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crookedspiral

Atheism is incompatible with science

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ShadowSot
2 hours ago, eight bits said:

Say what? Perhaps I miunderstand which of the three lines of Will's post you were attributing to an atheist, but the usual attribution of "God doesn't play dice with the universe" is Albert Einstein.

If so, then the reference to God is figurative; nobody had proposed that God literally plays dice. That said, the statement is consistent with the generally deist drift of Einstein's statements that really were about his own views on the Question of God. The deist God doesn't actively participate in the natural world, with or without dice. Deists aren't atheists, however.

I suppose one could argue that Spinoza was an atheist (his Jewish congregation claimed so when it expelled him). and that Einstein's admiration for Spinoza would make Einstein an atheist, too. Both legs of that argument are a stretch, IMO, but ...

... since the topic is the claim that atheism is incompatible with science, and Einstein is a bona fide counterexample to that claim, I thought it worth pointing out the problem, or at a minimum making you work harder for it than simply to assert it.

Besides, now Will can't say I never did anything for him :)

 

That's not my position in this thread. My position that the statement of the physicist is a bit nonsensical. 

 I wouldn't count Einstein as a good counter point, however. Wherever his actual beliefs lay they weren't typical. 

 A better example, just for future reference, would be Mary Scweitzer or frank Collins who are much more traditionally theistic. 

 Einstein would be considered atheistic by most theists I know whether he was truly atheistic or deistic. 

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Mr Walker
16 hours ago, eight bits said:

I'm OK with taking a step back from the specific phrasing in the article. It's (presumably) a transcript of a spontaneus spoken interview, and maybe not a polished presentation of his thoughts on what is, perhaps we would all agree, a set of complicated questions.

There are a number of views about science in general, including social realism: that scientists are human beings and so all of them begin with biases. What science accomplishes in this view is to arrive at approximations to the truth despite those biases. Part of that is the systematic exposure of scientists' views to one another's criticism, the "social" part of social realism.

Maybe my bias has prevented me from seeing some possible explanation for the data, but because somebody else saw it, I am now impelled back into the lab to find out whether that is the explanation or not - even if I still think it's silly. Then what happens in the lab decides the issue. In other words, I don't have to be a saint, I just need other sinners with different initial views, different biases.

Actually, it sounds just like the kind of plan that would appeal to a bunch of apes :)

Regardless, science works for theist scientists, it works for atheist scientists, and it works for agnostic scientists (Huxley was a scientist by trade). It works for Trumpsters, and it works for Bernie boosters. It works for Red Sox fans, and Yankees fans. It even works for those who call soccer "football." None of that matters. You check it all at the door when you enter the lab.

The only time there's trouble is when somebody can't bring themselves to check their luggage at the door. In other words, dogmatism, specifically in the sense of being beyond persuasion by evidence, is what's incompatible with science. Maybe that's what the professor meant, that dogmatic atheism is incompatible with science. I'd agree with that in the sense that dogmatism as such is incompatible, but I don't know that that's what he meant, for the reasons stated in the earlier post.

 

I agree But being human almost ALL scientists cannot leave basic beliefs and values at the door, and concentrate on pure science (and i am not sure the y should be allowed or encouraged to do so, because of the dangers involved in experimenting with anything totally free from values ) It is why stem cell research is limited, and genetic manipulation  is banned,  in most countries .

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psyche101
22 hours ago, Habitat said:

This sounds eerily like Hawking's idea of the spontaneous creation of matter. No doubt your theory suffers from the same problem, the mechanism that allows "something from nothing", then needs to be explained, for its origins.

M theory? Same thing. They are inextricably linked. Virtual particles come from QM. An imbalance set the big bang in motion according to the theory. 

That is the scientific theory of the origin itself. Coined as something from nothing. It is taking the 'before' into account. Lawrence Krauss has written a novel fir the layman on that very subject. It holds the potential for being as revolutionary as the theory of evolution. 

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danydandan
Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, eight bits said:

Say what? Perhaps I miunderstand which of the three lines of Will's post you were attributing to an atheist, but the usual attribution of "God doesn't play dice with the universe" is Albert Einstein.

If so, then the reference to God is figurative; nobody had proposed that God literally plays dice. That said, the statement is consistent with the generally deist drift of Einstein's statements that really were about his own views on the Question of God. The deist God doesn't actively participate in the natural world, with or without dice. Deists aren't atheists, however.

I suppose one could argue that Spinoza was an atheist (his Jewish congregation claimed so when it expelled him). and that Einstein's admiration for Spinoza would make Einstein an atheist, too. Both legs of that argument are a stretch, IMO, but ...

... since the topic is the claim that atheism is incompatible with science, and Einstein is a bona fide counterexample to that claim, I thought it worth pointing out the problem, or at a minimum making you work harder for it than simply to assert it.

Besides, now Will can't say I never did anything for him :)

 

Hey 8Bits.

I'm no expert but I've read a few of Einstein's biographies, one in particular called Quantum by Manjit Kumar (Not really a biography as it focused on the debate between Bohr and Einstein, that inspired that famous quote) the rest written by Walter Isaacson. Granted none of these explicitly stated he did or didn't believe in God, but all suggested that he more than likely didn't. Although I read them quite some time ago, I can't remember any of them mentioning a Deism belief. That sort of belief would make sense however.

Most of the books make a point to state he had a great affinity towards his Jewish people. But that's more of a cultural heritage affinity rather than religious......often that gets misinterpreted to mean he was religious and certainly believed in God.

Has he ever stated his believe in God? I don't know. 

Anyways, I'm glad someone picked up on the irony of the sentence Will wrote. Weather he intended it or not. 

Edit: Completely off-topic but your username inspired a question in my mathematical brain teaser thread. 

 

Edited by danydandan
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Habitat

Einstein appeared to be a believer in an afterlife, from what I read about him, specifically a comment about how he expected to meet a dead colleague again.

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danydandan
Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Habitat said:

Einstein appeared to be a believer in an afterlife, from what I read about him, specifically a comment about how he expected to meet a dead colleague again.

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms."—Albert Einstein, obituary in New York Times, April 19, 1955.

Found this, maybe he did believe in a God, but this quote indicates that the belief in an afterlife is egotistic and he didn't believe in it. He also thinks 'we' don't survive death of our bodies.

Edited by danydandan
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Habitat
11 minutes ago, danydandan said:

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms."—Albert Einstein, obituary in New York Times, April 19, 1955.

Found this, maybe he did believe in a God, but this quote indicates that the belief in an afterlife is egotistic and he didn't believe in it. He also thinks 'we' don't survive death of our bodies.

Do you know when he said that ? I do know he said he expected to be reunited with his old colleague, because "he and I both knew that time is an illusion, albeit a persistent one". Or words to that effect.

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onlookerofmayhem

@Habitat

@danydandan

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_and_philosophical_views_of_Albert_Einstein

"Albert Einstein's religious views have been widely studied and often misunderstood.[1] Einstein stated that he believed in the pantheistic God of Baruch Spinoza.[2] He did not believe in a personal God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings, a view which he described as naïve.[3]He clarified however that, "I am not an atheist",[4] preferring to call himself an agnostic,[5] or a "religious nonbeliever."[3]Einstein also stated he did not believe in life after death, adding "one life is enough for me."[6] He was closely involved in his lifetime with several humanist groups.[7][8]"

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Horta

Looks like Einstein was an atheist, he certainly didn't believe in personal religious gods. Though like many scientists, preferred to think of himself as agnostic. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one who uses the term agnostic very accurately and in the correct context. Pointing out that he is less interested in beliefs and, as an educator, is more concerned with knowledge. Hence, agnostic. 

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Rlyeh
On ‎25‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 2:19 PM, crookedspiral said:

It's funny that some people here completely dismiss the opinion of a respected theoritical physicist, specialized in cosmology and higher energy physics, complexity theory, an astrobiology when it does not support atheism. It's like what some religious people do, when their beliefs are challenged.

Typically you can't tell the difference between science and opinion.  Just like some religious people.

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Rlyeh

The correct title should be "Atheism is incompatible with some guy's opinion"

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Mr Walker
15 minutes ago, Horta said:

Looks like Einstein was an atheist, he certainly didn't believe in personal religious gods. Though like many scientists, preferred to think of himself as agnostic. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one who uses the term agnostic very accurately and in the correct context. Pointing out that he is less interested in beliefs and, as an educator, is more concerned with knowledge. Hence, agnostic. 

Belief in a pantheistic god or gods is still theism :) 

From what i have read, his beliefs evolved and changed over his long life, as do most humans beings's 

The interesting thing is that, given his failure to clarify his beliefs precisely or absolutely; theists, atheists, and agnostics all claim him as their own,  and can get away with it .

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eight bits
Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, ShadowSot said:

That's not my position in this thread. My position that the statement of the physicist is a bit nonsensical. 

And I've said that as he is quoted, what the prize-winning professor said is incoherent, so therefore you and I are in agreement about what's in the OP link.

BUT, there is a chance that what's in an unedited or lightly edited transcript of a spontaneous oral interview doesn't accurately reflect the speaker's views. We don't get to pursue the question with him, but hey, next best thing, we can talk it over among ourselves :)

And what you just quoted from me addresses what is a straightforward (+/-) question of historical fact: was Einstein an atheist? It is on-topic because, depending on the answer, he's an example or a counterexample of the thread title's claim. You and I seem to be in agreement about that, too.

9 hours ago, ShadowSot said:

Einstein would be considered atheistic by most theists I know whether he was truly atheistic or deistic. 

I don't know about "most." It seems to me that there are theists on both sides of the question. The most prominent "accuser" I can think of from his lifetime was the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston. But many times here on the web I've seen theists claiming Einstein as one of their own; I've even discussed how to respond to such claims with fellow unbelievers. And of course there is the broader question of whether deists are "really" theists. Hmm. When Antony Flew came out as deist, God squadders flocked around him. Some did express regret that he didn't go all the way to embrace their own specific religion (some form of Protestantism), but seemed confident that to the extent that Flew ever was an atheist, he was no longer that.

Any one sentence of the preceding paragraph could be a thread topic in itself, and a few of them have been here at UM.

 

8 hours ago, Mr Walker said:

It is why stem cell research is limited, and genetic manipulation  is banned,  in most countries .

Those are questions of values, and social as well, but they aren't "bias" in any sense that influences what factual matters the person infers from a record of experimental results. Choice of what to investigate is an important part of the scientist's professional life, but not, I think, what the OP was about. It seems pretty clear to me that things like the origin of the universe, or of life, or of consciousness are all great subjects for scientific research, and are actively under scientific investigation right now. All of those subjects have also been topics of religious, philosophical and magical investigation, too.

 

3 hours ago, danydandan said:

Granted none of these explicitly stated he did or didn't believe in God, but all suggested that he more than likely didn't.

Well, if you define atheist as not believing in any invisible intelligent power(s) typical of the person's social milieu, as some people have and do, then great. "Spinoza's god" cannot possibly refer to a typical Abrahamic God, and Einstein plainly lived as a secular Jew, no real question about that.

However, I don't think the italicized part above is typical of the contemporary use of the term atheist (centuries ago, yes, and so now when talking about the distant past). And as you know, I will defend at whatever length my strength allows the position that there is such a thing as an unbeliever who is not reasoanbly called an atheist. (The only occasion I recall where Einstein opined about his views being called agnostic, I think he meant the term in the sense that he didn't know what attributes "Spinoza's god" possessed, and almost surely did not mean the Huxleyan sense of a responsive uncategorical answer to the Question of God).

There are several compendia of Einstein's remarks on God and religion out there on the web. No suprise that I am fond of this one (although I suspect there will never be a truly complete collection in my lifetime):

https://uncertaintist.wordpress.com/unlinks/

The current edition is under "all available resources" with the title Einstein (ir)religion sources.

 

2 hours ago, Habitat said:

Einstein appeared to be a believer in an afterlife, from what I read about him, specifically a comment about how he expected to meet a dead colleague again.

It'd be great if you had an exact quote and a source for it. However, belief in an afterlife doesn't imply an invisible intelligent power overseeing it.

 

@onlookerofmayhemseriously, Einstein's views on God are way, way out of Wikipedia's depth.

 

 

Edited by eight bits
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Horta

As an atheist I would be happy enough believing in Einstein's version of Spinoza's god (which seems simply a metaphor for nature and its principles anyway). Einstein was also a strict causal determinist, as should be obvious from his replies to Bohr. Here is a quote concerning "human free will". There doesn't look to be much room their for religion, for obvious reasons that I agree with completely.

Quote

I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer's words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.

Strangely I have heard Kaku claim that quantum physics not only disproves Einsteins "determinism", but saves the idea of free will in the process. I'm not sure what logic he is applying there, or if he is aware that logic is a thing. It might have shown Einstein's determinism to be incorrect, but the result (indeterminism) also makes free will impossible lol.

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Habitat
1 minute ago, eight bits said:

It'd be great if you had an exact quote and a source for it. However, belief in an afterlife doesn't imply an invisible intelligent power overseeing it.

I can't find it, or remember where I read it. But there was no God reference that I recall, just that they would meet again. I can't remember who the collaborator was either, but he had just died at the time.

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Horta
2 hours ago, Habitat said:

Einstein appeared to be a believer in an afterlife, from what I read about him, specifically a comment about how he expected to meet a dead colleague again.

What he said was the following, as a way of giving his condolences to the family of a colleague who passed away.

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

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Habitat
5 minutes ago, Horta said:

What he said was the following, as a way of giving his condolences to the family of a colleague who passed away.

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

Sounds like part of it, where did you find that ?

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Horta
5 minutes ago, Habitat said:

Sounds like part of it, where did you find that ?

From following wiki sources lol. It is sourced to a Ph.D in astronomy and a science writer, if you want peer reviewed literature by historians, well...

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/e-einstein-donald-goldsmith/1111745055?ean=9781402763199

relevant page in google books.

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=zGzcV40b3IkC&pg=PA187&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

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Habitat
5 minutes ago, Horta said:

From following wiki sources lol. It is sourced to a Ph.D in astronomy and a science writer, if you want peer reviewed literature by historians, well...

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/e-einstein-donald-goldsmith/1111745055?ean=9781402763199

relevant page in google books.

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=zGzcV40b3IkC&pg=PA187&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

Thanks, there was more to what he said, I think, but no mention of God to my recollection.

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Horta
5 minutes ago, Habitat said:

Thanks, there was more to what he said, I think, but no mention of God to my recollection.

I think he was pointing more to the nature of time, than to an afterlife. Though I don't know that he was.

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Habitat
Just now, Horta said:

I think he was pointing more to the nature of time, than to an afterlife. Though I don't know that he was.

I seem to recall he mentioned how he'd be seeing him again, but can't see that in the text, which is a partial excerpt.

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Horta

The original letter was written in german, so translation could play a part. NYT has this...

Quote

What I admired most in him as a man, is the fact of having been capable of living so many years with one wife, not only in peace, but also in constant accord.… Now he's gone slightly ahead of me again, leaving this strange world. That doesn't mean anything. For us believing physicists this separation between past present and future has the value of mere illusion, however tenacious.”

 

https://www.nytimes.com/1972/12/01/archives/einstein-letters-show-the-physicist-as-person-einsteins-letters.html

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Habitat

It is interesting that people are very keen to learn Einstein's slant on such subjects, though I'm not aware he would have claimed any more insight, or indeed he would have had it.

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Horta
1 minute ago, Habitat said:

It is interesting that people are very keen to learn Einstein's slant on such subjects, though I'm not aware he would have claimed any more insight, or indeed he would have had it.

I agree.

I do find some of his beliefs and general insights interesting though.

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eight bits
28 minutes ago, Habitat said:

It is interesting that people are very keen to learn Einstein's slant on such subjects, though I'm not aware he would have claimed any more insight, or indeed he would have had it.

He was every inch a middle European bourgeois gentleman, so usually conspicuously modest in his personal statements.

There is every reason to believe that had he ever given up physics (or, stayed with physics, but like Richard Feyman, been more of an extrovert), he could have made his way in the world as a scholarly commentator on Spinoza. You see glimpses of it in his letters, and it's in the background of some of his essays on "Spinozan" subjects. Privately, he studied Spinoza from adolescence through old age, and most would acknowledge that he was an unusually intelligent fellow.

So, yeah, I'd put money on Einstein's having more than the usual level of insight into Spinoza, and thus without apology, I'd be keen to learn Einstein's slant on anything Spinoza may have written about.

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