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Religion & Science Are Closer Than You Think


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#16    Frank Merton

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 01:18 AM

There is a widespread sophomoric notion that science has to be materialist or physicalist, if not reductionist and even positivist.  Nothing even hinting of the existence of phenomena external to the causal processes of natural laws is allowed.

I think this derives from the reaction of science against religious rear-guard ideas like vitalism and deism and certainly against the Victorian ideas about the "great chain of Being," and Gaia and stuff like that.

It is a bit of the old cliche of throwing out the baby with the bath water.


#17    Jessica Christ

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 05:34 PM

View PostMysticStrummer, on 11 March 2013 - 05:30 PM, said:

I guess it depends on which religion and which science you're talking about. I have two books on the similarity between eastern philosophy/religion and the findings of quantum physics. Pretty interesting reading, as was this article. I'm not sure the title of the article is accurate though, given what it says about the personal beliefs of the people who attend these churches. Only 11% of american churches conflict with science, but 46% of church going americans have beliefs that do. Why would you attend a church that has teachings which conflict with your beliefs? That's the part that shocked me.

You understood this right (almost) but missed the silver lining and there are so few on this forum I can't allow this one to slip away.

Ok, yes 46% do not believe in evolution, but only 11% belong to religions that openly reject evolution.

That means that 35% of of Americans could possibly have the same experience as the student in this article, they thought they couldn't believe in evolution because it was against their beliefs, but then they were actually told that the religion they belong to did not reject evolution and that they didn't have to. The student became someone who believes in both God and science.


#18    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 05:11 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 12 March 2013 - 01:18 AM, said:

There is a widespread sophomoric notion that science has to be materialist or physicalist, if not reductionist and even positivist.  Nothing even hinting of the existence of phenomena external to the causal processes of natural laws is allowed.

I don't find that to be sophomoric, it's based on the evidence that non-materialist/non-physicalist explanations have been resounding failures at explaining anything, as opposed to materialistic explanations which have a great track record of producing results that work.  Supernatural/non-material explanations have been offered countless times for a wide variety of phenomenon and have had to retreat nearly every single time in the face of evidenced materialist explanations.  What is not 'allowed' is statements that are provided without evidence; if you have good evidence of phenomena external to the causal processes of natural laws, feel free to provide it.

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I think this derives from the reaction of science against religious rear-guard ideas like vitalism and deism and certainly against the Victorian ideas about the "great chain of Being," and Gaia and stuff like that.

I think it derives from noting that science has made amazing progress by sticking to methodological naturalism.  When someone makes some type of progress by applying a framework other than that, science will incorporate that also but so far, those results have been lacking/non-existent.

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It is a bit of the old cliche of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

What you are designating as 'the baby' is to others better termed 'more bath water'.

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#19    Frank Merton

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 05:17 PM

I call it sophomoric because the people I run into with such views tend to be young engineers and young doctors.  I think the assertion that causal processes explain everything has no end of problems right and is what needs to be proved.


#20    IamsSon

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 05:26 PM

View PostRlyeh, on 10 March 2013 - 03:24 AM, said:

So evolution isn't science now?
No.  I am saying there is a naturalist religious belief which is not science, but which is being cloaked in the mantle of science to give it respectability and to protect it from logical and rational scrutiny.

Evolution, the changes in populations that occur through the loss of diversity through allele changes in response to environmental pressures and mating is science, and is therefore, not in any sort of competition with any religions

The completely unobservable, untestable, and unrepeatable belief that all life is derived from one "thing" that was somehow a "living" molecule through the means of immense passage of time, random but beneficial mutations (that all occurred in the proper sequence, sometimes in series sometimes in parallel), and pure blind luck given the title of "natural selection" is a naturalist religious belief and it is "competing" with other religious beliefs for acceptance.  Some believers in this religion act and react just like the zealots of any other religious belief when they feel their religious views are being questioned.

Edited by IamsSon, 13 March 2013 - 05:30 PM.

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#21    IamsSon

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 05:54 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 13 March 2013 - 05:17 PM, said:

I call it sophomoric because the people I run into with such views tend to be young engineers and young doctors.  I think the assertion that causal processes explain everything has no end of problems right and is what needs to be proved.
I think you're referring to scientism, an ideology that is often confused with science. It is, rather, an abuse of the scientific method and scientific authority.
Article, Article, Article, Article

"But then with me that horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" - Charles Darwin, in a letter to William Graham on July 3, 1881

#22    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 10:06 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 13 March 2013 - 05:17 PM, said:

I call it sophomoric because the people I run into with such views tend to be young engineers and young doctors.  I think the assertion that causal processes explain everything has no end of problems right and is what needs to be proved.

I don't disagree that people who believe in evolution can be just as sophomoric and illogical and unscientific as anyone else, I just don't know that I understand or agree with why you are considering them to be sophomoric.  You are likely far above my pay grade as far as philosophical knowledge, so I don't know what specifically you are referring to for example that you don't think causal processes adequately explain, which I'm assuming are numerous give there is no end of problems with it.

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#23    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 10:33 PM

View PostIamsSon, on 13 March 2013 - 05:26 PM, said:

No.  I am saying there is a naturalist religious belief which is not science, but which is being cloaked in the mantle of science to give it respectability and to protect it from logical and rational scrutiny.

I agree that naturalism is not science, but with regard to science, isn't it fair to say that assumptions concerning naturalism in the scientific method have something to do with its undeniable efficacy?  What method based on non-naturalism components has produced anything close to science as far as verifiability?

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Evolution, the changes in populations that occur through the loss of diversity through allele changes in response to environmental pressures and mating is science, and is therefore, not in any sort of competition with any religions

I'm not sure what you mean by 'the loss of diversity' in that statement, evolution many times results in greater diversity.

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The completely unobservable, untestable, and unrepeatable belief that all life is derived from one "thing" that was somehow a "living" molecule through the means of immense passage of time, random but beneficial mutations (that all occurred in the proper sequence, sometimes in series sometimes in parallel), and pure blind luck given the title of "natural selection" is a naturalist religious belief and it is "competing" with other religious beliefs for acceptance.  Some believers in this religion act and react just like the zealots of any other religious belief when they feel their religious views are being questioned.

Evolution I don't believe technically has shown that all life derived from one thing, but I don't see how that is an unreasonable extrapolation from the scientific elements of evolution that you do accept, do we have some counter-evidence of an alternative explanation?  I'm not sure at all what you mean about 'proper sequence' of mutations and why you have an issue with mutations at all when you just accepted I thought 'allele changes' as being properly scientific.  The only thing I can think of that remotely ties in with 'blind luck' would be these mutations, but yea, that is part of natural selection, why is that a religious belief?  I'm not getting why you are describing evolution here as a 'religious belief' with these particular specifics.

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"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" - C. Hitchens
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" - Richard Feynman

#24    scowl

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 10:36 PM

View PostIamsSon, on 13 March 2013 - 05:26 PM, said:

The completely unobservable, untestable, and unrepeatable belief that all life is derived from one "thing" that was somehow a "living" molecule through the means of immense passage of time, random but beneficial mutations (that all occurred in the proper sequence, sometimes in series sometimes in parallel), and pure blind luck given the title of "natural selection" is a naturalist religious belief and it is "competing" with other religious beliefs for acceptance.  

That's because this theory fits the evidence better than any other. It's not blind faith like a religion. It's even somewhat testable because evidence we find must fit the theory or bring it into question.

It's sad that we haven't been able to come up with a better theory that didn't involve random mutations but it's the only one that's compatible what we now know about genetics.

Quote

Some believers in this religion act and react just like the zealots of any other religious belief when they feel their religious views are being questioned.

Some people have the same reaction when their favorite brands of computers and cars are questioned. I don't think this alone qualifies them as religions.


#25    Magicjax

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 10:53 PM

I feel that religion in fact our (man kind) first attempt at science. It's basically a hypothesis. The problem is its a hypothesis that can never be truly tested. It can never become a scientific theory.



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#26    Sherapy

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 11:11 PM

View PostMagicjax, on 13 March 2013 - 10:53 PM, said:

I feel that religion in fact our (man kind) first attempt at science. It's basically a hypothesis. The problem is its a hypothesis that can never be truly tested. It can never become a scientific theory.

I would say it doesn't even qualify as a hypothesis, that is the problem, not for lack of trying though.

Edited by Sherapy, 13 March 2013 - 11:11 PM.




#27    IamsSon

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 01:40 AM

View Postscowl, on 13 March 2013 - 10:36 PM, said:

That's because this theory fits the evidence better than any other. It's not blind faith like a religion. It's even somewhat testable because evidence we find must fit the theory or bring it into question.

It's sad that we haven't been able to come up with a better theory that didn't involve random mutations but it's the only one that's compatible what we now know about genetics.



Some people have the same reaction when their favorite brands of computers and cars are questioned. I don't think this alone qualifies them as religions.
It actually is not the only compatible theory, or even the best; it's simply the one that best fits naturalism/scientism.

Heck, there isn't even just ONE theory of descent from a common ancestor, there are several; so which one are you referring to?  Neo Darwinism? punctuated equilibrium?

If we were to find a starship buried under tons of dirt, we would NOT assume it was a natural construct, we would assume it had been designed and constructed by intelligent beings.  The fact we did not know who these beings were or how they had done it would in no way invalidate the obvious observation that it was the result of intelligent, purposeful design.  But somehow, although what that first life form was, or how it came to be is "not covered" and not needed for the "theory of descent from a common ancestor" it is somehow integral to know who the designer was.  That is not a scientific requirement, it is a religious requirement.

Edited by IamsSon, 14 March 2013 - 01:42 AM.

"But then with me that horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" - Charles Darwin, in a letter to William Graham on July 3, 1881

#28    eight bits

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 08:51 AM

Quote

If we were to find a starship buried under tons of dirt, we would NOT assume it was a natural construct, we would assume it had been designed and constructed by intelligent beings.

That would depend on the starship. Science fiction abounds with spacefaring living beings ("Tin Man" of Star Trek TNG or the Vorlon transports in Babylon 5, to name two). If we happened upon one of those, then we might appreciate its organic nature, and therefore not assume what its origin was.

We would also be hardpressed to decide from a single, unprecedented organic-appearing example, whether it was "built" or "bred" or "tamed" or "evolved" with respect to its capability. Those categories are not even mutually exclusive (a domesticated wolf-dog hybrid with an implanted identification chip almost surely exists somewhere on Earth today).

It really is totally unclear, then, what "we" would assume under the hypothetical you propose. The original "watches need watchmakers" analogy was defective enough without introducing the wild card of what device is supposed to be found.

One thing is for sure, however. We would not assume that a complicated but arguably purposeful inorganic device was the product of exactly one intelligent designer-builder. We would assume a team, or if the device were of suitably small scale like a watch, a craft tradition and assembly from available parts made using refined metals worked with tools made using machine tools, thus inferring designer-builders distinct from the designer-assembler of the watch itself, probably many others rather just a few.

This would especially true if the watch we found had several parts that had been forced to fit rather than having been made-to-fit. We would, probably rightly, infer that our watch had been assembled recycling some parts salvaged and adapted from older, now discarded watches. If all watches need watchmakers, then we would at least consider that many watchmakers had contributed over time to what was finally assembled and now in our hands.

It is obvious, then, that the watchmaker-starship analogy is of no use at all to a monotheist. I am surprised that you of all people would bring it up.

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#29    Frank Merton

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 09:04 AM

Since English is not my native language, I may be misusing the word "sophomoric," but I think not.  To me it means "wise fool."  This is a person well-informed but in a limited way.  The typical engineer is a good example; his mathematical foundation is practical and not theoretical, he has no philosophy, and his science is limited to materials and forces and things of that sort, generally on a macro scale.  He often has limited interest in art and serious music.

This is the sort of person likely to be identifiable as a positivist, although he or she may not know about the history of this kind of thinking.  "Give me the right lever and I will move the world."  They actualy conceive as such a thing as theoretically possible.  Give me a powerful enough computer and I will compute the past and future of the universe in detail.

Reductionism is another characteristic of this thinking -- we can deduce chemistry from atomic theory; biology from chemistry; psychology and economics and art and even mind from biology and organic chemistry, and so on.

I see in some of the above messages a distraction having to do with creationism and evolution.  That Darwin basically got it right and that from then on we have been filling in details and gaps but the theory stands soundly is not an issue here.

We do not need God or the supernatural to question reductionism and positivism.  All we need do is realize that there not only may be but almost certainly are limits to what rational processes can "understand," including the concept of understanding itself.  Causation is the foundation of science -- things have traceable causes -- but more and more it dawns on us that this is simplistic -- that even simple causations become horribly intracticable once we begin to break it into smaller and smaller causative units, until we end up with a chaos.


#30    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 12:28 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 14 March 2013 - 09:04 AM, said:

Since English is not my native language, I may be misusing the word "sophomoric," but I think not.  To me it means "wise fool."  This is a person well-informed but in a limited way.  The typical engineer is a good example; his mathematical foundation is practical and not theoretical, he has no philosophy, and his science is limited to materials and forces and things of that sort, generally on a macro scale.  He often has limited interest in art and serious music.

I think you're using 'sophomoric' correctly (although I think under some definitions we may not include 'wise', I usually think of it as 'immature' or 'juvenile'), but you probably want to use the word 'stereotypical' rather than 'typical'.  Your 'typical', meaning 'average', engineer does have a philosophy, does take an interest in art and music, etc, just like anyone in any other profession; I don't think you're trying to say, 'most engineers don't care about serious music'.  I understand what you are getting at though.

Quote

We do not need God or the supernatural to question reductionism and positivism.  All we need do is realize that there not only may be but almost certainly are limits to what rational processes can "understand," including the concept of understanding itself.  Causation is the foundation of science -- things have traceable causes -- but more and more it dawns on us that this is simplistic -- that even simple causations become horribly intracticable once we begin to break it into smaller and smaller causative units, until we end up with a chaos.

There are limits today as to what rational processes can understand; we should also realize that our guesses about what the limits are concerning what we can ultimately understand from rational processes are just that: guesses.  You may be referring to quantum mechanics concerning breaking down into smaller causative units and I won't even pretend to understand enough about that, but I wasn't aware that 'causation' was being called into question as an implication of that.  There's a difference between not understanding how one thing causes another as opposed to questioning whether it was actually caused.

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"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" - C. Hitchens
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" - Richard Feynman




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