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Thread: Science and religion (culled from "Earth not center" thread)

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    Actually, to correct one point, a religious belief is never "in conflict" with a scientific theory. They are just different things, and follow different rules. I can believe, if it is my religion to do so, that all of science is an illusion created by a supreme being to test my faith. No one will drive across a bridge that I build according to that dogma, but there's no "conflict"-- it's just a belief. The only real problem appears when beliefs are used as replacements for knowledge in practical areas (like bridge building), or when beliefs are forcibly imposed on others who feel differently. If geocentrists want to believe that the Earth is at the center, the science can certainly be tweaked to accomodate that belief. It's just that one doesn't "tweak" science if one is doing science-- it has its own rules.

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    I don't like that namby pamby approach to religion. When someone claims that the earth is only 6000 years old because their religion tells them so then they are in direct conflict with scientific evidence and no amount of philosophising about different modes of thought with different rules is going to change the fact that they are just wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    I don't like that namby pamby approach to religion. When someone claims that the earth is only 6000 years old because their religion tells them so then they are in direct conflict with scientific evidence and no amount of philosophising about different modes of thought with different rules is going to change the fact that they are just wrong.
    Let's not let this devolve into bashing religious people.
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    I don't like that namby pamby approach to religion. When someone claims that the earth is only 6000 years old because their religion tells them so then they are in direct conflict with scientific evidence and no amount of philosophising about different modes of thought with different rules is going to change the fact that they are just wrong.
    Do you mean, when someone makes the scientific claim that the Earth is only 6000 years old? To determine that something is right or wrong requires a prescription of some sort, does it not? All you are doing is specifying your prescription, and the benefits associated with it. I'm sorry if that bothers you somehow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Do you mean, when someone makes the scientific claim that the Earth is only 6000 years old? To determine that something is right or wrong requires a prescription of some sort, does it not? All you are doing is specifying your prescription, and the benefits associated with it. I'm sorry if that bothers you somehow.
    We all, even the religious, subscribe to the same objective reality for most every day mundane purposes. It is pure philosophical masturbation to claim that that one can just opt out when it suits them. If I punched a creationist in the nose he would likely not be very impressed with a defence of "well according to my prescription of determining truth I didn't touch you because you don't actually exist". Scientific evidence may not impinge quite so directly on the senses but that ridiculous defence of mine is no different philosophically to claiming that the earth is only 6000 years old and the creationist should find my defense and the claim that the earth is 6000 years old equally plausible or equally ridiculous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Actually, to correct one point, a religious belief is never "in conflict" with a scientific theory. They are just different things, and follow different rules.
    But there are times when the rules of a specific religion allow it to overlap a claim made by science which is contradictory to the religious view. If a religion has a prescription that does so, it can be bad medicine.

    I can believe, if it is my religion to do so, that all of science is an illusion created by a supreme being to test my faith.
    Agreed, but you were referring to all religion not just arbitrary ones.

    The only real problem appears when beliefs are used as replacements for knowledge in practical areas (like bridge building), or when beliefs are forcibly imposed on others who feel differently. If geocentrists want to believe that the Earth is at the center, the science can certainly be tweaked to accomodate that belief. It's just that one doesn't "tweak" science if one is doing science-- it has its own rules.
    But one of the intrisic rules of most religion is that it must be plausible. Religion does not consider itself equivalent to fantasy and imaginations no matter how they are structured for useful purposes.

    This is why the "father of science", Galileo, got into so much trouble. Religion considers science a great subset of rules but subject to the greater set which they hold and help administer and understand.
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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    We all, even the religious, subscribe to the same objective reality for most every day mundane purposes.
    Quite so, and that is the proper domain of science. Even time is a scientific concept, so if someone says that the Earth is 6000 years old, it would be natural to assume they are making a scientific statement, and one can then use the methods of science to show that, as a scientific statement, it is incorrect. However, if they clarify that they realize the statement is not consistent with the rest of science, and all its benefits and effectiveness, but that instead they are expressing a belief that it was actually created 6000 years ago, by whatever artifice and for whatever purpose, then this is a religious statement about which science is of course completely moot. I'd like people to understand science, to be better educated about it, but I don't care at all what they choose to believe, and neither should anyone else unless it adversely affects their ability to function productively in our society. And on that latter issue, the burden of proof is very squarely on the accuser.

    I personally feel that it is pointless to intersect religious statements with scientific concepts like numbers of years, and that religious beliefs function better as allegorical descriptions for some purpose other than establishing the chronology of the Earth's history, but that is my choice to make. We don't choose what science is, but we do choose what we use it for. We need to educate people about what science has proven good at, and encourage them to recognize the things it is good at so that it can work for them, but it may not work for them in the same way it does for us, and that is still a personal choice that should be respected by more scientists. It would actually improve relations, rather than open the door for religious beliefs to start supplanting the domain of science. In a competitive world, science is not going away, but I wager, neither is religion.
    It is pure philosophical masturbation to claim that that one can just opt out when it suits them. If I punched a creationist in the nose he would likely not be very impressed with a defence of "well according to my prescription of determining truth I didn't touch you because you don't actually exist".
    Actually, the problem with that scenario is that your action is against the law, and would bring you into the consequences of the law, not because it's untrue-- maybe they really don't exist. What we do is we educate, we teach people what science is and what it is useful for, and why it has become so important in the modern world. We don't force it down their throats, that's no better than what closedminded members of certain outspoken religious factions do. Science is the way we've learned to interact with objective reality so that we accomplish what we need to accomplish, it's like learning how to drive. But if the Amish don't want to drive, even after being educated about what driving is, then hey, it's still a free country.
    Scientific evidence may not impinge quite so directly on the senses but that ridiculous defence of mine is no different philosophically to claiming that the earth is only 6000 years old and the creationist should find my defense and the claim that the earth is 6000 years old equally plausible or equally ridiculous.
    The "impinging on the senses" piece is actually a very significant flaw in the analogy you're making-- you hurt the other person. As I said before, the only real problem appears when beliefs are used as replacements for knowledge in practical areas (like bridge building), or when beliefs are forcibly imposed on others who feel differently (and a fist in the face might be viewed as something of an imposition).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    The "impinging on the senses" piece is actually a very significant flaw in the analogy you're making-- you hurt the other person. As I said before, the only real problem appears when beliefs are used as replacements for knowledge in practical areas (like bridge building), or when beliefs are forcibly imposed on others who feel differently (and a fist in the face might be viewed as something of an imposition).
    You're missing the point. Everyone subscribes to the same objective reality for most purposes, and science is just an extension of that. Anyone who trusts in medicine, flies in aeroplanes, or uses computers etc. , who denies this shared reality when it suits them is being a hypocrite.

    Anyone who claims they believe the world is 6000 years old is as wrong as someone who believe they are 6000 years old themselves. No one would start throwing around relativism and bending over backwards to avoid saying "no, actually, you're not 6000 years old", so why be so squeamish about the truth just because someone has an irrational belief that contradicts it?

    If I truly believed that Thor made all the lightning in the world with his hammer would you be so squeamish about telling me I was wrong?

    This whole non overlapping magisteria attitude that seems very popular in America these days is just plain wrong in my opinion. Religious beliefs are invariably scientific claims that are invariably demonstrably wrong and it's about time people started to say so.

    Sure, people have the right to believe whatever they want, but we have the right to say "wrong" and "mentally deluded" in response.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    Anyone who claims they believe the world is 6000 years old is as wrong as someone who believe they are 6000 years old themselves.
    Are you sure the two claims are exactly the same and equally argued? There is far greater evidence I am not 6000 years old, than there is the universe isn't. [a joke here would be too easy. ]

    Lord Kelvin was adamant about Darwin's age estimation given in Darwin's first Origin of the Species edition. [I think it was 350 or so million years (and to the very year in estimation) for a certain local geological formation. He withdrew it in the later editions.] Kelvin used temperature gradients found in deep mines and he originally calculated the Earth could not be older than 100 million years, IIRC. Later, has mines became deeper, he had improved data and revised it to about 20 million years, thus the Earth was getting younger. He did not have a clue about radioactivity but was later informed of it.

    Perhaps neutrions, or something else, reacts with the weak force that would cause accelerated decay of radioisotopes. If so, this should reduce the age of the Earth and solar system, though not be much, no doubt. [Added: assumes nearby sn in the past.]

    The point that I would like to make is that it does not have to be about absolutes. Science need not have to take that podium. But, it is about plausibility. It is far, far more likely that we are seeing a 4.5 billion year Earth and solar system than any 6000 year creation. Therefore, like the Catholic church did after Galileo, they engaged in something they had not done in hundreds of years, they took a closer look at the source of conflict - the scriptures. These same scriptures do not require a 6000 year universe, but it does tickle the ears of those who want the simplest interpretation.

    If I truly believed that Thor made all the lightning in the world with his hammer would you be so squeamish about telling me I was wrong?
    It is possible, I have seen him on t.v. Of course, it is extremely unlikely to the point of silliness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Are you sure the two claims are exactly the same and equally argued? There is far greater evidence I am not 6000 years old, than there is the universe isn't. [a joke here would be too easy. ]
    To deny the evidence that the earth is well over 6,000 years old takes enough self delusion to be only a tiny leap of faith from believing that you're 6,000 years old as well.

    The point that I would like to make is that it does not have to be about absolutes. Science need not have to take that podium. But, it is about plausibility. It is far, far more likely that we are seeing a 4.5 billion year Earth and solar system than any 6000 year creation.
    Fine, if you want to put it like that. It is implausible in the extreme that the earth is only 6,000 years old and there is not one jot of evidence or one half decent reason for thinking it is. It is also extremely unlikely that it is 12,000 years old, 24,000 years old, used to be orbited by singing chocolate teapots, etc. Santa Claus is pretty improbably too. There is an infinity of stupid ideas that can't be proved wrong and are therefore just extremely implausible - must we torture ourselves with all these philosophical caveats for every single one?

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    ... must we torture ourselves with all these philosophical caveats for every single one?
    Nope, no more than we should have to with pseudoscience kooks. But when mainstream says something that looks erroneous, it does deserve attention. This is true with much of mainstream religion, IMO. There really aren't that many claims from mainstream religion that would offer exposure to the claims of mainstream science. The 6000 year age for our universe claim, however, is one that does fall into "The Overlap" between science and religion as science has solid evidence that justifiably says "baloney".

    Any solid scientific claim that contradicts a religious view should be regarded by religion as enlightenment and added to the context used to interpret their historical views or scriptures. Be sure to tell them I said so, though St. Augustine warned them first.

    [Surprisingly, there is one religious theory that does this and is compatabile with astronomy and Genesis.]
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Nope, no more than we should have to with pseudoscience kooks. But when mainstream says something that looks erroneous, it does deserve attention. This is true with much of mainstream religion, IMO. There really aren't that many claims from mainstream religion that would offer exposure to the claims of mainstream science. The 6000 year age for our universe claim, however, is one that does fall into "The Overlap" between science and religion as science has solid evidence that justifiably says "baloney".
    Absolutely every claim made by any religion that there is a God who has interfered with the universe in any way whatsoever since the big bang is open to scientific scrutiny. Mainstream religions do not believe in a God that has just sat back and watched it all happen for the last 13 billion years while ignoring prayers, failing to give people strength, failing to instill faith in people, etc.

    Any solid scientific claim that contradicts a religious view should be regarded by religion as enlightenment and added to the context used to interpret their historical views or scriptures. Be sure to tell them I said so, though St. Augustine warned them first.
    But then they'd be admitting that any part of their scriptures could be wrong and would need good reasons other than "scripture say so" to believe things. If they're not too careful they might inadvertently start to think rationally.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    But then they'd be admitting that any part of their scriptures could be wrong and would need good reasons other than "scripture say so" to believe things. If they're not too careful they might inadvertently start to think rationally.
    God forbid! (Har har)

    Quote Originally Posted by George
    Ah, but color comes in many forms. Is there not new sunshine with my every post?
    Well since you're agreeing with me, I guess I can't say no to that.

    This person that Tacitus is dealing with seems to have an interesting mix of what they embrace. They look to red-shifting for proof of their claim, but they make a claim that we're pretty darn sure isn't true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    You're missing the point. Everyone subscribes to the same objective reality for most purposes, and science is just an extension of that. Anyone who trusts in medicine, flies in aeroplanes, or uses computers etc. , who denies this shared reality when it suits them is being a hypocrite.
    No, it is you who are missing the point. It is very obvious to everyone that science has an important place in our world. How stupid do you think these people are? The real issue is, what is the proper domain of science, and are there profound questions that science is moot on, that people want to believe have answers. What I'm saying is that science and religion don't come into conflict the same way Muhammed Ali and Gary Kasparov never come into conflict. On a chess board, Ali is toast, and in the ring, Gary is a punching bag. So there is only "conflict" when Ali says "my opening will rock your world" or Kasparov says "I'll have you on the canvass in two rounds". If a religious person enters the domain of science and says "I can prove objectively that the world is only 6000 years old", they are gonna get spanked by the evidence. But if they say "I realize there is no solid objective evidence in favor of this position, and to the extent that I must interact in a world community I must stick with the objective evidence, still I choose to believe the world is 6000 years old and this belief affects my view of my place in creation, but it does not alter or disadvantage my interactions with anyone else," then the only answer is a free society is "fine with me". As I said, this does not compromise science education-- it is the job of the educator to demonstrate the value of science, and the job of the religious leader to demonstrate their own value. So it has always been.
    If I truly believed that Thor made all the lightning in the world with his hammer would you be so squeamish about telling me I was wrong?
    If you were educated in science, yet still chose to believe that, and were not harming anyone else by your beliefs, I would have zero "squeamishness" in letting you hold your belief.

    This whole non overlapping magisteria attitude that seems very popular in America these days is just plain wrong in my opinion.
    Very popular? You must be joking. I see it almost nowhere, to be quite frank, and so I feel a duty to advocate for it, even on a science forum, because this is the only position that is true to the axiomatic structure of science.
    Sure, people have the right to believe whatever they want, but we have the right to say "wrong" and "mentally deluded" in response.
    .

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    Oh come off Ken, if I were to argue that Thor actually makes the lightning by banging his big hammer you may be polite enough not to say what you really think, and you may well think I have the right to delude myself to whatever degree I wish, but you sure would think that I was just plain wrong, not merely wrong in the context of science, and you sure would think that I was deluded. And I doubt you'd be jumping through so many philosophical hoops to avoid telling me I'm wrong and deluded as you are prepared to do for the modern day popular fantasies and delusions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    The real issue is, what is the proper domain of science, and are there profound questions that science is moot on, that people want to believe have answers.
    It doesn't make any difference what people want to believe. Where science is moot religion is equally moot. Just because we can't figure something out doesn't mean that someone dressed in silly clothes chanting silly rhymes has any better idea - whatever they'd like to have you think.

    What I'm saying is that science and religion don't come into conflict the same way Muhammed Ali and Gary Kasparov never come into conflict. On a chess board, Ali is toast, and in the ring, Gary is a punching bag. So there is only "conflict" when Ali says "my opening will rock your world" or Kasparov says "I'll have you on the canvass in two rounds". If a religious person enters the domain of science and says "I can prove objectively that the world is only 6000 years old", they are gonna get spanked by the evidence. But if they say "I realize there is no solid objective evidence in favor of this position, and to the extent that I must interact in a world community I must stick with the objective evidence, still I choose to believe the world is 6000 years old and this belief affects my view of my place in creation, but it does not alter or disadvantage my interactions with anyone else," then the only answer is a free society is "fine with me". As I said, this does not compromise science education-- it is the job of the educator to demonstrate the value of science, and the job of the religious leader to demonstrate their own value. So it has always been.
    And what I'm saying is that that is a totally unrealistic picture of what religion is about. Religious peopel regularly assert things which are scientifically scrutinizable, and they are regularly wrong. It is fine with me if people want to delude themselves but I will not let people like you delude me into thinking that they are not deluded.

    If you were educated in science, yet still chose to believe that, and were not harming anyone else by your beliefs, I would have zero "squeamishness" in letting you hold your belief.
    But you'd still think I was wrong, right? And you'd say so, right?

    Very popular? You must be joking. I see it almost nowhere, to be quite frank, and so I feel a duty to advocate for it, even on a science forum, because this is the only position that is true to the axiomatic structure of science.
    Equally, then, you don't think children are mistaken when they believe in the tooth fairy or father christmas unless they are explicitly making a scientific claim about their existence?

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    Absolutely every claim made by any religion that there is a God who has interfered with the universe in any way whatsoever since the big bang is open to scientific scrutiny.
    True, but only if you limit "interference" to those events which are measurable and overlap into the domain of science. Much of the religious intereference, however, involves personal relationships which are outside the purview of science.

    Mainstream religions do not believe in a God that has just sat back and attached it all happen for the last 13 billion years while ignoring prayers, failing to give people strength, failing to instill faith in people, etc.
    I can't speak for most religions, but I think the Hindu faith goes well beyond 13 billion years and mainstream Catholics are open to BBT and evolution. Indeed, it was a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre, that proposed the idea of BBT and it was welcomed by the Church. The percieved failure for God to meet our desires is a religious issue beyond the BAUT domain.

    But then they'd be admitting that any part of their scriptures could be wrong and would need good reasons other than "scripture say so" to believe things.
    Not really. Reinterpretation using a context that had never been tried should be done whenever substance comes along worthy enough to make the reinterpretive effort. It won't be the scripture that is wrong, but its former interpretation of it due to the limited context and knowledge of the observer, author, and interpreter. Add a dozen or more centuries before the interpreter has to figure it out and some confussion is likely.

    But it does take some real prodding at times to get change to happen, especially within the religious community. Galileo was the great prodder of his day because he not only was claiming Copernicus ideas were correct, he was also advocating the separation of the process of science from religion, though I'm not sure he understood the importance of the latter issue. Eventually, the Church was able to realize scriptures never claimed the Earth to be the center of the universe, we made it the center for obvious reasons, and not just observational reasons, too.

    When science elected to constrain itself to the measurable world, it offered itself as a great utility for our well being. But it did not null and void the world it separated from.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    Equally, then, you don't think children are mistaken when they believe in the tooth fairy or father christmas unless they are explicitly making a scientific claim about their existence?
    This mistake comes with the promise of correction once the kids are more mature. The blessing to the child placed in a separate and more manifest form is deemed worthy enough to be given the child. This special love the child holds for Santa will, hopefully, be transfered to the real persons that love them. The children who scientifcally determine the mistake will quickly discover an even greater truth.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    Oh come off Ken, if I were to argue that Thor actually makes the lightning by banging his big hammer you may be polite enough not to say what you really think, and you may well think I have the right to delude myself to whatever degree I wish, but you sure would think that I was just plain wrong, not merely wrong in the context of science, and you sure would think that I was deluded.
    Why would you choose the word "argue" in that sentence? If someone is "arguing" that something is true, then they are citing evidence and logic, and therefore, they are doing science, not describing a religious conviction. That was my earlier point-- all beliefs exists in a context, and that context determines whether or not the belief is valuable in some way. Beliefs in science eventually achieve such a concrete level of value and certainty that they graduate to the level of "knowledge", whereas religious views do not, but even in science that graduation is a sticky human process. In any case, the Thor example is not a serious one, for it is hard to imagine what value could derive from such a simplistic vie, as it will not offer any predictive or technological promise, and does not connect with any issues that are more profound than science can handle. Religion is never strong in the former category, but can be judged by some to be strong in the latter, and that's why religious faith is always to be respected as long as it stays within its own context.
    And I doubt you'd be jumping through so many philosophical hoops to avoid telling me I'm wrong and deluded as you are prepared to do for the modern day popular fantasies and delusions.
    It is easy for me to tell you that you are wrong, because our discussion exists within the realm of scientific thinking. We have already a common basis within which our conclusions may be judged. Science is axiomatic-- we apply the rules of logic and mathematics to observations of reality, and judge ourselves "correct" when our predictions achieve satisfactory accuracy. That's all it is, period. Two amazing things come from this: it achieves results that are objective (good science all over the planet achieves essentially the same results), and the accuracy achieved is often amazing. Anything at all that you conclude from those two facts is your philosophy, and is also to be respected, as long as you don't impose it on others. Education is important and is not generally viewed as an "imposition", so we teach science and the uses of science, but intolerance is not a requirement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    True, but only if you limit "interference" to those events which are measurable and overlap into the domain of science. Much of the religious intereference, however, involves personal relationships which are outside the purview of science.
    Miracles, virgin births, resurrections, etc. are all claims that could, in principle, be checked scientifically. Even prayer answering can tested; it has; it don't work.

    I can't speak for most religions, but I think the Hindu faith goes well beyond 13 billion years and mainstream Catholics are open to BBT and evolution. Indeed, it was a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre, that proposed the idea of BBT and it was welcomed by the Church.
    I don't know about Hindu's, but Catholics believe in miracles -- i.e. a suspension of the laws of nature -- that is not compatible with science.

    The percieved failure for God to meet our desires is a religious issue beyond the BAUT domain.
    And totally irrelevant. The point is that virtually all religious claims are not beyond science to test (in principle, at least), therefore they are not non overlapping magisteria contrary to a lot of muddled thinking by some very clever atheists.

    Not really. Reinterpretation using a context that had never been tried should be done whenever substance comes along worthy enough to make the reinterpretive effort. It won't be the scripture that is wrong, but its former interpretation of it due to the limited context and knowledge of the observer, author, and interpreter. Add a dozen or more centuries before the interpreter has to figure it out and some confussion is likely.
    "Not really"? The Gospel (i.e. the inerrant word of God) needs reinterpreting whenever it turns out to be incorrect (sorry, "interpreted" incorrectly). If it is so vague that it can be so easily misinterpreted in the first place then it could really mean absolutely anything you want and is therefore utterly useless except as a device for sounding out your own thoughts, much like tarot cards. The claim that it is the inerrant word of God also then becomes unfalsifiable because any mistakes revealed are just put down to misinterpretations.

    When science elected to constrain itself to the measurable world, it offered itself as a great utility for our well being. But it did not null and void the world it separated from.
    The world of imagination, fairy tales and self delusion? Science can actually be used to try to understand why people are so tenaciously insane.

    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    This mistake comes with the promise of correction once the kids are more mature. The blessing to the child placed in a separate and more manifest form is deemed worthy enough to be given the child. This special love the child holds for Santa will, hopefully, be transfered to the real persons that love them. The children who scientifcally determine the mistake will quickly discover an even greater truth.
    Now replace the word Santa with God and matriculate to the next level

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    Miracles, virgin births, resurrections, etc. are all claims that could, in principle, be checked scientifically. Even prayer answering can tested; it has; it don't work.
    We are very limited in any ability to test prior miracles, though on-going miracles would be verifiable in many cases I would think. The virgin birth for Mary, for example, is unlikely verfiable.

    Prayer answering tests are also limited, though the recent multi-million dollar hospital test was a powerful case, though I did not study it. Even in that study, I wonder if it carried its test into the lifes of the families enough to notice distinctions from the two categories.

    Last week, a Christian co-worker (manager) told me his devout wife, who never gets headaches, could not sleep and woke him at 3am. He got up and shortly witnessed his powerstrip burst into flames for no apparent reason. It may have saved their lives and they attribute this good fortune to their faith. There was no noticeable odor prior to the problem. How does science test such things? It can't in most cases, but at the same time science can not support them. These are outside the purview of science.

    I don't know about Hindu's, but Catholics believe in miracles -- i.e. a suspension of the laws of nature -- that is not compatible with science.
    Only measurable suspensions are testable. Of course, today's miracle workers on tv should be exposed for any falseness. Sadly, when they are exposed, the sheep do not always reject the good lookin' wolf. I know people who are completely convinced faith healing has worked. I am doubtful of any such claims. Like Thomas, I want evidence.

    The point is that virtually all religious claims are not beyond science to test (in principle, at least), therefore they are not non overlapping magisteria contrary to a lot of muddled thinking by some very clever atheists.
    You may wish to start using examples to support this. I do agree with you that there are some overlaping claims, but not "virtually all". The tenets of Chrstianity (virgin birth, Jesus the only son, crucified, burried, resurected, etc.) are not testable. Archeology can certainly add or detract plausibility to the stories, of course, and it has.

    "Not really"? The Gospel (i.e. the inerrant word of God) needs reinterpreting whenever it turns out to be incorrect (sorry, "interpreted" incorrectly). If it is so vague that it can be so easily misinterpreted in the first place then it could really mean absolutely anything you want and is therefore utterly useless except as a device for sounding out your own thoughts, much like tarot cards. The claim that it is the inerrant word of God also then becomes unfalsifiable because any mistakes revealed are just put down to misinterpretations.
    It is not as vague as you claim and not like tarot cards at all, which is testable. For instance, in the 19th century, records were discovered that demonstrated that there was never a king Balshazzar at the time of Daniel. However, it was later discovered that a ruler of Babylon was named Balshazzar at the time of Daniel. Could king and ruler be synonymous, if we allow just a little reinterpretive effort?

    "Inerrant" is a word often used by both sides, but it is polemic. If the Holy Bible of the early 17th century is inerrant, why does it have King James' name on it? Yet, the words inside can still represent complete truth if the context is completely known and understood. This is a belief, of course, that we both will disagree with each other on. The point is that science is still very limited with any idea that it can crush the scriptures like grapes in hopes to make it whine.

    The world of imagination, fairy tales and self delusion? Science can actually be used to try to understand why people are so tenaciously insane.
    Do you see science able to explain every cause and effect with every aspect of life? It is probably not even close to explaining the cause of material existence, for t=0. Science is still a subset of philosophy and religion until it can demonstrate such ability. That doesn't diminish its powerful worth, however.

    Now replace the word Santa with God and matriculate to the next level
    Ho, Ho, Ho....Holy, Holy, Holy. That's my best shot.
    Last edited by George; 2006-Dec-27 at 10:37 PM.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    The point is that virtually all religious claims are not beyond science to test (in principle, at least), therefore they are not non overlapping magisteria contrary to a lot of muddled thinking by some very clever atheists.
    It all depends on the question being asked. If the question is, did a particular woman give birth via a different process than has ever been seen before, then that's certainly testable. But many would view the significance of the story as transcending that conclusion-- that's what is meant by allegory. When religion is interpreted allegorically, it is aimed at entirely different questions-- questions that are too profound for science to address. That's what I mean by non-overlapping domains. As for whether the testable elements are "true" or not, it doesn't matter-- because the belief in a truth has a different objective than a scientific objective about understanding reality. The scientists wants to know if birth may occur via a different channel than is known, the faithful believer does not seek the answer to that particular question, it just isn't the point of the exercise. Yes there's an oversimplification involved, but that's the nature of addressing profound questions-- oversimplifications and even inconsistencies may be, and are, often required. It's not a problem, that's what science-thinkers (and those who try to use science in their religion) fail to recognize. The underlying rule is, use it if it works for you. That underlies both science and religion, and is why the two do not actually conflict when applied that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    It all depends on the question being asked.
    That's a great way to see it.

    When religion is interpreted allegorically, it is aimed at entirely different questions-- questions that are too profound for science to address. That's what I mean by non-overlapping domains.
    Yes. I suspect it is only religious questions that fall within The Overlap that can be addressed by science. It is extremely rare for the other way around to occur.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Yes. I suspect it is only religious questions that fall within The Overlap that can be addressed by science. It is extremely rare for the other way around to occur.
    Most likely that is because science addresses objective issues, which are a subset of the subjective, not the other way around.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    We are very limited in any ability to test prior miracles, though on-going miracles would be verifiable in many cases I would think. The virgin birth for Mary, for example, is unlikely verfiable.

    Prayer answering tests are also limited, though the recent multi-million dollar hospital test was a powerful case, though I did not study it. Even in that study, I wonder if it carried its test into the lifes of the families enough to notice distinctions from the two categories.
    You're missing the point - these things are testable in principle, that means that they do overlap with science even if they are not testable now and never will be practical to test.

    Last week, a Christian co-worker (manager) told me his devout wife, who never gets headaches, could not sleep and woke him at 3am. He got up and shortly witnessed his powerstrip burst into flames for no apparent reason. It may have saved their lives and they attribute this good fortune to their faith. There was no noticeable odor prior to the problem. How does science test such things? It can't in most cases, but at the same time science can not support them. These are outside the purview of science.
    If you find that at all convincing then you have no business laughing at people who think the earth doesn't move and you should be equally receptive to the anecdotal evidence of astrology, tarot card readers, psychics, mediums, etc. Science has a very easy way to deal with all these claims - statistically. There's no tick box for believer on your home insurance application because statistically it makes no difference to your risk. How pathetic anyway to believe in a God that warns the faithful through dreams while letting the disbelievers suffer - and why not just jump in and stop the disaster if this all loving Gd is omnipotent? These claims are just small minded childish nonsense.

    Only measurable suspensions are testable.
    Every single thing in the universe that could possibly have any affect on us whatsoever is measurable in principle for otherwise it could have no affect. If it can't be measured even in principle then it can have no affect on anything, including the minds of the faithful, and does not exist for all intents and purposes - certainly no one can make any honest claim to know anything about it all.

    Of course, today's miracle workers on tv should be exposed for any falseness. Sadly, when they are exposed, the sheep do not always reject the good lookin' wolf. I know people who are completely convinced faith healing has worked. I am doubtful of any such claims. Like Thomas, I want evidence.
    Why are you so harsh on faith healers? Shouldn't you give their beliefs the same respect you give Christians?

    You may wish to start using examples to support this. I do agree with you that there are some overlaping claims, but not "virtually all". The tenets of Chrstianity (virgin birth, Jesus the only son, crucified, burried, resurected, etc.) are not testable. Archeology can certainly add or detract plausibility to the stories, of course, and it has.
    Look up the term "in principle". Non-overlapping Magisteria, which is what I'm criticizing, means in principle, not in practice.

    It is not as vague as you claim and not like tarot cards at all, which is testable. For instance, in the 19th century, records were discovered that demonstrated that there was never a king Balshazzar at the time of Daniel. However, it was later discovered that a ruler of Babylon was named Balshazzar at the time of Daniel. Could king and ruler be synonymous, if we allow just a little reinterpretive effort?
    You're loosing the plot. If the Gospel needs reinterpreting then it ain't particularly gospel-like, is it? I don't care about the details, claims that this particular holy book is inerrant and in need of constant reinterpretation is hypocritical at best.

    "Inerrant" is a word often used by both sides, but it is polemic. If the Holy Bible of the early 17th century is inerrant, why does it have King James' name on it? Yet, the words inside can still represent complete truth if the context is completely known and understood. This is a belief, of course, that we both will disagree with each other on.
    So it's not necessarily "inerrant", but can still represent complete truth?

    The point is that science is still very limited with any idea that it can crush the scriptures like grapes in hopes to make it whine.
    Science is a methodology, not a vengeful God looking to crush other God's scriptures. Just because we can't answer every question with the scientific method does not mean that any creation myth has any more credence than any other flight of fancy, like unicorns, fairies, pixies or elves.

    Do you see science able to explain every cause and effect with every aspect of life? It is probably not even close to explaining the cause of material existence, for t=0. Science is still a subset of philosophy and religion until it can demonstrate such ability. That doesn't diminish its powerful worth, however.
    And it still doesn't make any unfalsifiable fairy tale made up a few thousand years ago any more likely just because science can't answer every question. This is such a monumental fallacy - you could use exactly the same argument to support your belief in chocolate teapots orbiting Pluto - and it would be equally relevant to that discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    It all depends on the question being asked. If the question is, did a particular woman give birth via a different process than has ever been seen before, then that's certainly testable. But many would view the significance of the story as transcending that conclusion-- that's what is meant by allegory. When religion is interpreted allegorically, it is aimed at entirely different questions-- questions that are too profound for science to address. That's what I mean by non-overlapping domains.
    And by that you are excluding the majority of religious people in the world. Go out anywhere in America and ask people if they believe in the virgin birth, the resurrection and the divinity of Christ. How many do think will respond with "well allegorically they are useful stories and even more so if one can delude oneself into believing them literally", and how many do think will just say "absolutely, and God bless America".

    As for whether the testable elements are "true" or not, it doesn't matter-- because the belief in a truth has a different objective than a scientific objective about understanding reality. The scientists wants to know if birth may occur via a different channel than is known, the faithful believer does not seek the answer to that particular question, it just isn't the point of the exercise.
    Because the faithful already know the answer and don' want pesky science to prove them wrong. Seriously, you way over estimate the intelligence and sophistication of the vast majority of believers out there.

    Yes there's an oversimplification involved, but that's the nature of addressing profound questions-- oversimplifications and even inconsistencies may be, and are, often required. It's not a problem, that's what science-thinkers (and those who try to use science in their religion) fail to recognize. The underlying rule is, use it if it works for you. That underlies both science and religion, and is why the two do not actually conflict when applied that way.
    So in short, self delusion is useful, where faith fails allegorical meanings may be found. Well I don't disagree with that (although I'd question the utility of ancient allegorical stories) - but it's still all nonsense and many people believe in the literal truth of much of this nonsense. What irks me is that many atheists, particularly in America, won't just come out and say what they think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    And by that you are excluding the majority of religious people in the world.
    Actually, I'm not. It's true that my view of what religion is is more sophisticated than how most people use it in their lives, but then so is both of our view of what science is! Do you think it matters a whit that all the techno-geeks who buy the latest technological gadgetry don't have a profound understanding of quantum mechanics? They use it because it works for them, and so it is with religion. Yes, religions are oversimplifications, but as I said, the questions are so profound that of course any working religion will be a huge oversimplification in the hands of humanity. Religion cannot be criticized on that grounds, just as science cannot (and science is of course also a huge oversimplification, as advanced aliens will be happy to explain to us if we ever meet them).

    Because the faithful already know the answer and don' want pesky science to prove them wrong. Seriously, you way over estimate the intelligence and sophistication of the vast majority of believers out there.
    Same comment as above.
    So in short, self delusion is useful, where faith fails allegorical meanings may be found.
    Science is useful also, and science is also a form of self-delusion. The way people use scientific words to describe reality is a clear form of self-delusion, just as Galileo tried to explain to the scientists of his day, just as the next great scientific genius will explain to all of us, just as advanced aliens would have to do if they tried to communicate with us. All that differs is the character and profundity of the questions and how objectively addressible they are, and how sophisticated is the response. The resulting rules are different between science and religion, but that is the only difference. They are both human endeavors, that we use because they work for us. They are indeed nonoverlapping magisteria, like music and painting. When they appear to disagree on a question, the problem is that the question itself belongs in either one domain or the other-- so look to the question to see which one should be applied, not the answer. One thing I will agree with though, is that people who believe religion is objectively true, or science is subjectively true, are missing something pretty important about each. Any question that is straightforward enough to be framed in an objectively testable way is in the purview of science, but may be addressed as part of an allegorical response to a far more profound question in the context of some religion. To the believer, the distinction is often unimportant or too sophisticated to make, just like the techno-geek who doesn't know quantum mechanics. Scientists should pay close attention to this lesson, as we want the world to value science but know it will have have a sophisticated understanding of most of it.
    Well I don't disagree with that (although I'd question the utility of ancient allegorical stories) - but it's still all nonsense and many people believe in the literal truth of much of this nonsense. What irks me is that many atheists, particularly in America, won't just come out and say what they think.
    The problem is in the sophistication of the debate. Yes, literal beliefs in things that are easily scientifically tested lead to all kinds of weak thinking by people who are not very scientific in their approach to knowledge. But all these beliefs really require is a different frame. If you put a Van Gogh painting on a road sign and expected people to think it was a stop sign, you'd be a fool. But in an art museum, it is framed in a perfectly appropriate way.

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    My view of religion and science, far from being non overlapping magisteria, is that they are both born from our desire to make sense of the world around us. I think that religion was the precursor to science, proto-science if you like. The problem today is that what is now called religion is so outdated and useless compared to what it evolved into - science - that it has become a joke.

    KenG, can you give me one example of a question that is too profound for science to address but for which religion fares better? I can think of none. Alternatively, can you give me one example of a question whose domain is religion rather that science? Again, I can think of no useful questions not in the scientific domain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    KenG, can you give me one example of a question that is too profound for science to address but for which religion fares better?
    Absolutely:
    Are there elements of reality that doesn't show up in the projection onto objective perception?
    Why am I here?
    What becomes of me when I die?
    Is there a purpose to existence?
    Why are there laws of physics?
    What about sentience transcends its perception of itself?
    Why does anything matter?
    etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    You're missing the point - these things are testable in principle, that means that they do overlap with science even if they are not testable now and never will be practical to test.
    No, faith today is not predicated on miracles today. It is the miracles of the past which are the tenets of many religions. To steam roll these religions with science you will need a time machine (first you'll have to go back in time to get the steam roller as they are nearly all diesel today. )

    If you find that at all convincing then you have no business laughing at people who think the earth doesn't move and you should be equally receptive to the anecdotal evidence of astrology, tarot card readers, psychics, mediums, etc.
    Your equality position is the problem. They are not equal. There is greater scientific evidence opposing these than might be found in the exploding power strip case, right? The only value science brings is its degree of utility to the way we deal with our universe. Pick any two mainstream theories, how often are they truly equal? The same can be said of any two faiths, though there is a procedural difference when doing faith comparisons in trying to establish [which is the] greater faith, I would assume.

    The key point that should be understood is how science helps, or hurts, the plausibility of any religious claim. Science is invaluable here, though some religious folks want to redefine invaluable [to mean] "without value".

    Consider your example of a truly fixed Earth claim [example]. This view was integral to Christianity since at least Thomas Aquinas and was the chief polemic issue after Galileo got things stirred (though ~60 years after the publication of the Church approved Revolutionibus [1543] by Copernicus). At the time of Galileo, there was scientific evidence that favored both sides, depending on how one values certain claims. The lack of stellar parallax was very favorable to the idea of a fixed Earth, [and] based on one literal interpretation of scripture. Even the Copernican model was no better than the Ptolemaic model (in terms of complexity) and, arguably, weaker than the Tychonian model. [However, Galileo did produce telescopic evidence that cracked the crystalline spheres [of] Aristotle/Ptolemy. The Church adopted the Tychonian model willingly, apparently.]

    The reason a fixed Earth view is no longer held by most is due to the greater plausibility of a moving Earth, thanks to science. When religion finally recognizes the weight (plausibility) [that] science bares on an overlapping claim, it then must eventually consider the plausibility of the religious elements which adopted the opposing view in the first place. That is the point I am trying to make. For Geocentricity, how many times have people complained about us moving the Earth too much. Indeed, the Earth is not movable [in measurable terms] by any one, nor all, of us without super-duper sensitivity to angular velocity. Though Aristotle’s view of Geocentricity should not have been adopted, it is easy to see why they would. The mistake of the Church was to ignore the plausibility issues. Hopefully, you will agree.

    How pathetic anyway to believe in a God that warns the faithful through dreams while letting the disbelievers suffer - and why not just jump in and stop the disaster if this all loving Gd is omnipotent?
    That is a fair, but deep, religious question. Try a religious site for help. Hopefully, you will find some arguments....plausible.

    These claims are just small minded childish nonsense.
    Child-hearted maybe, and that can be a good thing. Demonstrate they are not plausible and you'll be closer to the nonsense part.

    Actually, we could consider recreating the event and produce different levels of gases from burnt things common to their power strip to test whether or not a headache would follow. If it does, you now have reduced the plausibility that anything supernatural may have occurred. If not, greater plausibility goes to the other side. An absolute answer will be impossible here, however. [Notice that I am not saying I believe their assessment is correct.]

    Every single thing in the universe that could possibly have any affect on us whatsoever is measurable in principle for otherwise it could have no affect. If it can't be measured even in principle then it can have no affect on anything, including the minds of the faithful, and does not exist for all intents and purposes - certainly no one can make any honest claim to know anything about it all.
    That is not an unreasonable belief you hold. I do not believe all effect is from measurable, physical cause, even in principle. There is too much uncertainty and too many unanswerables for me.

    Why are you so harsh on faith healers? Shouldn't you give their beliefs the same respect you give Christians?
    I do, theirs are less plausible, thanks from the help of science, and my experience with con-artists.

    [sorry its so long, and I must dash...]
    Last edited by George; 2006-Dec-29 at 07:22 PM.
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