Science vs. Religion

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Science vs. Religion

Postby davidm on January 6th, 2019, 4:41 pm 

The biologist Jerry Coyne, who wrote a book called Why Evolution is True (it is) and Faith vs. Fact (as if the two are necessarily incompatible), has a piece at The Conversation entitled “Yes, there is a war between science and religion.”

A war? Are there casualties? Can we agree to an armistice and try for a peace treaty?

OK, he’s being metaphorical. Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of Jerry Coyne. He makes philosophically incompetent arguments against free will and in favor of hard determinism, seemingly oblivious to the fact that way he defines hard determinism simply collapses to soft determinism — i.e., compatibilism, which, uh, is free will. It’s not contra-causal free will, but it is an argument for free will.

He also likes to ban people from his blog, including me and even his fellow biologist P.Z. Meyers. The irony is delicious, because he is a grumpy old man who is constantly carping at Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (great dancer!), and who is a big opponent of what he calls deplatforming — that is, the practice of disinviting, under pressure, previously invited people like the odious Steve Bannon to speak at venues like colleges. You see, Coyne is a big supporter of free speech, even for alt-right neo-Nazis — a big supporter of free speech, that is, except when it comes to his blog. There, he deplatforms (bans!) people at the drop of a hat. He banned me for calling him out for his repeated, nasty attacks on Palestinians. I’m not sure why he banned P.Z., but I feel confident he had no good reason except that P.Z. wrote something in the comments section of Coyne’s blog that hurt Coyne’s precious, tender fee-fees. :-(

Anyhoo, just wanted to get that out of the way because I want to short-circuit any charge of ad hom. I now critique the substance of his arguments.

He simply doesn’t know what he is talking about. There is no (necessary) conflict between science and religion. There is some conflict, some of the time, but there are many instances where no conflict exists.

First, as Coyne himself points out, there are many different religions — some 4,000 of them, according to a source to which he linked. The number surprised me. I think that count is including sects within religions, such as Protestants and Catholics in Christianity, and Sunni and Shiite in Islam.

But there are also many different sciences, which Coyne does not address in his piece. His own field of biology is manifestly not the same as physics, for example. They use different methodologies and they use maths in different ways. Coyne also ignores the demarcation problem, the pressing inability to come up with a clear distinction between science and not-science.

In my opinion, in checking for a “war” or even a conflict between religion(s) and sciences(s), we should do so on a case-by-case basis.

For example: Is Christianity “at war” with chemistry? I can’t see how. Maybe the claim that Christ turned water into wine contradicts chemistry. But of alleged miracles, more in a bit.

Is deism in conflict with any of the sciences? Deism claims that a supernatural entity made the universe and then got out of the way and let the universe unfold in a natural way. I can’t see any conflict between that claim, and the truth claims of science. It’s true that there is no scientific evidence for the God of deism, but absence of evidence is not (necessarily) evidence of absence. There is also an absence of evidence, currently, of intelligent aliens, but that cannot be construed as evidence of absence.

A minority of Christians are young earth creationists. They believe the Bible is literally true, and that God created the universe in six days some six thousands years ago. This claim clearly conflicts with scientific evidence in a multiplicity of domains, and must be judged false. So here, yes, we have a clear conflict.

But what about the majority Christian claim that it’s literally true that God impregnated without intercourse a virgin, creating his son, and then the son was crucified but rose from the dead a few days later? Surely that is in clear conflict with science.

Perhaps surprisingly, I think that answer is No. It is not in conflict with science — it is in conflict with observed reality. We never observe virgins having birth, we never observe people being executed and then rising from the dead.

But science is not synonymous with observed reality. Science is a model of observed reality. These are different things. The map is not the territory.

It is logically possible that there exists a super powerful, supernatural entity who, for reasons of his/her/its own, periodically (though rarely, evidently) intervenes in the natural order of things and effectuates a miracle now and then. If, now, today, we were to observe such a miracle, then it would become part of observed reality, and scientists would try as best they could to account for it — to model it. The fact that currently we do not observe such miraculous interventions does not mean that they are impossible or unscientific. It only means that they are unobserved — nothing more. But aliens are unobserved, too.

The philosopher Bradley Monton made this point back in 2005, in his paper critiquing the Dover decision that ID was not science. He objected on the grounds that no judge is in a position to adjudicate the demarcation problem — judicial fiat is neither good science nor good philosophy. Monton, rightly I think, concluded that it is perfectly OK to call intelligent design science — it’s just, currently, unevidenced science, or maybe bad science. But no judge can say, with justification, that is it not science. A judge is not a scientist, or a philosopher, for that matter. At one time, plate tectonics were also unevidenced science.

Monton makes the point that, contra many scientists, philosophers and atheists, scientists do not, or at least should not, ground science on the philosophical stance called metaphysical naturalism — the view that the natural world is all that there is. Rather, they employ the tool of methodological naturalism — studying the world as if it were wholly natural, but, Monton says, they should only do this until evidence suggests otherwise. As Monton writes:

I will now argue that it is counterproductive to restrict scientific activity in such a way that hypotheses that invoke the supernatural are ruled out. Specifically, I will argue that it is possible to get scientific evidence for the existence of God. The scenario I am about to describe is implausible, but there is nothing logically inconsistent about it. The point of the scenario is that in the described situation, it would be reasonable for scientists to postulate and test the hypothesis that there is supernatural causation occurring. (I am not the first to present this sort of scenario; for a related scenario, see Dembski 1992.)

Imagine that some astronomers discover a pulsar that is pulsing out Morse code. The message says that it’s from God, and that God is causing the pulsar to pulse in this unusual way. The astronomers are initially skeptical, but they find that when they formulate questions in their head, the questions are correctly answered by the message. The astronomers bring in other people to examine this, and the questions are consistently answered. The message goes on to suggest certain experiments that scientists should perform in particle accelerators – the message says that if the experiments are set up in a specified precise way, then God will cause a miracle to occur. The experiments are done, and the resulting cloud chamber tracks spell out Biblical verses. Then the message explains to the scientists how to form a proper quantum theory of gravity…

I could go on, but you get the picture. The evidence doesn’t prove that God exists – maybe some advanced alien civilization is playing a trick on us; maybe the scientists are undergoing some sort of mass hallucination; maybe all this is happening due to some incredibly improbable quantum fluctuation. But the evidence does provide some support for the hypothesis that God exists. It would be close-minded for the scientists to refuse to countenance the hypothesis that God exists, due to some commitment to methodological naturalism. Of course, it is important to consider the naturalistic hypotheses, but one has to consider the theistic hypothesis as well.


Finally, faith-based beliefs may not be right, but they are not necessarily wrong, either. One can be right about something, even without evidence. It happens all the time.

I conclude that Coyne’s argument that religion and science are “at war” largely fails. I also conclude, subsidiarily, that he’s a hypocrite and an idiot. ;-)
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby Serpent on January 6th, 2019, 8:28 pm 

There can be is no war between any two fields of human endeavour.
There can be plenty of wars between people who champion one endeavour at the expense of another.
In matters political - and thus in a position to lead to war - religion has a considerable advantage in attracting organized champions, since it is psychologically seductive, while science is psychologically alienating.
That is: the purveyors of religion tell people what they wish were true and is easy to grasp, while the practitioners of science tell people random facts that don't serve their emotional needs but tax their intellectual faculties.
All people want from scientists is better gadgets and to leave their fantasies alone. When scientists overstep that mandate, people are quite happy to see them derided, rejected, pilloried, imprisoned or executed.
People who advocate science, oth, do not usually organize in its interests or persecute anyone who doesn't "believe in" its teachings.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby BadgerJelly on January 6th, 2019, 11:29 pm 

Short circuit ad hominem by giving one? Just say “I’m biased” or simply get to the point next time and I may be inclined to read on.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby -1- on January 8th, 2019, 2:46 am 

DavidM, you wrote your opinion, but presented none of Jerry Coyne's arguments.

In other words, you pretended to write a critical analysis, but you omitted describing your opponent's stance. You took one sentence, the title of his claim, and you went on without giving your readers any clue as to what Coyne suggested or argued. You simply took an expression from him, wrote down your views on the topic of the expression, and claimed victory.

But your readers are not familiar with Coyne's work. You described why you hate him or in the least resent him. None of the discussion in your text alluded ever to what Coyne's opinion was on the topic...

You got into a boxing ring alone, air-boxed for a while, and declared a knock-out victory over an invisible, absent opponent.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby -1- on January 8th, 2019, 3:08 am 

Serpent » January 6th, 2019, 8:28 pm wrote:There can be is no war between any two fields of human endeavour.
There can be plenty of wars between people who champion one endeavour at the expense of another.
In matters political - and thus in a position to lead to war - religion has a considerable advantage in attracting organized champions, since it is psychologically seductive, while science is psychologically alienating.
That is: the purveyors of religion tell people what they wish were true and is easy to grasp, while the practitioners of science tell people random facts that don't serve their emotional needs but tax their intellectual faculties.
All people want from scientists is better gadgets and to leave their fantasies alone. When scientists overstep that mandate, people are quite happy to see them derided, rejected, pilloried, imprisoned or executed.
People who advocate science, oth, do not usually organize in its interests or persecute anyone who doesn't "believe in" its teachings.

To a scientist or to an atheist the teachings of science are not random facts that don't serve emotional needs. The teachings of science are not psychologically alienating. In fact, to a learned atheist the teachings of science are exhilarating, exciting, I would even say emotionally uplifting. It can also be emotionally satisfying, inasmuch as recognizing patterns that seem to be repeating with reliable accuracy and dependability.

To an atheist or to a scientist who is an atheist, religions are dumbfundingly repulsive, they curtail human expression with dogmatic restrictions, and are altogether abusively not un-counterantidispossessive. They make me, personally, puke, religions do.

Is religion at war with science? Yes, it is. Religion and science are explaining the same things independently of each other, and are sharply at odds with each other. Teaching of the Deluge and Noah's Ark is refuted by science, while evolution is desperately opposed by religionists. The problem of free will splits science from religion in the middle. The existence of "evil" as a real stand-alone unit and not simply a relativistic unit is unrecognized by science, while it is the bread and butter of some religions. The central and most powerful figure in religions is summarily dismissed by science.

Can a scientist who pursues the knowledge with scientific methods be a true follower of religion? Yes, he or she can, because the claims of religions are based on faith, and essentially anyone is capable of believing anything. It is a human ability, to believe in the impossible, even despite physical observations to the contrary, even in the face of proofs that shows the faith's object is a logical impossibility, i.e. an a priori impossibility.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby -1- on January 8th, 2019, 3:18 am 

Furthermore, religions are pitted against religions, while chemistry is not pitted against physics, biology against psychology, or sociology against political science.

Try to put a Sunni Muslim in the same room with a Shiite. Or a Calvinist with a Baptist. Or a Mbagwhanist and a Sun-worshipper, or a Jew with a Palestinian Arab.

They will go at each other's throats without any hesitation.

Put in the same room a physicist and a biologist, a chemist with a psychologist, or a proctacologist with a creative writing specialist, and it will be a very boring experiment. No friction will be observed, no potential kaboom, either. By kaboom I meant explosive differences. Although a believer in Human Induced Global Warming will fight (even with fists or guns) with a person who believes HIGW is a phantasm... but hey, they are both believers, not knowers, under the guise of science, and they are not scientists who go by facts.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby Serpent on January 8th, 2019, 11:22 am 

-1- » January 8th, 2019, 2:08 am wrote:To a scientist or to an atheist the teachings of science are not random facts that don't serve emotional needs.

Most people are neither. Let alone learned.

Is religion at war with science? Yes, it is.

Religion doesn't have an independent existence; it can't go to war. People who hold religious views are not uniform in their attitude. If their leaders declare hostility toward something, they follow. If their leaders display equanimity or tolerance or benevolence toward something, they follow.

Religion and science are explaining the same things independently of each other, and are sharply at odds with each other.

Not necessarily. I know that's a prevailing opinion among a particular school of atheist, and I'm in sympathy up to a point, but I don't swallow line and sinker.

Can a scientist who pursues the knowledge with scientific methods be a true follower of religion? Yes, he or she can, because the claims of religions are based on faith, and essentially anyone is capable of believing anything. It is a human ability, to believe in the impossible, even despite physical observations to the contrary, even in the face of proofs that shows the faith's object is a logical impossibility, i.e. an a priori impossibility.

Just so. Every human is capable of compartmentalizing ideas, so as to believe several mutually contradictory ones at any given time. At the drop of a hat, we can put on a different one.

And that's why war is unnecessary.
The only arena of unavoidable conflict is the political one.

(PS Scientists have sometimes been 'at each other's throats'; scientists have sometimes been full of shite, as well. And lots of people who profess a religious affiliation never attack anyone at all: those conflicts you cited are either political or imaginary, rather than doctrinal.)
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby TheVat on January 8th, 2019, 12:38 pm 

-1- » January 7th, 2019, 11:46 pm wrote:DavidM, you wrote your opinion, but presented none of Jerry Coyne's arguments.

In other words, you pretended to write a critical analysis, but you omitted describing your opponent's stance. You took one sentence, the title of his claim, and you went on without giving your readers any clue as to what Coyne suggested or argued. You simply took an expression from him, wrote down your views on the topic of the expression, and claimed victory.

But your readers are not familiar with Coyne's work. You described why you hate him or in the least resent him. None of the discussion in your text alluded ever to what Coyne's opinion was on the topic...

You got into a boxing ring alone, air-boxed for a while, and declared a knock-out victory over an invisible, absent opponent.


Just a point of order... At SPCF, we do allow a poster to present the views of another by means of a hyperlink to a relevant paper or article or blog. The assumption is that other participants make a "good faith" effort to read the linked material and treat it as fodder for the discussion. Ergo, your "clue as to what Coyne suggested..." was offered by the OP. If other newbies are here, please be mindful of SPCF's stress on the importance of reading linked material. Thank you.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby -1- on January 9th, 2019, 4:46 pm 

Thanks, VAT, for correcting my ways. I shall comply in the future. I retract my earlier criticism of DavidM's presentation, in light of this rule which I hadn't observed.

Sorry.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby -1- on January 9th, 2019, 5:17 pm 

Oops. I am not trying to be difficult or anything. I am an Aspie. I need guidance with interpreting instructions when ambiguities exist.

I went and clicked on the link in the OP. The link took me to an article with links. In order to truly understand the article, I needed to click on the links it had given. The second link I clicked on in the article took me to a web page that had 213 primary links, no doubt having their sub-links.

Potentially, I need to read the entire Internet in order to comply with one little innocent-looking requirement on this site.

My question is: am I qualified to write a critical essay on an outside material if I hadn't followed the links it had imbedded? If I am considered qualified, this may be misleading as I may be actually not qualified. If I am not considered qualified, then why am I attempting to write a critical analysis on the essay.

One might say "do as your own judgment requires it". Fine. But then you get dinged for it, if your judgment is not done according to some previously prescribed way.

This is all very confusing. Very, very confusing. Not to you normals, but to people who exist on strict literal understanding of rules. Like to me.

I never, therefore, join links into my posts. I have a literary background, literary fiction, and in that discipline it is inadmissible to have a piece of work be meaningful only when an outside reference is needed for any understanding. There are works that need an outside reference understood for understanding the writer's intention, but basically understanding can exist without complying with what was meant.

An example: Old Man And The Sea, by Earnest Hemingway. A person will have an understanding of the work even if the unnamed outside reference is unknown to him (i.e. the reader will get it it's about a man, the sea, and a big fish, but the reader will be oblivious to the writer's intention, inasmuch as the novel is an allegory.) This is allowed.

Another example: "Ladies and gentlemen, before I read my poem, you must know that I wrote it on vacation to Havana, Cuba, during which vacation the revolution also occurred." This is not allowed, since the work in and by itself must reference the narrative for time and place.

Needing to read the links would be a violation of literary requirements.

I understand that this is NOT a literary page.

But I have two giant obstacles in following links in posts: one insurmountable, which can't allow me to determine how deep into the linkings, or chains of links, I must dig before I am qualified to form an opinion. One surmountable problem, which is my self-imposed good manners, and viewing the exceptions to it as "rude", to not force the reader into having to leave the reading and get some information other places.

There is just one thing I can do in light of the above: I shall stay away from responding to posts with links in it.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby TheVat on January 9th, 2019, 7:53 pm 

Uno, I much appreciate your openness in disclosing that you are not a "neurotypical. " And thanks for understanding that this isn't set up in the format of literary fiction. Science and similar fields in philosophy are often grappling with topics critically dependent on citations. Hopefully one can read the linked article without needing to delve too far into nested hyperlinks and still get the basic gist. The link is often intended as part of the post - e. g. a set of relevant paragraphs from Gould's essay on spandrels - and there is not a great need to go farther than those paragraphs the OP writer is directly addressing. There are no absolute consistent rules on this, which may present challenges to those with ASD, but I think if you can find a short summary of a scholar's position that will help to know what the key facts are and how far you want to go in studying Coyne's work.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby hyksos on January 10th, 2019, 5:50 pm 

Monton makes the point that, contra many scientists, philosophers and atheists, scientists do not, or at least should not, ground science on the philosophical stance called metaphysical naturalism — the view that the natural world is all that there is. Rather, they employ the tool of methodological naturalism — studying the world as if it were wholly natural, but, Monton says, they should only do this until evidence suggests otherwise.

Right. I totally agree with Monton here. But let it be known, that the judge in Arkansas specifically showed that he was aware of the difference between Methodological Naturalism and Metaphysical Naturalism.

The worry among christian parents of the Bible belt is always that the public is school is "indoctrinating" their child into Metaphysical Naturalism. The judge in Arkansas specifically addressed this distinction in his final finding that I-D cannot be admitted into the state science curriculum.

It is not the case that I-D is rejected from public school curriculum on account of being in conflict with Meta-Nat. The Arkansas judge never invoked the alleged non-existence of miracles in all the history of the world. Specifically the problem is that I-D states a conclusion at the outset, then holds onto that conclusion despite all contradicting evidence. While the parents of Arkansas , and their children, are free to seek truth in whatever manner or method they want, they cannot call that method science. That is a paraphrasing of the judge's finding.

(An actual quote of this judge will be furnished upon request. But I've pretty much nailed the high points. I'll dig it up.)


The philosopher Bradley Monton made this point back in 2005, in his paper critiquing the Dover decision that ID was not science. He objected on the grounds that no judge is in a position to adjudicate the demarcation problem — judicial fiat is neither good science nor good philosophy. Monton, rightly I think, concluded that it is perfectly OK to call intelligent design science — it’s just, currently, unevidenced science, or maybe bad science. But no judge can say, with justification, that is it not science. A judge is not a scientist, or a philosopher, for that matter. At one time, plate tectonics were also unevidenced science


Around 2007, I was under the real impression that Intelligent Design was really genuinely a scientific pursuit. (At that time I was also very much a proponent of the claim that video evidence of UFOs was widespread, and mostly ignored by science. More on that later.) I then set out to study the "science" and the reasoning behind it in a thorough way. I tore into it like a project I would have to complete for a professor under a deadline. Of course I had no deadline, so I could really dig and go whereever the links and citations took me. Exploring all sidebars and what have you.

With a totally innocent mind, no anger -- no political ideology.. I will tell you what I innocently concluded. From my research, I discovered that this stuff called "Intelligent Design" is nothing but a scam to get creationism taught in public schools. I-D is not a scientific theory within the discipline of biology. It is not a recognized sub-branch of bio-complexity. I-D has no academic journals with peer-review because it has no journals, period.

If you want to tell me that I reached this conclusion "wrongly" or that I didn't spend enough time researching, or that I "dont understand it's central claims" then go ahead and say it. I'm a grown adult. It won't hurt my fee-fees and I won't de-platform you from my blog ;)

Moving on to the thrust of this thread itself -- I'm going to side with Daniel Dennett (unfortunately). I think what you have done in your article here is merely berry-pick some ideas that are inside of religion, such as deistic first-causes, then (fallaciously) associated them with RELIGION. From that conflation, you then tried to show a comfy compatibility between RELIGION and science, or at the weakest link, a non-overlapping magisteria set-up.

My understanding co-aligns with Dennett here. One can state the possible hypothesis of interaction of superbeings (non-corporeals) with the earth and the people on it. Such interactions are not in conflict with evidence per se, as you have eloquently shown. But that is not RELIGION. Those are only religious ideas. RELIGION is where you declare those beings exist, interact regularly with the earth, and further you must change your behavior to win over their favor. In short -- parishioners do not go into church on Sunday mornings to hypothesize the existence of angels.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby hyksos on January 10th, 2019, 5:56 pm 

(edit : The Katzmiller Vs. Dover case is likely a different event than the Arkansas judge I was talking about. Sorry I left that part out. I haven't checked. )
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby Serpent on January 10th, 2019, 8:32 pm 

Seems to me, any judge is competent to look at the evidence presented and decide what does and what does not fall within the definition of "science". All he'd need is an Oxford dictionary.
1. The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.


This does not deny or preclude the existence of supernatural phenomena; it merely excludes such phenomena from the purview of science.

Of course, if he consulted Webster, he might be in some difficulty: it waffles a bit.
I suspect a discrepancy between British and American attitudes toward word usage.
But he could quickly overcome the difficulty by going on to "scientific method:
: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses


But then, there was never any need to take it to court: any certified educator knows the definition and is competent to classify subject matter as to the appropriate heading under which it is taught.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby edy420 on January 11th, 2019, 2:01 am 

The Webster’s definition is correct. It includes “and the formulation and testing of hypotheses”

This rules out theory. Science can be measured and repeated. The magic bullet theory is unscientific. The Pancake theory is unscientific. As is most theories. Many are very solid and difficult to dispute. Many are made up of scientific facts, but still require faith.

When studying atomic theory, I was bombarding my tutor with an nonstop assault of questions. In the end he told me to just have faith, and memorise the information rather than trying to understand it. It turns out this is what many people do when learning. By taking a leap of faith and acknowledging that it is correct, then we may learn it easier.

On topic, when I was agnostic, I noticed the war between anti-theist and religion. Anti-Theists usually hate religion. Many of them were religious or at least had close family who were religious. They have faith that God does not exist. The difference is atheists simply lack the belief. They try to construe scientific evidence and use it as proof that God does not exist. They like to think they have won the war, because of science.

Another angle on this war, is trying to explain the same outcome using different hypothesis. Evolution and genetic mutation for example. Noah’s ark had 2 dogs. Now we have thousands of variations of dogs. Looking at this information from a religious point of view, one may theorise that genetic mutation is the cause of various dog breeds. Also, the great flood wipes out most of the creatures not on the Ark. one may theorise that, if they dig holes in the ground they may find bones of these creatures.

I think education needs to diversify. Rather than pretending that all facts are fixed, undisputable and absolute truth, we should accept that as humans we are bias. Two humans can look at the same information and summarise two completely different conclusions (my example with mutation). Emperical science is hindered by omitting all other variations of truth.

Brett Weinstein gave a good example of how false truths have helped us through evolution. A child is told that porcupines can throw its quills. So the child stands back an extra 2 meteres. Another child gets right up close, and the porcupine rolls into him causing pain. The “black truth” kept the first child safe.

Black truths could be expanded on and explored more easily if science were diversified. Rather than teaching students to have faith in atomic theory, the teachers roll should be to help them explore their understanding of it, and have them test their understanding scientifically using experiments. Personally I would have rather learnt Nichola Tesla’s version of atomic theory. I may be wrong but at least I could generate remote wireless electricity(a black truth).
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby BadgerJelly on January 13th, 2019, 3:42 am 

Edy -

You didn’t do scientific experiments in school? That is basically the driving force of the scientific endeavor?

Note: I do sympathise with your experiences. The fact of the matter is teachers simply cannot do their job well enough in the time allotted even if they had the will to. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of luck who your teacher is and whether or not they care AND have the ability. The best they can realistically do is imbue/enhance the students innate curiosity - some do better than others.

Just because in the classroom it is easier to focus on the theory it doesn’t mean that it is based on “faith” anymore than flicking a light switch is based in faith that the light will come on. In principle we all understand that if the light doesn’t come on then there is an electrical problem rather than some mistaken belief in Faraday’s theoretical knowledge. It is pretty much like questioning what someone means by saying “table” and saying you don’t have “faith” in other people’s concept of “table” and so call all tables a matter of “blind faith” and the whole English language as a useless edifice ... well, probably not but I hope you see that that track of thought leads to nowhere fast.

The different models of the atom fit. The biggest issue I had with secondary education was its lack of awe ... I hope that has changed since I went to school though and that now teachers are encouraged to convey the “magical” world of physics and the lack of inuitive concepts at hand to deal with such alien realms. The double-slit experiment is probably the only one that really makes students look at the world differently for the first time and begin to appreciate how “strange” things seem to us from our limited human perspectives.

Of course, in schools it is more a matter of carpet bombing students with the required base formulas and knowledge so that they can then open up these items in hogher education. I have noticed that as you climb the ladder it does almost sound like you’re being told X is “gospel” then at the next level you’re told what you were told before wasn’t quite accurate enough and that actually Y is closer to “gospel” ... eventually if you go hard and long enough the inconsistancies and descrepancies multiply, yet to most people in their day-to-day lives it is utterly insignificant to them.

To add ... I’ll never forget the day a teacher turned to me and said “You don’t need to know that yet.” That was likely the first time, being extremely shy at school, I got angry and actually answered back in utter disgust (I don’t my teacher that day, it was likely just a bad day for them, but at the time I lost respect for that particular teacher and generally noticed everythign she did wrong rather than what she was doing right.)
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby -1- on January 13th, 2019, 9:12 am 

BadgerJelly » January 13th, 2019, 3:42 am wrote:To add ... I’ll never forget the day a teacher turned to me and said “You don’t need to know that yet.”

So your teacher informed you on a don't-need-to-know basis.

Describes most people's learning success, if you go by what they've retained of their studied material after at least 10 years out of high school.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby Serpent on January 13th, 2019, 1:03 pm 

In a perfect world, every child will have a costom-built robotic tutor, who can answer all of their questions, address all of their concerns, correct all of their misconceptions, supply the reading material, take them on tours of the facilities, show them the films, introduce them to the people, design experiments and take the time best suited to that particular student's style of learning.

Meanwhile, real teachers in the real world have to cope with 30+ students per class, five or six classes per day, all the lesson plans for their different levels, their testing, grading, discipline and a ton of administrative paperwork.
That doesn't mean they should be burdened with teaching bible studies, on top of the subject they were trained for.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby BadgerJelly on January 13th, 2019, 3:29 pm 

In the real world a lot of teachers are in the wrong job :)

Thankfully I had plenty of good teachers yet I cannot say I ever had a science teacher who wasn’t anything better than barely average. The only teachers I had secondary school who seemed genuine were my English teacher and Art teacher ... they both died of heart attacks in their late twenties!
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby doogles on January 13th, 2019, 5:15 pm 

As an atheist and a fence sitter, all I can say is that in all my life I have never heard of scientists declaring a physical war against religion. On the other hand, it could be said that religions or even political philosophies have often declared war on the acquisition of knowledge by other human beings.

There have been the mass burning of books associated with Nazism and with Communism.

Boko Haram (Their title says it all) have physically prevented young people in their areas of operation from gaining non-Islamic knowledge.

And I believe there have been hundreds or thousands of wars and incidents of violence over the last two millennia WITHIN and BETWEEN religions.

The aim of regious fervots (and the world still has many) seems to be to preserve and expand their own belief systems even if it means dying for that faith.

Scientists on the other hand, as far as I can recall, have never become physical about their own schools of thought. They tend to have open-ended beliefs in their findings, believing that positive outcomes of experiments merely contribute further evidence that there may be causes and effects to things. Scientists believe that knowledge is not set in stone. Religious fervots have no doubts about their own chosen belief systems.

The broad 'Science' group is generally open-minded (almost by definition); the other is not.

To be fair, there can be open-minded people of religious bent, but they are labelled 'agnostics' and not 'fervots'.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby Serpent on January 13th, 2019, 10:32 pm 

Pace, Hypathia; she never raised her hand to anyone and yet was a deadly enemy.
Yes, indeed. Knowledge and the quest thereof is seen as a threat to faith. Faith is rarely seen as threat to science. That's because --- either
1. Religionists are more paranoid than scientists
or
2. Scientists are less realistic than religionists
or both.
The real difference is in political aspiration: religionists seek control of populations; scientists do not.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby BadgerJelly on January 14th, 2019, 4:26 am 

Returning to the issue brought up in the OP it seems to me that there is a common false distinction made between two orthagonal positions.

I’ve laid out my view in this before. It is that “science” is about ordering things and that on the other end of the spectrum is “art” where disorder is delved into with a degree of open abandon without concern of ordering even though the general narrative at play is still something founded on the idea of form - in composition be it in opposition to form or otherwise (the point being art explores less tangible “forms”).

“Religion,”as far as I am concerned, is not even on the same plane as “science.” My view is that too much focus is paid toward religious institutions and that the opposite end of this spectrum is “philosophy.” I see ti this way because whilst science and art are positioned on a pole related to “order”/“form” religion and philosophy are positioned on a pole of “belief” in the most broadest manner of the term. Religion tending to sway more towards a refusal to questions, or answer them in surface terms for simplicity, where philosophy is more obsessed with abandoning the idea of an answer.

To expand this a little further so it is hopefully clearer ... to return to the “table.” Science and religion are not concerned with questioning the table. It is here they share a piece on commonality that both art and philosophy don’t linger in. The “table” to art is an object of endless possible meaning and embued with emotional and motivational content, and to philosophy it is a matter of multiple possible avenues of engagement regarding the objects function, the relation of the concept to the physical object etc.,. Of course science can measure the said “table” but only as a manifest object.

I mention all of this because I see the main thread of opposition to be between philosophy and science not religion and science. Religion I especially have serious issue with because it is generally framed as an institute in society rather than as a manifestation of a primary belief and existence in the world. By this I mean when most atheists talk of “religion” they are talkign about an extreme end of a social institution more often than not and resort to mocking sacred texts without bothering to look beyond some superficial view of religion as “pure dogmatism” yet happily holding a variety of personal views and opinions about reality without serious heed to their faults and abyssal schisms that appear as mere faint lines on the horizon because they’d rather not approach such monstrous items of themselves for fear of being consumed by nihilism (of the vicious kind) or of not being up to the task of reestablishing their sense of self - and this is why I believe there is much venom in some people’s speech; becasue they woudl rather dismiss another’s words out of hand than take on questions that unsettle their world view.

Some would even argue that science is merely an extension of philosophy. I don’t really think that is a fair statement though. It is moe like “philosophy” split into several parts for ease of use and yet some part kept the title “philosophy” where others abandoned it.

Of course if we’re terming “philosophy” as something like “human knowledge and our engagement with information” then we’re pretty much saying anything is philosophical. Some would claim “love of knowledge,” which I have come to find a vain idea. I think when people claim to side with “philosophy” they really mean “philomathes” and that this is in opposition to institutional religions in a number of ways in terms of the idea of “blind faith” yet it woudl be utterly foolish to suggest that religions are against learning and expanding human knowledge entirely just because most mythos in religious scripture openly talks about the dangers of “knowledge”.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby PaulN on January 14th, 2019, 10:21 am 

Yes, there were spiritual seekers like Krishnamurti who suggested that a scientific approach could be made to spiritual questions. He posited that the worthwhile goal of religion was to try and answer questions of totality, while science dealt with specificity. He also rejected dogma and authority in religion. IIRC he did a series of dialogues with physicist David Bohm. He seemed like someone for whom religion was more akin to exploratory metaphysics.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby hyksos on January 15th, 2019, 3:02 pm 

Dennet's definition of religion:
Daniel Dennett wrote:Social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought.


I tend to the wordy end of the pool, so to be a little more punctual. The Arkansas judge said that you can believe whatever you want .. you can seek truth however you want. Pray. Hold seances where the ghosts talk to you through a ouija board. Whatever you like. Not gonna stop you.

But if you hold onto a conclusion after it has conflicted with evidence , then you cannot call your method science.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby edy420 on January 16th, 2019, 2:24 am 

Badgerjelly,

The faith in theory is observable by noting, multiple theories that explain the same hypothesis. A recent example, evolution may have begun in/near underwater vents and not in a primordial soup. It’s a numbers crunching game of probability, and one version is mathematically more probable. The fact of the matter is, life started where life started. We choose to believe one version of abiogenisis more or less than the others. Faith.

Typical Big Bang theory has its issues. No explanation what happened before or why it happened. Why does something come from nothing(depending on what version you believe in).

Roger Penrose, believes that our universe had previous iterations. He explains our universe will freeze over. Inevitably all mass is soaked up by black holes, and they in turn, fizzle out by Hawking evaporation. They explode. Photons keep pushing the boundaries of the universe, stretching it in relatave size and initiate the next Big Bang. This is due to the photons being so far from the remaining mass at the center. Relative to this new size of the universe, all mass appears to be the size of a fist. Boom, a new Big Bang occurs, until the next one.

We choose to believe one version over the other. Conventional Big Bang vs Roger penrose vs multiple other versions. Faith. Usually faith in peer reviewed content(apologies to Roger for butchering his model). Regardless of which version we believe in, the truth is the truth. Perhaps the truth is one of the versions, or perhaps it’s something completely different, which we may eventually discover as technology advances. I think once all physics theories can be ultimately cultured and compiled into a computer program, the truth will reveal itself, with faith minimised. An ambitious endeavour.

When we use religious inputs, the outcome is unexplored due to the lack of belief in a God, even when the entire scientific process is utilised coherently (My dog mutation/variation example).

You didn’t do scientific experiments in school? That is basically the driving force of the scientific endeavor?


What is the scientific endeveavor. It’s an evolving interpretation of physical observation, scrutinised by a panel of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers. One issue with this is we can not develop physical technology to observe the unobservable.

Neil Tyson Degrassi and Karl Sagan both demonstrate 4th dimensional observation. But acknowledge that our perception is 3 dimensional, therefore we can only observe our universe in 3 dimensions. This leaves an entire perspective of our universe, inaccessible. We need faith to determine that 4th dimensional observation has no bearing on our understanding of the universe, nor will an understanding of it change our overall understanding.

I believe that religion is built on an intuition associated with the 4th dimension. Christianity talks about bodiless angels and demons. ie 4th dimensional beings. Spirituality in general talks about tapping into the unobservable. In everything, everywhere.

Maybe one religion is completely right, or perhaps they are all slightly correct. Essentially they all operate on the idea that we have spiritual receptors, or 4th dimensional intuition. By tapping into spirituality, we develop these receptors, so that when we die, we are aware of our new 4th dimensional form. But by denying spirituality altogether, we don’t develop our spiritual receptors and simply fade into nothingness. We don’t have the technology to deny or confirm, but ask anyone who has a spiritual connection, if what they perceive is real. Their 4th dimensional receptors are mature.

Quantum mechanics, and atomic theory together, makes our reality incredibly mind blowing. Particals can interact with others, vast distances apart with no 3 dimensional connection. Particals can pass through physical 3-d barriers as if they teleported. Atoms themselves are 99% empty space. Literally everything you can see has more nothingness than it has something. If I could freeze an object in time, like a pencil, it would appear near invisible due to the atoms no longer in motion. This means a pencil moving through time is just an atomic cartoon. Each increment of time produces the next state of appearance. Over the coarse of about half a second the pen appears as a physical object, exactly how cartoons work.

It takes faith to either agree or disagree with this. It takes a lot of faith to look at my hand and say, this is 99% nothingness, or I can put faith in my 5 senses and disagree with atomic theory. One version has more truth than the other and I beleive in one.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby BadgerJelly on January 16th, 2019, 3:09 am 

The “faith” in the theory is that it is physically testable (be it now or in some future scenario) being based on physical evidence.

True enough that went we dig down to the meaning of what we’re saying we are acting on “faith”. We accept gravity as a phenomenon yet we;ve no idea what we’re talking about when it come to the nut and bolts of it anymore than we know how life began. We can certainly make models up that explain bits and pieces of such phenomena. The holes in the model, and our willingness to abscond from blind faith, is what drives understanding.

Again though, I don’t think it makes sense to compare “religion” with “science”. To me it is more about how “Art” and “religion” rub against eqch other and how “science” and “philosophy” rub up against each other. At least philosophy and science share a similar pattern of thought.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby Serpent on January 16th, 2019, 5:28 pm 

There may be some contradictory evidence regarding whether life originated in a pond or an ocean, and as long as neither version carries a preponderance of evidence, both hypotheses continue to be investigated; indeed, they may be joined by a third and fourth hypothesis. Each may have its supporters and detractors, and these scientists will continue to seek further proof.

Christian sages have had 1800 years of intensive and lavishly-patronized scholarship to assemble a case for their belief system, have written stacks and stacks and stacks of erudite books, and I am unaware of a single shred of evidence to support their hypothesis.

It's quite true that the unknowable is difficult material to study - and Christian apologists are quick to point this out. Yet they show little reluctance to enforce moral edicts attributed to that same unknowable entity, whose wishes they claim to know unerringly, while scientists rarely if ever insist that their principles be incorporated into civil jurisprudence.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby -1- on January 17th, 2019, 8:34 pm 

Serpent » January 16th, 2019, 5:28 pm wrote:There may be some contradictory evidence regarding whether life originated in a pond or an ocean, and as long as neither version carries a preponderance of evidence, both hypotheses continue to be investigated; indeed, they may be joined by a third and fourth hypothesis. Each may have its supporters and detractors, and these scientists will continue to seek further proof.

Christian sages have had 1800 years of intensive and lavishly-patronized scholarship to assemble a case for their belief system, have written stacks and stacks and stacks of erudite books, and I am unaware of a single shred of evidence to support their hypothesis.

It's quite true that the unknowable is difficult material to study - and Christian apologists are quick to point this out. Yet they show little reluctance to enforce moral edicts attributed to that same unknowable entity, whose wishes they claim to know unerringly, while scientists rarely if ever insist that their principles be incorporated into civil jurisprudence.

This was as brilliant and witty as beautiful. The best-written entry so far I have had a chance to peruse on this site. Both in style and in content.

Except the ending... scientists are ever so insisting to have their findings (not principles) be incorporated into energy policy. This has not entered the heretic-shishkebob stage yet, or the march-them-armies theatre of debate, but the topic's so hot it's not something anybody can ignore: neither its proponents, nor its resistors.

I am talking about climate change, of course.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby Serpent on January 17th, 2019, 9:32 pm 

-1- » January 17th, 2019, 7:34 pm wrote:...scientists are ever so insisting to have their findings (not principles) be incorporated into energy policy.

Thanks, but a compliment doesn't confer license to reintrepret.
Campaigning for energy policy is done by many interested parties and factions, which happen to include scientists, and what these citizens are attempting to do is persuade their elected representatives to enact legislation on their behalf.
This is nothing like a scientific authority handing down moral principles on which to found legal systems. Neither scientists nor their supporters will ever have that power.

This has not entered the heretic-shishkebob stage yet, or the march-them-armies theatre of debate, but the topic's so hot it's not something anybody can ignore: neither its proponents, nor its resistors.

The burning has already begun, and we're nowhere near the legislation. If the pleas of aware people are growing loud, it's from fear, not the desire to control others.
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Re: Science vs. Religion

Postby -1- on January 17th, 2019, 9:38 pm 

Serpent » January 17th, 2019, 9:32 pm wrote:
-1- » January 17th, 2019, 7:34 pm wrote:...scientists are ever so insisting to have their findings (not principles) be incorporated into energy policy.

Thanks, but a compliment doesn't confer license to reintrepret.


No sweat. I used my poetic licence, grade B, no. b-2018/2018-FBA093/n/3 for the reinterpretation.
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