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Sick and Tired
Posted: 19 March 2005 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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I am sick and tired of listening to science talk about religion and religion talk about science.  Science was once trying to break free of the church and its practitioners would fight and die in the church arena. Science has its own arena now where it makes its own rules based on logic and reason. Every issue of existence anyone can dream up can be examined and everyone’s input stands or falls on its merits. In a few centuries, science has assembled an impressive understanding of the universe that has yielded comfy lives and given each generation more and more to dream with. However, science still suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome after its many years of captivity. Why would so many scientifically minded people choose to debate religious issues? Why take on God’s omnipotence or the problem of evil? Why would an understanding of the world built entirely by science have a problem with evil? What does scientific logic and reason say about where and how God fits in? And what about any ongoing role God may have if there’s a God at all to talk about? Where does determinism end and free will begin? Why ask this of one of the name brand religious deities whose omnipotence has an embarrassing problem with evil?
We’re not in the church anymore. No one knows that more than the church. When we beat on the church, it’s from outside. Perhaps we need the emotional release or maybe we’re just giddy from no longer having to consider if something weighs more or less than a duck. Philosophy is still obsessed with bringing religion to justice. As if there is still a reason to sort out what so many have called a fantasy world now that we’re not trapped in it anymore. Granted there is an ongoing socio-political struggle as society becomes more secular, and more issues get considered from a scientific perspective. This obsession has only hampered the struggle. It starts with a simple presumption. Many patrons have expressed it. It goes like this…
I think the burden of proof should rest on the shoulders of anyone making a claim incongruous with science.

Anyone who agrees the burden of proof should be on religion lives in a world that is described by science. Proof would have to be scientific fact. Things would have to be proven to be scientific, and logically so. But this would prove nothing to the religious. Their burden is different. Proof would have to be revealed truth. Spelled out clearly in words, or natural phenomena. There is always just enough opportunity for the supernatural to cloud whatever apparent “scientific logic” that might seem compelling. But religion isn’t just slippery and evasive. It is so contextually different that it renders scientific logic irrelevant even though the same human mental faculty of reason produces either persuasion. 

“Archeological evidence all over the earth show that our history differs from religious text.”
“God put archeological evidence all over the earth to test our faith.” 

“Free will is a challenging problem for logic.”
“Free will can only result in personal corruption. We must submit our will to God.“

“Faith must hide from the scrutiny of doubt.”
“Faith will set you free from your doubts.” 

There is a presumption that there is an all encompassing reason that informs all of the universe everywhere and both sides lay claim to it. Both sides rely on faith that theirs is an all encompassing reason. Religion embraces this openly. Science was too freshly traumatized by too much history to trust faith. If asked to describe reality completely, how quickly would even the most scientific among us find that our description exceeds what we know and relies on things we do not personally understand. We know of people who are very accomplished at understanding a particular part of reality that, in the aggregate, make understanding an option for the rest of us. We are of course confident that if we did take the time to understand, we could, because science is reasonable. That confidence is fundamental to assuming the scientific view and betrays its kinship with religion. All participants, without knowing everything there is to know, made a choice knowing that they could not know everything about what they were choosing. With what they did know, they decided the foundation was sound. Or perhaps their social environment made it a choice based on trust or expediency. Each side adheres to its conviction that their broader system, the part beyond them, is eternal and perfect. Either belief is a gamble that, if lost, could only have consequences for one’s afterlife. Which means this game will never be called for anyone alive and it could go on forever.
Science may one day proclaim itself victorious by proving logically that God doesn’t exist, but that would change few personal beliefs. God would not exist in science. Why do that? God would still be welcome in religion. Religion could still prove to itself that God exists. Such a pointless gesture would only further polarize the two sides. Is there any logical necessity for logic to disprove God? Does any one really think the religious right is just going to fold because of a grammatical equation? Does a godless world that wobbles aimlessly from determinism to random chance make a good recruitment tool? Why doesn’t a self-punishing logic appeal to more people? Can we do better than a genetically induced Illusion of self leading a random life of angry contemplation and loyalty to reason? We hold Occam’s Razor to our throats.
This isn’t about valuing faith over reason or vice versa. In matters of faith or reason science is religion’s equal. The reason they’re in charge is because they can freely make a leap of faith. They value experience over information, and so must we.

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Delude responsibly.

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Posted: 19 March 2005 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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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.

Why do advocates of logic and reason argue against their natural opponents? First I’ll say that contributors to this forum are better writers and clearer thinkers than I’ve seen anywhere else. But few fans of science have time or energy to argue with mental midgets, and the education process is for this reason slow. I honestly don’t think we who do have the spare time and energy will convert anyone. But for some of us at least, it’s therapeutic.

I worked for about a year in a Federal office in a building that has been demolished. It was on Church Street (nice sounding name), and was just a bit too close to the line of fire that religious extremists had drawn. A restaurant in The World Trade Center was usually where I had lunch, and I had about a dozen friends who worked in a bank office in building 2. Now I spend my free time polishing my writing skills.

You are right, of course. Logical ways will eventually prevail. Your eloquence is not being ignored. But emotion remains in all of us, and some of us are foolish enough to think we have a chance of convincing a fundmentalist. We understand the futility, but need the therapy.

Even if you don’t feel the need for therapy, Nhoj—please keep writing.

Dave

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Posted: 20 March 2005 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“tyhts”]Why do advocates of logic and reason argue against their natural opponents?

A comment about logic and reason.  In a fair number of posts throughout this forum I see references to logic and reason (or rational) as opposed to faith.  I think this is a little misleading and certainly incomplete.  Logic and reason are principled mental processes, usually quite effortful for those engaged (more to say on that below).  But reasoning ability is not the whole story.  One can reason with erroneous beliefs as readily as one can with beliefs that stand in some relation to facts in the world.  Thus, often some very intelligent and well meaning individuals who, never-the-less, are not working from a knowledge base that corresponds to physical reality, may derive wholly logical inferences about wholly fallacious realities.  How many fairies CAN dance on the head of a pin?

The wonder of science is the build up, hard won and self-correcting, of a knowledge base over the past several thousand years.  Of course this base is still provisional in many aspects.  Of course it is still riddled with holes and inaccuracies.  But it is clear from the historical record that the knowledge is getting more internally consistant, more complete and, most important, better as a basis for logical inference in making predictions about reality.

I suggest that the vast majority of otherwise reasonable people who still cling to religious views have “rightly” infered that there must be a god and even some very thoughtful christians have “rightly” infered that Jesus is the son of god, based on the underlying assumptions (about the veractiy of the new testament).  And, I will speculate, that a great number of these folks are not very knowledgeable about the scientific understanding of the physical universe as it stands today.  For a really heart-wrenching vision of the consequences of this state of afairs, look at the unfortunate situation with Terry Shiavo.  The battlelines are drawn between those who have some understanding of the nature and workings of the brain and those who do not.

As to the point about the effortfulness of reasoning, and this actually applies to learning scientific understanding as well, a very huge problem is that a significant number of people are just plain lazy.  They do not want to take the time or put in the effort to learn and then apply hard reasoning to inquiries about the nature of reality.  On what do I base this claim?  Well there is reality TV, the Scott Peterson trial,... do I really need to extend this list?  The simple fact is, it is so much easier to be told what the nature of reality is, and then just go with it.  This extends to every aspect of modern Western (pop) culture, politics and religion.

When considering issues about whether or not we can reason with the faithful, I would say it is a waste of time.  Rather, I would spend my time pushing education of scientifically-based understanding and build a grassroots base that will, in a true Darwinian sense, succeed in the future struggle for survival, which, as I have mentioned in other threads, I think is a real likelihood.

George

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Posted: 20 March 2005 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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George, I would suggest that few people alive today come up with their opinions by way of reason alone. Forces such as peer pressure tend to make people follow in line. Advertising works so well because we are by our nature entirely susceptible to ridiculous sales pitches, whether or not they are truly reasonable.

A poster named “Islander” beautifully summed up this wretched aspect of human nature on Specific Comments on the End of Faith, “great stuff,” 3-15-05:

The trouble is, the followers of blind belief are motivated by fear. They are scared to death of “it all ending” when we die, they are scared of going to hell, they’ve probably had the bejeezus scared out of them from childhood on. Dare to question, or apply your own intelligence to a problem? You’re disrespecting your parents, and all your ancestors, and you are a bad person.

So the nonsense gets perpetuated, sort of the way an AIDS virus appropriates a cell and turns it to its own use. Here, the religious mythology attaches itself to human needs and fears, where it resides, complacent in its own “truth” regardless of the facts. Once a person has been infected, it is virtually impossible to reach him through a rational discussion. I include all dogmatic religions in this.

Dave

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Posted: 20 March 2005 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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[quote author=“tyhts”]George, I would suggest that few people alive today come up with their opinions by way of reason alone. Forces such as peer pressure tend to make people follow in line. Advertising works so well because we are by our nature entirely susceptible to ridiculous sales pitches, whether or not they are truly reasonable.

A poster named “Islander” beautifully summed up this wretched aspect of human nature on Specific Comments on the End of Faith, “great stuff,” 3-15-05:

The trouble is, the followers of blind belief are motivated by fear. They are scared to death of “it all ending” when we die, they are scared of going to hell, they’ve probably had the bejeezus scared out of them from childhood on. Dare to question, or apply your own intelligence to a problem? You’re disrespecting your parents, and all your ancestors, and you are a bad person.

So the nonsense gets perpetuated, sort of the way an AIDS virus appropriates a cell and turns it to its own use. Here, the religious mythology attaches itself to human needs and fears, where it resides, complacent in its own “truth” regardless of the facts. Once a person has been infected, it is virtually impossible to reach him through a rational discussion. I include all dogmatic religions in this.

Dave

I tried to explain that that is exactly the case.  Reason alone is not enough.  Resoning is a process.  You need knowledge constructs to reason over/with in order to make inferences.

As to the fear aspect, I am not in agreement that this is a major motivation for faith.  As I tried to indicate, reasonable people do come to unreasonable conclusions when they are starting with unreasonable premises.  My point about learning science-based understanding is that that is hard (sometimes) and lazy thinkers (and I will say less intelligent persons) find it easier to take their premises from authoritative sources.  Hence bad conclusions.

I have known no small number of christian and other religious folks over the years and I really don’t sense that they are operating from a base of fear.  It may be true that some unscrupulous persons have over history tried to play the fear button (as is George Bush right now) and are successful in invoking devine inspiration but I think this correlates more to times of stress and societal fear.  I just don’t get that the majority of people of faith are that way from fear of what happens after death.

I’ll stick with the weak mind hypothesis for the time being.

George

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Posted: 20 March 2005 03:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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George, sorry I misunderstood you. I suspect we’re actually on the same page regarding how a person arrives at an opinion. It’s a subtle process that varies from one person to another. I strongly feel that epistomology should be a subject taught in school right along with reading, math, etc.

As for the roles of fear, I hope you’re right in the sense that historically it must have played a much larger role in the past. Even in my lifetime I suspect things have gotten somewhat better. I attended Midwestern Catholic schools through 4th grade before the reforms of the late ‘60s. I hereby personally vouch for an extremely capable brainwashing program that was almost entirely fear based. This fear-machine, by the time it got to me, had been fine- tuned over many hundreds of years. But as you say, history is one thing and present-day practices are another.

Keep in mind, however, that fear can become so ingrained into our mental ways that it ceases even to present itself as fear. Advertisers utilize fear tactics when they warn us of the supreme importance of using a certain hygiene product, or even buying a particular car.

Not all pastors and priests are fear mongers, but my experience and observations of others’ (as much as that’s possible) put fear at the top of the list for religious teachers in general, with the notable exception of rabbis.

Dave

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Posted: 21 March 2005 03:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I just have to make some comments here, especially since this is the “science” section. Far too many posts on this forum dismiss “God” based on simplistic ideas about God as Big Daddy, a model of “God” as a kind of superparent. It’s all too easy to set up straw men, blow them away, and assume that one has actually “proved” something. Someone said somewhere that “Science may one day proclaim itself victorious by proving logically that God doesn’t exist, but that would change few personal beliefs.” That’s not gonna happen because it’s impossible to prove a negative.

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. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve already had a Daddy, and I’m grown up now. I’d suggest that both those knocking down straw men and those putting them up take a look at Karen Armstrong’s “A History of God” to help them get at least some idea of the various meanings this concept has acquired through the ages.

Then there is the semantic problem of the use of the word “supernatural.” The assumption is that “God” must somehow be outside of “nature.” jumping in occasionally to fix things. This is the Big Daddy Outside the Nursery concept, and it depends entirely on the definition of the words “supernatural,” “God,” and “nature.” Define “nature” as all inclusive, and “God” fits inside, if you see what I mean. “Supernatural” is just another straw figure to knock down.

There is also the HUGE problem of those who “believe” with blind faith that science is the only way we can know things. 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. Those angels (not fairies) danced on the point of that pin because the Scholastics believed so firmly that logic and reason could solve every problem. This theory could not be tested without gathering together a bunch of angels to see how many fit, so the argument could never end.

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Posted: 21 March 2005 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“MJ”]
There is also the HUGE problem of those who “believe” with blind faith that science is the only way we can know things. Science is a tool, one of many tools in our intellectual toolkit, not a 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. Those angels (not fairies) danced on the point of that pin because the Scholastics believed so firmly that logic and reason could solve every problem. This theory could not be tested without gathering together a bunch of angels to see how many fit, so the argument could never end.

I’m not entirely sure that you are responding to my earlier post or just in general.  The bolded comment above is to highlight two things.  One has to do with the claim about “those” who believe with blind faith in science.  Perhaps you could expand on this claim.  I am a scientist, I work with many scientists and 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.  But most of the people I work with, and I, myself, base our faith in that process on the historical record.  And I should hasten to point out that most scientist, I think, would recognize that the process, dependent as it is on human factors, personalities, etc., takes a long time to work out the bugs, so to speak.  No one claims that every scientifically garnered bit of knowledge is the final word or represents ultimate truth.  Yes, many scientists do have a faith in the process, but I don’t think it fair to label it as “blind”.

The second point has to do with the claim that some believe science is the only way to know.  Again I would ask that you expand on that comment.  I suspect that most scientists would agree that science is the best (perhaps only) way to know objectively-knowable reality.  If this is what you meant than I would take issue with your inferrence that there is some other way to know.  I would like to know what other “tools” you might be refering to.

As to your comments on “irrational belief in the power of logic and reason”, what sort of logic and reasoning process are you refering to?  Do you mean some people believe that deductive logic is sufficient to work out all knowledge?  If so then I would agree with your use of the word irrational.  Do you mean inductive reasoning, which is, of course, where constant reality checks do make sense.  What about abductive reasoning?

It seems to me that there is a lot of loose discussion about knowledge, knowing, belief, reason, etc. in these discussions.  And 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 (if I understood your sentiment correctly).  I would propose that we start a diliberative discussion of, say, the word belief and what it means, psychologically, cognitively, neurologically and, in deference to Sam’s thesis, behaviorally.  I would love to have such a discourse, but I’m not sure there are many others reading and posting here who would also enjoy having an real scientific discussion.  Are there?

George

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Posted: 21 March 2005 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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I would propose that we start a diliberative discussion of, say, the word belief and what it means, psychologically, cognitively, neurologically and, in deference to Sam’s thesis, behaviorally.

George, I welcome such discussion, and have already posted my somewhat unconventional views in the “Faith” section. Yes, Sam Harris mentioned the subject of belief and its associated neurology in his recent C-SPAN lecture. Maybe he’ll clue us in on some specifics he’s learned from research.

Sam—throw us a bone here. I feel this is a crucially important subject, and hereby claim my full support (for what it’s worth) of anyone who wants to discuss it in this or any other forum section.

MJ, you’re correct about the many flavors of deistic faith. I see it as a continuum with someone such as Einstein at one end and someone such as Jerry Falwell at the other. It seems apparent to me that the Falwell types are the ones we especially need to worry about and discuss at length here and anywhere else we can manage to voice our views. My suggestion would be to assertively combat their views while maintaining a polite and sensitive approach, and I have managed to convince some fundamentalists to alter their views in this way.

Dave

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Posted: 21 March 2005 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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“The second point has to do with the claim that some believe science is the only way to know.  Again I would ask that you expand on that comment.  I suspect that most scientists would agree that science is the best (perhaps only) way to know objectively-knowable reality.  If this is what you meant than I would take issue with your inferrence that there is some other way to know.  I would like to know what other “tools” you might be refering to.”

<sigh> I’m a scientist too, an analytical chemist, one who has a career working at the edge between science and the humanities. I deliberately chose to do this when C. P. Snow was expounding about the “Two Cultures,” science and the humanities. The assumption that “science” was the only way to “know” something had plunged the humanities into fits of trying to be “scientific.” Analytical is fine, there are lots of ways to be analytical, but trying to apply scientific method to the humanities and the arts produced startling and pathetic results. This almost killed off serious music; the more “scientific” it became the less people wanted to listen to it. Critical literary studies based on statistical studies of word usage weren’t exactly productive, either. And so on. I could go field by field illustrating where and why replacing traditional methods of analysis used in various fields with scientific method just doesn’t work. That’s at least partly the other realm of intellectual tools I was referring to.

I ran into interesting problems in my own field. While still a grad student I had to write a report which was going to be read by the head of the chemistry department and the head of the university art museum. Faced with this, I realized that C. P. Snow was right. We lived in two cultures that had degenerated to the point where they spoke two different languages. I had interesting problems to solve in my actual work, too. If you’re analyzing, for example, ancient coins from a particular region, it’s not enough to just report the chemical results. You plug it in “science” and it comes out something else. The important facts uncovered have to do with problems in economic history and technological history, and the only way to deal with them is to analyze the results in those other terms.

Another kind of problem in my work relates to the Black Swan problem; ultimately the problem of very rare events. Statistics can be extremely difficult, as I’m sure you know, when dealing with rare events, even when dealing with the strictly natural sciences. Objects are made by humans, who are free to change their minds and do something different at any time. There is no “natural science,” no Act of God involved; one cannot assume uniformity, and very often the rare event, the sudden change of mind, is the most important finding. For example, virtually all of the world’s greatest paintings have been called fakes at some point because the artist suddenly committed an act of genius and did something technically unexpected. In those cases what I have to do is essentially forensics, detective work, scientific analysis plays a role but not even the most important role in solving that kind of problem.

This is getting too long, so I’ll switch to another aspect. I “know” an awful lot of things subjectively that are extremely difficult to get any scientific grasp on. I “know” whether I love my husband, my children, my dog more than my cat, and/or the guy next door. I “know” if I’m in pain, but to tell my doctor about it I have to rate it on a scale of one to ten so he knows what to prescribe to relieve it. If I’m in pain but speechless, he has no way of knowing how much pain I feel—not very scientific. The entire realm of subjective knowledge is extremely difficult to analyze scientifically, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t knowledge about objectively knowable reality.

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Posted: 21 March 2005 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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OK. At the risk of beating a dead horse.

MJ, please note several of my carefully chosen words: “scientific process” vs. “scientific method”.  As you well know, science includes many methods of analysis, observation, statistics, model building and on and on.  The term scientific process refers to the appropriate use of any of these methods to obtain “objectively-knowable” (the other carefully chosen term) knowledge.  The scientific process includes (recursively) investigating new, yet principled, methods.

I cannot know subjectively how much you may love your husband, but I’m reasonably certain that a day is not far off when we can do an fMRI of you looking at a picture of your husband or talking about your husband and make some reasonable predictions about the strength of the feeling you might be having.  It may be difficult to believe, but the advances being made in brain imaging and correlation with thinking and feeling are breathtaking.  It is, to be certain, still very early in this kind of work, so this is all speculative, but the early results are pretty compelling.  I referenced a book in my reply to Dave - “Destructive Emotions”.  You might want to take a look.  Another good one for non-neuroscientists is “Mind Wide Open”, by Steven Johnson.  He gives a reasonably good account of imaging and other techniques (though some sound a little on the wild side) for looking at brain functions.

Finally, on the issue of science applied to the humanities and even some of the social sciences.  I realize this is a sore subject for a large number of folks in these areas that felt they got burned by the unreasonable application of some methods (due to physics envy?), but I don’t think the issue is either/or.  Are you familiar with Edward O. Wilson’s book, “Consilience”?  If not you should take a look.  It addresses the exact issues you bring up and he says it far better than I could.  Wilson was attacked rather viciously and unfairly by leftists bent on political correctness and their (unjustified) perception that Wilson’s work in sociobiology was little more than warmed over social Darwinism.  That has further exacerbated the rift between the humanities, some of the social sciences and science in general.

On the positive side, there are a number of new generation economists, political scientists and historians who are actively pursuing more “scientific” investigations that are still not mainstream in their areas but are producing really intriguing results.  See especially work referenced by Jared Diamond in both “Guns, Germs and Steel” and “Collapse”.

I would like to leave off with an observation.  Science is nothing more than a formal approach to what humans already do in their quest for understanding.  They observe differences and unexpected occurrences, they speculate as to the cause (we’re hard wired to look for cause), they test if they can, or wait untill the next occurrence to see if they were right (or rather to see if they were not wrong*), then they dig a little further back to see what the cause of the cause might be.  They weave stories in some language to convey their understanding.  And all the while they explore and play.  My thought is that this description also applies to art, music and literature.  I would not, however want to confuse objectively-knowable knowledge, for example what parts of an artists brain is most active when performing a creative act, with aesthetics, what that artist must feel when doing the act.

I think C.P. Snow made an astute observation about the state of culture at a point in time.  It remains to be seen if that is some absolute state that culture will always be in.

George
PS. Where you sighing for a reason?

* Could this be an explanation for religious beliefs? You can’t find an obvious cause for, say, the climate patterns; you do understand the notion of other minds - the other people with whom you interact - so you could attribute an unseen cause to an unseeable mind; and when you are never proved wrong in this conjecture (and having no other conjecture that seems better) you simply adopt it as the nature of things.  Gods are the ultimate causes.  It is also convenient in that it means you can stop looking for any more distal cause! If somebody questions you, you can reply that you just have to accept it on faith.

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Posted: 22 March 2005 12:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I was sighing because I know from long experience that those who worship and/or have blind faith in science, based on the assumption that this is not only the best but the only way to approach the world, no matter how they have to twist and stretch the concept, are every bit as boring and closed-minded as any other kind of fundamentalist and I’d be wasting my time yet again. If that’s your world view and belief system, so be it. Sorry to have stepped on your religion. I’ve read the books and investigated the arguments of at least the past 100 years, thank you. This endless debate is getting pretty old, considering that it can never be logically resolved and has to be debated as a matter of faith. I prefer to remain more skeptical and open to other experiences.

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Posted: 22 March 2005 05:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“MJ”]I was sighing because I know from long experience that those who worship and/or have blind faith in science, based on the assumption that this is not only the best but the only way to approach the world, no matter how they have to twist and stretch the concept, are every bit as boring and closed-minded as any other kind of fundamentalist and I’d be wasting my time yet again. If that’s your world view and belief system, so be it. Sorry to have stepped on your religion. I’ve read the books and investigated the arguments of at least the past 100 years, thank you. This endless debate is getting pretty old, considering that it can never be logically resolved and has to be debated as a matter of faith. I prefer to remain more skeptical and open to other experiences.

Either I’m missing something or you are MJ.  I could have sworn George gave a reasonably good indication as to why putting trust in science as ways of knowing was NOT blind faith.  Also, I’ve read Consilience and tend to agree with much of Wilson’s arguments,though not all of it.  You never indicated if you had or hadn’t read it.  You sound pretty dismissive rather than open.

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Posted: 22 March 2005 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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“The true evolutionary epic, retold as poetry, is as intrinsically ennobling as any religious epic.  Material reality discovered by science already possesses more content and grandeur than all the religious cosmologies combined.” E. O. Wilson

<yawn> That’s exactly what I’m talking about. He’s a very popular scientist, one could say well loved. As a scientist he’s a very good scientist, and I respect his work. A lot of scientists are working as hard as they can to construct a new Genesis. This is true of him, and perhaps even more true in the fields of astronomy and cosmology. I’m not at all convinced that this is a worthwhile effort.

A myth is a belief system we don’t believe any more. Frankly, I cannot manage to see evolution as opposed to, or as wiping out, much of anything. It’s a theory, much of it is proving out as fact, but turn it into poetry and you’re creating BIG problems. An outstanding example of that is the Bible itself. That’s a summary of the state of knowledge at the time it was written, isn’t it? We simply do not know everything at the present time. A lot of what we now accept as fact will eventually fade off into the realm of mythology, and future generations will wonder how we could have been so stupid. We have no way of knowing what will be discarded as myth, but you have to look at ideas, especially speculative ideas, in the context of their times. 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?

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Posted: 27 March 2005 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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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. I’m sure that if you contacted the Physics or Astronomy depts. at Princeton University and asked to see proof of these theories you would receive a large notebook full of exotic equations complete with Greek letters and numbers to the umpteenth or negative umpteenth power. 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?

  For instance the Big Bang theory says that before the Big Bang itself nothing existed. I mean nothing, not empty space or even some kind of emptiness, NADA, ZIP, NOTHING.

Seems reasonable, I can kind of accept that.


  So we have this big explosion, let’s say we want to get out to leading edge just to see what it is like when the Universe expands into NOTHING. So we jump into our space ship and take off at Super Ludicrous speed in a line straight toward the edge of the Universe. Unfortunately you can never get to the edge of the Universe, because even if you traveled outward and outward in a straight line you would never arrive at an outer boundary. Instead you would arive back at where you started. The reason for this is that the Universe bends in a way that we cannot imagine, Einstein’s theory of relativity confirms this. It seems that space curves in way that allows it to be boundless but finite. Actually galaxies and space are not expanding, they are ‘rushing apart’.


Seems reasonable, I can see how that might be true.

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.

 

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.

[quote author=“tyhts”]George, I would suggest that few people alive today come up with their opinions by way of reason alone. Forces such as peer pressure tend to make people follow in line. [/quote’]


[quote author=“Grego”]I could have sworn George gave a reasonably good indication as to why putting trust in science as ways of knowing was NOT blind faith.

 

[quote author=Gmobus]My point about learning science-based understanding is that that is hard (sometimes) and lazy thinkers (and I will say less intelligent persons) find it easier to take their premises from authoritative sources.

I am sure that tyhts, Grego and Gmobus completely understand the scenarios listed above and are not taking the truth of any of them on faith.

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“Every minute we spend oblivious to the value of a minute is a minute of unconsciousness. This isn’t some screwball scheme to latch onto the present moment in time, it’s simply what it means to be awake.”

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Posted: 27 March 2005 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Ok.  I thought I’d just lurk for a while and not post anything because I, frankly, don’t care much for the level or tone of discourse in many of these threads.  Thought at least science would be a little more, well, science.  See now that I was wrong.  Well I can’t resist this one.

[quote author=“JustThis”] I am sure that tyhts, Grego and Gmobus completely understand the scenarios listed above and are not taking the truth of any of them on faith.

(I added the emphasis)

Don’t really get it JustThis.  As I read back on this thread I think the point was that science is a process that DOESN’T rely on taking someones word for it.  This comment seems to be a snide attack on these guys making that point. What gives?  Are you and MJ the sociology-of-science police? <yawn>

g

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