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Sick and Tired
Posted: 27 March 2005 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“JustThis”]I’m with MJ on this, for most people science entails it’s own type of blind faith. Let’s take a couple of science’s recent accomplishments, The Big Bang, Quantum Mechanics and maybe Einstein’s Theory of Relativity………….

Unlike religious beliefs, science DOES NOT entail “blind faith” in its search for truth.  In fact, just the opposite is true.  EVERY scientific theory is CONSTANTLY being questioned, challenged, and critically tested by skeptical scientists employing the scientific method and process in attempts to DISPROVE it or find conditions under which it fails to accurately predict the real world.  This is the fundamental process by which science advances.

Einstein did not accept much of Quantum Mechanics and his own theories of Special and General Relativity are still being challenged and tested by experimental and theoretical physicists every day.  The Big Bang theory is similarly being actively and vigorously challenged by scientists on a daily basis.

[quote author=“JustThis”]Now maybe some of you here, like gmobus, can understand and do the math that these equations demand, I cannot. Which leaves me in the same position of a typical villager several millenia ago having to take the word of the local priest or witch doctor as to the ultimate nature of the world. Now if you want to accept that these theories are true are you also willing to accept all the things that go with them?.

It is not necessary for any layman or any scientist to “take the word of the local priest or witch doctor as to the ultimate nature of the world” as an article of faith.  The scientific method and process itself provides the assurance that if theories are invalid, they will eventually be found not to accurately predict the real world and will therefore be disproved.  In the mean time, theories for which the observed evidence is consistent are accepted as “provisionally valid” pending evidence to the contrary.

No one is required to accept these “provisionally valid” theories or “the things that go with them” but, in fact, we are all invited and actively encouraged to objectively challenge and disprove them using the scientific method and process.  If we succeed, a Nobel Prize may reward or efforts. 

[quote author=“JustThis”]In 1922 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Neils Bohr. According to Bohr an electron moving between orbits would disappear from one and reappear instantaneously in another “without visiting the space in between.”

  If you say so. .

You do not have to accept this theory and, in fact, it may ultimately be found to be invalid.  You do not have to accept anyone’s word for it. 

However, it is the theoretical basis for most modern electronics including your television set, cell phone, computer, Ipod and the Internet to name just a few.  It is only because scientists and engineers have been able to use the predictions of this “provisionally valid” theory that such devices “seem to work” .............so far! 

Of course, if you don’t believe the theory, you are perfectly free to turn each of your electronic devices off and pray to God to provide an alternate solution!

As soon as a “local priest or witch doctor” uses his or her theory of the “ultimate nature of the world” to reliably, objectively and repeatedly predict the operation of the real world it will be treated as science………..until then it will be rightly regarded as irrational myth.

[quote author=“JustThis”]Here is a sample of where modern physics now stands regarding the structure of the universe from a superstring perspective. “The heterotic string consists of a closed string that has two types of vibrations, clockwise and counterclockwise which are treated differently. The clockwise vibrations live in ten-dimensional space. The counterclockwise vibrations live in twenty-six-dimensional space, of which sixteen dimensions have been compacted

  If you say so.

String Theory is still highly controversial in both scientific and philosophic circles and is far from being accepted as even “provisionally valid”.  The primary reason is that (so far) it has yielded no verifiable predictions of the real (observable) world and therefore cannot be objectively tested.  In this sense, it may be closer to “religion” than “science”.

[quote author=“MJ”] Why this desire to replace “religious cosmologies” with something else unless one is, consciously or unconsciously, trying to create yet another belief system? Why bother to do that?

Because “religious cosmologies” are not useful in predicting the way that the real world works!

The purpose of science is not to “replace religious cosmologies with another belief system” but rather to objectively and verifiably explain and predict the way the world really works.

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Posted: 27 March 2005 06:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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I thought about this thread for a few days.

Then I watched a CNN special that pointed out that some scientists were recieving grant money from Exxon, and possibly deliberatly contributing to the confusion of the “climate change” issue to delay changes in leglislation for economic reasons.

Also, I thought about “What’s the matter with Kansas” a book I recently saw reviewed and discussed on C-Span.

It comes to my mind too that many people today think the landing on the moon was a staged event for TV and we never actually went there.


CA wrote:

Unlike religious beliefs, science DOES NOT entail “blind faith” in its search for truth. In fact, just the opposite is true. EVERY scientific theory is CONSTANTLY being questioned, challenged, and critically tested by skeptical scientists employing the scientific method and process in attempts to DISPROVE it or find conditions under which it fails to accurately predict the real world. This is the fundamental process by which science advances.

And I thought about the world before the printing press, when most of the people on earth couldnt even read their own bible from lack of education, and believed whatever “the church” told them it said, care to buy a dispensation?

Okay so here finally is my point: I “believe” in the scientific method of finding facts and testing hypothesis, and I “believe” in it because I was taught it in school and it has worked out for me in my personal life when I needed to figure out what was wrong with the washing machine,  but I personally can no longer keep up with science.  I can not “verify” anything myself anymore, well I suppose I could, but my math is really horrible.
So to a large degree, I take alot of “science” that is reported as “fact” on “faith” although I really had issues with “red-shift” and had microwave radition not shown up to confirm the “big-bang” I wasnt ready to accept that theory. 

At a really gut level, I am accepting things I can not personally verify as “fact” because an elite group called “scientists” say this.  But these things I accept, such as DNA and its effects on heredity, do not really have any day to day impact on my life, or any impact I can do anything about.

I have “faith” in humanity, in our science, in our history, in our technical progress, our ability to collectively face and solve problems and survive, based in a large part on the efforts of outstanding individuals.  I recognize that it is a form of “faith”.  The religous have “faith” in a superhuman being that embodies for them all the power, knowledge and permanence they don’t have.

Now, we come to the current Real Life situation and the dialogue between the religious and the rational. 

How much is the dialogue affected by education or a lack of it?  How much is real life affected by science and how much by religion?  How stupid and resentful do people feel when they can’t “understand” science?  How does a person react when you make them feel “stupid”?  Shouldnt we apply personal experience and critical thinking to science as well as religion?  Can I be a “rational” person and not accept the “Big Bang” theory as plausible from my personal world view?  Are there important day to day human issues that religion still addresses better than science?  If so what exactly are they?  Can you truly live a 100% rational, logical existance as an emotional, instinctive and ego driven animal, even a highly self aware one?  Is the real issue not so much science vs religion but what we teach our children?  Is critical thinking still the most important aspect of any human life?  Who benefits most when society stops thinking critically?  Advertisers?  It is possible the dumbing down of society has little to do with religion vs science and more to do with consumerism and capitalism?  Are we on the wrong debate?  Do we have more obese people than religous ones?  What has the religous in a tizzy now more than ever?  What are they really afraid of?  Why do they seek to effect the world now more than in the last few decades?  Are we missing a cultural anomaly that could actually have a basis in a real social problem neither science nor religion are addressing but just reacting to?  Is it really possibly just population pressure?

oh well, still thinking…..sorry to interrupt your thread on science with philosophy..oh wait, that used to be a science !!

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Posted: 28 March 2005 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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How stupid and resentful do people feel when they can’t “understand” science? How does a person react when you make them feel “stupid”?

I hope this board manages to enlighten occasionally rather than alienate. A little compassion goes a long way as far as enhancing one’s arguements.

Dave

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Posted: 28 March 2005 01:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“tyhts”]Keep in mind that, although he’s hinted at it, The Champion hasn’t clearly stated that deistic faith hinges on a deliberate denial of logic. This is “fundamental” to fundamentalist practitioners.

Dave-
Champion would deny the logic of other systems and rely on his own. Not that he reveals his logic in his contributions here- which should be reported as spam.
I intended to highlight the futility of either side trying to convince the other or least keeping it to a hobby. Our time and energy needs to go towards converting ourselves. The way things are going, it won’t matter whose side we’re on. Sorry about your friends.

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Posted: 28 March 2005 01:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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[quote author=“gmobus”]I don’t know anybody who is a scientist (of my acquaintence) who believes with “blind faith” in the process of science.  I will say that most scientists I know do appreciate the “beauty” of scientific work, it is esthetically pleasing to see a process produce understanding of nature. 
I certainly support what I take to be your sentiment that in the Science topic we should be much more rigorous in our use of terminology .

George-
You describe an approach to science that is healthy, idealistic and totally appropriate for a scientist. For the rest of us, science has a socio-political dimension because it informs the secular world. In doing so it takes on many similarities to religion. It becomes an eternal system to be defended.
I agree that for all the fuss ultimately Darwin will prevail in a Darwinian sense.
A more rigorous use of terminology would not be appropriate for the science threads. That would be right for a technology thread. We need to be as open minded about our language as we are about our laboratory observations. Let everybody bring their meanings to the table. Very sloppy, very inexact, but the only way to, as you say, work out the bugs.

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Posted: 28 March 2005 02:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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[quote author=“MJ”]There are also those on this forum taking a totally one-dimensional view of God as Big Daddy to argue that we must believe in this stunted version of God.
Then there is the semantic problem of the use of the word “supernatural.”  Science is a tool, one of many tools in our intellectual toolkit, not a religion. There is a field called philosophy of science, but science itself isn’t even a philosophy, either. Science, in itself, is not somehow set up against religion or the enemy of religion. Those who insist on trying to turn “belief” in science into some kind of substitute for religion are indulging in yet another kind of blind faith, which they then oppose to belief in “religion.” The same goes for an irrational belief in the power of logic and reason. Even the results of logic and reason require considerable reality testing, as does “science.” Scientific theories are worthless unless they prove out in the laboratory.

Mj-
I also would distinguish science the tool from science the belief system. The latter was the focus of my rant.
I agree that the supernatural is an oxymoron.
One of the many forms of God is a 900 lb gorilla that frightens science away from considering “that which perhaps created the universe”.
I part from your comments here- the observable repeatable laboratory is not the complete arena for science. To include ourselves in the examination of reality does not require irrational beliefs or blind faith.

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Posted: 28 March 2005 02:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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” How much is the dialogue affected by education or a lack of it?  How much is real life affected by science and how much by religion?  How stupid and resentful do people feel when they can’t “understand” science?  How does a person react when you make them feel “stupid”?  Shouldnt we apply personal experience and critical thinking to science as well as religion?  Can I be a “rational” person and not accept the “Big Bang” theory as plausible from my personal world view?  Are there important day to day human issues that religion still addresses better than science?  “If so what exactly are they?  Can you truly live a 100% rational, logical existance as an emotional, instinctive and ego driven animal, even a highly self aware one?  Is the real issue not so much science vs religion but what we teach our children?  Is critical thinking still the most important aspect of any human life?  Who benefits most when society stops thinking critically?  Advertisers?  It is possible the dumbing down of society has little to do with religion vs science and more to do with consumerism and capitalism?  Are we on the wrong debate?  Do we have more obese people than religous ones?  What has the religous in a tizzy now more than ever?  What are they really afraid of?  Why do they seek to effect the world now more than in the last few decades?  Are we missing a cultural anomaly that could actually have a basis in a real social problem neither science nor religion are addressing but just reacting to?  Is it really possibly just population pressure?”

Exactly. You can’t get answers without asking the correct questions.

This entire thread is headed “Sick and Tired”—of the endless debate between “science” and “religion.” Has this debate degenerated into a knee-jerk response by now, considering that we’ve been at it for over 100 years?

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Posted: 28 March 2005 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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[quote author=“Iisbliss”]At a really gut level, I am accepting things I can not personally verify as “fact” because an elite group called “scientists” say this.

I think that we accept the findings of scientists because we have confidence (faith?) in the inherent self-correcting nature of the scientific method and process.  Individual scientists or even groups of scientists can be temporarily wrong…….it happens all of the time (remember “cold fusion”?).  However, because of the requirement for repeatable experimental observations and independent objective verification, these mistakes are eventually corrected by the scientific process.

Nothing comparable to this self-correcting process exists in religion and therefore, its pronouncements cannot be trusted.

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]But these things I accept, such as DNA and its effects on heredity, do not really have any day to day impact on my life, or any impact I can do anything about.

The scientific understanding of DNA will probably have much more impact on your daily life, health and death than any other branch of science.  Even if it does not impact you directly, it will certainly impact future generations and the prospective evolution of human (and non-human) species on earth as long as they exist.

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]I have “faith” in humanity, in our science, in our history, in our technical progress, our ability to collectively face and solve problems and survive, based in a large part on the efforts of outstanding individuals.  I recognize that it is a form of “faith”.  The religous have “faith” in a superhuman being that embodies for them all the power, knowledge and permanence they don’t have.

Again, I think that our “faith” in our ability to “solve problems and survive” is based primarily upon our confidence (or lack thereof) in the various human processes and institutions that are addressing these problems.

For example, while you or I may disagree with specific US government policies, we have some level of confidence that the democratic process will eventually correct any serious anomalies.  We may have somewhat less confidence in the self-correcting characteristics of dictatorships and autocratic faith-based institutions.

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]Now, we come to the current Real Life situation and the dialogue between the religious and the rational.

I think that the dialogue breaks down when the religious and the rational overstep their domains of competence.

Science and the rational are competent to determine WHAT the objective facts are and to logically deduce, from those facts, theories that can be used to reliably explain and predict HOW the world works.

Religion and philosophy attempt to explain WHY the world works the way that it does.

Neither discipline is equipped or competent to engage in the arguments of the other.  The dialogue breaks down when one or the other oversteps its domain of competence and attempts to inappropriately engage in the arguments of the other.   

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]How much is the dialogue affected by education or a lack of it?

Probably a lot!  I think that people can feel threatened by things that they do not understand or understand incorrectly.   

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]How much is real life affected by science and how much by religion?


Both affect real life but in significantly different ways.  Science impacts the technical quality of life and religion impacts the spiritual quality.  Again, problems occur when one discipline attempts to interfere in the domain of the other. 

For example, religion should not be engaged in stem cell research and science should not be involved in attempting to determine the existence or non-existence of God. 

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]How stupid and resentful do people feel when they can’t “understand” science?  How does a person react when you make them feel “stupid”?

I don’t know.  There a lots of things in both science and religion that I do not understand but that does not make me feel either “stupid” or “resentful”.  If one of those things was important to me, I would attempt to educate myself to the point that I could understand it to my satisfaction.  If, after expending sufficient effort, I still could not understand it, I would probably either reject it as being irrational (to me) or accept it based upon my confidence in the process that resulted in the conclusion. 

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]Shouldnt we apply personal experience and critical thinking to science as well as religion?  Can I be a “rational” person and not accept the “Big Bang” theory as plausible from my personal world view?

Absolutely!  Many rational people (including Nobel Prize winning scientists) still question the validity of the Big Bang.  It is a fact that the current mathematical theories “break down” at the “singularity” (essentially a division by zero) at the instant of a hypothetical the Big Bang.  Therefore, science does not yet have a full, complete and coherent explanation for the Big Bang, Black Holes and any number of other observable physical phenomena. 

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]Are there important day to day human issues that religion still addresses better than science?  If so what exactly are they?

Of course!  Religion and philosophy address many areas outside of the domain of competence of science.  They address matters of “WHY”, “the meaning of life”, morality and ethics all of which are unexamined by science. 

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]Can you truly live a 100% rational, logical existance as an emotional, instinctive and ego driven animal, even a highly self aware one?

Probably not and who would want to do so even if it were possible? 

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]Is the real issue not so much science vs religion but what we teach our children?  Is critical thinking still the most important aspect of any human life?  Who benefits most when society stops thinking critically?  Advertisers?

It seems to me that critical thinking is very important.  However, teaching our children to apply the right tool to the right problem is equally important.  You don’t use a hammer to saw a board in half.  Neither is it useful to seek scientific answers in religion or religious answers in science. 

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]It is possible the dumbing down of society has little to do with religion vs science and more to do with consumerism and capitalism?  Are we on the wrong debate?  Do we have more obese people than religous ones?

Anything is possible!  However, the debate between religion and science predates the rise of consumerism and capitalism as does the existence of obese people. 

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]What has the religous in a tizzy now more than ever?  What are they really afraid of?  Why do they seek to effect the world now more than in the last few decades?  Are we missing a cultural anomaly that could actually have a basis in a real social problem neither science nor religion are addressing but just reacting to?  Is it really possibly just population pressure?

They are in a “tizzy” now because they see some of their most fervently held irrational beliefs about how the world works increasingly challenged by scientific facts and theories.  Again, this is because they have attempted to exceed their domain of competence to explain HOW the world works rather than WHY. 

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]oh well, still thinking…..sorry to interrupt your thread on science with philosophy..oh wait, that used to be a science !!

There you go again……..confusing domains of competence and mixing it all up!

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Posted: 28 March 2005 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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Perhaps this is a good place to “take a step back”.

Let’s examine this conflict from a slightly different perspective, and see if it sheds any new light on the subject.

Why is there a conflict between religion and science in the first place?

Although there is a lot of name calling (on both sides), at the most fundamental level, it seems to be obvious that this abiding conflict has something to do with fundamentally incompatible claims about the nature of the universe.  Many great scientists have been religious, and various churches have been patrons of science, but when scientists make claims that conflict with claims made by established churches, the sparks begin to fly.

Some of these disputes, it would seem, tend to get resolved over time.  Most churches, for instance, no longer assert that the Earth is the center of creation or that disease is a result of demonic possesion.  However, many disputes have not been thus resolved, and, in fact, have no appearance of being resolved in such an amicable fashion.  This is because, I would contend, there are religious claims which are foundational to the religions in question, but which run contrary to what a scientist, a group of scientists, or the scientific community at large believe to be the case.

So why does this disagreement lead to such acrimony?  People disagree about all sorts of things (sports, food, style, etc.) and manage to get along fairly well, so why not religion and science?  It seems that there must be something deeper than a simple disagreement over specific issues.  I believe that the real conflict is methodological in nature, and so profound as to be irreconcilable.  Religion is filled with claims of truth which are beyond question.  Science operates by questioning everything, and submitting all claims to rigorous testing for verification.  Religion says, in effect, that no testing is needed because the truth is already known, and science says, in effect, that no truth is known until it is experimentally verified.

That religions are dogmatic, and that this is a source of conflict, may not seem like such a big revelation, but consider:  A Christian researcher in the field of geology, would, because of their religious beliefs, assume that the world was entirely covered in water a few thousands of years ago.  They wouldn’t even consider the notion that something else might be true.  Furthermore, when someone else comes along and wonders if there might not have been a world covering flood, they don’t even tolerate the question, because it is percieved as an assault on the truth.  When this other researcher concludes that, in fact, the world covering flood did not happen, the religious researcher will conclude that they are either terribly mistaken, or lying outright because they are opposed to the religious beliefs.

Of course, our hypothetical religious geologist might look over their secular counterpart’s research, and decide that it does, in fact seem pretty good.  They might then go back to their religious texts, and after careful study, determine that, in fact, it is not impossible to reconcile the two accounts after all.  This is all good and well and is how some issues between science and religion get resolved, but it does not, however, mean that peace is truly possible.  In Christianity, for instance, there are some claims which are absolutely essential to the entire belief system.  Although the list is long, at the core would be the existence of God, and of Jesus, the death of Jesus, and the ressurection of Jesus.  Should any of these claims be found false, Christianity crumbles.

So, when a secular researcher begins to go to work on a scientific theory which allows for the universe to exist without the presence of God, the religious researchers would, naturally, become alarmed.  In this situation, however, there is no chance for reconciliation, because the religious researchers do not have the option of compromising on so fundamental a point.  Instead, they mount an offensive, certain that such theories are simply wrong.

This seems to explain why the religious might get so bent out of shape by some scientists, but, to be fair, the persecution runs both ways.  So why are so many scientists so filled with loathing for the church?

Take our hypothetical secular researcher, busy at work constructing a theory of genesis that would require no God.  When the religious researchers assault the work, not because of any intrinsic flaws, but rather because it disagrees with established beliefs, this researcher becomes outraged, because their hard work is being attacked, not over a demonstrable flaw, but because of a belief about reality which is sacred and thus “off limits” to true enquiry.

Is it any wonder, then, that each “side” sees the other as extremely irritating and highly dangerous?  Most people, I think, would be willing to concede that when two parties disagree passionately about matters of great importance, tempers flare, and the participants polarize, making honest discussion even more difficult than it was in the first place.

Just because two parties are passionate about something, and tenacious in the defense of their stances, does not mean, however, that each side’s stance is equally correct.

Ultimately, any bystander of such a conflict must make a determination for themselves.  In this conflict, the choice is between a few key competing values:  Should it be okay to question everything, or should some things be off limits?  If a treasured belief is questioned, and the investigation seems to indicated that it is wrong, should this be taken seriously, or automatically be discarded because the treasured belief must be right?

-Matt

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Posted: 28 March 2005 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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Don’t get me wrong I am very much pro-science. However I am very clear that since I don’t understand a lot of the details and proofs that science produces I am taking it on faith that they are ‘true’. For instance when I read a book that says “Protons are so small that 500,000,000,000 of them could fit on the dot at the end of this sentence.” I accept that the statement is true. If I ever made that statement myself and someone should challenge me to prove it I could not, I would have to say that I read it in a book and I ‘believe’ it to be true because I have ‘faith’ in science. But then again maybe I should be saying that I believe the statement to be “provisionally valid” which means what….. temporarily true?

Science attempts to answer ‘how’, religion attempts to answer ‘why’. The two seem to clash when their adherents confuse ‘how’ and ‘why’.

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Posted: 28 March 2005 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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[quote author=“JustThis”] But then again maybe I should be saying that I believe the statement to be “provisionally valid” which means what….. temporarily true?

“Provisionally valid” means that the theory is accepted a being consistent with all of the currently known evidence and has a high probability of being correct. 

However, if new evidence becomes known that contracticts or casts doubt upon the theory, science will reassess the theory in the light of this new evidence.

Science never says that anything is 100% or absoltuly true.  Rather, it essentially makes a probability statement about the truth of a theory or hypothesis based upon the best available evidence at the time.

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Posted: 28 March 2005 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Matt, how did you get so smart?

Religion says, in effect, that no testing is needed because the truth is already known, and science says, in effect, that no truth is known until it is experimentally verified.

Christianity, as we know it today, seems quite guilty of this brand of dogma. No doubt others, such as Islam, do as well.

A Christian teacher who had earlier learned his own literalistic morality lessons thoroughly, preaches to his flock explaining that it is an abomination to think any further than what the lesson of the moment contains. He typically pulls up an odd assortment of unconnected Bible verses from any book in the Bible that contains the exact phrases he needs to formulate “proof” that his lesson is correct just as it is. A parishoner who might attempt to unravel it with logical analysis does not sit well with him. The pastor may not say so outright, but you’d better not engage your analytical brain or you could end up being quickly ostricized from that particular church community. Word quickly spreads about blasphemers, so you may need to find another denomination to bend your now-tainted thoughts around. Or perhaps another town.

Fortunately we don’t live in a theocracy in which your head might find itself no longer connected to your body as a result of your inconsiderate need to make logical connections.

Dave

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Posted: 13 April 2005 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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What, I have no idea. If I knew that, Id know how it got started. Possibly it was a quantum effect.

Speaking of ‘quantum effects’, things do disappear and reappear.
How that happens is a mystery to me.

The second one was hard for me to accept, because Im a very stubborn person…But not a dumb one.  :D

When the evidence is irrefutable, there is no other way for someone like myself to deal with it than to accept it. But there are two problems, as I see it. I think some people, once they are into religion, are behind what might be called a paradigm barrier. Seeing things on the other side the way they are meant to be seen is nearly impossible.

The other problem is psychological. The things they believe have become part of their identity. Anything that threatens that identity must be defended.

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