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

  1. #31
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    Part II [Sorry, had to run and pickup Rudy's BBQ for the gang]

    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    You're loosing the plot. If the Gospel needs reinterpreting then it ain't particularly gospel-like, is it?
    That's one interpretation of the meaning. It is still a good question. However, which gospel version is the most gospel-like: KJV, NKJV, Living Bible, Luther’s, Septuagint, etc.? There are obvious flaws in the KJV at least if a simplistic literal view is taken. The one in Timothy is a big one…”Drink no longer water, but drink a little wine for the stomachs sake.” [that should be close. [Yet, if you add unsanitary conditions to the region it was addressed, then the context makes the difference.


    The point here is that it is not black and white, cut and dry. Why it is this way also becomes a more religious or philosophical question, though linguists can probably explain it easily.

    Therefore, it still is a plausibility issue. How plausible is it for any given religious claim to be true? How plausible is it for any given scientific claim to be valid? Both are subject to change by believer or observer, respectively, whether their personal claim is right or wrong. Science has the advantage here because others can state, and demonstrate in measurable terms, why the observer’s conclusions should be viewed as being wrong. However, unless we are in the Overlap, science still can not offer much, if any, help.

    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.
    Agreed, in principle, assuming one selects a given interpretation of their choice and refuses to budge. St. Augustine made it clear to the Church that refusal to reinterpret would make your claim harful. But...


    So it's not necessarily "inerrant", but can still represent complete truth?
    If you assume the inerrancy is restricted to the underlying truth, then yes. You simply separate the story from the story teller, though it can be extremely difficult when the story is thousands of years past and you know little of the story teller, though you know he or she knows nothing of science.


    Are not some mainstream laws not "gospel-like"? Are the very few absolutes of science completely understood by science so that there is proof, or unthinkable to question, that they will never change in the slightest. Will absolute zero be reset a hair if M theory, or another, is validated, or if someone turns of the Dark Energy switch that may, or may not, add negative entropy to the universe? [I am conjecturing in these examples.] Regardless, science should, and does, tweak theories and models to represent more fully what has been really out there all along. Einstein tweaked Newton, who tweaked Kepler, who tweaked Copernicus, who tweaked Ptolemy, who tweaked some amazing Greeks.


    Science is a methodology,....
    Yes science is a methodology, therefore, limited to the bounds of its methods. Is it not? Or does science have “limitless capabilities”? [that’s what the Apple IIG salesman claimed of his computer – which, of course, I had to buy. ] I get the impression you think science, given enough time, will grow to encompass all philosophy and religious ground. Am I close?


    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.
    Nope, but see above or prior post (first half of this one).


    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.
    True, but will you agree that some religious claims are more plausible than “fairy tales”? Thanks to science, some of the superstition is gone. In Darwin's day, Christians were encouraged to introduce evolutionary theories in India to helpl with this very issue. They did, though, at the time, Spencer was the big hit.


    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.
    Not at all equal as religious claims must be weighed on merit and credibility of the authors, too. Though, I kinda hope you’re right about the possibility of chocolate, it just doesn’t seem...plausible.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  2. #32
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    Let's not forget the philosophical, or at least an unwanted subgroup. Yep, it's the Friday cornjunctive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Are there elements of reality that doesn't show up in the projection onto objective perception?
    I project that some will object to such perception.

    Why am I here?
    Because this is the best dang planet in the system! Quit your whinnin'!

    What becomes of me when I die?
    What da mean, you are already immortalized right here!!?? Oops, you haven't reached 5000 yet, sorry.

    Is there a purpose to existence?
    Yes, of course, but they are better known as Dolphins.

    Why are there laws of physics?
    It gives real punch to pondering and pontificiation, and it prevents everything from being sucked into my garage, way beyond the entropy density of any event horizon.

    What about sentience transcends its perception of itself?
    Obviously, I can't answer this one as none of my sentences seem to help my transcend my perceptions. [Edit: I meant to say "help me transcend my perceptions". See what I mean, Vern.]

    Why does anything matter?
    [Yes], because you got me and worzel right here with ya. Well, he was here up until he reads this post.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    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.
    I don't see how any religion can answer any of those questions any better than my atheistic guessing. The pretence to know by speaking with a grave voice while wearing some outlandish period costume and fingering some symbol hung around ones neck is what annoys me - they can't answer those questions any better than I can and they are simply lying or deluded if they say they can.

    What do you think about astrology? Is that also non-overlapping with science and pure allegory to help answer questions too profound for science?

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    True, but will you agree that some religious claims are more plausible than “fairy tales”?
    No I don't agree. Those religious claims that are supernatural and not just run of the mill "x happened" (which is testable in principle) are just fairy tales IMHO with the only difference being that not only minors believe in them.

    Not at all equal as religious claims must be weighed on merit and credibility of the authors, too. Though, I kinda hope you’re right about the possibility of chocolate, it just doesn’t seem...plausible.
    And please give me one supernatural claim of religion that is in anyway plausible. The vrigin birth perhaps? the ressurection? the ascension to heaven? angles flapping around watching over you? The earth standing on the back of a giant elephant that itself stands on the back of four giant turtles? chocolate teapots orbiting pluto actually seems far more plausible to me (although still ridiculous) than any of these mainstream religious beliefs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    I don't see how any religion can answer any of those questions any better than my atheistic guessing.
    And it's fine for you to not see that. You see, the point here is that religious answers are subjective answers. They work for the individual, and that is their domain. Why is that so hard to swallow?
    The pretence to know by speaking with a grave voice while wearing some outlandish period costume and fingering some symbol hung around ones neck is what annoys me - they can't answer those questions any better than I can and they are simply lying or deluded if they say they can.
    Many people seek assistance in finding these subjective answers, because they are not philosophers. They seek authority to give them something to have faith in, so they don't have to "reinvent the wheel" every time. Yes, there can be some rather archaic symbols and dramatic imagery along the way, but that's just humanity. Have you ever seen an official ceremony at a hallowed academic institution? Looks pretty similar to what you just described!

    What do you think about astrology? Is that also non-overlapping with science and pure allegory to help answer questions too profound for science?
    That depends on the way it is used, of course. It depends on the nature of the question being asked. Put differently, if an individual chooses to use astrology as their religion, they are more than welcome to do so, and that's just what I tell astronomy students. However, astrology is not normally expressed that way, it generally makes claims to predictive power and objective truth, which would put it squarely into the realm of science (and indeed that is just where it was located historically). As science improved and developed, it was found that astrology is very poor science, and has no claim to testable or objective reliability. Science is basically the best technique we have found to address the intersection between what is objective and what our limited intelligence can understand. There is no definition of what is objective without including a role for our intelligence, and there's the rub. Some feel that everything that is real is objective, but that's their own religion. Science defines what is real by what is objective, but that is an axiom of science, not an independent fact, because science is already subject to our intelligence. In my view, at the end of the day what matters is what people find value in. Surely they should be educated in science and not deluded about objective truth and what science is, because there is a proper place for what we have used our intelligence to discover about objective reality and the best way to build bridges, but the proper place for subjective endeavors should always be allowed or we are not being true to our full potential as human beings.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2007-Jan-03 at 04:33 AM.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    No I don't agree. Those religious claims that are supernatural and not just run of the mill "x happened" (which is testable in principle) are just fairy tales IMHO with the only difference being that not only minors believe in them.
    Why do you suppose that is? What is it about adult beliefs that distinguishes them between the fairy tales of minors? Are there not plausibility differences?

    Suppose the ice melts on some middle-eastern mountain and a wooden ship measuring 300 cubits x 50 cubits x 30 cubits is discovered. Would this not help the plausibility of the religious claim regarding Noah and his god? It would still not be proof of the supernatural, admittedly, but you can never have faith and proof in the same hand.

    And please give me one supernatural claim of religion that is in anyway plausible. The vrigin birth perhaps? the ressurection? the ascension to heaven?...
    Healing for one. According to eye witnesses in the first century, the healings included lepers and those known to be blind from birth, as well as other health problems. The issue here, of course, is the credibility of the witnesses, as well as, what science says. Ironically, in this case, if science says that spit and dust can cure blindness it would actually reduce the plausibility for the supernatural explanation.

    ...The earth standing on the back of a giant elephant that itself stands on the back of four giant turtles?...
    I recall it being, "you clever man, it's turtles all the way down". Wasn't that from an elderly lady following an Eddington speech?

    ...chocolate teapots orbiting pluto actually seems far more plausible to me (although still ridiculous) than any of these mainstream religious beliefs.
    Good luck on finding a sincere proselyte.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    It would still not be proof of the supernatural, admittedly, but you can never have faith and proof in the same hand.
    This is the most succinct possible statement of why science and religion are never in conflict when each is used properly. This is also my beef with ID-- if we ever did prove that a supremely powerful being actually did create humanity in a test tube, then the entire issue of creation shifts completely out of the realm of religion and into the realm of science. It trivializes religion to think otherwise, making it much more like a Douglas Adams story. Is that really what the faithful want out of their god, that he be an objectively real and scientifically provable person of great power, like a king or an alien species? And what would be the difference, such a god would be an alien species. If it were found to be scientifically true, you'd immediately have to invent a new religion to explain where that species came from! The differences between science and religion are fundamental, not happenstance. And when one is talking about objective reality where it matters that it "really happened" in a testable way, that's science. But there is also religion, and it is not actually important for all people to make the distinctions I am making, because it just doesn't matter to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    This is the most succinct possible statement of why science and religion are never in conflict when each is used properly.
    Yes, they are distinctly different. Yet, all regions of religion are not separate and free from outside influence. The Overlap does exist and conflict can occur. Religion must use the more solid scientific facts as context to their interpretations. The consequence is to have claims from religion that makes itself vulnerable to the weight of science. A 6000 year old Geocentric Earth within a 6000 lyr. radius universe invokes some steam rolling action from science. Science isn't wanting to flatten anyone, it's just goin' down the road.

    Is that really what the faithful want out of their god, that he be an objectively real and scientifically provable person of great power, like a king or an alien species?
    I haven't followed ID that close but I wouldn't be surprised if they were not trying to suggest probability peaks for God. If science really had no answer for a few amazing organized elements of life (peaks), then greater plausibility for a creator is gained. However, the second mouse to visit that mouse trap seems to be the one named Science.

    The differences between science and religion are fundamental, not happenstance.
    May I say even the distance between them is immeasurable?

    ...But there is also religion, and it is not actually important for all people to make the distinctions I am making, because it just doesn't matter to them.
    Yes, there is no minimum scientific knowledge required for the faithful. But, blind faith will not stand much weather.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    The Overlap does exist and conflict can occur. Religion must use the more solid scientific facts as context to their interpretations.
    I'd say that religion should choose to use the best available science when it refers to scientifically testable happenings, but those parts aren't really religion anyway. As you yourself said, miracles are a perfect example: if they can be understood physically, they're not miracles, and if they cannot, they're not science. It is possible to cross from one realm to the other, but it's never both. When a phenomenon crosses from religion to science, it had only a happenstance connection to religion in the first place, it matters not if it survives the transition intact or not. All it means is that when a religion draws from objective reality to make some point or another, it should try to use the best science available to make its point more reasonable, or risk losing relevance as science leaves those elements of the story farther and farther in its wake. So you either update the objective elements of the story, or better yet you just admit that those elements are allegorical to begin with. But it's just bad science to expect a religion to anticipate a scientific result, that would be a misuse of the concept of "overlap".
    A 6000 year old Geocentric Earth within a 6000 lyr. radius universe invokes some steam rolling action from science.
    Only if one expected those scientific results to be anticipated by a religion, and why would we ever do that? That would be both bad science and bad religion-- good science is to wait for real evidence, not an inspiration based on dramatic license, and good religion would be to use the story for some other purpose that supplies objective figures only to fill the vacuum when science hasn't gotten there yet, like an example to show how an equation works without worrying if that example is the real situation or not. It's just not the purpose of religion to provide an oracle to short-cut the scientific process, it's the purpose to provide an oracle to address issues that are outside the purview of science altogether, in the process filling in gaps in scientific knowledge in a hypothetical way just to make the deeper point easier to grasp for very limited human faculties.

    If science really had no answer for a few amazing organized elements of life (peaks), then greater plausibility for a creator is gained.
    I don't see that, it's the inevitable nature of scientific explanations to have a boundary, an edge beyond which science cannot go. It makes no difference how far a scientific explanation can be taken, the qualitative nature of that edge stays the same, and the plausibility of anything beyond that edge is not affected by how far the edge is advanced.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    And it's fine for you to not see that. You see, the point here is that religious answers are subjective answers. They work for the individual, and that is their domain. Why is that so hard to swallow?
    That's not, I am just honest in saying that they are deluded. I wish a few more well meaning atheists would be more honest about it too. A bit of universal ridicule from the vast majority of people in the upper echelons of power and academia (who are atheists by the way) might go a long way towards quashing the rising tide of fundamentalism and religious intolerance.

    Many people seek assistance in finding these subjective answers, because they are not philosophers. They seek authority to give them something to have faith in, so they don't have to "reinvent the wheel" every time. Yes, there can be some rather archaic symbols and dramatic imagery along the way, but that's just humanity. Have you ever seen an official ceremony at a hallowed academic institution? Looks pretty similar to what you just described!
    Yes, but there's no pretence at communication with supernatural beings. I also enjoy some aspects of church services. One can enjoy aspects of ones culture without having to believe in the bygone superstitions of ones culture. My girlfriend (who's a lapsed Catholic) and I went to Westminster Cathedral on Christmas day and I very much liked the whole atmosphere, the Gregorian chanting, the incense, the singing of Christmas carols, the prayers that focus everyone there on things that matter (when they're not about Jesus himself) etc. That does not have one iota of relevance to the fact that all the supernatural claims of the church (virgin birth, resurrection, etc.) are just made up nonsense (actually borrowed from a previous Roman God in this case - Mithras) and the fact that it's all nonsense doesn't invalidate the cultural and non-supernatural elements of religions.

    That depends on the way it is used, of course. It depends on the nature of the question being asked. Put differently, if an individual chooses to use astrology as their religion, they are more than welcome to do so, and that's just what I tell astronomy students. However, astrology is not normally expressed that way, it generally makes claims to predictive power and objective truth, which would put it squarely into the realm of science (and indeed that is just where it was located historically).
    And historically science was located in religions. This is anecdotal, but typical - I spoke with a couple of religious girls on New Years Eve and both were convinced (along with the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc.) that prayer makes things in their lives work out better - that is not just some allegorical way of coping with our stupefying ignorance of, and irrelevance to, the universe at large ; that is a direct and scientifically testable supernatural claim and that claim is absolutely typical of people of faith.

    As science improved and developed, it was found that astrology is very poor science, and has no claim to testable or objective reliability.
    It's a pity more religious people aren't aware that their beliefs have no claim to be objective reality.

    Science is basically the best technique we have found to address the intersection between what is objective and what our limited intelligence can understand. There is no definition of what is objective without including a role for our intelligence, and there's the rub. Some feel that everything that is real is objective, but that's their own religion. Science defines what is real by what is objective, but that is an axiom of science, not an independent fact, because science is already subject to our intelligence.
    I agree with all that but I would put all religions in with astrology as virtually useless attempts at understanding the world that have been bettered by science.

    In my view, at the end of the day what matters is what people find value in. Surely they should be educated in science and not deluded about objective truth and what science is, because there is a proper place for what we have used our intelligence to discover about objective reality and the best way to build bridges, but the proper place for subjective endeavors should always be allowed or we are not being true to our full potential as human beings.
    Of course. But whether they're talking about virgin births, resurrections, etc, or invisible pink elves have a tea party at the bottom of the garden, they have the right to believe what they like and argue what they like, and I have the right to say "nonsense" when I see it.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Why do you suppose that is? What is it about adult beliefs that distinguishes them between the fairy tales of minors?
    Gullibility, stupidity, ignorance and immaturity are all possibilities I guess

    Are there not plausibility differences?
    Absolutely not.

    Suppose the ice melts on some middle-eastern mountain and a wooden ship measuring 300 cubits x 50 cubits x 30 cubits is discovered. Would this not help the plausibility of the religious claim regarding Noah and his god? It would still not be proof of the supernatural, admittedly, but you can never have faith and proof in the same hand.
    Ken G answered this point so well in post #65 I'm just going to say that I agree with his take on it.

    Healing for one. According to eye witnesses in the first century, the healings included lepers and those known to be blind from birth, as well as other health problems. The issue here, of course, is the credibility of the witnesses, as well as, what science says. Ironically, in this case, if science says that spit and dust can cure blindness it would actually reduce the plausibility for the supernatural explanation.
    It's funny how all these supernatural events that "prove" that God exists conveniently only ever take place when we can't test them. How many people have had miraculous healings in the last 100 years at Lourdes? I think Dawkins recently showed that even by their own claims it was less than what would be expected by pure chance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    It's just not the purpose of religion to provide an oracle to short-cut the scientific process, it's the purpose to provide an oracle to address issues that are outside the purview of science altogether, in the process filling in gaps in scientific knowledge in a hypothetical way just to make the deeper point easier to grasp for very limited human faculties.
    I don't know; oracles were quite popular in religion for a while.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    This is also my beef with ID-- if we ever did prove that a supremely powerful being actually did create humanity in a test tube, then the entire issue of creation shifts completely out of the realm of religion and into the realm of science. It trivializes religion to think otherwise, making it much more like a Douglas Adams story. Is that really what the faithful want out of their god, that he be an objectively real and scientifically provable person of great power, like a king or an alien species? And what would be the difference, such a god would be an alien species.
    Most people do not have a view of religion as sophisticated as you and George. They simply do not draw any epistemological line between it and science. If science can be used to support their convictions, great. If it weakens those convictions, then it's an obstacle.

    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    I spoke with a couple of religious girls on New Years Eve and both were convinced (along with the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc.) that prayer makes things in their lives work out better - that is not just some allegorical way of coping with our stupefying ignorance of, and irrelevance to, the universe at large ; that is a direct and scientifically testable supernatural claim and that claim is absolutely typical of people of faith.
    Did they actually use the word "testable"? How would they test it?

    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    That's not, I am just honest in saying that they are deluded. I wish a few more well meaning atheists would be more honest about it too. A bit of universal ridicule from the vast majority of people in the upper echelons of power and academia (who are atheists by the way) [...]
    And a minority.
    By the way, you may well be right about those in academia, but are you sure about those in power?...

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    Arneb, I 2nd your motion to segment this interesting off-shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I'd say that religion should choose to use the best available science when it refers to scientifically testable happenings, but those parts aren't really religion anyway.
    The problem rarely becomes religion adopting fringe science. Albeit, I think the RCC was quick to embrace Big Bang Theory; no doubt in part due to its founder - a Belgian priest (with a PhD from MIT in physics, which often goes unmentioned in religious circles.) [I'd be curious to know more about this since Einstein rejected it at first.]

    As you yourself said, miracles are a perfect example: if they can be understood physically, they're not miracles, and if they cannot, they're not science.
    Yes, miracles involve a supernatural element, I suppose by definition. The degree to which they are believable is predicated, in part, on the credibility of the witness and the other elements involved that allow science to add to, or detract from, the plausibility of the account. Other elements include the personal beliefs and experiences of the listener, as Worzel has pointed out, gulibility. But, to emphasize our agreed point, science is not capable of going into the miracle itself.

    When a phenomenon crosses from religion to science, it had only a happenstance connection to religion in the first place, it matters not if it survives the transition intact or not. All it means is that when a religion draws from objective reality to make some point or another, it should try to use the best science available to make its point more reasonable, or risk losing relevance as science leaves those elements of the story farther and farther in its wake.
    Yes, nicely stated. This argument has been stressed by St. Augistine and by Pope John Paul II in his speech given in the home town of Copernicus after a lengthy Church study on the Galileo affair. A faith won't stand if it becomes unreasonable to its believers. That is a good thing, too, else even more faiths would be around.

    So you either update the objective elements of the story, or better yet you just admit that those elements are allegorical to begin with.
    Yes, agreed and a very important point. It is really that simple, and if we travel to a neutron star, we will learn more about it. Getting them to even consider going there is the problem.

    But it's just bad science to expect a religion to anticipate a scientific result, that would be a misuse of the concept of "overlap".
    Only if one expected those scientific results to be anticipated by a religion, and why would we ever do that? That would be both bad science and bad religion-- good science is to wait for real evidence, not an inspiration based on dramatic license, and good religion would be to use the story for some other purpose that supplies objective figures only to fill the vacuum when science hasn't gotten there yet, like an example to show how an equation works without worrying if that example is the real situation or not. It's just not the purpose of religion to provide an oracle to short-cut the scientific process, it's the purpose to provide an oracle to address issues that are outside the purview of science altogether, in the process filling in gaps in scientific knowledge in a hypothetical way just to make the deeper point easier to grasp for very limited human faculties.
    Good point, though astrology seems to disagree. However, because of their claims, they have placed theirself in the roadway and right in front of the steam roller of science. Actually, they are now behind the steam roller as they look squashed already.

    However, the more a religion does make claims ahead of science, the greater the gain it might receive from science. There are passages that can have reasonable different literal interpretations. But, the 6000 years to Adam is a very difficult one. If the Earth itself were discovered by science to be 6000 years old, then great plausibility would have been gained. The opposite is true, of course. [Yet there is at least one literal interpretation that does seem to work for both science and a literal view, albeit there is a Y-chromosone wrinkle to this version.]
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    [I had to dash. This time to the dentist, unrelated to any BBQ I ate. Your statement was very pertinent and worth discussing.]

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by George
    If science really had no answer for a few amazing organized elements of life (peaks), then greater plausibility for a creator is gained.
    I don't see that, it's the inevitable nature of scientific explanations to have a boundary, an edge beyond which science cannot go. It makes no difference how far a scientific explanation can be taken, the qualitative nature of that edge stays the same, and the plausibility of anything beyond that edge is not affected by how far the edge is advanced.
    Agreed [on your edge viewpoint], and nicely stated. But I suspect there is a perception difference as science grows. If the sphere of any religion is considered, by some, to be finite, then the growth of science would imply a chance of take-over. I suspect astrology might serve as one example of a religion where the "qualitative edge" of science has engulfed it, or come close enough to cause that unreasonableness factor to choke it, or flatten it (since I'm on a roll and I can now add a pun.)

    [Yet, where there are more obvious edges, the greater chance of plausibility.] Imagine how much more succesful ID would have been if it were added to William Paley's Natural Theology, first published in 1802. [Darwin liked it and memorized all its tenets.] It would have augmented Paley's claim that "the eye is a sure cure for atheism". [Darwin, of course, did not buy into the arguments.] This would have given anti-evolutionary religious claims a boost in plausibility for their faith. At least for a while.

    Of course, for most religions, there will always be those regions beyond science. Nevertheless, there may be turbulent issues where science does impact certain religious claims (in The Overlap). If science does damage the part, then the whole can suffer.

    Of course, just as a reminder, science is not damaged by religion. At least, I can think of no direct examples. Yet scientists and the funding of science is an indirect issue. My hope is for religion to help science. Religion is also seeking the truth, or should be.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    Gullibility, stupidity, ignorance and immaturity are all possibilities I guess
    Agreed. Those are all relative terms. Thus, some religious claims would require more gullibility and stupidity to be believable than others. Agreed?

    How many people have had miraculous healings in the last 100 years at Lourdes?
    Would you be surprised that many say the true healings ended after the initial founding of Christianity, and for that purpose?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Disinfo Agent View Post
    They simply do not draw any epistemological line between it and science.
    Quite true, especially in the past. This seems to have been the real heart of the problem with Galileo and not quite so much of his heliocentric stance. Hmmmm...were back on topic. This is more apparent when we realize heliocentrism by Copernicus was approved by the Church decades earlier but only [if heliocentrism is taken] as a model and not a claim against the reality of Geocentrism (or the subsequent Tychonian model).

    The reason I keep running back to Galileo is because I see the church, mainly Protestants, struggling through the same problems as then. History seems to be repeating itself.

    If science can be used to support their convictions, great. If it weakens those convictions, then it's an obstacle.
    Yes, it is just that simple. Of course, only some convictions fall into The Overlap where science has something to say about their view.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    A bit of universal ridicule from the vast majority of people in the upper echelons of power and academia (who are atheists by the way) might go a long way towards quashing the rising tide of fundamentalism and religious intolerance.
    Not all academics at the highest levels are atheists, but more to the point, your statement is a pretty obvious example of religious intolerance. Do you see the irony?
    Yes, but there's no pretence at communication with supernatural beings.
    Define "communication". As a two-way endeavor, it would be impossible to prove scientifically, so would be outside the purvey of science. As a one-way endeavor, it is perceived to occur, perhaps in the form of meditation or prayer or inspiration, all of which have physiological effects that are quite scientifically provable. So I don't see that "pretense" can be scientifically established. Instead, it's an individual thing that science is completely moot on unless the communication makes testable claims. As I said before, when that happens, it's science not religion anyway.
    That does not have one iota of relevance to the fact that all the supernatural claims of the church (virgin birth, resurrection, etc.) are just made up nonsense (actually borrowed from a previous Roman God in this case - Mithras) and the fact that it's all nonsense doesn't invalidate the cultural and non-supernatural elements of religions.
    All you are saying is that you feel free to pick and choose the elements from any religion that you find individually valuable. That's exactly the point.

    And historically science was located in religions. This is anecdotal, but typical - I spoke with a couple of religious girls on New Years Eve and both were convinced (along with the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc.) that prayer makes things in their lives work out better - that is not just some allegorical way of coping with our stupefying ignorance of, and irrelevance to, the universe at large ; that is a direct and scientifically testable supernatural claim and that claim is absolutely typical of people of faith.
    Absolutely, that is testable, and is science. That they don't understand science and think it's religion is not the issue. What they need is better education about what science is, not further misinformation about what religion is.
    It's a pity more religious people aren't aware that their beliefs have no claim to be objective reality.
    Perhaps, but they really don't care. That's the point-- most people only care about the objective reality in which they live, and they don't need to be very good at science to get along. That is why we need scientific education to improve on that situation as we move into a more competitive and technological future.

    I agree with all that but I would put all religions in with astrology as virtually useless attempts at understanding the world that have been bettered by science.
    That's our fundamental disagreement in a nutshell. I agree the religion is lousy science, but that by itself does not invalidate religion, it merely invalidates its incursions into descriptions of objective reality. That's why the existence of so many different religions does not invalidate each one, when used properly.
    Of course. But whether they're talking about virgin births, resurrections, etc, or invisible pink elves have a tea party at the bottom of the garden, they have the right to believe what they like and argue what they like, and I have the right to say "nonsense" when I see it.
    Only if you define your basis, and your meaning of that word. It depends on the questions, not the answers.

  18. #48
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    Religion vs. science posts culled from "Proof the Earth is not at the center of the Universe" thread

    PM me if any posts were moved that shouldn't have been, or vice versa.

    (And I'm open to suggestions for a thread title if you don't like this one.)
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  19. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Not all academics at the highest levels are atheists, but more to the point, your statement is a pretty obvious example of religious intolerance. Do you see the irony?
    Absolutely not. I find it ironic that I get accused of being an atheistic fundamentalists all the time for saying what I think about relgion by people who are only too happy to bend over backwards to let religious people have their say and show those views the respect of leaving them unchallenged. I only say what I think and am more than happy for everyone else to do so. I have never advocated outlawing religion, outlawing speaking out against atheism, or using violence. You know blasphemy is still a crime in this country, right? And if Blair has his way it will soon be illegal to say anything against a religion that might be construed as offensive.

    Define "communication". As a two-way endeavor, it would be impossible to prove scientifically, so would be outside the purvey of science. As a one-way endeavor, it is perceived to occur, perhaps in the form of meditation or prayer or inspiration, all of which have physiological effects that are quite scientifically provable. So I don't see that "pretense" can be scientifically established. Instead, it's an individual thing that science is completely moot on unless the communication makes testable claims. As I said before, when that happens, it's science not religion anyway.
    Talking to God or Jesus is no different to talking to the dead. However you mince your words people who claim to do so are either deluded or lying, it's that simple. EVerything you've said could equally be used to defend of what we'd call cold readers.

    All you are saying is that you feel free to pick and choose the elements from any religion that you find individually valuable. That's exactly the point.
    Nonsense. There is no irrational belief in unfalsifiable supernatural claims in my enjoyment of the cultural aspects of religion. Unlike the faithfull I do not make claims to know something that I can demonstrate no good reason for thinking I know.

    Absolutely, that is testable, and is science. That they don't understand science and think it's religion is not the issue. What they need is better education about what science is, not further misinformation about what religion is.
    Well you can define religion to suit you so that you can feel happy that relgion and science do not overlap. Meanwhile on planet earth the vast majority of religious people do make claims that go beyond the confines of their unfalsifiable yet furtive imaginations, including the leaders of those religions. The Pope himself does not claim that belief in the resurection of Christ is a useful delusion for allegorical purposes - whether he believes it himself or not he is quite happy to lead millions of people into believing that obviously nonsensical belief is literally (and objectively) true.

    Perhaps, but they really don't care. That's the point-- most people only care about the objective reality in which they live, and they don't need to be very good at science to get along. That is why we need scientific education to improve on that situation as we move into a more competitive and technological future.
    Well I care that there are all these people in the world holding individually ridiculous and collectively contradictory beliefs for no better reason than that they were brain washed as children and that no one dare tell them how silly it is for fear of offending them.

    That's our fundamental disagreement in a nutshell. I agree the religion is lousy science, but that by itself does not invalidate religion, it merely invalidates its incursions into descriptions of objective reality. That's why the existence of so many different religions does not invalidate each one, when used properly.
    Well there you have it in a nutshell, religion is invalid when it makes incursions into objective reality - i.e. you agree with me that to believe that any of those claims are real is to be deluded.


    Only if you define your basis, and your meaning of that word. It depends on the questions, not the answers.
    It's quite simple. If I claimed that my brother actually died three days ago and then rose from his grave and then floated off to heaven on a cloud you would have no problem with pinning me down on that claim. 2000 years doesn't make the claim any less a claim about objective reality or any less scientifically testable in principle. Ditto if I claimed my mother is a virgin. Why is it so hard to just admit that these claims that are, as a matter of fact, believed to be literally true by hundreds of millions of people are just plain nonsense?

  20. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    Well there you have it in a nutshell, religion is invalid when it makes incursions into objective reality - i.e. you agree with me that to believe that any of those claims are real is to be deluded.
    And science is invalid when it makes incursions beyond objective reality.

    If I claimed that my brother actually died three days ago and then rose from his grave and then floated off to heaven on a cloud you would have no problem with pinning me down on that claim.
    Yes, I would want to know how plausible such a wild story could be. I would want to know...How many knew your brother and met him after his death? How many of these were credible witnesses? Did your brother heal the actual infirmities of many people with 100% effectiveness? Did your brother do things that match prophecies of long ago? Etc.

    These witnesses would not be proof, but if they are credibile individuals with more to lose than gain, including their lives, it certainly allows for some possibility, and one that is outside the purvey of science as long as all the evidence is long gone.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  21. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    And science is invalid when it makes incursions beyond objective reality.
    Yep. In fact, there is no such thing as beyond objective reality as far as we can tell. So everything else is equally invalid when it makes incursions beyond objective reality, including religions.

    Yes, I would want to know how plausible such a wild story could be. I would want to know...How many knew your brother and met him after his death? How many of these were credible witnesses? Did your brother heal the actual infirmities of many people with 100% effectiveness? Did your brother do things that match prophecies of long ago? Etc.

    These witnesses would not be proof, but if they are credibile individuals with more to lose than gain, including their lives, it certainly allows for some possibility, and one that is outside the purvey of science as long as all the evidence is long gone.
    That all rather suggests that you think the gospels acutally are, to some extent, credible objective evidence for the super natural claims of Christianity. I am agog, and I can't really carry on a discussion about that here. How credible do find the popular holy texts of other religions that make super natural claims? All the monotheistic ones explicitly rule each other out so at most only one can be right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    Yep. In fact, there is no such thing as beyond objective reality as far as we can tell. So everything else is equally invalid when it makes incursions beyond objective reality, including religions.
    But how do you invalidate that which can't be touched or mathematically described? All we can do is consider the background objective evidence, if there is any, and hope it can be used in context with the subjective issue.

    Your example of minor's belief in fairy tales as likely being due to greater gulibility, ignorance, etc. compared to adult's religious beliefs is a good one. If I understand your point of view, i.e. that religions are all unreasonable, you are saying children are more likley to believe that which is even more unreasonable than adults. Therefore, adults must see something of greater plausibility in their religion that they don't see in fairy tales. These are subjective issues that are real and may, or may not, represent a true and greater reality beyond our measuring sticks.

    The plausibility factors, or, perhaps, less unreasonableness from your point of view, between belief frameworks is why religion does offer a great deal more to some people rather than just guessing with objective constraints.

    That all rather suggests that you think the gospels acutally are, to some extent, credible objective evidence for the super natural claims of Christianity.
    No, I don't have any objective evidence. Even accepting the testimony of credible witnesses which bare no related and measurable evidence is subjective. That doesn't make it false, either. Look at the court system and their use of circumstantial evidence.

    How credible do find the popular holy texts of other religions that make super natural claims?
    They probably have some elements that add genuine plausibility beyond that of fairy tales. Some of them probably have claims that science does have some impact upon. If these claims within The Overlap are not disharmonious with religion, then they will be more plausible (less unreasonable) than any claim that clearly contradicts mainstream science.

    All the monotheistic ones explicitly rule each other out so at most only one can be right.
    I'll leave that one for the one that makes them monotheistic.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  23. #53
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    Ken G said:
    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.
    Nonsense, they are still making a scientific statement, even if they don't base their answer on science.

    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".
    "Fine by me" does not equal admission they are in any sense correct. Freedom allows for the freedom to believe falsehoods. That does not make them any less false.

    Ken G said:
    Quote Originally Posted by worzel
    Oh come off Ken, if I were to argue that Thor actually makes the lightning....
    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.
    I believe he is using "argue" in the colloquial sense of "averring strongly against opposition" rather than the logic sense of "structuring syllogisms to support a position".

  24. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    I only say what I think and am more than happy for everyone else to do so.
    And you still don't see the irony of railing against the intolerance of various religions and then claiming that all you are doing is "saying what you think"? Hello-- religious people who ridicule other religions are doing just what you are doing-- saying what they think. Here's the definition of that behavior: religious intolerance. You have a right to be an atheist, and they have a right to have a religion. They have no right to ridicule you for not subscribing to their religion, and, brace yourself, you have no right to ridicule them for not being an atheist. What goes around...

    And if Blair has his way it will soon be illegal to say anything against a religion that might be construed as offensive.
    There are many laws about what you are allowed to say and when. They are all based in power, not in ideology. What laws say is that you are not allowed to abuse your power to say things that are detrimental to others (the old "yell fire in a crowded movie theater" issue). Free speech means you have a right to a venue, it does not mean you have a right to abuse your power. In this case, the power that is being abused is the credibility of science.
    Talking to God or Jesus is no different to talking to the dead.
    Of course that statement is true for you. We are discussing subjective truth on this thread, which you mistake for objective truth. Objective truth is not truth by fiat, it is truth within the prescriptions of objective reason. All of science cannot say if there is any other form of truth, and certainly neither can you.
    EVerything you've said could equally be used to defend of what we'd call cold readers.
    Then you've understood nothing at all of what I've said, you are not even seeing past your nose. Kind of reminds me of those you criticize.

    Nonsense. There is no irrational belief in unfalsifiable supernatural claims in my enjoyment of the cultural aspects of religion. Unlike the faithfull I do not make claims to know something that I can demonstrate no good reason for thinking I know.
    None of that makes my statement nonsense, as I contradicted not one single shred of this litany of your own personal preferences.

    Well you can define religion to suit you so that you can feel happy that relgion and science do not overlap.
    Indeed, that is precisely the purpose of my exposition. I think it has significant value to do just that, and you apparently disagree. But then, you've already demonstrated a completely closed mind on every aspect of this subject, I wonder why you even enter into discussion about it.
    Meanwhile on planet earth the vast majority of religious people do make claims that go beyond the confines of their unfalsifiable yet furtive imaginations, including the leaders of those religions.
    I am well aware of this fact. News flash: so did early scientists (and some apparently still are)! Have you ever read a history book? You cannot judge an endeavor on the grounds that errors have been made on its behalf. A thousand examples would flow easily on that score. But I see-- science has it all worked out now, and has risen above its humble start, while religion never will.
    The Pope himself does not claim that belief in the resurection of Christ is a useful delusion for allegorical purposes - whether he believes it himself or not he is quite happy to lead millions of people into believing that obviously nonsensical belief is literally (and objectively) true.
    I think you will find that this statement is completely false. I'm no expert on modern Popes, but it is my impression that they generally have a much firmer grasp on the limitations of the concept of "objective reality" in contrast with "fervent belief" than you do. Everything I've said above has been in an effort to distinguish these concepts, but little seems to be getting across.


    Well I care that there are all these people in the world holding individually ridiculous and collectively contradictory beliefs for no better reason than that they were brain washed as children and that no one dare tell them how silly it is for fear of offending them.
    You have a ridiculous view of religion, it is as though you never met a religious person in your life beyond the wackos who debate scientific ideas on forums like this one. I could without even cracking a sweat name a dozen people I know quite well for whom your "no better reason" is a completely baseless claim. It's even more baseless than the ATM claims you dispell, you should know better. Activate that scientific method you claim to put so much faith in and make a real effort at figuring out why most people choose to be religious.

    Well there you have it in a nutshell, religion is invalid when it makes incursions into objective reality - i.e. you agree with me that to believe that any of those claims are real is to be deluded.
    No, you have made the mistake of assuming that "objective reality" and "real" are the same thing. That cannot be proven, it is logically impossible as anything but an axiom or an arbitrary definition. It would only be a delusion if the person claimed that their belief was scientifically proven, but most religious people simply don't care because they realize that their belief is subjective. Yes they don't carry that sophisticated understanding of their own beliefs around with them all the time, just as someone watching TV doesn't know the quantum mechanics of what they are seeing. They believe because it works for them, just as TVs work as well for people who failed physics. To attack their belief, it is not enough to say it is not objective reality, you have to say that it has no value. That is the point you just keep missing over and over. Even if you want to believe that it is a delusion that does have subjective value, like the delusion that you are sitting on a chair right now and not a froth of quantum fields, or that anything in science is the actual reality, or that it's better to cure a disease than to just die from it, then it still can accomplish its purpose.

    It's quite simple. If I claimed that my brother actually died three days ago and then rose from his grave and then floated off to heaven on a cloud you would have no problem with pinning me down on that claim.
    That's where you are completely wrong, I could not possibly have any way to "pin you down" on that. "Pinning down" is a scientific endeavor, as it must start from a shared set of axioms involving logic, objectivity, evidence, etc. None of that is part of religion, this is what I have been telling you. All you are saying, over and over, is that religion is lousy science. News flash: I know that.
    Why is it so hard to just admit that these claims that are, as a matter of fact, believed to be literally true by hundreds of millions of people are just plain nonsense?
    Or, put differently, why not just admit that religion makes lousy science? Oh yeah, I already did.

  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    And science is invalid when it makes incursions beyond objective reality.
    Indeed, objective reality is purely a defining assumption of science. The only thing science has to say about objective reality is that it is a useful concept for the goals of science. Period. And of course it has nothing at all to say about any other kind of definition of reality.
    Yes, I would want to know how plausible such a wild story could be. I would want to know...How many knew your brother and met him after his death? How many of these were credible witnesses? Did your brother heal the actual infirmities of many people with 100% effectiveness? Did your brother do things that match prophecies of long ago?
    I think you are still using a scientific approach to justify a religious belief. I'm saying that if you believe something because there's concrete evidence in favor of it, then you are doing science. If you believe something purely because you choose to, because it resonates with you and fills a need for you and possibly even makes you a better person, then you are doing religion. If it doesn't awaken something in you that is more profound than scientific logic, then it is probably just scientific logic, and possibly not terribly good logic at that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by worzel View Post
    Yep. In fact, there is no such thing as beyond objective reality as far as we can tell.
    And by what authority or mechanism do you cite "as far as we can tell?" I know the answer: by using science. So let's summarize your logic here: Science deals with objective reality by definition, and since we can't use science for anything outside what science can be used for, then as far as science can tell, there's nothing else. That statement is so circular that is says precisely nothing, but you seem to think it supports your entire position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
    Nonsense, they are still making a scientific statement, even if they don't base their answer on science.
    Huh? That sounds logically inconsistent to the max. If I say that I believe the entire universe was created yesterday in exactly the form we all observed yesterday, you're telling me that's a scientific statement that can be tested scientifically? That's wrong on both counts-- it isn't a scientific statement precisely because it can't be scientifically tested, and that it can't be tested scientifically is perfectly obvious. Your argument makes the assumption that history exists as an objective truth. There is no way to know that scientifically, all you can know is that we find value in constructing a history using the objective methods of science. If that history contains events of importance that behoove us to pay attention to as they have something valuable to say about our future, then yes, the construction has value. If a nonscientific and nonobjective construction also contains significant events that have value for the individual, then they are both simply examples of things humans do that have value to them. The value of the concept of objective reality, and the assumption of an objective history, is not at issue here, what is at issue is the value of alternate approaches to truth. I realize that is frustrating for you to accept, but you need to realize that there's no need to choose one or the other, even though many people on both sides of the aisle erroneously think that way. So it has always been with intolerance of all stripes.

    "Fine by me" does not equal admission they are in any sense correct.
    What do you mean "in any sense"? Have you never heard of subjective truth? In science, that is an oxymoron, but that's the defining characteristic of science. It is at once its greatest strength and its greatest limitation.
    Freedom allows for the freedom to believe falsehoods.
    And how do you identify "falsehoods"? Oh yeah, by applying the scientific method. So your argument starts with the assumption that the scientific method is the only approach to truth that has any value, and you use that assumption to argue that the scientific method is the only approach to truth that has any value. Interesting.
    I believe he is using "argue" in the colloquial sense of "averring strongly against opposition" rather than the logic sense of "structuring syllogisms to support a position".
    But why on Earth would someone need to aver against opposition when talking about a subjective and nonscientific belief? I have to justify my beliefs against attacks by the "opposition"? Is tolerance a completely lost ideal? That's just plain scary. (And I hope I don't have to clarify that I'm not talking about tolerating bad science, I'm talking about tolerating nonscience that knows it's nonscience-- and it's our job as scientists to tell them what is science, and it helps to know it ourselves.)
    Last edited by Ken G; 2007-Jan-05 at 07:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    [...] you have made the mistake of assuming that "objective reality" and "real" are the same thing. That cannot be proven, it is logically impossible as anything but an axiom or an arbitrary definition. It would only be a delusion if the person claimed that their belief was scientifically proven, but most religious people simply don't care because they realize that their belief is subjective. Yes they don't carry that sophisticated understanding of their own beliefs around with them all the time, just as someone watching TV doesn't know the quantum mechanics of what they are seeing. They believe because it works for them, just as TVs work as well for people who failed physics. To attack their belief, it is not enough to say it is not objective reality, you have to say that it has no value. That is the point you just keep missing over and over.
    I agree 100% with this.

    On the other hand, I don't entirely agree with the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    You have a right to be an atheist, and they have a right to have a religion. They have no right to ridicule you for not subscribing to their religion, and, brace yourself, you have no right to ridicule them for not being an atheist. What goes around...
    I think that everyone has the right to criticise or ridicule anything they wish, even if their criticism is invalid.

    I think Worzel's "refutation" of religion is totally invalid, but he has the right to vent it, just as religious people, who have the comfortable advantage of being in the majority, have the right to rant about the evils of godless secularism, and don't generally abstain from it.

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    KenG, just because I disagree with you does not mean that my mind is any more closed than yours. How open are you to my point of view?

    To be open minded is to be open to persuasion by argument and evidence, not to patronizingly hide behind philosophical mumbo jumbo to pretend that everyone is sort of right in their on sort of self deluded way.

    It is a big misconception that to be open minded one must accept the not vanishingly small possibility that any old nonsense might be right if it can't be proved wrong (especially in principle). Indeed, ATMers often use this line of reasoning to support all sorts of nonsense and unless some one can give me one good reason to suppose any super natural claims made by religions might have some merit then they are firmly in the ATM nonsense camp as far as I'm concerned.

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

    Wow, what a waste of bandwidth.

    The only thing this thread seems to be valuable for is that it has allowed us to know better the various philosophical positions of certain members.

    However, going around in circles seems to be the antithesis of what this board is all about.

    I'm very surprised the moderators have allowed this to go on, despite the civil behavior (for the most part) of the posters.

    But, then, it's Off-Topic Babbling...whoa, wait, this is under General Science!

    Seems time for a move or a lock.

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