the playground we'll all be much happier.

And the beef is in this Angus Steak burger I', eating from BK. At least I hope it's beef.....

Disinfo Agent
2005-Nov-24, 06:41 PM
From the article quoted in the OP:


Monsignor Gianfranco Basti, director of the Vatican project STOQ, or Science, Theology and Ontological Quest, reaffirmed John Paul's 1996 statement that evolution was "more than just a hypothesis.''

"A hypothesis asks whether something is true or false,'' he said. "(Evolution) is more than a hypothesis because there is proof.''

Vatican: Faithful Should Listen to Science (http://www.livescience.com/othernews/ap_051103_vatican.html)Say what you will about the Catholic Church's theology, but they know how to use simple terms that a layman can grasp.